Hello, West Virginia Environmental Council members and friends! Kayla and I are happy to be back again representing you this year at the Capitol. We intend to build on the relationships we made with our representatives last year and hope that some of the bills we support will benefit from the momentum they built in the first session of the 84th Legislature.
This year, our legislative priorities include:
- Supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency policies that benefit the environment, power customers, and the state’s economy.
- Promoting policies that are protective of our rivers and streams, and of our drinking water sources. We oppose legislation that weakens proposed or existing protections. We support legislative and budgetary proposals that ensure that the state agencies that regulate utilities, public health, and the environment have enough funding to do so adequately and according to their promulgated rules.
- Supporting legislation that protects public lands from pollution, erosion, and other environmental degradation and opposing bills that put public lands at risk.
- Encouraging slow and deliberate examination of tax credits, or the abolishment of taxes, meant to incentivize manufacturing growth. We oppose any credit or financial incentive which does not take the environmental consequences of industry growth into account. Likewise, we oppose financial incentives which take money away from regulatory agencies and make it harder for them to protect our environment and enforce agency rules.
- Working toward a solution that expedites the plugging of abandoned wells.
- Supporting legislation that is aimed at fair, transparent elections; opposing bills that allow any form of voter disenfranchisement or opaque campaign finance practices.
It’s day three and we are still wading through the pages of bills that have been carried over and bills that have been newly introduced. Watch our newsletter for bills that we are tracking next week!
There are two specific renewable bills we are supporting and have already begun to work: one permitting third party ownership of on-site renewable and alternative generating facilities–you may remember this as the power purchase agreement (PPA) bill–and one that allows large-scale solar arrays to be sited on abandoned mine lands (AML). This is Delegate Hansen’s Modern Jobs Act (MoJo Act). We expect to see both of those bills introduced next week.
It’s a wild ride at the Capitol, but we love it! And, we really appreciate all the support you can offer, whether in the form of feedback to us about certain policies, a visit to the Capitol for citizen lobbying, or your calls, emails, and letters to your representatives. We promise to keep you informed so that you can be as active and engaged this session as possible.