Water Policy News: Second Update of the 2022 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: Contact the House Energy and Manufacturing Committee, let them know you want oil & gas storage tanks near drinking water intakes protected by the Aboveground Storage Tank Act.

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 BaldwinRobert D. BeachOwens BrownHannah GeffertGlenn JeffriesRichard LindsayMike 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

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 Rule

Coal Community Transition Support

Preserve Protections in the Aboveground Storage Tank Act

WVDEP Oil & Gas Oversight

Additional Important Bills We’re Tracking

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