Second Week of the 2018 WV Legislative Session
Easy Action for Clean Water
Each week of the legislative session, we’ll 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 contact your legislators to let them know you oppose opening up West Virginia’s State Parks to commercial logging.
Easy Action: Click here to send a letter to your legislators.
WV Rivers Meets with Commerce Secretary Over Logging State Parks
Today, 1/25, West Virginia Rivers Coalition and partners in the Save Our State Parks campaign met with Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher on SB270 and to present alternative revenue methods to fund a maintenance backlog in West Virginia’s State Parks.
We strongly disagree that lifting an 80-year ban on logging in our parks is the answer to the State Park’s revenue shortfall. Alternative funding ideas presented include: renewing the timber severance tax, set to expire in 2019, and directing proceeds to parks; and apportioning some state lottery proceeds to park projects. You can read the full Save Our State Parks alternative revenue proposals here.
SB270 may go before the Senate Natural Resources Committee as early as Monday. Now is the time for you to contact your legislators and share your concerns about logging in West Virginia’s State Parks. Send a letter here.
Tracking Water Policy
We’re two weeks into the 2018 legislative session and already we’ve seen the movement of two bills in the Senate that propose to weaken water quality protections. We are analyzing the bills and will share additional information and actions you can take soon.
SB290 – Industry Bill to Weaken Water Pollution Limits
SB290 proposes industry-requested changes to requirements to comply with water quality standards and pollution discharge limits. It is a highly technical bill that allows for “netting” of pollutants in industrial permits and loosens requirements to test for controls of storm water run-off, among other things favorable to industry. Its next stop is the Senate Judiciary Committee.
WV Rivers is analyzing the bill’s impact, sharing concerns with Senators, and researching better alternatives to such sweeping changes to our state code. We are monitoring negotiations on the bill and promise to keep you posted on the latest developments.
SB163 – Undermines the Ability to Hold the Coal Industry Accountable
SB163 includes major changes to the state’s regulations on surface mining, shifting the way the state will enforce water quality violations.
One of the major problems with this bill is that it attempts to limit a mine operators’ responsibility to comply with water quality standards both during mining and during the reclamation process.
SB163 removes references to compliance with water quality standards in the Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Act under three important sections. Those deletions carry serious implications for our state’s waters. They would keep mine operators from being held responsible for cleaning up their damage to our water, before being released from their reclamation obligations.
The bill is already on its way to a Senate floor vote this week, but it will still have to pass the House. Stay tuned for how and when you can voice your concerns to Delegates who will be debating the bill in the coming weeks.