2020 Legislative Priorities
H.B. 4542 / S.B. 679: Clean Drinking Water Act of 2020
The Act addresses the risks posed by group of unregulated chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS”. PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”, are man-made, persist and accumulate in the environment, and are known to cause cancer and other adverse health effects. We support this legislation that aims to reduce the presence of PFAS in our drinking water supplies by:
- Establishing a PFAS human health water quality criteria to set safe limits on the amount of PFAS chemicals allowed to be discharged in our water supplies.
- Requiring polluters to report and monitor their use of PFAS.
- Creating an interagency WV PFAS Action Response Team.
- Establishing a statewide maximum contaminant level (“MCL”) that sets a safe limit on the amount of PFAS allowed in tap water.
We also support recommendations of the WV Public Water System Supply Study Commission, formed in response to the 2014 Water Crisis. These include no rollbacks to the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. We oppose H.B. 4079 that would exempt more tanks from the AST Act.
WV’s penalties for violations of clean water laws and protections have not been updated since 2001. In the meantime, we’ve seen multi-billion dollar pipeline projects repeatedly violate their permits, resulting in harm to waterbodies across the state with relatively minimal monetary consequences to the offending pipeline companies. The legislation takes steps to deter large scale projects from repeatedly breaking the law by updating penalty calculations.
Protecting the State’s Waters from Coal Company Bankruptcies
As more coal companies declare bankruptcy, our rivers and streams impacted by mining are at great risk for being left without the clean-up they deserve. We support shoring up our coal bonding system to eliminate the practice of self-bonding and ensure that bonding companies covering water clean-up needs are solvent. We also support H.B. 4574 to establish the Just Transition Office, which would help the local economies and jobs in communities most impacted by the declining coal industry.
H.J.R. 25 – Environmental Rights Amendment
We support the proposed constitutional amendment would secure West Virginian’s rights to clean water, pure air, and a healthy environment.