We had hoped to spend a lot of our time working on proactive drinking water bills this year, including the Clean Drinking Water Act that is expected to be introduced next week. We believe, like most people, that safe, clean drinking water is a human right; one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves in a state that continues to make the false argument that to attract jobs, it’s okay to risk public health.
Every year, we see rollback after rollback of regulations meant to protect our most precious resources and so it’s no surprise to see it again this year. However, frankly, even the most cynical lobbyists and legislators were shocked to see how brazen HB 4079 is. Introduced on the sixth anniversary of the Elk River Chemical Leak, this bill weakens the Aboveground Storage Tank Act by removing Oil and Gas industry tanks that contain dangerous chemicals and are located in the Zones of Critical Concern (ZCC)–or those places closest to drinking water sources–from the provisions of the Act.
When major rollbacks happened in 2017 (HB 2811), (now) Speaker Hanshaw reassured reassured the public that, “Nothing inside a zone of critical concern is touched by this bill.”
That’s just one reason that HB 4079 is particularly surprising. We hope the Speaker remembers his hard work in keeping those Zones safe and that he does what he can to ensure the bill doesn’t ever make it to the House floor.
Right now, the bill is pending in House Energy. Your calls and emails to committee members are working! They’ve received nearly 700 emails and so far it’s not appeared on the committee agenda. Keep ‘em coming so that we can all focus on good bills like the Clean Drinking Water Act that we’ll share with you soon!