S.B. 423, “Amending the Aboveground Storage Tank Act,” was taken up by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday evening, March 9. The Committee questioned several witnesses, including DEP Secretary Randy Huffman and Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies.
An amendment that would have made several improvements to the bill was proposed by Delegate Tim Manchin, but it was defeated 13-12. By the same margin (although a slightly different combination of delegates), the bill was approved for consideration by the full House.
Ken Ward’s account of the committee meeting is here.
On Friday the 13th the bill was before the full House, on third reading with right to amend. By voice vote, Delegates adopted an amendment by Judiciary Chair Shott and Vice Chair Lane that increased the frequency of DEP inspections of Level 1 regulated tanks from every five years to every three years. (Level 1 tanks are those within the zone of critical concern for a drinking water intake; those that contain hazardous substances; and those with a capacity of at least 50,000 gallons.) This amendment also strengthened requirements for tank owners to provide information to public water systems.
Several other amendments that would have improved the bill were either rejected or withdrawn. Of these, perhaps the most important was one that had been agreed to by Judiciary Chair Shott and Judiciary Minority Chair Manchin that was related to the bill’s “opt-out” provision.
S.B. 423 specifies that tanks that are already regulated under other laws, such as oil and gas tanks, may, in lieu of complying with the requirements of the ASTA, instead opt to have their existing permits amended. The bill gives the DEP discretion as to what if any additional requirements are amended in.
The Shott-Manchin amendment would have inserted the words “and are consistent with the requirements of this article” and removed the words “in the opinion of the secretary.” The result would have been a statutory mandate that requirements in permits and plans for all Level 1 tanks be as stringent as those specified in the ASTA. But the amendment failed by a margin of 32-67. If all tanks eligible for the opt-out do so, the number of WV tanks regulated by the ASTA could be fewer than 100.
S.B. 423 passed the House by a vote of 78-21.