Water Policy News: Eighth Week of the 2021 Session – Including URGENT Call to Action
Countdown to End of 2021 Legislative Session: Tank Deregulation Bill an Impending Threat
We’re in the final days of the 2021 Legislative Session and HB 2598 still threatens our waters as it is on the continues to pose a threat as it is on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda today (4/6). Contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, before they vote on the bill.
If your Senator is on the Senate Judiciary Committee – please call their office today! Find out if your Senator is on the committee here, we’ll automatically connect you to their office.
This bill would exempt certain oil and gas tanks closest to public drinking water intakes from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. Check out our latest fact sheet on the bill here.
It is crunch time to kill this bill! We’ve work hard to share factual information on the dangers of this bill with members of the Senate, but they need to hear from you! Please contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to say “no” to removing tanks from regulation closest to drinking water intakes. Contact members of the Committee.
Last week, the Charleston Gazette-Mail published an article placing HB 2598 and its attempt to gut the ASTA in the broader context of the state’s repeated rejection of chemical safety recommendations. It’s the final sentence in the story that really sums up what’s at stake if HB 2598 becomes law.
“Politicians can take an ounce of prevention by maintaining the law as it is,” Joseph Golden of Beckley said during the hearing, “or later pay a ton of cure.”
Tracking Water Policy: Bills We’re Watching
We’ve condensed our bill tracking list to those bills that are still active within 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 allows for more chemical toxins in our water. Learn more. Headed to the Governor’s desk for signature.
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; on Senate Judiciary Committee agenda today – 4/6. Contact members of the Committee.
Priority: Fully Funding the WVDEP Office of Oil and Gas
- 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, approved by Governor.
- SB 712: Relating to oversight fees for certain gas-producing wells. This bill would help partially fund the Office of Oil & Gas by establishing an annual fee for certain wells. Died in Senate Finance Committee.
Priority: Economic Diversification and Renewable Energy
- HB 3310: Relating generally to the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission. This bill involves allowing permitting third-party ownership of solar energy generating facilities through power purchase agreements. Passed Senate Judiciary Committee 4/5. On its way to Senate Floor for full vote.
Other active 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; on second reading in the Senate.
- HB 2667: To create a cost saving program for state buildings regarding energy efficiency. This bill helps promote energy efficiency in state buildings. On Senate Government Organization Committee agenda today – 4/6.
Bills of Concern
- 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. This bill was converted to a study resolution, meaning the Legislature will “study” the issues during its interim sessions and may recommend legislation for next year.
- 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. Passed House, in Senate Judiciary Committee.
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
- WV Senate passes DEP-backed bill weakening some water quality standards – 3/26/21, Charleston Gazette-Mail
- Senate Judiciary Committee moves water quality standard update closer to passage – 3/22/2021, Charleston Gazette-Mail
- 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
- House passage of tank regulation rollback latest in long history of Chemical Safety Board lessons ignored in WV – 3/28/21, Charleston Gazette-Mail
- 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