Water Policy News: Water Bill in Last Committee – No Updated Protections

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. The water quality standards rule is expected to be voted on by its last committee, the House Judiciary Committee, by the end of this week. Click here to write a letter to those committee members.

Easy Action: Click here to send a letter to the House Judiciary Committee members.

House Energy Committee Rejects Amendment to Update Drinking Water Protections

Delegate Evan Hansen submitted an amendment to restore recommended updates to our water quality standards. 

If you’ve been following our policy updates, you know the ride of the water quality standards rule (SB 163) has been a wild one. Updates to our human health criteria were submitted by DEP, then a joint legislative committee stripped them out, then a Senate committee put them back in, and then another Senate committee stripped them back out. Yesterday, the bill that passed the full Senate without human health protection updates was taken up by the House Energy Committee.

Delegate Evan Hansen, an environmental scientist by trade, led the charge to argue why applying the best available science is best for human health. He helped lay out for the committee the data and facts provided by scientific and public health experts, and presented an amendment to restore the 60 recommended updates to our water quality standards.

Other delegates claimed that the updating our standards using the current science would have a “job-killing” effect. However, when a representative from a chemical manufacturer was asked to testify about possible job impacts, she said she could not answer any questions. Instead, the questions from legislators would have to be submitted in writing to the company and a response would be provided at a later date.

Ultimately, the amendment to restore the human health updates failed by a divided voice vote. The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee – click here to let those members you’re counting on them to restore human health protection updates to our water quality standards. And please thank Delegate Evan Hansen for the demonstration of his leadership and commitment to safe water for all!

Read more coverage about the meeting from the Charleston Gazette-Mail here, the Morgantown Dominion-Post here, and WV Public Broadcasting here.

Senate Introduces Resolution to Create Committee on Water Quality Standards

Today, 2/20, the Senate will be taking up a resolution, SCR 39, that would create a Joint Select Committee on Requirements Governing Water Quality Standards. The Select Committee would be comprised of 5 members of the Senate and 5 members of the House. Their charge is to meet throughout the year “to study the issues concerning water quality standards” and “to receive information and testimony, and report on its findings and conclusions.”

What does this mean? It means that water quality standards will continue to be at the forefront for the legislature, and it means that we’re going to be very busy over the next year! We’ll be involved every step of the way, making sure the information the committee receives is factual, balanced, and science-based – and that the public interests, not just industry interests, are represented.

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 Judiciary 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.

WV SB413: Creating Adopt-A-Stream program

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

In House Energy Committee.

WV HJR25: Natural Resources and the Public Estate Amendment (environmental rights amendment)

In House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

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.

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