Water Policy News: Water Protection Bill Sent to House, Tracking Water Policy
Fifth Week of 2019 WV Legislative Session
Easy Action for Clean Water
Each week of the legislative session, we’ll share digest of the latest water policy news and actions you can take.
At the top of each digest, 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 Delegates. Ask them to protect public health by updating the human health criteria in West Virginia’s water quality standards.
Easy Action: Click here to send a letter to your Delegates.
House of Delegates to Consider Water Bill
WV Rivers executive director, Angie Rosser, sat down with the West Virginia Press Association to discuss water policy on their program, InDepth. Watch the interview here.
Last week the West Virginia Senate voted to pass the water quality standards rule (SB 163) without updated protections for drinking water. The 20-12 vote advances the rule to the House. Thank you to the 12 Senators that voted no on the bill.
Prior to the vote, Senator Baldwin submitted a petition collected by WV Rivers. The 898 petition signers are all of you that took action through WV Rivers’ action alerts demanding updated human health protections for our drinking water – thank you!
The water bill’s track through the Senate was controversial. The Senate Judiciary Committee did not allow f the opportunity for public debate and expert testimony. Instead, off-the-record and closed-door meetings with industry representatives convinced committee members to quietly remove updated human health protections and quickly pass a substitute bill. Read our letter, co-signed by 26 allies, to Committee Chairman Trump on the committee’s disappointing handling of the bill.
Now that the House is considering the water bill, we encourage them to allow for scientific testimony by public health experts and provide opportunities for public debate. Respect West Virginians and keep the legislative process public!
Let your Delegates know that you are watching and will hold them accountable to protect public health. Tell them you want updated human health protections in West Virginia’s water quality standards. Send a letter here.
House Democrats Introduce Environmental Rights Amendment
Delegate Evan Hansen is the lead sponsor of the Environmental Rights Amendment.
On Monday, 32 Delegates introduced an amendment to the state’s Bill of Rights that grants West Virginians the right to a clean environment. The Environmental Rights Amendment (HJR25), co-sponsored by 32 House Democrats, is modeled after an amendment in the Pennsylvania constitution.
The amendment adds the following clause the state’s constitution, “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment. West Virginia’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the State shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
If the legislature passes the resolution, West Virginians will have the opportunity to vote on the amendment during the 2020 general election.
Tracking Water Policy
Below you’ll find bills introduced to the 2019 legislature that have water quality implications. We’ll provide you updates on these bills as they move through the legislature.
Head over to WV Rivers’ policy webpage where you’ll find a handy tool to help track these bills.
WV SB163: DEP rule relating to requirements governing water quality standards (water bill)
Has passed Senate and is now in House Energy Committee.
WV SB404: Altering sediment control during commercial timber harvesting operations
In Senate Government Organization Committee.
HB 2612: Authorizing DHHR propose rules for completing or updating source water protection plans
Has passed the House and is now in the Senate Government Organization Committee.
In Senate Government Organization Committee.
WV HB2334: Establishing an industrial water extraction fee
In House Energy Committee.
WV HB2337: Assessing the health impact of any new, or modification to, rule proposed by the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection
In House Health and Human Resources Committee.
WV HB2073: Implementing the recommendations of the studies required by the Natural Gas and Horizontal Well Control Act
NEW WV HB2875: Relating generally to coal mine safety
In House Industry and Labor Committee.
NEW WV HJR25: Natural Resources and the Public Estate Amendment (environmental rights amendment)
In House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
NEW WV SB534: Collecting additional information for cancer and tumor registry
In Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. See an action alert from Headwaters Defense here.