WV Rivers News: Good News from Legislative Session, Public Lands Update, Bay Day
2020 Legislative Session Wrap-Up: How Did Our Water Fare?
You deserve a high-five!
The 2020 legislative session came to a close at midnight on Saturday, 3/7, after an intense 8 weeks. Throughout the session we never let up on pressuring legislators to make clean water a priority. And our hard work paid off!
We heard from decision-makers that they were receiving more messages on clean water than any other issue throughout the past two years.
Because folks, like you, that care about our water responded to WV Rivers’ action alerts we have some real victories to celebrate!
- Over the next few years the state will conduct a historic statewide study on the presence of toxic PFAS in our drinking water supplies.
- We defeated the bill that would have rolled-back regulation of oil & gas aboveground storage tanks closest to drinking water intakes.
- The legislature took a step towards a clean energy future with the passage of SB 583, the Solar Bill.
- Two bills advanced that make sure public water utilities are keeping customers informed about the quality of their water.
- And most importantly, citizen advocates made the difference on these policy issues. Over the course of the session WV Rivers’ action alert tool generated 44,000 letters to legislators! The results above show that lawmakers know they cannot ignore your calls to action. And we know that without the public getting involved none of this would have succeeded.
If you are inspired by the achievements above, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to WV Rivers Coalition. Our policy work is paid for by people like you! We count on individual donations to provide up-to-date water policy information and actions you can take to make a difference. Please, if you have used our action alert system to contact a decision-maker donate today to keep progress for clean water moving forward. Thank you!
Celebrating a Clean Water Win: PFAS Study Resolution
Beyond the incredible citizen engagement we saw this session, the biggest win we are celebrating is the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 46, which initiates a statewide study to identify toxic PFAS chemicals in our drinking water!
It was a tense night on Saturday as we watched the clock tick down to midnight – the deadline for bills to pass – waiting to see if SCR 46 would make it across the finish line. At 11:30PM the legislature finally took up the resolution and it passed!
So what’s next for the PFAS study? The plan outlined in SCR 46 requires the WVDEP and the DHHR to work together to sample untreated water near public drinking water intakes across the state for the presence of PFAS. Starting in 2021, the agencies must report the study findings to the Legislature on a semi-annual basis. The data collected during the study will help public health and environmental protection agencies determine the next steps to protect us from PFAS exposure.
Throughout the study, WV Rivers will be tracking the data collection and making sure the public is updated on findings. But first, we need to work to ensure the study is fully funded. We have meetings planned in the coming days to determine funding strategies and how you can help push those forward – so, stay tuned!
Senator Manchin Leads Us Closer to Historic Public Lands Funding
Not only do we have good news to share from Charleston, in DC good things are happening for public lands! A new bipartisan bill being led by Senator Manchin that will provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog in our national parks appears to be on track for immediate passage, read more here.
Senator Manchin led the advancement of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last November. Not only does LWCF funding enjoy bipartisan support, but now President Trump has called on Congress to pass the bill.
WV Department of Agriculture Commits to Partnerships for Clean Water and Healthy Farms
Small farms are leading the way for clean water through their conservation practices – like stream fencing and maintaining healthy vegetation to keep soil in place. In fact, the WV Conservation Agency presents a Conservation Farm of the Year award to recognize farming practices that benefit the environment. Read about the 2019 Conservation Farm of the Year finalists here.
Now the state’s Department of Agriculture is taking their commitment to conservation a step further. In February, WV Rivers was invited to a roundtable discussion on agriculture and the environment hosted by WV Department of Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt. In addition to WV Rivers executive director Angie Rosser, the meeting included the USEPA, the Governor’s Office, the WV Farm Bureau, and academic institutions. The attendees discussed conservation programs and inter-agency collaboration to support farmers’ efforts to protect and improve water quality.
The roundtable discussion ended with Commissioner Leonhardt and USEPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio signing a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding to work together to expand opportunities that support clean water and sustainable farms. Read more about the agreement here.
Citizen Advocates Bring Clean Water Message to Capitol Hill
As part of the Choose Clean Water Coalition’s annual “Bay Day on Capitol Hill”, WV Rivers led a delegation of 10 West Virginians, representing six different organizations, in meetings with members of Congress. The day started with a one-on-one meeting with Senator Capito, followed by meetings with staff members of Senator Manchin and Representatives Mooney, McKinley, and Miller.
During Bay Day, we joined more than 100 clean water advocates from across the Chesapeake Bay watershed in speaking up for federal clean water policy and investments. In total, Choose Clean Water Coalition members met with 41 of the 44 Congressional members in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – a new record!
Save the Date: West Virginia Woods and Waters Symposium – March 26
Join a virtual discussion on statewide initiatives for economic growth around woods and waters in our region at the WV Woods and Waters Symposium, March 26. During the symposium, you’ll hear from keynote speakers with WV Rivers Coalition, WV Forest Farming Initiative, and WVU Extension and USFS Specialists with MonForest Towns Initiative.
Advise WV Rivers Next Strategic Plan – Take Our Confidential Survey
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!