By Lucia Valentine
The 2023 Regular Legislative Session runs January 11 – March 11 2023. The West Virginia Environmental Council’s list of legislative priorities includes bills we support and those we want to stop on a range of energy, clean water and public lands and elections policies.
I am on the 2023 lobby team and monitoring interims for the rest of 2022. Reach out to me with any questions, concerns, ideas or join me! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, you aren’t alone as you meet with your elected officials. Our partners at WV Rivers Coalition recently held a training on “Advocating Close to Home” to help citizen advocates learn how to call or set up a meeting with legislators and know what to say when you meet with them or their staff. Watch a recording of the webinar and access the links shared during the presentation on www.wvrivers.org/advocate.
2023 Legislative priorities
Community Solar – promote access to affordable renewable energy through a solar facility subscription service where customers can purchase an interest in a solar facility and use credits against their electric utility costs.
Orphaned Gas Well Responsibility – require bonds to be set before drilling begins to cover plugging costs for gas wells that are abandoned or orphaned.
Adequate funding for inspectors for the WV DEP Office of Oil and Gas – support a tiered annual fee to create consistent annual funding to hire more inspectors and properly manage wells.
Mineland Reclamation – monitor the implementation of 2022’s SB 1 which allocates taxpayer funds to provide bonds for high-risk coal operations.
Advanced Nuclear – monitor 2022’s bill to repeal the state’s ban on nuclear power, while opposing expansion of this energy source if no safe long-term storage is available.
Hydrogen Hub/CCS – monitor legislative developments and oppose any proposal that increases carbon emissions through use of fossil fuels.
Aboveground Storage Tank Legislation – prevent further rollback of legislation passed after the 2014 chemical spill in Charleston. Recently defeated bills would have relaxed inspection requirements on oil and gas tanks located within zones of critical concern.
Safe Drinking Water – provide adequate public health protections from toxins threatening our drinking water supplies, specifically a group of chemicals known as “PFAS” or forever chemicals.
Water Quality Standards/Triennial Review – provide outreach and education at legislative public meetings as legislature and WV DEP develop water quality standard rules.
Public Lands – defeat proposals to open up public lands to Off-Road Vehicles and other legislation that would degrade West Virginia’s state parks and forests.
Clean Elections/Voter Protection legislation – monitor harmful rollbacks to voter registration, early voting, and safe and secure elections.