Legislative Update – Week #5

By: Hannah King & Lucia Valentine

Bills on the move:
Aboveground Storage Tank Act

HB 2598 – Modifying the inspection requirements and the definition of an above ground storage tank

Sponsors: Kelly, J. (Lead), Anderson, Mandt, Horst, Barnhart, Conley, Cooper, Zatezalo, Queen, Rohrbach

Last Action: On 1st reading in the House, Special Calendar 02/11/22.

Summary: This week there was a committee substitute offered for this bill in the House Energy & Manufacturing Committee that was a compromise of WVDEP, Division of Highways and Republican lawmakers. In the Committee Substitute, no tanks in Zone’s of Critical Concern (ZCC) will be exempted, but oil and gas tanks 210 barrels or less in Zones of Peripheral Concern (5-10 hours upstream) must be self-inspected and self-certified by its owner or operator at least once per year and reported to the DEP. This would remove the requirement of certified professional engineers to inspect the tanks. It also requires that secondary containment inspections be performed and documented by the owner or operator at least once per month, instead of two weeks. While we are glad to see no tanks being exempted in ZCC’s, we do not support the rollback of regulations to the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. put into place to protect citizens from tank leaks. Also of concern, the second reference to the Health and Human Resources Committee was dispensed with, so the House will be voting on this legislation some time early next week. We oppose this bill. 

Please contact your delegates and tell them to OPPOSE the bill and to keep the current protections in place for aboveground storage tanks. For more information, check out this fact sheet from WV Rivers Coalition.

 

Recycling

HB 4084 – Relating to Advanced Recycling 

Sponsors: Zatezalo (lead), Anderson, Kelly, J., Reynolds, Howell, Miller, Forsht, Keaton, Mandt

Last Action: Introduced in the Senate on 2/9 and referred to the Economic Development Committee 

Summary: In the House Energy committee last week, we learned that manufacturing companies are looking to come to West Virginia to open advanced recycling facilities and grow the industry. As these facilities would be considered a factory, they would be subject to water and air permits from the DEP. It was stated by the WV Manufacturers Association that the recycling would come from any place, from homeowners to businesses, and that plastic recyclables #1-7 would be included in the process. They will also be purchasing plastics from businesses, which is a good thing. 

We were also informed that around 90% of the waste from the Nucor plant will be recyclable, so this bill seems to be an effort to allow these facilities to exist. We are concerned about this bill because of the toxic emissions that could be created from the incineration of multiple different plastics, as well as other pollution. We oppose this bill. 

 

Water Quality Standards Rule

SB 279 – DEP rule relating to requirements governing water quality standards (Sypolt; Judiciary)

Sponsor: Sen. Sypolt

Last Action: Passed House 2/11, Completed Legislation

Summary: These two bills are the water quality standards rules that include 35 human health criteria updates.

According to WV Rivers Coalition, this loophole creates a process for “the industry to petition the state agency for a site-specific human health criteria that would result in increased toxic discharges by a single petitioning facility.” This change gives the agency and the public a 45-day period to respond, instead of the longer, more-thorough process set forth by the Clean Water Act. 

While the bill was on Second Reading in the House on February 10, Delegates Hansen and Pushkin offered amendments to strengthen the bill. Delegate Hansen’s amendment would have restored legislative review in 8.2.c., requiring any site specific water quality standards changes still go through the Legislative Rulemaking Review Committee and the Legislature. This amendment failed. Delegate Pushkin also offered an amendment to restore the original DDT (cancer-causing carcinogen) criteria limits that are set to become less stringent in the new rule. This amendment also failed, but Delegates Pack and Capito voted along with all Democrats to support restoring the criteria limits. The bill was voted on today during session with all the Democrats voting in opposition. While we support the strengthening of the human health criteria limits in this rule, we do NOT support any weakening of water quality standards.

 

Zoning

HB 4553 – To clarify the application of zoning requirements to exempt wholesale generators 

Sponsored By: Del. Clark, Haynes, Anderson, Espinosa, Barrett and Riley 

Last Action: Passed out of House Judiciary committee and headed to House floor

Summary: This bill seeks to exempt wholesale generators from zoning ordinances. This would allow large scale energy projects to not have to follow local zoning codes. An exemption like this takes away protections in residential areas and has the power to change the landscape of communities. We oppose this bill.

 

Carbon Capture & Sequestration

HB 4483 – Relating to real property, tax and registration requirements associated with carbon offset agreements

Sponsored By: Anderson, Kelly, J., Graves, Ferrell, Holstein, Wamsley, Mandt, Clark, Hott, Zatezalo

Last Action: On first reading in the House on 2/14/22

Summary: During the December Energy Interim meeting, there was a presentation that detailed a few forest carbon capture contracts happening in the state. They couldn’t give specific details on who, where and how long the contracts were, due to the agreements being amongst private landowners and companies out of state (Mainly California corporations). The original version of this bill limits the contracts to 30 years, and imposed an excise tax on the CCS agreement.

The House Energy & Manufacturing Committee reconsidered this legislation on February 8 and had a new Committee Substitute to be considered. The Committee Substitute removed all taxes from the bill and extended the original 30-year contract agreements to 40 years. We are learning more about this bill. We don’t think private contracts should be limited by the state.

 

Bills we’re watching:

Boycotting Banks Refusing to Work with Fossil Fuel Companies

SB 262 – Relating generally to financial institutions engaged in boycotts of energy companies

Sponsors: Sen. Phillips, Grady, Martin, Maynard, Karnes, Hamilton, Woodrum

Last Action: Pending in the House Banking and Insurance committee

Summary: This bill allows the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office to publish a list of financial institutions that have publicly stated they are boycotting or not working with fossil fuel companies. It also allows the Treasurer’s Office to refuse to enter into a banking contract with any bank on the list. There are concerns that this bill might have a chilling effect on businesses who want to come to our state. We are working with other groups to try and amend or stop this bill, but it has the support of both the Treasurer and the Governor and is likely to pass. We oppose this bill. 

 

Fossil Fuels 

HB 3084 – Providing commercial discrimination of producers of coal, gas, oil, carbon-based energy, and other products in the State of West Virginia

Sponsors: Sen. Maynard, Steele, Anderson, Bridges, Dean, Paynter, Kelly, J., Zatezalo, Clark

Last Action: Referred to House Pensions and Retirement Committee

Summary: This bill also creates a restricted list of companies that divest funds from fossil fuel companies, but refers only to the funds in the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement system. It prohibits the investment of funds in companies divesting from natural gas, oil, coal, petrochemicals, forestry products, or agriculture commodities; empowering the board to name restricted businesses to a restricted business list; empowering the board to remove investments from restricted businesses with notice; providing for immunity for actors under this article.” We oppose this bill.  

SB 618 – Relating to zoning requirements for exempt wholesale generators

Sponsored By: Maynard, Caputo, Stover

Last Action: Introduced in Senate on 2/11/22

Summary: This is the sister bill to HB4553. This bill defined a wholesale generator as  any electric generating facility powered in any manner (solar, wind, nuclear, etc.) As it relates to zoning, this bill seeks to exempt wholesale generators from any local zoning ordinances. We oppose this bill. 

 

Electric Vehicles

HB 4589 – To reduce the amount of registration cost for hybrid and electric vehicles to the same as that of gasoline vehicles

Sponsored By: Haynes, Wamsley, Barrett, Hamrick, Hanshaw (Mr. Speaker), Bates, Pack, Pinson, Queen, Graves

Last Action: Introduced and referred to House Finance Committee on 2/9/22

Summary: This bill seeks to make the registration cost for hybrid and electric vehicles the same as the registration cost for gasoline vehicles by removing the $200 fee for electric vehicle registration and the $100 fee for hybrid vehicle registration. We support this bill. 

 

Geothermal Energy 

HB 4098 – Relating to Geothermal Energy Development

Sponsors: Anderson, Kelly, J., Steele, Boggs, Pethtel, Burkhammer, Riley, Statler, Westfall, Wamsley, Reynolds 

Last Action: Passed House on 2/10/22 and headed to the Senate

Summary: While there are many bills so far that are concerning and catering to fossil fuels, this bill presents an opportunity to regulate geothermal permitting in the state. The bill clarifies that the surface owners own the underground heat. This is a step forward for utilizing other energy resources in the state. We support the intent of this bill. 

 

Coal Mining Bond Insurance 

HB 4618 – Prohibiting state contracts with banks engaged in boycotts of energy companies 

Sponsored By: Criss, Bridges, Holstein, Linville, Howell, Householder, Steele, Anderson, Hott, Espinosa

Last Action: Introduced and referred to House Banking and Insurance committee on 2/10/22

Summary: This bill is the companion bill to SB262, authorizing the State Treasurer to publish a list of financial institutions engaged in boycotts of fossil fuel energy companies. This legislation also authorizes the Treasurer to exclude financial institutions on the list from the selection process for state banking contracts; authorizing the Treasurer to refuse to enter into a banking contract with a financial institution on the list. We oppose this bill. 

 

Solar

HB 4561 – Establishing a community solar program for subscribers to gain credits against their utility bills

Sponsored By: Hansen

Last Action: Introduced and referred to House Energy and Manufacturing committee on 2/7/22

Summary: Delegate Hansen is the sponsor of this bill, explaining that this bill “creates jobs, saves people money on their electric bills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.” We support this bill. 

 

WV DEP Office of Oil and Gas Funding Bills 

SB 613 – Establishing reliable funding for DEP Office of Oil and Gas (FN) Energy, Industry, and Mining then Finance

Sponsored By: Sen. Smith and Phillips 

Last Action: Referred to Senate Energy, Industry and Mining committee 2/10/22

Summary: This bill is similar to SB480 in that it creates funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas. However, this legislation creates funding by collecting 1.5% of 5% of the severance tax, taking money away from the general revenue fund to fund the DEP Office of Oil and Gas. We support this bill. 

SB 480 – Relating to DEP Office of Oil and Gas 

Sponsors: Smith (lead), Phillips, Clements

Last Action: This bill was placed on the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining agenda but has been removed twice.

Summary: This bill establishes an annual oversight fee of $100 for wells producing more than 10,000 cubic feet of gas per day to increase the current number of 9 inspectors within the WVDEP’s Office of Oil and Gas back to 20 inspectors. This bill states that it will “adequately fund the Office of Oil and Gas” but each inspector will likely still have 3,000-4,000 wells to oversee, which is still a large amount to regulate per inspector. We would like to see higher permit fees or monies allocated to fund even more inspectors and bring that number of wells down to a more reasonable amount. We support this bill. 

HB 2725 – Relating to funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas

Sponsors: Del. Hansen 

Last Action: Referred to House Energy and Manufacturing Committee then Finance

Summary: Securing more funding for the WV DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas is of great importance to us and our member groups, and we fully support this bill. The WVDEP gave their budget presentation to the Senate Committee on Finance this week testifying that, due to a lack of funding, there is currently just one inspector per 7,000 wells. This bill would require an annual oversight fee of $100 for each well that would fund the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas, with any excess to be used to plug orphaned wells. We support this bill. 

 

Waste Management 

HB 4505 – Abolishing the West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board (FN) – To Energy and Manufacturing then Government Organization

Sponsored By: Del. Hanshaw (Mr. Speaker) [By Request of the Executive]

Last Action: Referred to House Energy and Manufacturing on 2/2

SB 554 – Transferring functions of WV Solid Waste Management Board to DEP (FN)

Sponsored By: Sen. Blair (Mr. President) and Baldwin [By Request of the Executive] 

Last Action: Referred to Senate Natural Resources on 2/2

Summary: It is our understanding that these bills seek to transfer the duties and responsibilities of the Solid Waste Management Board to the DEP. This eliminates the independence of the board and its ability to assure proper and integrated solid waste management practices. Many solid waste authorities throughout the state look to the Solid Waste Management Board for guidance, support and grant assistance. We will keep you posted if these bills start to move. We oppose this bill. 

 

Coal Mining Bond Insurance 

SB 1 – Creating Mining Mutual Insurance Company 

Sponsored By: Sen. Blair (Mr. President) Baldwin, Jeffries, Stollings, Hamilton, Lindsay, Woodrum, Plymale, Takubo

Last Action: Pending in House Energy and Manufacturing 1/27/22 

Summary: This bill is designed to set up a mining mutual insurance company intended to provide: “An option for mining permit holders to obtain performance bond insurance that is available and affordable; and assure that reclamation will occur in a timely and predictable fashion in those instances where a permit holder fails to perform under the terms of the permit issued.” 

We oppose this bill because it requires a $50 million surplus to begin its operations, and this is coming from tax-payer dollars. Our citizens should not be footing the bill for outrageous reclamation costs that coal mining companies have left behind. While we would like to see higher bonding rates for coal mining companies to cover all reclamation costs, we’re not in support of tax-payer funded bailouts for the coal industry. We oppose this bill.  

 

Rare Earth Elements/Minerals

HB 4003 – Relating generally to establishing and implementing a program to explore and capitalize on the potential for recovering valuable and strategically important rare earth elements and critical materials from acid mine drainage

Sponsors: Keaton (lead) Barrett, Hanshaw (Mr. Speaker), Summers, Espinosa, Riley, Howell, Burkhammer, Clark, Pack, Maynor

Last Action: Passed House and introduced in Senate on 2/8/22. Referred to Senate Energy, Industry and Mining committee 

Summary: This bill establishes and implements a program to explore and capitalize on the potential for recovering valuable and strategically important rare earth elements and critical materials from acid mine drainage. Research has demonstrated that treatment of acid mine drainage can be configured to both improve the quality of mine discharges while recovering rare earth elements and critical materials. Previously considered a liability, ownership of acid mine drainage treatment byproducts is poorly defined. This legislation seeks to clarify ownership of these byproducts in order to incentivize acid mine drainage treatment while recovering rare earth elements and critical materials. 

There are two funds, the Special Reclamation Fund and Acid Mine Drainage Fund, which are currently funded through a bonding system program (per ton of coal is taxed at 29 cents per ton) and permit fees. 

Before anyone treats the mine drainage, they need multiple permits. The treated and discharged water MUST meet the state’s Water Quality Standards, and the party who takes on this treatment is reliable for any violations. If someone wants to clean up their drainage and potentially profit from any rare earth elements/minerals that can be extracted, they (the former operator, mineral owner, etc) can come to the agency and apply for the permit. We support the intent of this bill. 

HB 4025 – Providing exemption to severance tax for severing rare earth elements and other critical minerals

Sponsors: Anderson (lead) Kelly, J., Zatezalo, Pethtel, Riley, Boggs, Bridges, Evans, Maynard, Paynter, Burkhammer

Last Action: Passed out of House Energy & Manufacturing Committee, Headed to House Finance Committee 

Summary: This bill intends to increase economic development by providing tax relief on rare earth elements for the next 5 years. We support this bill. 


As new bills are introduced, we will add them to this list, along with any updates or changes on the current bills. If you have any questions or concerns about any bills, please reach out to Hannah King (hking1275@gmail.com) or Lucia Valentine (luciavalentine10@gmail.com).

Updated: February 11, 2022 — 6:27 pm

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  1. Who should i/friends contact for update re: 566 — ATV ?

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