On Tuesday morning, H.B. 2289 passed out of the House Industry and Labor Committee intact (yay!). This is the DEP rule change that would restore “Category A,” or drinking water designation to the 72-mile stretch of the Kanawha River that runs through Charleston. Thanks to everyone who showed up for the meeting, and/or contacted committee members!
We are, however, expecting some bumps in the road in the Judiciary committee. Before the vote in I & L, Vice Chair Kelli Sobonya mentioned there are some “issues” with the rule change that would need to be considered in Judiciary. So Angie Rosser, Executive Director of the WV Rivers Coalition, promptly requested a public hearing in Judiciary. The public hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday, February 16 in the House chamber.
Our greatest concern is that delegates who are sympathetic with the Manufacturers’ Association and the Coal Association will use this rule change to attempt to remove Category A status from the 31,000 miles of WV streams that currently enjoy it. But the arguments of these industry groups just don’t hold up. DEP Secretary Huffman told the Senate Natural Resources Committee that the past ten years have seen tens of billions of new investment in West Virginia by business and industry, and no one has indicated to him that meeting Category A requirements is a burden. He also told the committee that the DEP has reviewed effluent data from industries located on the 72-mile stretch of the Kanawha that’s the subject of the rule change, and these effuents already meet Category A requirements.
H.B.2289’s companion bill, S.B. 167, is on the agenda of the Senate Natural Resources Committee for Monday at 10 a.m.
How you can help: Contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Natural Resources committee and tell them to 1) restore Category A designation to the section of the Kanawha that passes through Charleston, and 2) keep Category A status for the 31,000 miles of WV streams that currently enjoy it. Also, please attend the public hearing Monday morning! Talking points are here. After the public hearing, please help us fill the room when the Senate Natural Resources Committee takes up S.B. 167 at 10 a.m. in Room 451M.