As the sweet sounds and smells of spring emerge, we are emerging from an intense 2022 session of the West Virginia Legislature. Thanks to donations from our members, our persistence at the Capitol made the difference on bills impacting our rivers, public lands, and the health of all West Virginians.

People from all over West Virginia spoke up, like long-time advocate, Mary Lickert, of Kanawha County. She emailed us at 1:20am one night to tell us she had just finished calling 78 members of the House of Delegates. Mary, and thousands of citizens like her, count on WV Rivers to empower them to be confident, effective advocates for West Virginia’s waters.

Your donations power WV Rivers to provide fact-based materials and tools that make citizen advocacy possible, and impactful. Can you donate $35.00 today so we can continue to empower water advocates like Mary?

During the 60-day session, 1,128 citizen advocates, including 177 people who responded to a WV Rivers’ Action Alert for the first time, sent over 26,000 messages to legislators through our advocacy tool (which is paid for through your donations). What were the results?

Defeat of another attempt to weaken the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. The 2014 Aboveground Storage Tank Act helps protect us from another water crisis. Industry has been trying to weaken it ever since. After defeating similar attempts in 2017, 2020, and 2021, we did it again! Our science and expert testimony won out. The bill was amended in response to your concerns, and ultimately died in its last committee stop. You stopped the bill from reaching the floor.

Result: Tanks near drinking water intakes remain under regulatory oversight, with all inspection requirements preserved.

Angie, center, with Lucia Valentine and Hannah King, lobbyists with the WV Environmental Council.

Advocacy for oil & gas oversight and enforcement. Effective industry oversight requires adequate staffing of state regulatory agencies. WVDEP only has 9 inspectors responsible for 75,000 wells – that’s 1 inspector for every 8,000 wells! We shined the light on this unacceptable deficiency through fact sheets, media events, and action alerts.

Result: Two of our recommended funding bills advanced through committee, but neither passed the full Legislature. We will continue to press for a legislative solution, and appeal to the Governor to take emergency measures to address the staffing crisis.

Limits on privatization of our State Parks and Forests. Bills were introduced to broadly expand private, for-profit operation of facilities like amusement parks and ATV trails within our state parks and forests under 50-year lease terms. We provided testimony during committee meetings, held media events and activated grassroots advocates.

Result: Amendments were passed to address several of our concerns. We succeeded in guaranteeing public input on proposed new privately operated recreation, shortening leases, exempting Watoga State Park, and protecting our state parks from wholesale privatization.

Stronger pollution limits for 30 toxins. It’s been a 5-year slog to push the state to update human health protections within water quality standards. Our persistent involvement, and your voices, were successful in establishing stronger criteria for 30 toxic chemicals based on the best available science.

Result: 30 toxins received more stringent pollution limits to adequately protect human health; 5 toxins limits were relaxed and a new process for weakening limits on a case-by-case basis was created. We’ll have to remain vigilant!

Donations from people like you, who care about West Virginia’s rivers and streams, made this possible. Your support pays for essential tools and services like:

  • scientific research and analysis;
  • educational materials, like weekly water policy updates and fact sheets;
  • easy to use digital advocacy tools that connect advocates with decision-makers;
  • staff presence at the Capitol for in-person education of lawmakers.

Whether you can give $10 or $10,000, your gift matters. Our power is in each person doing what they can.

With sincere thanks,

Angie Rosser

Executive Director

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