First Opportunity to Comment on Aboveground Storage Tank Rules

West Virginia Environmental Council Action Alert
May 14, 2014        WVEC Alerts Archive


First Opportunity to Comment on Aboveground Storage Tank Rules

As a result of the Freedom Industries storage tank spill into the Elk River on January 9th contaminating drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians, the Legislature passed the Aboveground Storage Tank Act (SB 373). The legislation requires the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to propose to the Legislature rules for this bill for the 2015 legislative session.

The DEP is seeking public input on what should be included in the rules related to how aboveground storage tanks are to be regulated. The deadline for these initial comments is May 15. This is your first chance to weigh in on the new tank rules, but there will be several other opportunities.

This is very complex legislation. But here are four things you can tell DEP you want to see as they develop these rules:

  • A Transparent Process – Ask DEP to immediately post online all comments throughout the rulemaking process.
  • No Loopholes – Only allow exclusions to the new rules if existing laws and rules hold tanks to the same or stricter standards.
  • Adequate Funding – Ensure that all new fees fully cover the cost of administering the new rules and program.
  • Public Access to Information – Include in the rule that all information required by the aboveground storage tank act be available to the public.

You can submit your message by email or letter by May 15.

The email address is WVDEPTankRules@wv.gov  Letters can be mailed to: WVDEP Tank Rules, 601 57th Street, SW, Charleston, WV  25304. The DEP asks that contact information be included in the letters or emails so that someone from the agency can call or write back with follow-up questions if necessary.

WVEC, along with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and others, has submitted a set of more detailed comments which you can download here:
http://www.wvrivers.org/archive/astacomments.pdf

Background:  In order to meet the deadline of proposing to the Legislature rules for this bill for the 2015 legislative session, DEP will file its proposal as an emergency rule this fall. On April 10 DEP announced that it is establishing a unique and expanded rulemaking process for this bill.

The first step in the process is this comment period for suggestions on what should be in the rule. DEP will use this information to prepare the first draft of the rule. When DEP finishes the first draft of the rule, around mid-July, they will distribute it for further review and comment. They will then schedule a “stakeholder” meeting to further review and “debate” the draft. DEP says it will accept written comments at any time during the process, and that anyone can be a “stakeholder” and included in the process. DEP will then finalize the draft and file it with the Secretary of State’s office no later than December 2014. At that time DEP will also put the emergency rule out for public comment, including a public hearing. The emergency rule will then be subject to the full legislative process during the 2015 legislative session. We will keep you posted as the process unfolds.

Don Garvin
WVEC Legislative Coordinator

 

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