FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2017
CONTACT: Angie Rosser, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-437-1274
Trump Administration Moves to Undo Clean Water Protections
Rule repeal puts sources that feed drinking water for 1 in 2 West Virginians at risk
Washington DC – Today the Trump Administration put the sources of drinking water for more than half of West Virginians at greater risk, along with the streams and wetlands that filter pollution and provide habitat for wildlife, by starting the process to repeal the Clean Water Rule.
The rule was in place to clarify protections for West Virginia’s vulnerable headwater streams under the Clean Water Act. Over half (54%) of West Virginians get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams that were protected under this rule.
“This is a troubling day for water drinkers, river users, and wildlife in West Virginia,” said West Virginia Rivers Coalition Executive Director Angie Rosser. “Our state’s headwater streams supply the drinking water sources for millions of people; this rule was important for the health of our communities and everyone downstream.”
Rosser said that for more than a decade, many of our streams have been stuck in a legal limbo caused by two divided Supreme Court decisions, actions of the previous administration and inaction by Congress. The rule clarified that 8,390 miles of streams that feed into West Virginia’s drinking water sources were protected. Now those streams are put back at risk.
The Clean Water Act rule repeal announced today by the Trump Administration had been the subject of more than a million public comments, with 87 percent of those responding—including over 2,000 West Virginians, supporting the rule. Learn more.
WV Rivers’ Executive Director Receives National Award
Join WV Rivers in congratulating our Executive Director, Angie Rosser, on receiving the 2017 River Hero Award from River Network!
River Network created the River Heroes Award in 2001 to recognize and celebrate people whose efforts to protect and restore their waters have been extraordinary in scope, scale, impact and heart. River Heroes are nominated by peers, selected by peers, and celebrated by their peers at River Network’s annual conference, River Rally.
Angie’s colleagues applaud and celebrate her selection as a River Hero. Paul Daizell of WV Environmental Council credits Angie for inspiring him to work for clean air and water. “I would not be doing the work I do without Angie’s leadership, passion, knowledge, and clear focus on protecting the rivers,” he said. “She truly is a River Hero.”
Hilary Harp Falk, a regional executive director for National Wildlife Federation, of which WV Rivers serves as the state affiliate, said, “Being a woman conservation leader is not easy. But in four short years Angie has become a leader for rivers in the state and across the country.”
Angie credits WV Rivers staff and volunteers for the award, and for the growing awareness of the need for safe water. “Angie brings a unique leadership style and inclusive attitude that proves very effective in building a strong coalition of supporters,” said Autumn Crowe, WV Rivers program director.
WV Rivers outreach manager Kathleen Tyner said she appreciates Angie’s inclusive approach: “Angie’s ability to bring folks from different paths and viewpoints together, for the betterment of our rivers and streams, is an inspiration to all who work with her.”
WV Water Policy – We Won’t Be Silenced
As WV’s regular legislative session enters its final hours, the dust is beginning to settle and one thing is clear: polluters want to cover the truth and silence your concerns. A third bill that weakens water protections this session, SB 687 – the “coal bill”, is expected to pass. You did your part. You sent a total of 12,350 letters supporting clean water. We saw 51 people speak out for water during public hearings. We did our part. We provided 8 fact sheets and bill analysis to the public and legislators. We were included in more than 30 news stories and interviews. But ultimately more legislators chose narrow industry interests over the public interests.
Yesterday, we joined together with other groups to call our Legislature and Governor out for turning a deaf ear to science and citizen concerns. But just hours later, the House rejected an amendment to SB 687 which would have protected water. We’d like to thank Delegates Fleischauer, Lynch, Pushkin, White, Hornbuckle, Miley, Pyles, Isner, Moore, and Rowe for listening to West Virginians and voting for water. View press coverage here, here and here.
Today, as we look back over the legislative session, we’re frustrated and we’re disappointed. But we’re not giving up and we’re not going to be silenced. Next week, we’ll be sharing in depth analysis on what the results of this legislative session means for water in West Virginia and how, together, we will move forward.
Explore the Mononghela National Forest May 20-21
The weekend kicks off on Saturday, May 20, at our basecamp for the weekend, the Elk River Inn in beautiful Slatyfork, WV.
After check-in we’ll have interactive programs for folks of all ages. Learn about the natural wonder and beauty of West Virginia’s forests and rivers. Then join a Leave No Trace Master Educator for a training on how to leave only footprints when exploring the great outdoors. We’ll have an early BBQ dinner, then once the stars come out we’ll gather around a campfire.
field trips into the Monongahela National Forest. You’ll have the option to choose one of four excursions:
- Catch-and-release fly fishing;
- biking along the Cranberry River;
- an easy hike exploring the Highland Scenic Highway; or an
- advanced hike exploring the different habitats found in the Birthplace of Rivers.
Register for the Best of Birthplace of Rivers Weekend here. We’ll follow-up after you register with more information.
West Virginians Go To The Hill For Clean Water
A team of a dozen clean water advocates representing six West Virginia counties joined us on Capitol Hill on April 5 to meet with Congressional members and staffs to share stories on how federal funding has benefited watershed protection and restoration in the Mountain State. Chesapeake Bay Day on the Hill is organized annually by the Choose Clean Water Coalition, a network of more than 200 organizations from Bay states for which WV Rivers serves as WV’s state coordinator.
Fracking Permit Guide and Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline
Are you confused by the complicated permitting process required for shale gas development and it’s related infrastructure? That’s why we’ve created the Citizen’s Guide to Fracking Permits in West Virginia.
We’ll be holding a free webinar on the Citizen’s Guide on April 12 with our partner, Downstream Strategies. Learn about the Guide and how it can help you submit meaningful comments to the WVDEP. Register for the webinar here.
West Virginia Rivers Coalition and three WV Choose Clean Water Coalition members hosted WV House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles at a holiday reception in Berkley Springs, December 15. Leaders from Sleepy Creek Watershed Association, Warm Springs Watershed Association and Cacapon Institute welcomed Mr. Cowles to spend the evening learning about watershed restoration and protection efforts in the state’s Eastern Panhandle.
They were joined by directors of the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, who described how Chesapeake Bay Program funding and grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are the financial engines for restoring West Virginia’s Bay tributaries. “We’re making progress through voluntary programs,” Conservation Commissioner Jim Michael told Mr. Cowles. “But it takes money for these programs to work.”
Watershed groups also described the importance of upholding current “Category A” protections in the upcoming legislative session, and expressed concerns about a proposed natural gas service line that would run from the Potomac River through three Eastern Panhandle Counties.
Mr. Cowles then facilitated a dialogue about clean water and local economic development issues — including the tourism economy. Following the reception, Mr. Cowles volunteered to host Eastern Panhandle clean water advocates at the State House for a meeting with the region’s senators and delegates.
Legislature Passes Measure to Keep Public Informed of Threats to Drinking Water
Today the House unanimously approved Senate Bill 625 that allows for the sharing of information related to potential significant sources of contamination to local drinking water supplies. The Senate has also unanimously passed the measure, so it is expected to advance to Governor Tomblin’s desk for approval.
The legislation has immediate relevance as public water systems are involving the public in source water protection planning efforts. Following the 2014 Water Crisis affecting the nine-county area surrounding Charleston, a new mandate passed requiring most public water systems to submit â€œsource water protection plans by July 1, 2016. The water utilities must inform and involve the public in the development of these plans. However, conflicts in the law hampered the sharing of information on contamination threats. Senate Bill 625 clarifies that. Disclosure is permitted on any location, characteristics and approximate quantities of potential sources of significant contamination within the zone of critical concern to the extent they are in the public domain through a state or federal agency.
Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, notes the significance of the bill’s approval. This bill preserves the public’s right to information and involvement in the protection of their drinking water supplies. Now citizens can more meaningfully participate in source water protection planning with their utilities. Remember, the Freedom Industries chemical leak was first reported by a citizen; that shows the benefit of public awareness of threats and our role in helping detect problems and prevent disasters.
The West Virginia Rivers Coalition is convening a series of regional public forums to help citizens understand their role in protecting drinking water, and opportunities to participate in their local water utilities’ planning processes. The next forum is scheduled for March 22 at Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted from 5-7pm.