Kotcon Receives Special Service Award from National Sierra Club

Morgantown Dominion Post
23 September 2012

James Kotcon, associate professor of plant pathology and environmental protection at WVU, has another honor to hang on his office wall — this one reflecting his commitment to the environment.

He was presented a 2012 Special Service Award by the national Sierra Club for his efforts over the years to get the West Virginia Legislature to pass adequate regulations to protect water and air quality.

He was one of 28 award recipients. Also honored with a Special Service Award was Elizabeth Little, of Hillsboro, who campaigned for increased awareness and stronger protections from unregulated natural gas development in West Virginia, and the West Virginia Sierra Club chapter, for its Marcellus gas campaign.

Jim Sconyers, chairman of the West Virginia Chapter, in nominating Kotcon for the award, said, “Jim Kotcon has been a leader on virtually every important environmental issue in West Virginia in the past two-plus decades. These have ranged from a bottle bill to the ‘garbage wars’ to coal ash dumps to Marcellus gas to power plants, transmission lines, and much more.”

Kotcon is recognized as an authority on energy and air and water quality issues. He was instrumental in Morgantown signing the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.

Other campaigns included a successful lawsuit by the U.S Justice Department and others over federal Clean Air Act violations and chairing a coalition that negotiated major emission reduction equipment at Longview Power coal-fired power plant.

He’s now involved in initiatives to protect land and water from toxic coal ash pollution, and organizing for more effective Marcellus gas drilling regulations.

Kotcon has been a member of the W.Va. Chapter of the Sierra Club since 1986, and has served on its Executive Committee most of the past 25 years in a number of positions.

He is a founding member of the Coopers Rock State Forest Foundation and Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association, and a founder of the West Virginia Environmental Council.

He has taught at WVU since 1985, and serves as faculty advisor for two WVU student environmental groups: Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) and Society of Environmental Professionals (SEP).