We need you at the Capitol!

During week two of the West Virginia Legislature, we faced the House Judiciary Committee where HB 2506, a bill that would further endanger our already fragile drinking water supply, was railroaded through. We called and you answered! In less than 24 hours, we had 233 people respond to the Rivers action alert, totaling 9,786 letters to judiciary committee members and over 90 phone calls were made. Thank you to everyone who showed up and spoke out in opposition to this dangerous bill.

The fight is far from over. A Public Hearing on HB 2506 is scheduled for 8:30am on Monday, February 27, 2017, which is also E-Day! We need you again to show up and speak out!


E-Day

Join us!
Sign up today to attend E-Day at the Capitol!
February 27, 2017 from 8am – 2 pm, Lower Rotunda, WV State Capitol

  • 8am – Registration
  • 8:30-9:30am – Public Hearing on HB2506, House Chambers
  • 9:30-10am – Citizen Lobbyist Training in room 151A
  • *9:30-10:15am – Meetings with Legislators
  • 10:15-10:45am – Rally in the Lower Rotunda
  • 11am – House Floor session and recognition
  • 12-2pm – Meetings with Legislators

Volunteer Hands

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
The WV Environmental Council needs volunteers who are willing to help us during our Awards Dinner and Silent Auction!
WHEN:

February 27, 2017

WHERE:

Woman’s Club of Charleston
1600 Virginia Street, East

Charleston, WV 25311

WHAT TIME:

The event is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Volunteers would be needed from 3:30-10 p.m.

Volunteers are needed for setup prior to the event, cleanup after the event, and miscellaneous tasks throughout.

The event includes live music by Johnathon Smith, jazz keyboardist for Grooveheavy, and delicious food by Debbie Matthews of Whimsy Catering, as well as Silent Auction prizes from local businesses.

For more information contact Laura at 202-253-6304 or loodavidson@gmail.com.

Awards Dinner

Honoring:

  1. Senator Ronald Miller — Chuck Chambers Public Service Award
  2. Chad Cordell — Laura Forman Grassroots Activist of the Year
  3. April Pierson-Keating — Linda Schnautz Environmental Courage Award
  4. Dan Conant, Solar Holler — Green Entrepreneur of the Year
  5. Junior Walk — Youth Activism Award
  6. Ken Hechler — Special Recognition Award
Cash bar and silent auction! Tickets are $30, $45 for couples, and $15 for low income/students. Purchase your ticket(s) today!

Legislative Roundup
by: Kate Leary and David Manthos


At the fall conference our members created a list of priorities, which guide our work this session. Check out our Legislative Priorities here.

Water Quality
This week the House Judiciary Committee fast-tracked HB 2506, a bill which will undermine drinking water protections and water quality standards in West Virginia. Like its Senate counterpart (SB 246), HB 2506 would significantly increase the amount of pollution that many facilities are allowed to dump into our rivers and streams.

At a packed committee meeting at 9:30am Wednesday, committee members heard testimony from Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies, Scott Mandirola of the Department of Environmental Protection, and Dave Yaussy of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association. You can read about the meeting and testimony in Ken Ward’s article here.

Gazette HB2506

Because regulators and operators do not have constant real-time monitoring of streamflow and pollution concentrations downstream of regulated facilities, they rely on mathematical models to decide how much pollution can be dumped into a given stream.
HB 2506 discards the 7Q10 stream flow calculation model which the DEP has used for at least 20 years to calculate maximum allowable discharges, in favor of a much less conservative model known as “Harmonic Mean.” These changes allow for more pollution to be dumped, even though the stream could be experiencing periods of low flow where it cannot adequately dilute the toxins.
The changes also allow for overlapping mixing zones, raising the potential local concentrations of pollutants further, introducing the possibility of chemical interactions, and potentially allowing large portions of a stream or river to be out of compliance with human health standards.
Thanks to your quick response to this dangerous bill, delegates received at least 90 phone calls in less than 13 hours – and they felt the pressure. Although the bill ultimately passed through committee 15 to 10, Delegate Riley Moore (R-67) crossed party lines to respond to his constituents and support clean water.
Natural Gas: Noise and Light

The DEP has eliminated provisions from natural gas permits which would have protected West Virginians from excess noise and light resulting from compressor stations and other major natural gas infrastructure. This change was made at the request of the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association, despite the fact that the noise and light protections had already withstood legal challenges from industry.

To say we are disappointed in this decision is an understatement,said Julie Archer, of our partner group West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization. “Eliminating these provisions is a huge disservice to those living near these facilities, and it’s shameful that we are going to allow their lives, health and property to be ruined simply because the industry doesn’t want to put adequate protections in place.”

One possible bright spot to this story is that a new bill in the house, HB 2170, contains language that would explicitly put noise and light considerations back into the regulatory structure, requiring continuous real-time monitoring of conditions and mandating the use of best available control technology to prevent disturbances to nearby residents.
Eminent Domain

Last week we introduced you to SB 245, a bill which would allow pipeline surveyors to enter private property without the permission of the owner. Since then we’ve learned that the language of this bill is copied from an existing law in force in Virginia, and the results on the ground there have been alarming. Tensions are running high, and several lawsuits have resulted from property owners refusing to allow surveyors on their land, with the pipeline company trying to claim that they are entitled to thousands of dollars in damages for the minor inconvenience of delayed operations.

In addition, since the law does not mandate a time period for the surveyors to arrive, landowners in Virginia have received notices of intent stating that the pipeline workers could arrive at any time after a given date- essentially an indefinite invitation to trespass. Needless to say, we don’t want to see this abuse of private property rights imported to West Virginia.
Campaign Finance Reform

We’ve seen a lot of positive energy on campaign finance reform this session, with multiple reform-oriented bills advancing in both the House and Senate. Most notably, HB 2319, which mandated disclosure for fundraising events taking place during the legislative session, passed the house unopposed this week.

Fundraising events held during the legislative session were singled out for particular scrutiny because of the potential to have legislators accepting donations from interest groups while they are still in the process of writing and voting on bills that affect those groups. HB 2319 would not preclude that scenario, but it would ensure that the public has access to information about donations in a timely manner, so that they can hold their lawmakers accountable.

Other campaign finance bills that have yet to advance include SB 64, which amends existing campaign finance disclosure laws that previously applied to individual donors to now cover fundraising entities such as political action committees. We’ll be keeping an eye out for other efforts to increase transparency as the session goes forward.

We need your continued support throughout the legislative session as we continue to fight on our legislative priorities and environmental issues.This was only the first salvo and we expect many more to come. We need your help to keep our water safe and the mountains we all love pristine.

 

Mar 31 2017 Action Alerts
Let’s keep the momentum going!
Kanawha River and WV Coal LegislatureMar 10 2017 Legislative Updates
Calling all Water Warriors: Resist!
Mar 9 2017 Legislative Updates
What’s going on, at the Capitol?
Mar 1 2017 Legislative Updates
And the Hits Just Keep on Comin’, and yet we FIGHT!

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