Water Policy News: Seventh Week of the 2020 Legislative Session

Senate Committee Passes Resolution to Study PFAS in Drinking Water

Late last week, a Senate Committee took a step towards safer drinking water with the introduction and passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 46.

Our executive director, Angie Rosser, testified to the committee in support of the Resolution. You can watch video of the committee meeting, including Angie’s comments here, the discussion starts at 4:55:30PM.

This resolution requires the WVDEP and WVDHHR to identify PFAS in drinking water supplies.

On Monday, 2/24, the Senate passed SCR 46 and the resolution is now in the House and must pass before the session ends on March 7.

While CSR 46 doesn’t include the all the provisions outlined in the Clean Drinking Water Act of 2020, it’s an important first step towards protecting our water and health from toxic PFAS which are known to cause cancer and other serious ailments.

The resolution requires the WVDEP and DHHR to sample raw, or untreated, water supplies at locations across the state for the presence of PFAS. The data from the study will help regulatory agencies better protect public health and ensure the water we drink is safe.

Crossover Day: What Bills are Dead and What’s Advancing

Wednesday, 2/26, marked Crossover 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.

Now, the countdown is on for the bills that crossed-over to be adopted by March 7, the final day of the 2020 session.

Because of your advocacy, HB 4079, the bill that would have rolled-back protections under the Aboverground Storage Tank Act for oil and gas tanks near drinking water intakes died in committee!

When you respond to WV Rivers’ action alerts you are making a real difference for clean water and a healthy environment.

So what bills are left after Crossover Day?

Alive – These bills have “crossed-over” to the opposite chamber.

SR 46 – Studying PFAS Presence in Drinking Water Sources: This resolution requires the WVDEP and DHHR to sample raw water supplies at 259 locations across the state to detect the presence of PFAS. Status: Passed Senate; in House Health and Human Resources.

HB 3049 – Improving Dissemination of Boiled Water Advisories: When drinking water is unsafe the public needs to know quickly. This bill requires water utilities to make customers aware of boiled water advisories through a text and voice alert system. Status: Passed the House and is in the Senate Health and Human Resources.

SB 583 – Creating a Program to Further Develop Renewable Energy Resources: This bill would allow West Virginia utility companies to create solar energy projects. Status: Passed the Senate; on 2nd reading on the House Floor.

HB 4574 – Creation of Just Transition Office: The legislation would create the Just Transition Office to help communities affected by the decline of coal rebuild their economies and diversify their economic base. Status: Passed House; in Senate Workforce.

SB 840 – Creating statutory fee for modifying permits issued by DEP Office of Oil and Gas: This bill enacts a fee for modifications of oil and gas permits. This bill is critical to helping the DEP alleviate projected budget shortfalls. Status: Passed Senate; in House Finance.

HB 4217 – Authorizing the DEP to promulgate legislative rules: The is the the WVDEP rules bundle. It includes a provision dealing with compensation for landowners impacted by mining-caused subsidence that the House and Senate still has to agree upon. Status: Passed House; 2nd Reading in Senate.

SB 739 – Relating to failing public water utilities: This bill aims to take steps to make sure tap water is safe by identifying failing public water utilities and developing plans to either improve the utility or replace it with another provider.  Status: Passed Senate; in House Judiciary.

Dead – These bills did not make it out of their originating chamber before 2/26.

HB 4079 – Altering the definition of an aboveground storage tank: This bill would have exempted certain tanks used by the oil and gas industry closest to public drinking water intakes from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act.

HB 4542 / SB 679 – Clean Drinking Water Act of 2020: We supported this Act, which addressed the risks posed by group of unregulated chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS”. Although this bill died, the good news is that a resolution, SCR 46, that studies PFAS is on it’s way to passage.

HB 4787 – 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. This bill takes steps to deter polluters from breaking the law by allowing the WVDEP to increase penalties for water quality violations.

HJR25 – Environmental Rights Amendment: This resolution would secure West Virginian’s rights to clean water, pure air, and a healthy environment.

HB 4816 – 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. This legislation takes an important step of eliminating self-bonding by coal companies.

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. Originating Bill dealing with recommended notice of permit violations to downstream water utility.

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