CAG Issues - Environment
As a founder and intuitional member of the WV Environmental Council , we support the agenda of the Council and provide essential in-kind and staff support to their lobbying efforts during the session. Here is a list of the WVEC's 2010 Legislative Priorities:
The West Virginia Environmental Council has adopted a list of legislative priorities for the 2010 session of the West Virginia Legislature that will focus primarily on problems arising from energy development and use in the state.
For the most part, WVEC’s legislative agenda represents a continuation of priorities and campaigns from previous years. And most of the energy issues are elements of
WVEC’s Citizens’ Energy Plan
In an effort to address climate change and greenhouse gases, and reduce West Virginia’s carbon footprint, West Virginia Environmental Council will support two bills.
The first is the West Virginia Energy Efficiency Act (last session’s bill number was HB 2980). This bill includes a revenue sharing mechanism for utilities so that if the company can lower a consumer’s bill through reduced energy consumption then the utility can generate a higher profit rate. The bill mandates that utilities submit a plan to the WV Public Service Commission (PSC) to reduce (per capita) energy consumption by 15% by 2015.
The second is the West Virginia Green Buildings Act. Last session there were three bills that would require – in one fashion or another – that new state buildings be built to the Silver certification level of “green” standards under the LEED’s certification program. This means the buildings must earn at least 33 out of 69 possible points based on six criteria: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process.
WVEC will also continue to support a Public Service Commission Siting Reforms Bill (last session’s bill number was HB 2887). This bill was drafted in response to inadequacies in the TrAILCo transmission line siting process. The bill would require utilities to disclose both the direct and indirect environmental impacts of proposed transmission lines. This legislation requires companies to analyze other alternatives, such as energy efficiency, as a means to avoid reliability problems on the grid. It would require transmission companies to give written notice to any affected landowner when an application is filed with the PSC and it would prohibit any new lines within five miles of designated scenic locations.
Another issue of high priority to the E-Council is the impact on human health caused by the injection of coal slurry into underground mine pools. The Department of Environmental Protection’s own study (which can only be called superficial at this point) has shown contamination of nearby groundwater supplies from this process, and the agency has put in place a temporary moratorium on the issuance of new slurry injection permits.
Meanwhile, the Legislature is waiting for the Department of Health and Human Resources to complete its analysis of the health impacts from slurry injection and sludge impoundments. Coalfield residents who are suffering as a result of this practice cannot afford to wait – particularly when there is a cost-effective alternative disposal process. WVEC will continue to support the Sludge Safety Project in its efforts to enact legislation that would permanently ban the underground injection of coal slurry. You can read more about the Sludge Safety Project at
WVEC will also support comprehensive legislation to address the multitude of new environmental issues surrounding the drilling of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells. The increase in drilling in recent years has revealed serious deficiencies with the regulation of normal oil and gas well drilling in West Virginia. The drilling of wells to the Marcellus Shale formation takes these existing problems to a new level. Marcellus wells use huge amounts of water to drill and “fracture” the gas formation, and in turn produce huge amounts of wastewater to dispose. DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas has proposed some rule changes that would require the use of synthetic liners in drilling pits and establish construction standards for waste pits and water storage impoundments. But these rule changes do not go far enough. WVEC will support additional changes in the rule and additional legislation that will address: water withdrawal from rivers and streams, the content of “frac” fluids, and the disposal of wastewater.
WVEC will continue to support a Public Health Impact Assessment Bill. This legislation would require the Bureau of Public Health to provide the Legislature with an independent assessment of the public health impacts of DEP rules proposals to change water quality or air quality standards.
And finally, WVEC will ask the Legislature to adopt a resolution calling for an “accountability” of both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Service Commission.
By Donald S. Garvin, Jr., West Virginia Environmental Council Legislative Coordinator