WV Rivers News: 2019 Legislative Session, New Endangered Species

2019 Water Policy Kick-Off

The 2019 legislative session began on January 9 and runs until March 9. Throughout the session, your voice and actions will make the difference for the health of our water, environment, and state.

WV Rivers is here to help you understand the issues and take action when you can make a difference. Sign up to receive WV Rivers’ Water Policy Updates, a weekly briefing on policy news and actions you can take. Be sure “like” our Facebook page, and follow WV Rivers on Twitter. The legislative session moves fast and our social media is the best way to receive breaking news and real time policy updates.

Each West Virginia legislative sessions brings its own set of challenges, but we can count on polluting industries to attempt to influence legislators to rollback or weaken water protections. This year is no different. Throughout the session, we’ll be prioritizing policies related to water quality standards, stream gage funding, and natural gas infrastructure. Head over to our Water Policy Webpage to learn more about each policy priority and don’t forget to sign-up for weekly water policy updates!

Keeping Drinking Water Safe with Protective Water Quality Standards

Our largest legislative priority– and largest hurdle to overcome – concerns the rules that set how much pollution is allowed in West Virginia’s water. Every three years West Virginia’s water quality standards undergo a revision. It is supposed to be a straight forward and transparent process, involving public input every step of the way. But this year a last minute amendment pushed by industrial polluters bypassed the public comment process and made its way into the rule legislators will vote on. Learn more here.

The amended rule removes updates to the portion of our water quality standards that set limits on the toxins most harmful to human health.These limits, known as human health criteria, are currently based on science conducted prior to 1985. In 2015, EPA recommended that West Virginia update its human health criteria to reflect more recent science. WVDEP proposed some of these updates in their originally proposed, but a legislative committee approved an amendment to remove them at the request of the WV Manufacturers Association. View our fact sheet on the amendment and how it puts our health at risk here.

In the immediate weeks, the legislature will have the chance to restore the updated protections. We’ll need you to insist lawmakers protect public health and adopt EPA-recommended human health criteria.

Next Thursday, January 17, the WVDEP will be hosting a public listening session on water quality standards. WVDEP wants to hear from you on the potential effects of revising human health criteria.

What: WVDEP Water Quality Standards Public Listening Session

When: Tuesday, January 17, 2-4PM

Where: DEP Headquarters, Coopers Rock Conference Room, 601 57th St SE, Charleston WV, 25304

Telling the Truth about Pipelines and Accountability

At West Virginia Rivers Coalition we believe in speaking the truth.

We give a voice to our mountains, hollows and the rivers that run through them. But most importantly, we speak up for West Virginia’s people and our right to clean, safe water.

Recently, when the Charleston Daily Mail ran an editorial attacking West Virginia’s citizens for holding pipeline companies and regulatory agencies accountable for protecting our water, we called them out on their misrepresentations and downright lies.

You can read our executive director’s response published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail here.

Candy Darter Added to Endangered Species List

West Virginia has a new endangered species, the colorful candy darter. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the candy darter as an endangered species in December due to loss of habitat and cross-breeding with other darter species. Once found throughout the New, Gauley, Greenbrier and Bluestone Watersheds, there are only a few populations of the fish left. The remaining candy darters are now threatened by sedimentation and pollution.

As part of the USFWS’s endangered species listing is designation of critical habitat. The candy darter’s critical habitat designation is out for public comment; stay tuned to WV Rivers to learn how you can comment.

Program Director Myia Welsh Joins the WV Rivers Team

Join WV Rivers in giving Myia Welsh a warm welcome as she comes on board as WV Rivers’ Program Director. Myia holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Program Evaluation and Social Policy. Prior to joining the WV Rivers staff, Myia led a statewide health promotion program for WV state employees.

Originally from the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio, Myia believes that clean water is a human right, and she is honored to use her talents in program development, management and evaluation to help protect WV’s rivers and streams. Welcome, Myia, we’re so excited to have you as part of the WV Rivers team!

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