Fourth 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 contact Senate President Carmichael and House Speaker Armstead and request that the recommendations of the Public Water System Supply Study Commission (PWSSSC) be considered by members of the Legislature.

Easy Action: Click here to send a letter to Senate President Carmichael and House Speaker Armstead.

Recommendations to Protect Public Drinking Water Ready for Legislative Consideration

In January, West Virginia Rivers and partners delivered a letter to Senate President Carmichael and House Speaker Armstead requesting that the 2017 recommendations of the Public Water System Supply Study Commission (PWSSSC) be considered by members of the Legislature.

West Virginia Rivers Coalition serves on the PWSSSC, which was formed in the wake of the 2014 Freedom Industries chemical leak into the Elk River. The Commission provides yearly recommendations to improve the safety and security of West Virginia’s public drinking water supplies.

Among the recommendations prepared for the 2018 Legislature are improvements to the state Spill Reporting Hotline and increased notifications to downstream public water systems of threats to drinking water quality.

Help make sure the important recommendations of the PWSSSC are heard by the West Virginia Legislature! Please send a letter to Senate President Mitch Carmichael, and House Speaker Tim Armstead, requesting that the 2017 recommendations of the PWSSSC are given full discussion and consideration. Send a letter here.

Success in Improving Bad Water Bill — SB290

A revised version of SB290, making changes to water quality standards and pollution limits, passed out of its final Senate committee on Tuesday. We are glad to report WV Rivers was involved in improving the bill from its original form and had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The hard work is ahead of us if this bill becomes law. The bill will require rule-making to implement new pollution limits that take into account the pollution coming into an industrial facility in order to determine how much pollution that facility is allowed to discharge. It will also require the DEP to develop guidance on determining effectiveness of practices to control polluted run-off from industrial sites. We’ll need to activate our experts, and you, in weighing in through the public rule-making process that will likely begin in the spring.

Delegates Attempt to Restore Protections in Surface Mining Rule

Late last week, Delegates Barbara Fleischauer and Mike Pushkin led the charge to restore language stripped out by the Senate in the Surface Mining Rule. Their amendment in the House Judiciary Committee would have helped assure that coal companies could not be released from their clean-up responsibilities until water quality standards were met.

Thank you Delegates Fleischauer and Pushkin for your efforts to protect our water! 

During the amendment debate, our expert answered technical questions and made it clear that the bill, as-is, would put the state at a greater risk for coal companies to pass off the long-term clean-up costs to taxpayers. Even with this knowledge, the committee voted down the amendment on voice vote. If this bill passes, there will be open questions about the legality of the changes it makes in relation to federal laws.

Tracking Water Policy

SB270/HB4182: Your calls and letters to legislators are working! Public pressure has kept the bills that would allow commercial logging in state parks off the agenda in both chambers of the legislature. Our partner, the West Virginia Environmental Council, has requested a public hearing on the House version of the bill. The public hearing could be scheduled with very little notice – watch WV Rivers’ Facebook page for public hearing announcements and other urgent calls to action! Find WV Rivers on Facebook here.

SB410: The bill that would establish a new position within the WV Department of Environmental Protection, the industry advocate, just appeared on Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee’s Thursday agenda. We’ll let you know what happens in this first step for the bill and opportunities to make your voice heard.

HB2909Introduced to the House Government Organization Committee, HB2909 would abolish the office of the environmental advocate within WVDEP. Last year, with your help, we were able to keep a similar bill from advancing. HB2909 has yet to appear on the committee agenda, but we’ll let you know if anything changes.

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