Legislation Weakening Water Quality Standards Advances to the House Floor

On Tuesday, 3/2, the House Judiciary Committee held a robust debate on proposed revisions to West Virginia’s Water Quality Standards. Read coverage of the meeting by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The proposal, submitted by WVDEP makes changes to an important part of West Virginia’s water quality standards called human health criteria. Human health criteria set limits for the toxins most harmful to human health in our water. WVDEP’s proposal makes changes to the limits for 24 toxins, 13 the proposed updates would weaken human health criteria, opening the door for industrial facilities to discharge more toxins and cancer-causing chemicals into our drinking water supplies.

The rule has been attracting a great deal of public attention and input, including through a virtual public hearing held earlier this week. West Virginia citizens from across the state have voiced loud and clear they do not want more toxins allowed in our water.

During the committee meeting, Delegate Chad Lovejoy led questioning of WVDEP about the public input process and implications of the proposed water quality standards revisions on public health. Delegate Lovejoy also offered an amendment to strip out those updates that would make the state’s current standards less stringent. The amendment failed on a 16-8 vote. Delegates Pushkin, Zukoff, and Lovejoy spoke passionately in closing arguments about the need to protect our water and reject policy that would lead to increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

The rule, without amendment, ultimately passed out of committee on a voice vote and has been bundled together with other WVDEP proposed rules into a single bill, HB 2382, that now is headed to the House floor for a full vote. It’s expected that the rule will be in amendment stage on the House floor on Friday, 3/5. Now is the time to let your Delegates know you oppose any revision to water quality standards that makes human health criteria less stringent.

We’d also encourage you to take a moment to thank the House Judiciary Committee members who voted “yes” on the amendment to reject any weakening of our water quality standards. Send a message here. See your Delegate below? Give them a call for extra kudos!

Delegate Nathan Brown (D-Mingo), nathan.brown@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3126

Delegate Barry Bruce (R-Greenbrier), barry.bruce@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3131

Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio), shawn.fluharty@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3270

Delegate Joey Garcia (D-Marion), joey.garcia@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3124

Delegate Chad Lovejoy, Minority Chair (D-Cabell), chad.lovejoy@wvhouse.gov, 304-430-3280

Delegate Ty Nestor (R-Randolph), ty.nestor@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3178

Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), mike.pushkin@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3106

Delegate Zukoff (D-Marshall), lisa.zukoff@wvhouse.gov, 304-340-3111

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