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We’re almost halfway through the session and there’s been a lot of progress on important bills to protect our climate and environment. As always, please follow and consider becoming a member of the West Virginia Environmental Council, which CAG is proud to support as a sponsor, for updates from their spectacular team of staff and lobbyists. And please join us for E-Day at the Capitol to learn more about the issues, talk to your legislators, and more on February 28th!
The PFAS Protection Act is running in both the House (HB 3189) and the Senate (SB 485) and will be moving through committees this week. This bill follows up on the DEP study that showed 130 water systems in the state exceeding PFAS health advisories, requires industries that use PFAS to report to the DEP for ongoing monitoring, and directs the DEP to adopt a water quality standard for PFAS based on the EPA’s recommended criteria.
Tell your lawmakers that you support reducing PFAS in our drinking water at the source so that water utilities and ratepayers are not burdened with treatment costs by completing this action from WV Rivers.
Two sets of bills exist (SB 448/HB 3110 and SB 13/HB 2021) to update funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas, which currently has only one inspector for every 7,500 wells. As of writing on February 6th, all these bills are in their respective Finance committees except for HB 2021, which has been referred to House Energy. Please contact members of those committees and tell them WV needs to be able to staff at least 40 oil and gas inspectors to provide adequate oversight.
SB 262, passed last year, restricts the state from investing in companies deemed to be energy boycotters, including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. A report by EcoConsult Solutions found the WV Legislature’s actions will likely cost taxpayers at least $9-million, and perhaps as much as $29-million dollars annually. “This appears to be an effort by the state government to help bail out the coal industry and to deny the real cost of climate change on West Virginia citizens,” said the West Virginia Sierra Club’s Jim Kotcon. Read more in this article by Public News Service’s Nadia Ramlagan.
The Public Service Commission continues to grab headlines in the state as FirstEnergy, an electric utility serving five states including West Virginia, is at the center of a racketeering scandal in Ohio. Of those five states, West Virginia is the only state that has failed to investigate following the breaking of the scandal. PSC Chair Charlotte Lane responded to calls for an investigation in the Gazette-Mail on February 1st, stating that the PSC has “received no information or evidence that expenses related to FirstEnergy’s illegal lobbying activities in Ohio or anywhere else have been passed on to Monongahela Power or Potomac Edison’s West Virginia customers.”
For a deeper dive on with this ongoing story, follow former Charleston Gazette-Mail statehouse reporter, Jake Zuckerman who is covering the bribery trial for Cleveland.com
The Inflation Reduction Act can bring big savings for anyone looking to buy an electric car or make their home more energy efficient. Check out this guide from the NY Times on how to access them.
WV-CAG will also be participating in the IRA Roadshows, bringing resources for navigating IRA incentives to a West Virginia town near you. We’ll see you in Montgomery, Wheeling, Huntington, Morgantown, and more soon, look for dates and fliers to be posted soon!