Water Policy News: Fifth Week of the 2021 Session

Easy Action for Clean Water

Each week of the legislative session, we share an easy action for clean water, it only takes a few minutes and it is the most urgent call to action.

Easy Action: Thank members of the House of Delegates who voted for clean water.

Water Quality Standards Rule Advances to the Senate

Delegate Evan Hansen introduced an amendment to HB 2382 which would update human health criteria that the EPA recommends need to become more stringent.

Today, 3/12, the House of Delegates voted on the WVDEP rules bundle, HB 2382, which contains revisions to water quality standards. The rule sets new standards for human health criteria, the provision in our water quality standards that determines how much of a pollutant can be discharged into rivers and streams. As proposed by WVDEP, 24 toxins would see changes to criteria – values in 11 standards would be strengthened and 13 would be weakened.

Yesterday, 3/11, Delegate Evan Hansen introduced an amendment on the House floor which would revise the human health criteria for all toxins which the EPA recommends West Virginia update to become more stringent to adequately protect human health. . The amendment fail on a 75-24 voteWe appreciate the courage of the 24 Delegates that took a stand for policy that prioritizes public health and water safety! 

Today’s vote, which advanced HB 2382 to the Senate, passed on a 73-24 vote. Keep your eyes on your email inbox, we’ll let you know when it’s time to contact the Senate!

Learn more: The WVDEP proposed water quality standards rule has a long and complex history. You can view resources on the rule below:

Oil and Gas Tank Exemption Bill Heads to Senate After House Vote

Delegate Mike Pushkin speaks passionately about the dangers of HB 2598.

On Wednesday, 3/10, the House of Delegates passed HB 2598, the bill that would exempt certain oil and gas tanks closest to drinking water intakes from the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Act on a 74-26 vote. The deregulation bill in now in the Senate where it has been referenced to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Earlier in the week, Delegate Pushkin, pictured above, introduced a petition on the House floor containing the names of 755 individuals who spoke out against the bill through the People’s Public Hearing and WV Rivers’ action alerts. Joining Delegate Pushkin in passionate opposition to the bill were Delegates Doyle, Griffith, Walker, Barach, Fleischauer, Young, Evans, Pushkin, Zukoff, and Hansen who all made persuasive floor speeches.

Delegate Kayla Young recalled the 2014 Water Crisis, which happened days after the birth of her son, sharing that the experience motivated her to run for the West Virginia Legislature. Delegate Barbara Evans-Fleischauer encouraged members of the House to remember the unanimous bipartisan support that went into the passage of the AST Act in 2014. Read coverage of the House debate in the Charleston Gazette-MailMetroNewsWV Public Broadcasting and the Dominion Post.

Although the House has advanced HB 2598, it still has to work its way through the Senate. We’re going to need your help reaching Senators on this bill!

Thank Delegates Who Voted in Favor of Clean Water

With House votes this week on two important water policies, it’s essential to say “thank you” to the Delegates who voted in favor of clean water. Expressing your gratitude to decision-makers who listen to the voice of the people is an important aspect of being a citizen advocate. Let the Delegates that voted for clean water policies this week know you appreciate their vote! 

Tracking Water Policy: Bills We’re Watching

To keep up-to-date on all of our policy priorities, fact sheets and easy actions head over to our water policy webpage, and make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news.

Water Quality Standards

  • HB 2382: WVDEP rules bundle, including revisions to water quality standards. Passed House of Delegates; awaiting Senate committee reference.

Economic Development and Renewable Energy

Defending the Aboveground Storage Tank Act

  • HB 2598: Exempts certain oil and gas storage tanks from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. Passed the House of Delegates; sent to the Senate, referenced to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fully Funding the WVDEP Office of Oil and Gas

  • HB 2725: Relating to funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas. In House Energy and Manufacturing Committee.
  • SB 404: Modifying well work permits issued by DEP Office of Oil and Gas. Passed Senate; 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. 

Bills WV Rivers Opposes

  • HB 2810: Relating to the removal of the severance tax on oil and gas produced from low producing oil and natural gas wells. In the House Energy and Manufacturing Committee.
  • SB 616: Abolishing environmental advocate within DEP. In Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee.
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