Water Policy News: Sixth Week of the 2021 Session
Two Water Policy Priorities in Senate Judiciary Committee
After both the oil & gas tank deregulation bill, HB 2598, and the water quality standards rule, HB 2382, passed out of the House of Delegates the bills were assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On Tuesday, 3/16, the water quality standards rule was on the committee’s agenda and we had arranged to provide testimony, but when it became clear that the committee would not have adequate time to address the rule, the chairman decided to take the rule off of the agenda.
Water Policy in the News
Water policy has been a hot issue this session with coverage on the debate appearing in media outlets across the state. We’ve prepared a round-up of stories shining a light on water policy.
- As Legislature convenes, public won’t be where the public discourse is – 2/7/2021, MetroNews
- Dozens speak out against changes to tank bill at public hearing organized separate from Legislature – 2/26/2021, MetroNews
- House Judiciary public hearing on water quality rule draws 24 against DEP proposal, 8 in favor – 3/1/2021, Dominion Post
- West Virginia lawmakers are limiting access because of COVID. Some critics say the rules have reduced citizen input. – 2/23/2021, Mountain State Spotlight Public Broadcasting
- David Lillard: Industry can’t be bothered by responsibility (Opinion) – 2/23/2021, Charleston Gazette Mail
- Mike Pushkin: Rolling back regulations on tanks invites disaster (Opinion) – 3/9/2021, Charleston Gazette Mail
- Evan Hansen: Time to support the Coal Community Comeback bill – 3/13/2021, Charleston Gazette Mail
WVDEP Office of Oil & Gas Funding
- DEP to cut more than third of its staff – 2/5/2021, Dominion Post
- Lawmakers, Advocates Call To Fully Fund State Oil And Gas Regulator – 2/4/2021, WV Public Broadcasting
- House approves Senate bill to raise money to provide more well inspectors for Office of Oil and Gas – 3/13/2021, Dominion Post
Water Quality Standards
- W.Va. House Judiciary Committee Holds First Public Hearing Of 2021 On Water Quality Bill – 3/1/2021, WV Public Broadcasting
- WV House passes easing of water quality standards – 3/12/2021, Charleston Gazette Mail
Oil & Gas Storage Tank Deregulation Bill
- Energy and Manufacturing Committee advances rollback of oil and gas waste tank oversight to full House – 2/23/2021, Charleston Gazette Mail
- House Energy OKs bill to remove 800-plus above-ground storage tanks from 2014 regulatory program – 2/23/2021, Dominion Post
- House passes bill exempting tanks near water intakes – 3/10/2021, MetroNews
- Water utilities, state environmental regulators wary of bill that would relax oil and gas tank oversight – 3/15/2021, Charleston Gazette Mail
Halfway Through the Session – What’s Next
We just passed the halfway point of the 2021 legislative session and the end is in sight! March 28 marks the 47th day of the session, bills are due out of committees in their chamber of origin to ensure they have three full days for readings on the floor. It’s during the readings that the legislative chamber (House or Senate) can vote to amend the bill and vote whether to pass the bill to the opposite chamber or not.
March 31, is known as “cross-over day”, it’s the deadline for bills to move from their originating chamber to the opposite chamber. That means that if bills do not “cross-over” by the end of March 31, they are essentially dead and will not become law this session.
Check out this resource from the West Virginia Legislature on how a bill becomes a law for a full explanation of the legislative process.
Tracking Water Policy: Bills We’re Watching
Below, we’ve put together a handy tracker on all of the bills we’re watching – including the four policies we’ve prioritized this session. If you are looking for more in depth information on these issues, head over to our water policy webpage for factsheets and previous editions of our weekly water policy news.
Priority: Water Quality Standards
- HB 2382: WVDEP rules bundle, including revisions to water quality standards that would allow for more chemical toxins in our water. Learn more. Passed House of Delegates; in the Senate Judiciary Committee – Contact members of the Committee now!
Priority: Defending the Aboveground Storage Tank Act
- HB 2598: Exempts certain oil and gas storage tanks from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act (ASTA). This bill would exempt around 880 storage tanks close to drinking water intakes from regular inspections under the ASTA, putting our drinking water at risk. Learn more. Passed the House of Delegates; in Senate Judiciary Committee. Contact members of the Committee.
Priority: Fully Funding the WVDEP Office of Oil and Gas
- HB 2725: Relating to funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas by establishing an annual fee per well that would fully fund the Office. In House Energy and Manufacturing Committee.
- SB 404: Modifying well work permits issued by DEP Office of Oil and Gas. This bill would help to partially fund the Office of Oil & Gas. Read more about the bill. Completed legislation.
Priority: Economic Development and Renewable Energy
- HB 2588: Creating the WV Energy Efficiency Jobs Creation Act. In House Energy and Manufacturing Committee.
- HB 3198: Establishing a program to facilitate the recovery of areas of the state that have been impacted by the reduction of coal production and consumption, known as the “Coal Community Comeback” bill. In Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee.
- SB 30: Permitting third-party ownership of renewable and alternative energy generating facilities. Learn more from our friends at Solar United Neighbors. In Senate Economic Development Committee.
- HB 3162: Permitting third-party ownership of renewable and alternative energy generating facilities. Similar to SB 30. In House Energy and Manufacturing Committee.
Other bills we’re keeping an eye on that have water quality implications.
Bills WV Rivers Supports
- HB 2722: Prohibiting the use of class B fire-fighting foam for testing purposes if the foam contains a certain class of fluorinated organic chemicals. We support this bill that would prohibit the use of firefighting foam for testing purposes which contains dangerous PFAS chemicals. Passed the House of Delegates unanimously; in Senate Government Organization Committee.
- HB 2980: Amend Groundwater Protection Act to cover Karst Terrain. This bill provides additional protections for groundwater. In House Health and Human Resources Committee.
- HB 2667: To create a cost saving program for state buildings regarding energy efficiency. This bill helps promote energy efficiency in state buildings. In House Finance Committee.
Bills WV Rivers Opposes