WV Rivers News: Meet Your New Legislators; Yeager Airport Expansion; New Methane Rule

The Need for Clean, Safe Water Unites Us

The mid-term election has reshaped the WV Legislature and we want to take a moment and send a sincere thanks to some of the outgoing legislators that went above and beyond to champion clean water during their tenure. Thank you Senator Richard Lindsay, Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, and Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer for your passion for West Virginia’s waters, wild places, and communities.

The 2023 legislative session will begin on January 11 and there are important decisions to be made on drinking water protections and public health. We’ll be meeting newly elected members of the Legislature to find common ground and advance policies that promote safe water. We won’t sugarcoat it – it’s going to be a tough session – but the need for clean, safe water touches us all.

You can look up your newly elected legislative members here. Consider sharing your priorities with them as they prepare to represent you. Read below for more information on setting up successful meetings with your elected representatives.

How to Meet Your Legislators in Your Home District

More than thirty advocates attended our October training on how to “Advocate Close to Home” an online webinar on how to build a personal relationship with your West Virginia state senators and delegates.

Miss the meeting or want to refresh your skills? Check out a recording of the webinar here. Right now, before the WV Legislature convenes for the 2023 session is a great time to meet with your newly elected members and returning members of the Legislature.

You are not alone as you advocate for the issues you care aboutFill out this form and a member of the WV Rivers team will assist you in setting up a successful meeting.

Send Comments to the FAA on the Proposed Expansion of Yeager Airport

Hikers on the Alice Knight Memorial Trail in Coonskin Park.

A proposal to expand Yeager Airport’s runway will destroy about 40% of the wild and forested Coonskin Park in Kanawha County.

During recent scoping meetings held by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials shared that the proposed project would eliminate 10 hiking trails and 20 picnic shelters.

More than 400 acres of the park would be impacted and about 2.6 million cubic yards of soil would be excavated from park property to build the 200-foot-high runway.

Coonskin Branch – a tributary to the Elk River – would become part of the runway and the stream’s flowing water would be diverted through a culvert. Learn more here.

The high elevation runway with its runoff, the massive excavation, and diverted Coonskin Branch all create flooding risks, and threats to the Elk River. Yeager Airport has already had one slope failure, and the proposed expansion creates opportunities for future subsidence.

Do you have questions about this project? Are you concerned about the impacts to Coonskin Park and potential flooding risks? You have an opportunity to ask questions and submit comments about what the project should include in its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS). Comments are due by November 29, 2022 at 5 pm (EST).

We’ve made it easy for you. Fill out this form to send your message directly to the FAA Environmental Program Manager. We have prepared a comment for you, but we encourage you to personalize it. Share how you love and use Coonskin Park. Your personal story is so important!

Parkersburg Neighborhood Gathers to Imagine the Future

On a bright day in early November, the Harvest the Vision Music Fest succeeded in transforming a residential block of Parkersburg into a space for community conversation and collaboration.

Born of an idea from two Parkersburg residents, Harvest the Vision brought together more than 200 people and families to connect and talk about their hopes for their city while enjoying music from local performers. Invited by local organizers, WV Rivers’ Ohio River Coordinator, Heather Sprouse was excited to lend a hand with the organization of the event.

Heather offered an activity for kids and adults alike designing a postcard depicting their vision for the city to be delivered to the Neighborhood Development Authority. People dreamed about more greenspace in their city, more flowers and wildlife, less pollution, better jobs and general clean-up of neighborhoods.

Residents envisioned a Parkersburg brimming with wellness and connectedness, with recreation and clean water for all. Conversations and events like Harvest the Vision are an important part of WV Rivers’ work to improve water quality – and quality of life – throughout the Ohio River Valley. Stay tuned for more community gatherings in the ORV!

Permitting Reform and the Mountain Valley Pipeline are Back in the News

Senator Manchin and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) are back in the news as talks resume on permitting reform and congressional approval of MVP. Negotiators from both parties are eyeing the National Defense Authorization Act or the omnibus spending bill as the vehicle, both options must be passed by the end of the year. Congressional leaders from both parties question whether there is enough support to pass the controversial legislation. We are keeping an eye on this issue and will provide opportunities for West Virginians to voice their concerns on this unprecedented action.

Proposed Methane Rule Would Benefit West Virginians

For two weeks world leaders gathered in Egypt to discuss how to address climate change during a United Nations Conference on climate change. During the conference, President Biden announced a new methane rule that would limit pollution of the greenhouse gas. The new rule aims to reduce methane pollution from oil & gas development.

This rule is especially important for West Virginians who are on the frontlines of methane exposure, which has a number health risks. Over 50% of West Virginians live within a mile of an active oil and gas well – the highest percentage in the nation. Not only will the proposed rule cut down on pollution, it would make gas production more efficient and create new jobs in the emerging methane mitigation field.

The United States, is responsible for the largest share of historical greenhouse gas emissions with approximately 20% of the global total. All of us will have an important role to play in emissions reduction. While the Inflation Reduction Act and methane rule are steps forward in providing funding for states, like West Virginia, to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of greenhouse gas reduction, there is much work to be done.

Mark Your Calendars for Giving Tuesday – November 29

Every year the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is reserved for Giving Tuesday, an international day of charity. This year, in the days leading up to November 29, WV Rivers invites you to consider supporting our mission to conserve and restore West Virginia’s exceptional rivers and streams. Watch your email and social media beginning next week to see how your gift – no matter the size – can make a BIG impact on our work.

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