WV Rivers News: Session Wrap-up and Spring Events
Citizen Advocates Defeat HB 2598 – Oil & Gas Tank Deregulation Bill
The 2021 Legislative session came to a close on Saturday and we have some good news to share. The dangerous bill that would have exempted certain oil & gas storage tanks from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act was defeated! This means over 880 oil and gas storage tanks will remain under the protection of the Aboveground Storage Tank Act!
This victory demonstrates the power of persistent citizen advocacy. Over the course of the legislative session, more than 20,800 messages were sent to members of the WV Legislature on the dangers of this bill. Defeat of this bill is a good reminder that every email and every call makes a difference. Thank you for your dedication to clean, fresh, safe water in West Virginia!
Water Policy Wrap-up: What Bills Passed; What Bills Failed
WV Rivers executive director, Angie Rosser, and E-Council lobbyist Hannah King at the Capitol.
It was certainly a busy session for environmental and water policy! WV Rivers is thankful for the trust you put in us to be your voice at the Capitol on water quality issues. Looking back over the session, we are struck by the thousands of citizens that took action through our digital action alerts. In all, citizen advocates sent over 48,000 messages to legislators over the course of the session!
There is no doubt that you influenced the legislature in their decision-making. Check out this article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail to read more.
Below, we’ve prepared a brief overview of all the bills we tracked as well as their status at the end of the session.
- HB 2382: WVDEP rules bundle, including revisions to water quality standards that allows for more chemical toxins in our water.
- SB 404: Modifying well work permits issued by DEP Office of Oil and Gas. This bill helps to partially fund the Office of Oil & Gas.
- 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. This bill prohibits the use of firefighting foam for testing purposes which contains dangerous PFAS chemicals.
- HB 2667: Creates a cost saving program for state buildings regarding energy efficiency. This bill helps promote energy efficiency in state buildings.
- HB 3310: Relating generally to the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission. This bill allows permitting third-party ownership of solar energy generating facilities through power purchase agreements.
- HB 2598: Exempts certain oil and gas storage tanks from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act (ASTA).
- 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.
- HB 2588: Creating the WV Energy Efficiency Jobs Creation Act.
- 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. Components of this bill were amended into SB 542 on the House floor, but ultimately the amendments were removed.
- HB 2980: Amend Groundwater Protection Act to cover Karst Terrain. This bill provides additional protections for groundwater.
- HB 2810: Relating to the removal of the severance tax on oil and gas produced from low producing oil and natural gas wells.
- SB 616: Abolishing environmental advocate within DEP.
- SB 716: Encouraging public access and use of state roads and trails. This bill opens the door to use of off-highway vehicles on state public lands.
- HB 2630: Requiring DEP to reimburse fines paid by towns, villages and communities in certain instances. This bill may conflict with federal Clean Water Act requirements.
Great American Outdoors Act Provides Funding for Mon National Forest
So many of you helped to advocate for the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act last summer. Now, we’re seeing the benefits of the Act in action! The Monongahela National Forest has announced a list of nine projects that will be funded by the Great American Outdoors Act for fiscal year 2021.
The projects will address deferred maintenance issues in the forest like upgrades to infrastructure and projects that benefit the forests ecosystems.
We would like to, once again, thank Senator Manchin, Senator Capito, and Representative Miller for their leadership and support of the Great American Outdoors Act!
Federal Infrastructure Plan Would Benefit WV Water
The Biden Administration has unveiled its ambitious infrastructure plan, which would bring billions of dollars to Appalachia and West Virginia. Some highlights from the policy package include:
- $100 billion in grants and loans to improve water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and eliminate all lead pipes and service lines that supply drinking water.
- $16 billion to plug thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells and reclaim coal mines.
- $50 billion to improve the resilience of infrastructure to the effects of climate change.
Stay tuned! We’ll be share more information on the infrastructure plan as it moves through Congress.
Book on Water Crisis Wins Award
A book examining the 2014 Water Crisis has won the Nonfiction Weatherford Award for Best Books about Appalachia.
I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis tells the story of the 2014 Water Crisis through oral history and collaborative ethnography. WV Rivers’ executive director Angie Rosser provided the book’s afterword. Through the authors’ generosity, royalties from the book’s sales, as well as the monies from the Weatherford Award, will be donated to WV Rivers.
Freefolk Brewery in Fayetteville Releases Beer Benefiting WV Rivers
We’re excited to partner with Freefolk Brewery in Fayetteville for the release of their new Guyandotte Blue Crawdad beer, part of their Wild and Free series. The easy drinking Berliner Weis, brewed with spicebush and orange peel, will be available for purchase after April 17. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to WV Rivers! If you’d like to pour this brew into your pint glass, check these local craft beer sellers or order directly from Freefolk to have the brew shipped directly to your door (available in WV only).
Discounted Tickets to Virtual Spring Shindig Fundraiser End 4/13
Get Your Candy Darter Pint Glass!
Join WV Rivers and celebrate the end of the legislative session and help put a little FUN in Science Fund, by gathering together for a virtual Spring Shindig Fundraiser on April 27 at 7:00pm!Learn more.
Each spring, we need to raise funds to replenish our coffers after the legislative session. Our science-based policy advocacy is paid for by your tax-deductible donations to our Science Fund! Your gifts make our weekly water policy updates, scientific testimony, and easy commenting through our action alerts all possible.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 27 at 7pm
WHERE: On Zoom. We’ll share a link to join after you purchase your ticket.
Buy your tickets by midnight 4/13 for Early Bird pricing. Prices increase on 4/14. Tickets are priced as follows:
$75 VIP (Very Important Pint glass) tickets include a limited edition Candy Darter pint glass, to hoist as we toast to clean water. Or join the fun without a pint glass for a $50 donation. Purchase your ticket soon!