WV Rivers News: 2020 Water Policy Priorities, Upcoming Events, We’re Hiring

2020 Legislative Session – Get Ready!

The West Virginia legislative session kicked-off on Wednesday, January 8. The start of the regular session was just one day shy of the 6-year anniversary of the 2014 Water Crisis, when a toxic chemical contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people. It’s important to remember the WV Water Crisis – what happened, the outrage, and the progress we made towards safer water, especially now at the start of the 2020 session.

This year’s session will run until March 7 and WV Rivers will be there as the voice for safe, clean, wild rivers and streams. Sign-up here to receive once a week updates on the issues and easy actions you can for our water.

Below is a brief summary of our 2020 Water Policy Priorities:

Clean Drinking Water Act: We support this Act, which addresses the risks posed by group of unregulated chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS”. PFAS, are man-made, persist, and are known to cause cancer and other adverse health effects. Learn more and watch a press conference on the Clean Drinking Water Act here.

Recommendations of the Public Water System Supply Study Commission: We support the implementation of recommendations of the WV Public Water System Supply Study Commission, which was formed in response to the 2014 WV Water Crisis.

Updated Penalties for Water Quality Violations: We’re seeing multi-billion dollar pipeline projects repeatedly violate their permits, resulting in harm to waterbodies across the state with relatively minimal monetary consequences. We support legislation that takes steps to deter polluters from breaking the law by updating penalty calculations to match federal EPA guidelines.

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 legislation that holds coal companies accountable for their environmental degradation and ensures they pay for related clean-ups.

We also support legislation to establish the Office of Just Transition, which would help communities most impacted by the declining coal industry; and the Environmental Rights Amendment, which would secure West Virginian’s rights to clean water, pure air, and a healthy environment.

Keep track of these policies and more by signing up for WV Rivers’ Water Policy Updates.

Celebrating a Win for Clean Water in the Eastern Panhandle

Citizen lobbyists discussed the importance of the Chesapeake Bay Program with Senator Capito. 

In March 2019, we led a delegation of West Virginians to DC to meet with members of Congress as part of the Choose Clean Water Coalition’s annual “Bay Day on the Hill”. During the visit, citizen lobbyists ask for a funding increase for the Chesapeake Bay Program, an important tool to improving water quality in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

Now, we’re seeing our efforts pay-off! Congress’ 2020 appropriations bill includes a 16% increase in funding for Chesapeake Bay Program, raising the annual budget to $85,000,000. We are grateful to Senators Manchin and Capito who led the way to secure these funds that will be provided to states, like West Virginia, for assistance with on-the-ground projects that restore local streams and waterways.

We will be back in DC on Wednesday, March 4, advocating for clean water. Email thaid@wvrivers.org to learn more and get involved.

Citizen Scientists Sample Streams for Brook Trout DNA

Watch videos to learn how volunteers sample streams for trout DNA here.

Who doesn’t love brook trout! They are the state fish of West Virginia and need high quality, coldwater streams to survive. That’s why, with our agency partners and Trout Unlimited, our volunteers are sampling streams for trout DNA to determine the presence of brook trout populations. Identifying and designating streams as official brook trout streams offers the species and the stream additional protections. Learn more about how we sample streams to identify brook trout populations here.

Action Alert: Ask Your Representative to Support Abandoned Coal Mine Cleanup

Funding to clean up abandoned coal mines is at risk unless Congress acts soon. People in West Virginia and other historic mining areas across the county depend on this funding to improve health and safety in their communities. Learn more here.

Our friends at the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition have made it easy for you to call your representative’s office to ask them to reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Fund. Call 1-855-980-2389 to hear a short script and be connected to your representative.

We’re Hiring! Public Lands Coordinator

We have an opening for a Public Lands Coordinator! We are sad to say goodbye to current coordinator, Rhea Mitchell, who is moving on to pursue other adventures in the Mountain State. Best of luck, Rhea!

Are you interested in joining the WV Rivers team? If you are highly motivated, passionate about public lands and water, and have experience working on campaigns, you might be a great fit for the public lands coordinator position! Read the full job description and application directions here.

Upcoming Special Legislative Events

Legislative Kick-off Blast – January 14

Meet the E-Council lobby team and get ready for the 2020 session with fun, food and live music! Learn more.

Showing of Dark Waters in Lewisburg – January 24-27

Greenbrier Watershed and WV Rivers are co-sponsoring the showing of Dark Waters at The Lewis Theatre January 24-27. On Jan. 24, WV Rivers will facilitate a Q&A session following the movie to discuss the chemical contamination, the threats that still exist, and what we can do to better protect our water resources.

Environmental Lobby Day at the Capitol – January 28

Join WV Rivers and allied organizations for Environment Day at the Legislature on Tuesday, January 28. E-Day features speakers and citizen lobbying for sound environmental policy. Does lobbying sound intimidating? Don’t worry! We’ll provide you with the information you need to make an impression on your legislators. Afterwards, head over to the Empty Glass for E-Council’s Green Jam benefit. Learn more.

Email ktyner@wvrivers.org if you are interested in attending.

Grassroots WV Local Campaigns & Lobby Day – February 3

Are you thinking about organizing a local campaign on an issue? Join WV Rivers and allies for a workshop on how to run a grassroots advocacy campaign on February 3 in Charleston. After learning campaign management best practices, head over to the Capitol to lobby your legislators on the issues that matter to you. Learn more and register here.

Advise WV Rivers Next Strategic Plan – Take Our Confidential Survey

Photo by Gabe Dewitt. 

2020 marks the start of West Virginia Rivers Coalition’s new 3-year strategic plan and we need your feedback!

Let us know how we are doing, and how we can better serve you and the rivers and streams of West Virginia. Your responses through our easy and confidential survey will help us prioritize our work. Whether your a new supporter or a longtime member, we want to hear from you!

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