Seventh Week of the 2018 WV Legislative Session

Easy Action for Clean Water

Each week of the legislative session, we send you a digest of the latest water policy news and actions you can take.

At the top of each e-news, you’ll find the easy action of the week, it only takes a few minutes and it is the most urgent call to action. This week, we’re asking you to thank the champions who publicly spoke out against the state parks logging bill.

Easy Action:

Send a thank you to Agriculture Commissioner, Kent Leonhardt for his testimony to the Senate Natural Resources Committee and his public opposition to SB270.

Email:; call: (304) 558-3550.

Send a thank you to Senator Mike Woelfel for his outspoken opposition to SB270 and his leadership in committee against the bill.

Email:; call: (304) 357-7956.

Logging Bill Update: SB270 is Officially Dead

The state parks logging bill failed to pass of out the Senate Natural Resources Committee by the “cross-over day” deadline. Cross-over day is the 50th day of the legislative session, it’s the deadline for bills to be passed by the introducing chamber and sent to the opposite chamber. With the passing of cross-over day we can officially declare SB270 dead!

It’s your voice and your activism that achieved this victory! We gave you the tools and resources to make your voice heard and you spoke loud and clear! Through WV Rivers’ action alerts you sent 16,866 letters to your legislators and the governor! One senator shared that he had received more citizen opposition to SB270 than any other bill this session.

Now, we need to keep the momentum going! WV Rivers coordinates West Virginians for Public Lands, a partnership of people, businesses, and organizations who care about our state’s public lands. Get involved with WVPL’s efforts to defend our public lands. Like them on Facebook, and if you aren’t already receiving WVPL’s monthly e-newsletter, sign-up here. Want to do even more for West Virginia’s public lands? Attend WVPL’s volunteer workshop on March 24 in Thomas, WV! Learn more here.

SB438 Quickly Passes Senate to Fund State Parks

Watoga State Park by Kent Mason.

Thanks to your work to defeat SB270, no trees will be sold to fund state parks. Instead, in the final hours before cross-over day, the Senate unanimously passed SB438 authorizing the issuance of bonds to fund improvements at state parks across the state. This approach was in line with one of the revenue alternatives we presented to Commerce Secretary Thrasher early in the session.

We support this bill as a mechanism to take care of the maintenance backlog of our state parks infrastructure, while also preserving their natural and scenic qualities. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Coal Bill, SB626, Public Notice Restored

In last week’s policy news, we shared our concerns about SB626, a bill related to coal mining that when introduced removed requirements for public notice of surface mine permit applications. This week, in response to our recommendations to the legislature, the House Energy Committee amended the bill to restore public notice requirements.

This is good news, especially for West Virginians who don’t have broadband internet access available to them. If the amended bill passes the House, and is agreed to by the Senate, then coal companies will continue to be required to publish notices of surface mining permit applications in local newspapers of affected communities. The bill’s next stop is the House Judiciary Committee.

E-Day at the West Virginia Legislature and Green Jam at the Empty Glass – March 6

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – in-person citizen lobbying is the most effective way to influence your legislators. On Tuesday, March 6, you can join WV Rivers at West Virginia Environmental Council’s E-Day at the legislature. If you are interested in attending E-Day, please email WV Rivers’ Communications Director, or call 304-637-7201. We’d love to have you join us!

After E-Day concludes head over to the Empty Glass for E-Council’s Green Jam. Enjoy a delicious buffet and live music. The fun gets started at 4:30pm.

Tracking Water Policy

Over the past week, the teacher work stoppage has consumed the attention of the legislature while cross-over day came and went. As described above, cross-over day is the deadline for a bill to pass out of its originating legislative chamber and head to the opposite chamber. That means the bills we were tracking that never made it out of committee will not be considered for passage by the full legislature this year – they are called “dead”. Even in the midst of a historic labor strike, WV Rivers is at the Capitol ensuring that water policy remains a priority!

SB270/HB4182: Died in committee. The state parks logging bill.

SB410: Died in committee. SB410 would have establish a new position, the Industry Advocate, within the WV Department of Environmental Protection.

HB2909: Died in committee. HB2909 would have abolish the office of the environmental advocate within WVDEP.

SB438: This bill would authorize the issuance of bonds to fund improvements at state parks. It has passed the Senate, and is now in the House Finance Committee.

SB626: Amendments were made to the bill restoring public notifications for surface mine permit applications. The bill has passed the Senate, was amended by the House Energy and is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

SB290: This bill makes changes to water quality standards and pollution limits. The original bill was replaced by a substitute and has passed the Senate and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. See our analysis on SB290 in a previous edition of Policy News here.

HB4154: The “2018 Regulatory Reform Act” expedites the approval of certain industrial projects in a way that leaves the public out of the process. It passed out of the House and has been referred to the Senate Government Organization Committee.

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