Local legislators get state funds for air quality studies

State Senator Julie Kushner (D-24th) and State Representative Maria Horn (D-64th) recently secured $20,000 on behalf of Western Connecticut Clean Air Action.

WCCAA is the grass roots organization formed in 2018 to gather data on regional air quality both before and after the opening in May 2020 of the nearby 1.1 GW natural gas-fired power plant known as the Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover, N.Y.

Since its start WCCAA has engaged the conservation commissions or other environmental organizations in seven towns--Kent, Washington, Cornwall, Sherman, Sharon, Warren and New Milford--to set up a state-of-the-art network of monitors.

WCCAA oversees a central unit at Kent School and seven linked satellite monitors in surrounding towns to track potential changes in ambient air quality under a wide range of environmental and seasonal conditions.

The state grant is earmarked to support the work of Dr. Kristina Wagstrom, director of the UCONN'S Computational Atmospheric Chemistry and Exposure Lab, and her graduate students as they evaluate the data collected.

Of special interest are measurements of such major pollutants as particulate matter, ozone, and nitrous oxides, all associated with the plume of gasses released in the process of burning natural gas to produce electricity.

Wagstrom and her team will also be working closely with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection which maintains air quality records throughout the state.