Legislative Update 

By: Hannah King, WVEC Lobbyist 

Happy Friday! We are 9 days in and already have our hands full. Two bills we are taking swift action on: HB 2389, the water quality standards rule, and HB 2598, the above ground storage tank bill. 

HB 2389 is the water quality standards rule, which includes recommended updates from the WVDEP to our water quality. The rule would weaken 13 of the 24 recommended updates, allowing for more toxic pollutants to be discharged into our water supply. Let your legislators know that you OPPOSE the weakening of any water quality standards. With the 3rd-highest cancer death rate in the country, we can’t risk allowing more toxins to enter into our water. 

We requested a public hearing on Monday, February 15 for this bill, but the status of this request has yet to be confirmed. PLEASE fill out this action alert from WV Rivers Coalition and tell your House Judiciary Committee members to oppose the weakening of our water quality standards. We don’t know when it will be on the committee’s agenda, but we’re expecting to see it soon. 

HB 2598 alters the definition of an above ground storage tank. After the water crisis in 2014 that left 300,000 WV residents without drinking water for weeks (see Karan Ireland’s article below), the legislature enacted the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. This act requires all above ground tanks to be registered and inspected to ensure that no more chemical leaks will enter our water supplies. However, this legislation will create exemptions for certain oil and gas tanks from the Act, even those in closest proximity to public drinking water intakes, which is extremely concerning. Read more about the dangers of this bill here, put together by WV Rivers. 

This bill will be taken up by the House Energy Committee on Tuesday, February 22, so please fill out this action alert from WV Rivers Coalition and contact the committee members ASAP! Here is the link with the committee members and their contact info. 

We are also watching the container bill, HB 2500, which creates an act for Statewide Uniformity for Auxiliary Container Regulations. This means that local governments cannot place a ban on any auxiliary containers, which include plastic bags, to-go containers, cups, and more. So, essentially, if a county wanted to enforce the use of paper straws or eco-friendly to-go boxes, they could no longer do so under this legislation. Not exactly a win for our environment. 

Other information:

We are keeping a close eye on the legislation that was listed in our last update, but in the meantime, please follow our Twitter (@WVECouncil) and join our Facebook page to stay in the loop. 

If there’s any bills you would like more information on, please contact me at hking1275@gmail.com

To see the bills introduced in both chambers, along with committee agendas and schedules, click here. To listen and watch the House and Senate floor sessions and committees, click here.

Also, here is the WV Legislature blog, which provides details on important things happening in the House and the Senate. 

Our fight continues!!!

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