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A number of environmental-focused bills have already started the rounds at the statehouse, many positive and some concerning. See some highlights below:
HB 2159 regarding community solar, which would allow consumers to access the benefits of local solar energy in the form of bill credits without having to install solar panels on their property, has been a hot topic. Advocates spoke to lawmakers of the Joint Energy Committee during an interim session in support of community solar, and Delegate Hansen introduced the bill on day one of the regular session. Look for there to be more updates about community solar as the session continues, as there’s a lot of positive momentum around this issue that would be a huge step to bring our communities closer to accessible renewable energy.
SB 161 and SB 162, regarding the Department of Natural Resources and carbon sequestration on public lands, were among the bills the Senate passed last week when constitutional rules were suspended. House Judiciary discussed the bills on Monday, Jan. 16th and Del. Capito offered an amendment to SB161, leading E-Council and fellow advocates to withdraw our request for a public hearing. A more in-depth look at these bills and the changes to them will be available soon.
We’re also tracking SB 109, the Orphan Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act, which would require existing orphaned wells to be plugged and require applicants provide funding to plug planned wells before permits are issued. This would be a huge win for the state as WV has approximately 6,500 orphaned wells leaking methane, a significant contributor to global warming. On a related note, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing at 3:30pm this afternoon regarding the DEP budget – tune in here.
We’re also keeping an eye on a number of other bills that would be a win for climate-concerned West Virginians including HB 2119, the Local Energy Partnership Act; HB 2120 Relating to the Financing of Environmental Pollution Control Equipment for Coal-fired Power Plants; HB 2121 Relating to the ‘Adopt a Stream’ Program; and HB 2022, relating to Well Location Restrictions, which would put WV on par with distances of wells from occupied dwellings (2,500 feet) with laws already passed in Colorado and California.