WVEC Legislative Update

March 9, 2001


EPA Gives Thumbs-Down To Dirty Water Bill

by Nathan Fetty and Donald S. Garvin, Jr.

In a meeting Wednesday with House Judiciary Chair Jon Amores and antideg stakeholders, the WV DEP released a letter from the federal EPA which said that the Dirty Water Bill is riddled with problems, and that the compromise proposal written by the state DEP should be the vehicle for any further negotiations on the antidegradation rule before the legislature (see the AP article-scroll down).

Even though industry spit and sputtered about the letter's ambiguity and the need for clarity from EPA (even going so far as to claim that the EPA had obviously not read their Dirty Water Bill proposal), we were encouraged by DEP Director Mike Callaghan's response that the letter is all the message he needs.

"I've seen all I need to see," Callaghan said when asked if DEP would draft a letter asking the EPA for further clarification.

We reported late last week that DEP released its own "compromise" version of the antidegradation implementation plan, and Chairman Amores is trying his best to get the Dirty Water Coalition to agree to negotiate a compromise rule. However, after three weekly meetings, industry is still refusing to say whether or not they will accept any antideg version other than their own. The Chairman is proposing two weeks of marathon negotiating meetings to finalize a compromise for consideration by the full Legislature.

We view the DEP version as still having lots of problems. While DEP restores the default to Tier 2 high-quality waters and includes a Tier 2.5 list of waters of special concern, including all reproducing trout streams (the Dirty Water Bill defaults to the lowest rung of protection and throws out the Tier 2.5 list), it allows degradation up to 10% of the baseline water quality on Tier 2.5 waters.

The DEP proposal contains lots of exemptions, including permits for valley fills. DEP would grandfather existing facilities across the board, and allow a certain amount of degradation to occur before an antideg review is required. The DEP proposal doesn't do enough to promote less degrading or non-degrading alternatives to a discharge. As of yet there is no list of specific Tier 2.5 streams, but the word is that DEP, DNR and EPA are working furiously to generate this list. DEP asked us to prepare substantive written comments, which we will provide to them next week.

Please continue to take action on this issue! Contact Governor Wise and DEP Director Callaghan and tell them you expect them to support a strong antidegradation policy. (See contact info on page 7). IN ADDITION, please call Chairman Amores to thank him for his efforts to bring everyone to the table on the antidegradation issue, and ask him to support a strong antideg rule as well. You can leave a message for the Chairman by calling (304) 340-3252.



by Norm Steenstra

On Wednesday, March 21, WVEC will celebrate its 12th annual Environmental day (E-Day!) at the Capitol. The event is perhaps the longest running annual display during the legislative session. E-Day! is our one opportunity to showcase the green movement and our issues to the legislature and to the state's media. It is also the time we honor deserving activists and political leaders. It is a day to lobby, inform and connect with environmentalists from across the state.

The first E-Day! in 1990 rocked the marble halls. More than 600 people attended. The demographics were impressive. We counted people from 43 different counties and 54 distinct occupations ranging from chimney sweep to stockbroker. Lois Gibbs of Love Canal fame was our keynote speaker and we're still dealing with her parting advice "Go ye out and lobby the politicians, and if they don't listen then throw the scumbags out." Our message has been refined some since that first time but the idea behind E-Day! is the same. Simply put, your presence at the Capitol gives political capital to your green lobby team. The fact that a couple of hundred folks drove to Charleston to lend support to our issues reminds politicians that the movement and its values go far beyond a handful of nerdy-looking environmental lobbyists.

Much of the fun on E Day! occurs when we honor deserving folks for their love and tireless efforts for West Virginia. Our oldest and most prestigious award is named after Mother Jones. Over the years, we have "Mother Jonesed" 19 different people. Listed below are the folks that truly are the West Virginia Environmental Hall of Fame. In addition to the Mother Jones Award, WVEC also honors people with the Linda Schnautz Environmental Courage Award, Grassroots Activist of the Year and the "Chuck Chambers Public Service Award." Plan on coming down to E Day! to help the lobby team, meet new friends and find out the newest additions to the Hall of Fame.

Past Awardees:

Delegate Chuck Chambers ­ 1990

Cindy Rank ­ 1991

Rev. Jeff Allen & Terri Swearngin ­ 1992

Tom Rodd, Esq. & Dr. George Constantz­ 1993

Charlotte Pritt & Darrell McGraw ­ 1994

Pam Nixon & Honorable Ken Hechler­ 1995

Senator Don Macnaughtan & Martha Huffman ­ 1996

Senator David Grubb & Tom Degen ­ 1997

Tom Michael, Esq. & Stuart Caldwell, Esq. ­ 1998

Dr. Jim Kotcon & Vivian Stockman ­ 1999

Doyle Coakley & Joe Lovett, Esq. ­ 2000

Editor's Note: For more news on E-Day!, see page five.


Election Reform Week Three

by Gary Zuckett

Both election reform subcommittees met on Tuesday to hear from local county officials as to their needs and suggestions on this issue. Joe Manchin, our new Secretary of State, was also a presenter. The Senate subcommittee listed short, intermediate and long-term issues it will consider including: moving voter registration cutoff to 20 days before the election or shorter; same-day registration and voting; elimination of punch card voting; developing a uniform state-wide voting system; and much more.

In both committees, representatives from PERC-WV (WV People's Election Reform Coalition) brought up the issue of "Clean Money" elections using a parallel track of public financing. Later in the week, both committees were provided a draft copy of the "WV Clean Elections Act", a draft public financing proposal developed by PERC-WV.

The WV Council of Churches supports this concept and included it in its 2001 legislative agenda. Its support statement starts out like this: "The West Virginia Council of Churches urges the legislature to pass legislation setting up a parallel track offering 'clean money' public financing for state elections." For a full copy of its support statement, visit www.wvcc.org .

PERC-WV has set a strategy this year of using the draft bill for public and legislative education. The message for sub-committee chairs Virginia Mahan (House ­ 347-4836) and Mike Oliverio (Senate ­ 357-7919) is to please recommend an interim study of the WV Clean Elections proposal.


Logging Reform Needed

by Kathy L. Judge, CRL

I am the new coordinator for the Coalition for Responsible Logging (CRL). CRL is a group of organizations with a common interest in promoting conservation practices when logging is done in WV. Coalition members include Trout Unlimited, WV Environmental Council, WV Highlands Conservancy, WV Rivers Coalition, WV Sierra Club, Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation and WV Organizing Project (WVOP). We are looking for more member groups.

Logging is not well regulated. The primary law setting the framework for overseeing logging operations is called the Logging and Sediment Control Act. This law sets some standards, called Best Management Practices (BMPs) but following the standards is largely voluntary. The WV Division of Forestry (DOF) makes random inspections of logging jobs. In 1998 they found that nearly one out of every four jobs were out of compliance. DOF identifies some irresponsible loggers but does not seek civil penalties when there are severe violations of the law.

How can we make logging better in WV?

Make logging standards mandatory with fines for noncompliance.

Improve enforcement of the standards.

Require loggers to notify adjoining landowners, and the public when logging operations are planned. DOF should have 30 days to review the plan.

Require bonding to assure that problems created by the logging operation will be fixed before the job is completed.

Improve support for the agency.

Increase funding for regulation and enforcement. New sources of funds will enable more effective inspection and advice to loggers.

How can you help?

HELP SET UP A COUNTY COMMITTEE. We need a Responsible Logging Committee in each county. Here are some of the things the committee would be asked to do:

* CONTACT its state delegates and senators to ask them to support logging reform bills. CRL will keep the committees informed about bills and will supply fact sheets to use when contacting delegates and senators.

* WRITE LETTERS to the editor of local newspapers supporting reform of logging regulation or use sample letters to the editor provided by the Coalition.

* GET INFORMATION about existing logging regulation and enforcement to the people in your county.

* FIND other people and groups to join the campaign for logging reform.

* SERVE AS THE LIAISON between folks in the county and CRL.

* COLLECT reports of improper logging and/or enforcement of regulations.

We need your help! If you are interested in helping reform logging regulation in WV, please contact us. Also, if you would like to make a donation, please make your check payable to the WV Coalition for Responsible Logging and send it to: Frank Young, Rt. 1, Box 108, Ripley, WV 25271. If you need your donation to be tax-deductible, please make your check payable to the WV Highlands Conservancy/WV Coalition for Responsible Logging and send to the same address. For more info, please call me at 304-276-5685.


New Lobby Team Member

Conni Lewis has joined the WVEC team as a lobbyist for the Coalition for Responsible Logging. She is a veteran and experienced champion of social justice and women's issues at the Capitol. Welcome to the team!!


Mahan/Unger Champion Anti-Litter Bills

by Clint Hogbin, EPPEC

The past few days have seen a lot of action on the litter bill with more expected in the next few days.

As you probably know, HB 2222, introduced by Delegate Mahan, enjoyed wide support in the House and easily won passage about 20 days into the session. However, Senator Unger's bill (SB384) appears to have more support in the Senate. A clear example of this support is evidenced by the fact that Senate bill has 15 Senators (out of 34) as cosponsors.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will soon take up both litter bills for discussion. Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Wooton has indicated he is likely to substitute the language of the Unger bill into the House bill. Simply put, he appears to be leaning toward a "copy and paste" of the Unger language straight into HB 2222. WE NEED TO SUPPORT HIS EFFORTS!!!

Please continue to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to support the efforts of the Chair to place the Unger language into HB 2222. The members of the committee are Senator(s) Snyder, Burnette, Caldwell, Deem, Facemyer, Fanning, Hunter, Kessler, McKenzie, Minard, Mitchell, Oliverio, Redd, Ross and Rowe. You can call toll free at 1-877-565-3447 or e-mail at cglagola@mail.wvnet.edu

"The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders." - Edward Abbey, author

Your Chance To Win!!

Tickets are selling fast for the WVEC raffle of the Mark Blumenstein sculpture pictured above. There's still time to get your tickets for the drawing to be held the last night of the session - April 14 (you do not need to be present to win!) Tickets are $5 and available at the WVEC office or you can send a check to: WVEC, 1324 Virginia St., East, Charleston, WV 25301 and we'll get your ticket in the mail to you! We will also have tickets for sale at E-Day! So why not support the WVEC lobby team and take a chance on winning this original work of art valued at over $700. All proceeds go to this year's lobby effort.


It's All About Profits

by Julie Archer

This week the House of Delegates introduced the "Jobs Impact Assessment Act." HB 2770 requires the state Development Office (at the request of the Governor or Legislative leadership) to prepare a statement on the number of jobs that will be created, retained or eliminated as a result of proposed legislation. This establishes a huge roadblock to passing strong environmental and worker safety regulations (or, as the case may be, killing bad legislation). While the bill does not tie the availability of the statement to passage of legislation, any bill that doesn't have a statement attached showing that it is good for jobs is as good as dead.

We often hear how "it's all about jobs," but it's really about people and the environment taking a back seat to corporations so that the fat cats can keep getting fatter. We have requested a public hearing on this bill so stay tuned.


Get Packin' ­ E-Day! Just around the Corner!

E-Day! Festivities ­ Wednesday March 21st:

E-Day! at the Capitol ~ 10:00 til 3 or 4PM (set up time for exhibitors 8-10 AM), lower Rotunda and 2nd floor Senate side Hall. Over 20 displays featuring organizations & groups from around the state.

Program and award presentations - 11:00

If you would like to request a display table, contact Denise Poole: deniseap@earthlink.net or 304-346-5905.

Taylor Books E-Day Wine & Cheese Reception/Fundraiser ~ 5 till 7 p.m. Join us for a relaxing interlude, listen to the sounds of Steve Himes and view "Sunrise Broaching" ­ the Sculpture donated to WVEC by Mark Blumenstein. Refreshments, raffle tickets for Blumenstein Sculpture available.

Annual E-Day! Fundraiser at the Empty Glass ~ 7:30 till 1:00 AM, 410 Elizabeth Street, Charleston.

Entertainment featuring:

Rick Rivard, Maggie & Basil Crawford ­ Native American music; Rolling Blackouts ­ fun band from Huntington; Ed "Uncle Eddie" Mahonen, from Wheeling - on banjo & guitar; and The Voodoo Katz.


Ill Wind Taxing the Legislature

by Gary Zuckett

Yet another corporate welfare scheme is blowing in the Capitol halls. Now that energy corporations realize there's profit to be made in harnessing the wind, the rush is on to maximize profits. Specifically, a proposal is being floated to generate substantial property tax breaks for windpower projects.

Industry lobbyists are arguing that new windpower installations should have the same tax breaks as allowed for new pollution control equipment installed on coal power plants. This would give new windpower installations the assessed value of scrap metal ­ about 5% of its actual value. It's like having your new car assessed as a junker.

Tucker County, the site of a proposed $90 million investment to build about 75 wind turbines, would lose untold property tax revenue if this materializes. This type of tax break is sooo easy for the legislature to pass because it doesn't affect state revenue and doesn't have to be compensated for in the state budget. It merely deprives local counties of desperately needed funds for schools, libraries, police, fire and other social services.


Shameless Reminder:

It wouldn't be an issue of the Update if Don Garvin wasn't reminding you to send money or at least update your membership!! Thank you!!



Bill #------Title----------Committee(s)----------------Sponsor(s)-----CAG------Status--------Lead

2008-------"Lobbys"-----Political Subdivision/Judiciary----------Boggs---------------------------Pending 1

2017--------"ATV"-------Road & Transport/Judiciary------------Compton-------------------------Pending 1

2039-----"3rd Party"-------------Judiciary-------------------------Fleischauer-----------------------Pending 1

2050---"Site Index Appraisal"--------------------------------------Hatfield--------------------------Pending 1-------Mike

2058----"Election Procedures"---Judiciary/Finance---------------Kuhn---------------------------Pending 1

2070-----"Tree Removal"----------Judiciary-----------------------Louisos--------------------------Pending 1

2089----"Overweight Trucks" ----Road & Transport/Judiciary---Perdue--------------------------Pending 1

2097----"Medical Monitoring"----Judiciary-------------------------Smirl-----------CAG---------Pending 1

2129----"Managed Timberland"----Judiciary/Finance----------R. White--------------------------Pending Jud-----Mike

2218----"Executive DEP"------Government Organization-----Kiss, Trump (by Executive)---Pending GO

2290----"Post Mine Permit"--------Judiciary-----------Hubbard, Fleischauer, Mahan----------Pending Jud

2304----"Self-Audit Incentive"-----Judiciary/Finance--------Staton, Amores---------------------Pending Jud

2361----"Smokeless Tobacco"----Health & Human Resources/Finance----Kiss---CAG--------Pending HHR

2366----"Development Office"----Government Organization/Finance----Mahan, Fleischauer, Depsey----Pending GO

2424----"Coal Bond Bill"-------Judiciary/Finance--------Staton, Marshall, Doyle, etc.-------------Pending Jud

2427-----"Water Pollution Control Act"------Judiciary/Finance----Fleischauer, Compton, etc----Pending Jud

2457----"Sewage Sluge Facilities"----Judiciary----------Boggs, Compton, Mahan,Givens-------Pending Jud

2477----"Power Co. Tax Givaway"-----Finance------Tucker, Kuhn, Ennis, Givens----------------Pending Fin

2512----"Stream Restoration Fund"----Judiciary/Finance-----------Mahan---------------------------Pending Jud-----Nathan

2528-----"PSD Matching Grant Program"----Government Organization/Finance-----Boggs, C. White-------Pending GO-----Nathan

2546------"BPH Approval for Septic Systems"------Health & Human Resouces/Judiciary------Caputo, Prunty, Manchin----Pending HHR----Nathan

2600------"Corporate Welfare Disclosure"-------Industry/Econ. Development/Finance-----Fleishauer, Caputo, R. White-----Pending I/E

2719----"Dirty Water"--------Judiciary-----------Willis, Cann, Kominar--------Pending Jud---------DG/NF

2770------"Jobs Impact Assessment"-----Industry/Econ. Development/Judiciary-------Michael, Mezzatesta, Amores,etc.-------Pending I/E

2780-----"Citizens Review Committee"-------Judiciary, Finance-----------Louisos-----------------Pending Jud  

SB23--------"Hate Crimes"------------------------Judiciary------------------Kessler, Snyder---------------Pending Jud-----------Connie

Bill #--------------Title---------------Committee(s)-----------Sponsor(s)----------CAG----------Status-------------Lead

SB12-----------"Yard Waste"------------Natural Resources------------------Deem-----------------------------------Pending NR

SB26-------"Flood thy Neighbor"-------------Judiciary--------------Ross, Fanning, Helmick----------------------Belly-up Jud------------Nathan

SB51-------"Regulatory Reform"--------------Judiciary----------------------Facemyer--------------------------------Pending Jud

SB62-------------"PSC Power"-----------------Judiciary-------------Sharpe, Fanning, Bailey--------CAG----------Pending Jud

SB110----------"Water Act"-----------------Natural Resources----------------Mitchell--------------------------------Pending NR-------------Nathan

SB184----------"Water Wells" -------------------Transport------------------------Snyder---------------------------------Pending T----------------Rick

SB187--------"Log Truck Tarps"----------Natural Resources; Finance-------------Craigo-----------------------------Pending NR

SB210--------"Religious Shots"--------Health & Human Resources---------Bowman, McKenzie -----------------Pending HHR-------------Gary

SB231-------"Lumber for Lying-braries"----------Finance---------------------------Helmick---------------------------Pending Fin------------- Mike

SB332--------"Yard Waste Rules"------------Natural Resources-------------Ross, Anderson, Minard---------------Pending NR--------------Gary

SB381-----------"Dirty Water"------------Natural Resources; Judiciary--------Ross, Anderson, Minard-----------Pending NR-----------DG/NF

SB384-----"Increased Litter Fines"-------------Judiciary------------------------------Unger---------------------------Pending Jud

SB385--------"Cordoroy Roads"------------Economic Development; Finance-------Helmick------------------------Pending ED---------------Mike

SB423-------"Worker's Comp Money Cap"------------Judiciary-------------------------Chaffin-------------------------Pending Jud

HB2222--------"Anti Litter Bill"------------------------Judiciary---------------------Campbell, Mahan---------------------HB Jud


Industry's water bill falls short, EPA says

Thursday March 8, 2001

By The Associated Press ( from the Charleston Gazette)


Federal regulators voiced their objections Wednesday to clean-water rules proposed by industry lobbyists and now pending before the state Legislature.

The industry-backed proposal, dubbed the Clean Water, Good Jobs Rule, was substituted for a set of rules drafted by the state Environmental Quality Board. A between-sessions legislative committee made the substitution earlier this year.

The substitution contains "several objectionable elements," the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a letter to Allyn Turner, head of the state Division of Environmental Protection's water resources office.

"This proposed rule not only weakens the implementation procedures ... but also includes a significant rollback of the current West Virginia anti-degradation policy," said Rebecca Hanmer, director of EPA's water protection division.

West Virginia has been under pressure from the EPA to develop a policy to keep state streams and rivers from becoming more polluted. The state has had an anti-degradation policy for almost 20 years, but never adopted procedures for its implementation.

The Legislature must adopt a plan this year to avoid a threat by the EPA to impose federal regulations on West Virginia. Environmentalists have also threatened to sue if the state does not adopt strong water-quality standards.

"EPA continues to weigh its options to assure timely and appropriate implementation of the anti-degradation policy in West Virginia," Hanmer said, but added, "I will not pursue any of these options at this time."

A counterproposal from DEP "provides EPA with the hope that acceptable implementation procedures may soon be identified," Hanmer said.

DEP officials could not be reached for comment.

Hanmer's letter said the industry-backed rule included exemptions for many polluters.

"This proposal suggests the least protective approach," Hanmer said.

The state Environmental Quality Board drafted an implementation plan, but an industry-environmental group tried to draft an alternative plan. The effort failed after several months of discussions.

The West Virginia Manufacturers Association contended the rules would classify 98 percent of the state's waters as streams where development would be prohibited or subjected to state and federal review on the project's social and economic value.

As a result, development could only occur in the state's southwestern and southern borders and north and east of Morgantown, said Brenda Nichols Harper, vice president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.

The industry proposal mirrors the state EQB plan in that agency review would be required if a development would result in a 10 percent change in water quality.

The EPA wants West Virginia to adopt a 5 percent trigger.

Karen Price, president of the association, was not immediately available for comment.


EPA Issues Administrative Order to Martin County Coal Corporation for Alleged Violations of the Clean Water Act


ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 7, 2001--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Martin County Coal Corporation (MCCC) has entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (Order) with the Agency for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which resulted from the sudden release of approximately 250 million gallons of coal slurry into rivers and streams in Kentucky and West Virginia.

The Order ensures a sustained and appropriate level of cleanup that will make sure the impacted rivers and streams are fully restored. The Order requires MCCC to contain the release of coal slurry into the environment; remove waste materials that have been discharged; restore the impacted rivers and streams and adjacent areas; and offset any temporary or permanent impacts to the environment. This includes restoring the stream and river beds and replanting the impacted adjacent areas. Martin County Coal also is required to reimburse costs incurred by EPA during the response and restoration action. Since the release impacted areas in EPA Region 3 as well as EPA Region 4, both Regions have worked closely with representatives from West Virginia and Kentucky during the development of the Consent Order.

Following an approach first used in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a Stream Assessment and Cleanup Survey Team, led by EPA, will develop the appropriate cleanup and restoration actions for the impacted areas. The team will include several EPA technical members from Regions 3 and 4, representatives from Kentucky, West Virginia and MCCC.

MCCC operates a coal processing facility in Martin County, Kentucky. The facility washes coal to remove the impurities and uses a coal slurry impoundment to store the wastewater and waste materials. On Wednesday, October 11, 2000, the impoundment owned and operated by MCCC, had a sudden breach and millions of gallons of waste material, including coal mine refuse slurry, spilled into nearby waters. The spill entered Wolf Creek, Rockcastle Creek, and the Big Sandy River watershed. Potable and industrial water supply service was disrupted in communities along tributaries of the Big Sandy River in Kentucky and West Virginia as a result of the spill, but was reestablished through the efforts of MCCC and EPA.

MCCC has cooperated in the cleanup and, to date, MCCC's response activities have resulted in the removal of waste material deposits from 15 miles of stream beds, banks, and flood plain areas in the Coldwater Fork and Wolf Creek watersheds.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Atlanta

Carl Terry, 404/562-8325


Contact Information

Governor Wise: governor@wvgov.org

Legislators: cglagola@mail.wvnet.edu

(put Senator or Delegate's name in subject line)

or write to:

The Honorable _____________

Member, WV Senate or House of Delegates

Bldg. 1, State Capitol Complex

Charleston, WV 25305

You can fax letters to (304) 347-4819


DEP Director Callaghan: mcallaghan@mail.dep.state.wv.us

or call 304-759-0570


Call Your Legislators toll-free at: 1-877-565-3447

Call Governor Wise toll-free at: 1-888-438-2731/558-2000 (Charleston)

And you can go on-line to www.legis.state.wv.us for bill tracking, committee announcements, public hearing announcements, floor calendars and daily and weekly floor actions.



Send Us Your E-Mail Address!!!

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