Water Policy News: First Week of the 2020 Legislative Session

Easy Action for Clean Water

Each week of the legislative session, we share an easy action for clean water, it only takes a few minutes and it is the most urgent call to action.

Week 1: Send members of the House Energy Committee a message letting them know that all aboveground storage tanks near drinking water intakes deserve the same oversight and protections from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. Ask them to oppose HB4079. Already taken action? Share our action alert with a friend!

Keep the Pressure On: The Legislature is Listening

Your emails to the legislature are working!

So far, 658 people have reached out through our action alert to the House Energy Committee to let them know that HB4079 is bad for our water.

Yesterday, we learned that the House Energy Committee does not have immediate plans to add HB4079 to the committee’s agenda! That’s good news so far! But they are still intent on considering it, so they need to hear from you.

WV Rivers is particularly alarmed by HB4079 because it deregulates aboveground storage tanks related to the oil and gas industry that are located closest to our public drinking water intakes!

Many of you helped us succeed in convincing the legislature in 2017 to keep these oil and gas tanks regulated by the Aboveground Storage Tank Act (AST Act). But industry wants these tanks exempt, even the ones within feet of drinking water intakes. We must hold the line and say that all tanks within zones of critical concern (ZCCs or areas closest to drinking water intakes) should have the same standards and oversight of the AST Act.

We know from the Freedom Industries tank leak that caused the WV Water Crisis what can go terribly wrong when tanks in ZCCs are overlooked. ZCCs are areas directly upstream from public drinking water intakes in which a released contaminant will reach the intake within five hours. Exempting tanks in ZCCs from regulation puts us in more danger because there is the added concern of not having enough time to respond if tank fails.

Keep the pressure on: contact members of the committee now to say, no breaks for tanks in ZCCs – reject HB4079!

2020 Legislative Session: Water Policy Priorities

The West Virginia legislative session kicked-off on Wednesday, January 8 and will run until March 7. WV Rivers will be there as the voice for safe, clean, wild rivers and streams.

Below we’ve outlined some of our water policy priorities. We’ll be tracking these efforts along with other water related bills throughout the session. View our bill tracker on the WV Rivers’ website for the latest on each bill as they are introduced.

HB4079 – Altering the definition of an aboveground storage tank. We oppose this bill that would exempts certain tanks used by the oil and gas industry closest to public drinking water intakes from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act.

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 in the environment, 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.

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.

Upcoming Special Legislative Events

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 joining WV Rivers at E-Day.

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.

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