Legislative Rulemaking Committee Votes to Weaken Water Quality Standards
West Virginia Rivers’ executive director, Angie Rosser, testified before the committee to make sure your voice was represented. She pointed out the hundreds of you who took action to say no more toxins and cancer-causing chemicals in our waters. While at the committee meeting, Angie learned that this rule had more public interest and participation than any other rule the committee had reviewed.
Fortunately, there were a few Legislators who stood up for protective water quality standards. During the committee meeting, Delegates Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) and Larry Rowe (D-Kanawha) led the charge to fight against weakened standards. They spent over an hour questioning WVDEP on why they only chose a small subset of the recommended criteria to update and for information about the harms and risks these toxins pose to our residents.
Delegates Fleischauer and Rowe and Senators Baldwin and Jeffries sponsored an amendment to strip out the updates that would weaken human health criteria. That amendment was defeated 4-7, with Fleischauer, Rowe, Baldwin, Jeffries voting for the amendment and Foster, Sypolt, Butler, Martin, Steele, Rucker and Weld voting against it on a roll call vote.
In the final vote to pass the rule, Fleischauer and Rowe spoke against the rule as it would weaken water quality standards. The rule passed 7-4 along the same lines that the amendment failed.
So what now? The full West Virginia Legislature will consider and vote on water quality standards rule when they commence in February. WV Rivers will be there to keep you informed and be your voice throughout the session. The fight for protective water quality standards is going to be an uphill battle, and every one of you will be essential to keeping the pressure on the Legislature. We’re going to have to work hard to ensure health and waters are adequately protected – get ready!