Water Policy News: Second Update of the 2022 Session
2021’s Failed Attempt to Deregulate Oil & Gas Storage Tanks is Back
With your help during the 2021 Legislative Session, we were successful in defeating a bill that attempted to exempt oil and gas tanks from the state’s Aboveground Storage Tank Act.
The ASTA is an important piece of legislation unanimously passed in 2014 designed to prevent another water crisis caused by a failed aboveground storage tank.
Now, a number of bills have been introduced to rollback protections of the ASTA. Two if these bills are currently in the House Energy and Manufacturing Committee and could be debated as early as tomorrow, February 3. Contact members of the House Energy Committee today!
We’ve already defeated similar legislation and we’re confident we can do it again with your help! Review our fact sheet on why exempting oil and gas storage tanks is a bad idea and send Delegates a message today!
Water Quality Standards Rule Passes Senate; Next Up House Judiciary
On Monday, January 31, the Senate passed the water quality standards rule, SB 279. The version of the bill advanced by the Senate includes an important amendment adopted in the Senate Judiciary last week. As the rule was originally proposed, it would have allowed polluting industries to petition WVDEP for increased site-specific pollution limits.
Approval of these changes could have opened the door for these increased pollution limits to be adopted statewide without full public input and legislative review, effectively bypassing processes designed to engage the public in policy change – like water quality standards revisions.
While this version of the rule is an improvement, the Senate’s version of the rule would ultimately weaken some water quality standards. The rule passed the Senate on a 26-8 vote, we are appreciative of the 8 nay votes.
Please consider saying thank you to the Senators who voted against rolling back water protections – Stephen Baldwin, Robert D. Beach, Owens Brown, Hannah Geffert, Glenn Jeffries, Richard Lindsay, Mike Romano, and Mike Woelfel.
Senator Richard Lindsay argued passionately for maintaining protective water quality standards, both in committee and on the Senate Floor.
Now, the rule will be debated in the House Judiciary. We’ll be working with Delegates to amend the rule to:
- Maintain legislative authority to review WVDEP’s revisions to human health criteria. As the rule is written, future changes to human health criteria limits would not go through the legislative process.
- Reject any revisions to human health criteria that increase the amount of toxins polluters can discharge into our water. The current rule revises the human health criteria for 35 toxins, five of those toxins would see increased limits. Meaning more DDT, benzo[k]fluoranthene, chrysene, methyl bromide, and gamma-Hexachlorocyclohexan could be discharged into our water.
Contact members of the House Judiciary and please ask your friends and family in West Virginia to take action too!
Legislative Workgroup Listens to Coal Communities’ Vision for the Future
In the Fall of 2021, the Coal Community Workgroup, a WV House of Delegates bipartisan working group, visited five counties struggling to revitalize their communities as national energy production transitions away from coal.
In each county – Marshall, Monongalia, Logan, McDowell and Raleigh – the Delegates listened to community members to learn what is needed revitalize their towns and economies.
The listening sessions advised the development of a report outlining specific steps the Legislature can take to help communities hit hardest by the decline of coal. Read an article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on the workgroup and their report.
The Coal Community Workgroup’s report reads like a blueprint for a just transition in West Virginia. What’s a just transition? It’s a term used to describe economic development and revitalization that doesn’t leave anyone behind or sacrifice the environment. It means people have the resources they need, but not at the expense of others or the environment.
During the listening tour, Legislators had conversations with everyday West Virginians like you and your neighbors. The political beliefs were diverse, but priorities were the same. West Virginians want access to clean water, basic infrastructure, and good jobs. We filmed some of the listening sessions, and you can hear from folks that attended. Watch the video.
Legislation that supports a just transition falls under one of our policy priorities for the 2022 Legislative session. Learn more.
Save the Date: Virtual Legislative Update – February 24, at 7:00pm
Join WV Rivers for a Mid-Session Legislative Update on Thursday, February 24 at 7:00pm on Zoom. We’ll provide updates on our policy priorities, and you’ll hear directly from the Legislators working to advance them. A Q&A will follow the presentation. Register for the Legislative Update.
Tracking Water Policy: Bills We’re Watching
Water Quality Standards Rule
- SB 279 – the Water Quality Standards Rule. The bill has passed out of the Senate and is now in the House Judiciary.
Coal Community Transition Support
- HB 4040 – Creating the WV Energy Efficiency Jobs Creation Act. To House Technology and Infrastructure.
- HB 2812 – Local Energy Efficiency Partnership Act. To House Government Organization.
- HB 2287 – Providing for solar energy production on formerly mined land. To House Energy and Manufacturing.
Preserve Protections in the Aboveground Storage Tank Act
- HB 4083 – Altering the definition of an above ground storage tank. To House Energy and Manufacturing.
- HB 2598 – Altering the definition of an above ground storage tank. To House Energy and Manufacturing.
WVDEP Oil & Gas Oversight
- HB 2725 – Relating to funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas. To House Energy and Manufacturing.
Additional Important Bills We’re Tracking
- SB 1 – Creating Mining Mutual Insurance Company. Passed the now in the House Energy and Manufacturing.
- SB 4 – Repealing ban on construction of nuclear power plants. Completed legislation. Headed to Governor’s Office.
- HB 4039 – Allowing increased civil administrative penalties to be promulgated by legislative rules of by the Department of Environmental Protection. To House Judiciary.
- HB 4055 – Clean Drinking Water Act of 2022. Addressing PFAS in water resources. To House Health and Human Resources.
- HJR 12 – Natural Resources and the Public Estate Amendment. The purpose of this resolution is to provide the people with the right to clean air, pure water, and maintenance of our State’s natural resources for current and future generations. To House Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- HB 2980 – Amend Groundwater Protection Act to cover Karst Terrain. To House Health and Human Resources.
- SB 481 – Relating to Adopt-A-Stream Program. To Senate Natural Resources.