WV Rivers News: Policy Wrap-up

The 2018 legislative session comes to a close on Saturday, March 10. Below you’ll find an update on each of the bills we worked on over the past 60 days.

We killed a number of bills that were harmful to water quality and were able to secure improvements to others. You can watch executive director, Angie Rosser, on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s The Legislature Today discuss some of the bills we prioritized this session here.

Tracking water policy:

SB270: The state parks logging bill. After five weeks of intensive grassroots organizing, our efforts culminated in over 18,000 messages being sent to the governor and legislators opposing the bill, and SB270 died in committee. Read about the monumental victory here.

SB410: This bill would have established a new position, the Industry Advocate, within the WV Department of Environmental Protection. It died in committee.

HB2909 This bill would have abolished the office of the environmental advocate within WVDEP. It died in committee.

SB438: This is a good bill that would authorize the issuance of bonds to fund improvements at state parks. It has passed the Senate, and is now on track to pass the House today.

SB626: This bill is generally related to coal mining. In its original form it weakened the public notice process for surface mine permits and deleted a large section of the Water Pollution Control Act. Based on WV Rivers recommendations, the House amended SB626 restoring public notice by publication. Water quality certifications and mitigation requirements for surface mines will be governed by rule. Yesterday it became completed legislation. Read more about our SB626 concerns here.

SB290: This bill makes changes to water quality standards and pollution limits. The original bill was replaced by an improved substitute thanks to WV Rivers efforts. It has been passed by the full legislature. The hard work on this bill is still ahead of us. In the coming months, SB290 will undergo rule-making. Stay tuned, we’re going to need your help! See our analysis on SB290 in a previous edition of Policy News here.

HB4154: The “2018 Regulatory Reform Act” expedites the approval of certain industrial projects in a way that leaves the public out of the process. It passed out of the House but it appears the clock has run out and it will die in the Senate Government Organization Committee.  More info HERE

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