Special Water Policy Update: Easy Action, Clean Water Priorities, Public Transparency
It’s that time of year again when the West Virginia Legislature convenes in Charleston to debate policy and pass laws. Normally, WV Rivers would be there, at the Capitol, providing Legislators with the facts on water policy. Not surprisingly, this year will be different. The Capitol building is closed to the general public and citizen lobby events, like E-Day, will be held virtually. Committee meetings in both the Senate and House of Delegates will be streamed, find links to the audio and select video streams here.
Before the session began, WV Rivers joined about 40 public interest groups in sending a letter to Senate and House leadership requesting an open and transparent session. We requested basic transparency measures, like posting committee agendas online prior to meetings, and providing opportunities for West Virginians to request and participate in safe public hearings.
WV Rivers’ weekly water policy updates and digital action alerts will be more important than ever to ensure your voice is part of the legislative process! Each week during the legislative session we send out emails, just like this one, that include the latest water policy news, analysis and urgent calls to action. Make sure you stay informed and sign-up for policy news and action alerts. Already on the Policy News list? Encourage your friends and family who care about clean water in West Virginia to sign-up too!
2021 Clean Water Priorities
Each year, WV Rivers sets a policy agenda that supports clean water, healthy streams, and a sustainable economy. This year we have four policy priorities that we’ll be advocating for throughout session. Learn more about our legislative priorities.
1. Water Quality Standards Rule. We oppose weakening water quality standards. Legislators will be voting on revisions to human health criteria within our water quality standards. The proposal before them would weaken protections for 13 toxins. Learn more here and take action.
2. Fully Fund the Office of Oil & Gas. We support an immediate fix to fully restore staffing to the DEP Office of Oil & Gas. In 2020, DEP’s Office of Oil & Gas cut nearly 40% of its staff due to recurring budget shortfalls. With 65,000 wells in the state, now there is only one inspector per 5,000 gas wells. Learn more.
3. Preserve Protections in the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. We support preserving protections for public drinking water supplies. Legislation has been introduced to exempt certain oil and gas tanks from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, even those in closest proximity to public drinking water intakes. Read more here.
4. Promote Economic Diversification and Revitalization
- We support measures that accelerate the development of energy efficiency programs and renewable energy to create new jobs in West Virginia. Read more.
- We support legislation that facilitates a “Coal Community Comeback” through reinvestment programs in communities most impacted by the energy transition.