By Lucia Valentine, WVEC Lobbyist
This week marked the first full week of the legislative session, and the WVEC Lobby Team has been off to quite a busy start tracking bill progress, attending committee meetings, and watching floor sessions for both the House of Delegates and the Senate.
Here are a few items we followed this week:
Department of Environmental Protection Budget Hearings
This week, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had its budget hearings in the Senate Committee on Finance (Tuesday, January 16) and the House Committee on Finance (Wednesday, January 17).
During these presentations, the DEP informed legislators on how they allocated funds over the last year to make progress on numerous projects. Legislators asked questions about implementing the PFAS Protection Act, which passed last year. Questions were also raised concerning the need to plug orphan wells and the number of Oil and Gas Inspectors hired following the passage of HB3110 last year. The DEP currently has around 15 inspectors, with plans to hire several more soon.
Our team will continue to track the introduction of the “Orphan Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act,” along with other bills that may come up regarding oil & natural gas and other functions of the DEP.
Both SB196 – WV Rail Trails Program and SB426 – WV Recreational Trails Development Act were introduced and taken up by the Senate Outdoor Recreation Committee. The WV Recreational Trails Development Act directs the Department of Transportation to prioritize the design and construction of non-motorized recreational trails in the state. We will continue to monitor the introduction of public lands related bills to ensure that any proposals to open up public lands to Off-Road Vehicles or other legislation incompatible with the nature-based values and conservation of West Virginia’s public lands are defeated.
After talking to senators this week about the benefits of bringing community solar to West Virginia, we are awaiting the introduction of a community solar bill in the Senate. We will continue to monitor the bill’s movement and provide updates along the way. If you’re interested in learning more about community solar, click here for information from WV Solar United Neighbors. And here on our website.
You can help by calling your senators and urging them to support community solar now. Find your representative here.
Net Metering needs your help, too! The Public Service Commission will be holding a public hearing on Monday, January 22, at 5:30 pm learn how you can attend in our events article here.
Click here to check out our complete list of 2024 Legislative Priorities.
To reach our lobby team, please email email@example.com