Water Policy News: Seventh 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: Make a donation to support clean water advocacy!
2022 Legislative Session Closes on Saturday
The 2022 Legislative Session will close on March 12 and it looks like it will come down to the wire for two of the bills we’re tracking. Read below to learn more
Bill to Weaken Storage Tank Inspections Tabled by Senate Committee
On Tuesday, 3/8, the Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee unanimously voted to table HB 2598, the bill that would have removed mandatory inspections by qualified professionals of aboveground oil and gas tanks closest to drinking water intakes. Read an article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail and view the committee discussion here (starting at the 1:13PM mark) that includes testimony from our executive director.
We’re closely watching to see if the bill appears on another committee’s agenda. But the vote to table by the EIM Committee is a good indication HB 2598 is dead.
Your comments played an important role in shining a light on why professional inspections are so important for drinking water safety. Thank you!
Senate Finance Committee Debates Public Lands Private Development Bill
It’s been a busy week for public lands advocates.
The public lands private development bill, HB 4408, appeared on the Tuesday, 3/8, Senate Finance Committee agenda. But within hours, it was removed. On Wednesday, 3/9, it reappeared with amendments that addressed some of our concerns.
Our executive director, Angie Rosser, provided comments during the committee meeting advocating for environmental integrity of our state parks and forests. Our recommended amendment on adding in a public hearing requirement prior to the approval to any new private contracts for recreational facilities was adopted by the committee. Go here to see the video of the committee hearing, discussion on the bill starts at the 2:45PM mark.
The amended bill now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.
Public Hearing on Taxpayer Funded Mining Insurance Company
On Monday evening, 3/7, the House held a public hearing on a bill that would use taxpayer money to create a mining mutual insurance company. The bill, SB 1, would commit $50 million in taxpayer money to provide bonding for coal mines that are deemed too risky for traditional insurance. During the public hearing, nearly all testimony was in opposition to the bill. Read an article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
WV Rivers’ executive director, Angie Rosser, was one of the opposing speakers. WV Rivers and our allies are concerned that taxpayer funds would be used to enable risky mining ventures doomed to leave us with more unreclaimed mined lands.
West Virginia’s reclamation funds are at a crisis point. In June, the Legislative Auditor released a report that the fund available for mine cleanups won’t meet the reclamation obligations the state is likely to face. We recommended to the finance committee that it table SB 1 and give further study and consideration to the audit report’s recommendations. See our comments here.
WVDEP Oil & Gas Funding Bill Hits Dead End
This session, one our leading legislative priorities was shoring up the budget deficit for the WVDEP Office of Oil & Gas. Multiple bills were introduced to address the problem, and one of them, SB 480, was passed by the Senate. It crossed over to the House and landed in the Finance Committee where it was allowed to die without further consideration.
Now, the WVDEP is facing another year without adequate staffing to oversee the more than 75,000 wells across the state. This is unacceptable and we will keep pushing for a funding solution.
Tracking Water Policy: Bills We’re Watching
- SB 279 – the Water Quality Standards Rule. Completed legislation. Read more in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
- SB 4 – Repealing ban on construction of nuclear power plants.
- HB 4003 – Relating generally to commercial benefit of substances removed from waters of the state by the treatment of mine drainage.
- HB 4758 – Relating to a database to track reclamation liabilities in the WVDEP special reclamation program.
- HB 2598 – Altering the definition of an above ground storage tank. Will die if the committee does not meet again this session.
- HB 4408 – Relating to contracts for construction of recreational facilities in state parks and forests. Passed House. To Senate floor.
- SB 1 – Creating Mining Mutual Insurance Company. Passed the Senate. On third reading in House.
- SB 481 – Relating to Adopt-A-Stream Program.
- SB 480 – Relating to DEP Office of Oil and Gas.
- HB 4040 – Creating the WV Energy Efficiency Jobs Creation Act.
- HB 2812 – Local Energy Efficiency Partnership Act.
- HB 2287 – Providing for solar energy production on formerly mined land.
- HB 2725 – Relating to funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas.
- HB 4039 – Allowing increased civil administrative penalties to be promulgated by legislative rules of by the Department of Environmental Protection.
- HB 4055 – Clean Drinking Water Act of 2022.
- HJR 12 – Natural Resources and the Public Estate Amendment.
- HB 2980 – Amend Groundwater Protection Act to cover Karst Terrain.