WV Rivers News: Legislative Update, Work for WV Rivers

Legislature Adopts Water Quality Standards Rule – No Updated Human Health Protections

Delegates Evan Hansen, Barbara Fleischauer, Mike Pushkin, and Larry Rowe, spoke against SB163 during while it was considered by the House of Delegates.

The WVDEP rules bundle (SB163), which included the water quality standards rule, reached the end of its road through the West Virginia Legislature on Wednesday, 3/6. Regrettably, the final bill passed the House of Delegates without recommended updates to human health protections in our water quality standards. Read more herehere, and here.

On Tuesday, delegates had the opportunity to amend the bill and restore update protections. Delegate Evan Hansen, along with 10 co-sponsors, proposed an amendment to restore the updated protections. During debate over the amendment, Delegate Barbara Fleischauer referenced the overwhelming support of citizens to update our water quality standards, and asked, “Is anyone listening to the people of West Virginia?” Ultimately, the amendment was voted down. See how your delegates voted here, and thank the delegates that voted ‘yes’ on Delegate Hansen’s amendment – and if your delegates voted no, relate your disappointment in their opposition to updated protections. You can find all delegates’ contact info here.

Prior to the floor vote three delegates, Delegates Evan HansenMike Pushkin, and Larry Rowe made impassioned appeals for updated protections. Delegate Hansen urged house members to support Concurrent Resolution 39, which would create a bipartisan Joint Select Committee to further study water quality standards. See the story below for more information.

Although SB 163 has passed the West Virginia Legislature without updated human health protections, thanks to you this bill received a lot of attention.

And it’s not over. The bill includes a timeline for further public input and a new proposal for revisions between now and April 2020. We’ll be involved every step of the way, making sure the information considered is factual, balanced, and science-based – and that the public interests, not just industry interests, are represented.

Resolution Would Create Bipartisan Committee to Study Water Quality Standards

Concurrent Resolution 39 was introduced by the Senate to create a bipartisan Joint Select Committee to further study water quality standards. Now, the House is in a race against the clock to pass the resolution before the regular legislative session ends tomorrow, 3/9.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed SCR39 with an amendment that would double the size of the study committee to 20 members. WV Rivers’ executive director, Angie Rosser, provided testimony urging members to pass the resolution to reinforce and coincide with the study timeline requirements passed in SB163. Today, we anticipate the Rules Committee will pass it to the floor for a vote. Because of the House Judiciary amendment, the Senate will need to concur with the House changes to the resolution.

WV Rivers supports the formation of the Joint Select Committee to promote a fair and transparent deliberative process, and looks forward providing committee members with science-based testimony. We know that industry will spend tens of thousands of dollars bringing their concerns of why West Virginians don’t need WVDEP and EPA-recommended updated protections.Stay tuned, we’ll need your help!

 Some Good News from the Session

Senators Bob Beach, Bill Hamilton, Paul Hardesty, and Mike Woelfel spoke against opening public lands up for off-roading.

The silver lining in an otherwise tough legislative session is the Adopt-a-Stream bill, SB675. This bill is modeled after the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program and would help clean-up the litter plaguing our rivers and streams. It has been adopted by the legislature. We support this bill, although we are concerned that it does not have funding mechanism to ensure it is fully implemented.

Another bill that set off a whirlwind of concern would have allowed off-road vehicles on trails on our public lands, like our state parks. The bill, SB676, raised the alarm for anyone that enjoys the solitude and escape of public lands. As proposed, the bill would have allowed off-roading vehicles, like Jeeps, to drive in previously unmotorized areas. Beyond concerns over ruining the peace and quiet of public lands, off-road vehicles harm ecosystems by disturbing wildlife and increasing sedimentation, which leads to muddied streams and trails.

A big thank you goes to Senators BeachHamiltonWoelfel, and Hardesty who immediately spoke out against the bill and removed the provisions that would have allowed off-roading on our public lands. The amended SB676, which now only relates to Department of Highway mapping, has been adopted by the legislature.

Tracking Water Policy

The 2019 session comes to a close tomorrow, Saturday, March 9. Throughout the session we focused our efforts on bills with water quality implications. Below you’ll find the status of each bill we tracked and brief analysis on those that were adopted by the Legislature.


HB2612 – Proposing rules related to the completion or updating of source water protection plans. We hope the staggered schedule of submission of updates of these plans will help facilitate more public input, meaningful review by agencies, and result in stronger plans.

SB163 – Authorizing DEP promulgate legislative rules, including the water quality standards rule. Requires DEP to continue a public input process through October 2019, and submit proposed revisions to water quality standards by April 2020 for public comment.

SB675 – Requiring DEP create and implement Adopt-A-Stream Program. Creates an Adopt-A-Stream program similar to Adopt-A-Highway, but without dedicated funding.

SB404 – Relating generally to sediment control during commercial timber harvesting operations, including increasing the threshold for the exemption for logger licensing requirements, and updating training requirements.

SB676 – Relating to off-road vehicle recreation. Provisions that would have allowed off-roading on trails in public lands were removed.

 Still Pending

SB665 – Allowing for expedited oil and gas permitting.

On 3rd reading in the House today, 3/8. A House Energy Committee amendment cut expedited permit fees by $10,000 from the version that passed the Senate.

Died in Committee

SB534 – Collecting additional information for cancer and tumor registry.

HB2334 – Establishing an industrial water extraction fee.

HB2337 – Assessing the health impact of any new, or modification to, rule proposed by the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

HB2073 – Implementing the recommendations of the studies required by the Natural Gas and Horizontal Well Control Act.


SCR39 – Requesting creation of Joint Select Committee on Requirements Governing Water Quality Standards

In House Rules Committee; expected to be adopted by the Legislature.

HJR25 – Natural Resources and the Public Estate Amendment – Right to a clean environment

In House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee; not expected to pass.

HR11 – Recognizing the importance of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Passed the House on 3/7. See WV Rivers message to legislators regarding this resolution here.

We’re Hiring a Public Lands Campaign Coordinator

West Virginia Rivers is looking to add a Public Lands Coordinator to our team!

The Public Lands Coordinator is responsible for overall execution and coordination of West Virginians for Public Lands — an alliance of organizations, businesses and individuals committed to protecting and enhancing the benefits of public lands to West Virginians.

Candidates with previous coalition building and/or campaign management experience are encouraged to apply. This is a remote working position, with West Virginia residency required. Review the full job description here.

How to Apply

Email a cover letter and resume to info@wvrivers.org. Review of applicants will begin March 15, 2019. Position is open until filled.

Upcoming Events

April 6: Save Our Streams Workshop. Charleston, WV.

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