Climate Eye – Week 7

Outside the Legislature

       The DEP held a virtual hearing last night on the Adams Fork Energy Project, which primarily consists of building an ammonia production facility near Wharncliffe in Mingo County. This attempted greenwashing program claims it will create “blue” ammonia because they will utilize capture technology to catch and store carbon emissions, piping the carbon to crop land in South Dakota to store using mycorrhizal fungi. Many climate defending allies were present at the meeting, raising concerns about issues ranging from water quality and ammonia leeching to carbon pipeline safety. Keep an eye on our social media for updates on this issue.

       From our allies at West Virginia Rivers:
The WVDEP is considering a consent order for Chemours Optima Belle which allows Chemours to discharge ethylbenzene into the Kanawha River at levels six times higher than the human health criteria set by the EPA. Ethylbenzene is a possible carcinogen and is known to cause tumors in animals. Submit Your Comments by 2/25—Tell WVDEP you object to Chemour’s free pass to discharge additional toxic pollutants into the Kanawha River. Urge them to protect public health and hold Chemours accountable to their permit requirements.


Legislative updates

       Two versions of the Orphaned Well Prevention Act have been introduced, SB 532 and HB 5414, that would require West Virginia oil and gas well operators to set aside money for future well plugging so that the cost does not fall on taxpayers or landowners. Please urge committee members to put it on their agenda: please contact your senators on the Energy, Industry, & Mining Committee and the Finance Committee and ask them to support SB 532 in its current form.  On the House side, please ask your delegates in the Energy & Manufacturing Committee and Finance Committee to support HB 5414.

       Our net metering work with the Public Service Commission as well as the Legislature continues. The PSC settled the net metering case, with residential rates settling it at 9.34 cents, still less than we asked for but not fully gutted. This decision will be effective March 27, but current solar customers will be grandfathered in at their current rates. The PSC still needs to sign off on this settlement, so look for ongoing updates. The net metering bill we support, HB 5422, appears to be stalled in House Energy. Please use this link to send a message asking Legislators to take this bill up, and give West Virginians for Energy Freedom a follow for more info as it’s available!

       The bill aimed at weakening community air monitoring, HB 5018, did pass the House but appears to be parked at the Senate Energy Committee for now. We’ll send out a separate action alert if it’s taken up on the committee’s agenda, but for now thank you, our members for all the support! We know we’re doing important work with our air monitoring program, and this bill’s trajectory up till now shows our power both as a member-led organization and with our coalition partners. Thank you for standing with us!

       Bills to establish a community solar pilot program are still moving forward, with SB 638 and HB 5626 both referenced to committees and with plenty of time to make it out of chambers of origin.

       WV CAG is proud to support the West Virginia Environmental Council in their work toward the coalition’s 2024 legislative priorities. Please sign up to receive updates and action alerts from their lobby team for more in depth analysis and even more climate, environmental, and public lands bills.

Updated: February 22, 2024 — 2:18 pm
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