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WV Rivers News: Special Edition Legislative Session Wrap-Up

posted Mar 16, 2015, 11:34 AM by Kathleen Tyner   [ updated Jan 6, 2016, 7:20 AM ]
Tank Bill Rollbacks Pass

In a fight to the bitter end we saw SB 423, Amending the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, pass on a 78-21 vote. WV Rivers and allied lobbyists were working throughout the session to the minutes before the final vote on improving the bill that seemed destined to pass this Legislature. We were successful in garnering support for a couple amendments that strengthened the frequency DEP’s required inspections from every 5 to 3 years for Level 1 tanks and tank owners’ responsibility to share information with water utilities.

Though we gained bipartisan and leadership support of an amendment to tighten up a potential loophole for tanks to be determined in compliance with the Act under weaker standards, that critical amendment failed on a
 67-32 vote.

Thank you to all who made your voice heard through emails, calls, and long days and nights in the Capitol. For a glimpse into why we needed your support at every turn, check out the bill history
 here. We’re proud of our intensive efforts and appreciate your support! We know we made a difference.

It’s important to thank those who ultimately voted against the bill. Send an email to these Delegates letting them know you appreciate their vote to protect our water: 
patrick.lane@wvhouse.gov;tmanchin@manchininjurylaw.comstephen.skinner@wvhouse.gov;john.mccuskey@wvhouse.govandrew.byrd@wvhouse.gov;barbaraf@wvhouse.govshawn.fluharty@wvhouse.govken.hicks@wvhouse.gov;dana.lynch@wvhouse.govclif.moore@wvhouse.govlarry.rowe@wvhouse.gov;mike.caputo@wvhouse.govjeff.eldridge@wvhouse.gov;nancy.guthrie@wvhouse.govsean.hornbuckle@wvhouse.gov;linda.longstreth@wvhouse.govdon.perdue@wvhouse.gov;mike.pushkin@wvhouse.govchris.stansbury@wvhouse.gov;brad.white@wvhouse.govtim.armstead@wvhouse.gov;chris.walters@wvsenate.govjohn.unger@wvsenate.gov;corey.palumbo@wvsenate.gov.

Check out the Charleston Gazette’s coverage of the House debate here and our summary sheet of SB423 concerns here.

Another Way You Can Help
Our Science Fund helps Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies provide our team with technical expertise and data analysis to support our policy work.

Our effectiveness and credibility relies on having access to independent scientific expertise. With the intense demand to defend water protections these past months, we are facing a budget shortfall in our Science Fund. Can you help today to get us through this year? A contribution to our Science Fund allows us to hire specialists to provide technical analysis and testimony to decision makers and the public. Thank you for making our team strong at this critical time by making an online donation today.

Protections for the Kanawha Headed to the Governor

In a victory for the Kanawha River, the DEP rules bundle bill (HB2283) containing the removal of the Category A drinking water protection exemption for the stretch of the Kanawha through Charleston passed the legislature and will soon be on the desk of the Governor for his signature. We can celebrate a healthier future for the Kanawha River – congrats, everyone!

What’s Next for Our Water?

The rush of the legislative session is over for now, but our work is not finished. Here are ways we will need to be involved moving forward:
  • SB423 will restart the rule-making process for the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. We will need to be active in providing input throughout the process that will span over the year and be considered by the 2016 Legislature.
  • SB423 added a seat for the WV Rivers Coalition on the Public Water System Supply Study Commission. We will serve as your voice for source water protection on that Commission required to provide recommendations through 2019.
  • SB357, the “Coal Jobs and Safety Act”, included rollbacks in water protections. One of these involves a revision to the aluminum water quality standard by emergency rule. We will need to be active in providing research and input during the public comment process in 2015 leading to its consideration by the 2016 Legislature.
  • Source water protection plans are required to be submitted by public water systems across the state by July 1, 2016. Water utilities must make efforts to involve the public in the development of these plans. We will be working with citizens and watershed groups to make sure the public has a voice in the process.
  • The impact of unconventional oil and gas development (“fracking”) on our water supplies needs our continued attention. We will be involved in tracking the required monitoring at landfills accepting drilling waste; weighing in on a legislative interim study to frack on public lands; providing input into proposed major transmission pipeline construction projects; collecting baseline water quality data along proposed pipeline routes and watersheds most threatened by impacts from shale gas development – click here to learn more about becoming a volunteer stream monitor.
  • We have several additional ongoing clean water campaigns including our Water Policy Workgroup, Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, WV Headwaters Waterkeeper, Clean Water Act enforcement, Ohio River mercury reduction, and Potomac River watershed restoration.
  • We will continue to support the facilitation of the WV Safe Water Roundtable, a diverse coalition of groups and individuals working towards clean water for all. Its next meeting scheduled for this Friday, March 20. To get involved, contact ktyner@wvrivers.org.
We Love Our Clean Water Warriors!

It was a grueling session, but the highlight was working with fabulous team of allied lobbyists and citizen activists. Check out our photo gallery of water warriors here.
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