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WV Rivers Water Policy Updates: Week 1 of the 2016 Legislative Session

posted Jan 18, 2016, 11:40 AM by Kathleen Tyner
Water Policy Call to Action - Week 1
In each weekly WV Rivers Water Policy Update we'll highlight the most important action you take for clean water that week. In-depth information about the actions can be found in the articles below.

This week's action: Click here to contact the Senate Energy, Industry & Mining Committee members and tell them:
  • Don't allow more pollution into our waters and reject changes to our water quality standards in SB 180.
  • Protect our water by strengthening tank regulations in SB 181.
Legislative Session Opens

We’re off and running as the WV Legislature is already moving at a quick pace. We hope you’ll be stepping with us in actions needed to protect our water. To get you oriented, we’ve prepared a legislative priorities packet that overviews our priorities. Two of those are already on the move, introduced as SB 180 revising water quality standards and SB 181 related to aboveground storage tanks. Read below for more details!

Water Quality Standards – What’s at Stake

Proposed hardness-based criteria will allow 5-40 times more aluminum in the light to dark brown shaded watersheds. The proposed rule change will drastically weaken the Aluminum criteria.

Senate Bill 180, relating to requirements governing water quality standards, was introduced the first day of the session and is expected to move through its assigned committees soon. The bill includes revisions to two standards: aluminum and selenium. These standards determine how much of these pollutants are allowed to be present in our rivers and streams. Both aluminum and selenium cause harm to aquatic life, and this legislation changes the standards to allow more pollution. We’re opposing these changes, and will need your help in getting the message across. The bill’s first stop in the process is the Senate Energy, Industry & Mining Committee. Let those members know to not allow more pollution in our waters and reject SB 180!

Tank Regulations Challenged in Court
WV Rivers Coalition, along with WV Citizen Action Group, were successful in intervening in a court challenge on behalf of our members and citizens who have an interest in the protection of their water supply. Last Friday wrapped up a two-day hearing on an appeal filed by the Independent Oil & Gas Association to discard the protection zones that determine which tanks are regulated under the Aboveground Storage Tank Act enacted in the wake of the Freedom Industries’ disaster. Our expert witness, Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies, testified to the importance of the law in preventing contamination to our drinking water supplies. A decision on the case will be made in a few weeks.

In the meantime, we’ll be working with legislators on addressing shortcomings of SB 181 that lays out tank regulations. Like the water quality standards bill, it’s first stop is the Senate Energy, Industry & Mining Committee. Tell those members to protect our water by strengthening tank regulations in SB 181. Click here for more information on our recommended improvements.

Join Us at E-Day

WV Rivers is a member of the WV Environmental Council which is hosting “E-Day at the Capitol” on Tuesday, January 26 from 10-3. Join citizens from across the state in promoting a healthy environment by coming to the Capitol and adding your voice. There’s also a Legislative Kick-Off Blast happening tomorrow at the Women’s Club in Charleston – bring your dancing shoes to groove to the tunes of That High Country Revival. More info here.