Water Policy News: Water Protection Bill Sent to House, Tracking Water Policy
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 could be voted on by the House as early as Monday. Contact your delegates now, tell them you oppose SB163 as it fails to protect West Virginians with the best science available.
Easy Action: Click here to send a letter to your delegates, ask them to vote “no” on SB163.
Water Quality Standards Rule Heads to House Floor – No Updated Protections
Delegates Sammi Brown, John Doyle, Barbara Fleischauer and Mike Pushkin spoke in favor if updated human health protections.
Late yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed out the water quality standards rule (SB 163) without updates to human health protections. Delegate Barbara Fleischauer put forth a valiant effort to present and pass an amendment to include the updated protections, but it was voted down on a divided voice vote. That amendment was co-sponsored by Delegates Sammi Brown and Mike Pushkin – thank you to these clean water champions! Read more about the committee meeting here.
Delegate Pushkin spoke to why he could not support the bill as-is with the outdated standards, and other delegates joined him in voting no on the bill. Now the bill heads to the House floor for a full vote, perhaps on as early as Monday. You can encourage your delegates to oppose a bill that fails to include updated human health protections for our water.
Prior to the vote, Delegate John Doyle, submitted a petition to the committee on behalf of WV Rivers. The petition contains the names of 1,099 individuals who have spoken out for updated drinking water protections through our action alerts. Throughout the course of the legislative session, folks have sent a total of 38,498 letters to West Virginia’s legislators! It’s clear that West Virginians want protective, science-based water quality standards.
Contact your delegates, today. Let them know that SB163 fails to protect West Virginians with the best science available.
What Happens if Human Health Protections Aren’t Updated?
The works doesn’t stop after the legislative session ends. Even if the water bill passes without updated human health protections, the Senate has introduced Concurrent Resolution 39 to create a bipartisan Joint Select Committee to further study water quality standards. The resolution has passed out of the Senate and is before the House.
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 DEP and EPA-recommended updated protections. WV Rivers and our partners have hard work ahead to make sure the facts are brought before the committee. 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 passed out of the Senate and is before the House Judiciary. We support this bill, although we are concerned that it does not have funding mechanism to ensure it is fully implemented.
Another bill set off a whirlwind of concern over allowing off-road vehicles on trails on our public lands, like our state parks. The bill, SB676 originated on Monday, 2/25, 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 Beach, Hamilton, Woelfel, and Hardesty who immediately spoke out against the bill and removed the provisionsthat would have allowed off-roading on our public lands. The amended SB676, which now only relates to Department of Highway mapping, passed out of the Senate on 2/28 and is now in the House.
Cross-Over Day: Tracking Water Policy
Wednesday, 2/27, marked cross-over day in the legislature. This milestone is the 50th day of the legislative session and it’s the deadline for bills to be passed by the introducing chamber and sent to the opposite chamber. Most of the bills we are tracking died in committee, but a few – including the contentious water bill – are still alive.
HB2612 – Proposing rules related to the completion or updating of source water protection plans
SB404 – Relating generally to sediment control during commercial timber harvesting operations
Passed Senate; in House Judiciary Committee
SB163 – Authorizing DEP promulgate legislative rules – the water bill
Passed Senate; going to House Floor
SB675 – Requiring DEP create and implement Adopt-A-Stream Program
Passed Senate; in House Judiciary 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
Resolutions do not need to pass over by cross-over day
SCR39 – Requesting creation of Joint Select Committee on Requirements Governing Water Quality Standards
In the House
HJR25 – Natural Resources and the Public Estate Amendment – Right to a clean environment
In House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee