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WV Rivers Policy Updates: News and Actions You Can Take to Protect Water

posted Feb 14, 2017, 1:28 PM by Kathleen Tyner
Easy Clean Water Action of the Week 

Each week of the legislative session we'll share actions you can take to help protect our water. This week, we're asking you to help spread the word and organize!

1. Share this email with your friends and encourage them to sign-up for Policy Updates. Help get more people involved, we'll need everyone to help defeat attacks on water.

2. Join us Monday 2/27, at the Capitol for E-Day! Attend a citizen advocacy training and meet with your legislators on issues related to water and the environment. WV Rivers is also looking for a few volunteers to help out at the WV Rivers table. Call 304-637-7201 to volunteer.

Justice Administration Says "NO" to 
Protecting the Public and Environment 

It's been one month since DEP Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton, pictured right, was appointed to lead the WVDEP and already issues over lack of transparency and public engagement are quickly becoming some of our primary concerns.

Just two weeks into the job Secretary Caperton fired two WVDEP employees whose primary roles were to share information with the public. Last week language pertaining to the reduction of noise and light from natural gas compressor stations was quietly removed from a related permit as requested by the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. 
Furthermore, requests to the WVDEP and Secretary Caperton, by the media to comment on these moves have mainly been refused or ignored. 

These actions are part of a larger alarming attitude towards the environment and the public exemplified by Governor Justice's State of the State Address, in which he said regulatory agencies are not there to tell industry "no." Governor Justice and Secretary Caperton seem to have forgotten that these agencies are here to serve the people and the environment of West Virginia, not industry.

SB246 – First Attack on Drinking Water 

Last Friday we saw the introduction of the first anti-water bill of the session, SB 246. The bill would allow more of the most harmful toxins to human health to be dumped into our drinking water supplies through changes to the permitting system.

Right now, our Water Policy Workgroup is carefully analyzing the implications of this bill and is preparing a fact sheet so you can take action.

SB246's first stop will be the Senate Judiciary Committee, please stay tuned for an action alert to make your concerns heard to those members.

Tracking Water Policy 

Since the 2017 legislative session began last Wednesday, we've been paying close attention to what bills are introduced and will be tracking them as they move through the legislature.

In addition to SB246 discussed above, two bills related to oil and gas have been introduced that aim to weaken private property owner's rights. Both bills are re-brandings of legislation that failed during the 2016 session.

SB244 - Encouraging and facilitating efficient and economic development of oil and gas resources. This bill would allow development on private property, even if the owner did not sign a lease.

SB245 - Permitting natural gas companies to enter private property without prior consent of owner for limited purposes. This bill gives pipeline companies the right to survey private property without owner consent.