First and foremost, all credit to the E-Council team for such a strong presence and so many successes in spite of all the odds—it speaks to the base building you’ve done, the relationships you’ve built, and the behind-the-scenes work over years and years that we didn’t just survive this session, but saw some significant wins.
Because there was so much moving this session, this wrap-up won’t be comprehensive and won’t include many details, but please consider subscribing to E-Council’s newsletter and sticking with CAG’s Climate Eye for deeper dives into the issues.
Energy and Regulation
Pleasants Power Station was a hot topic at the legislature this year, with resolutions from both the House and the Senate to support Mon Power’s potential purchase of the station from its current short-term ownership. HB 3308, which passed but has not been signed as of this writing, will require Public Service Commission approval for a public electric utility to close any electric generating plant or unit, further muddying the waters.
Meanwhile, HB 3059 which would have allowed the PSC to fine railroads for safety violations found in the PSC’s already required inspections, was killed in committee on the same day as a derailment in Summers County and in the midst of a national spotlight on rail safety.
This proposed Hydrogen Hub buildout is moving forward with HB 2814 which creates a hydrogen power task force. WV-CAG and E-Council support green hydrogen only, so we’ll be keeping an eye on this task force and continuing to monitor permitting and legislation.
Despite an impressive presentation at the final round of interim meetings before the session, a community solar bill did not make it past Crossover Day this year. We will continue this fight by holding stakeholder meetings in the off-season to maintain momentum. In the meantime, keep following WV Solar United Neighbors for updates and information.
The PFAS Protection Act had significant bipartisan support and HB 3189 passed. The DEP will resample finished water from over 100 sites found to exceed the EPA’s new thresholds and create an action plan, while also requiring manufacturers that use PFAS chemicals to report usage. This bill’s passage was a fantastic win for clean water and for West Virginia! Big thanks to West Virginia Rivers for championing this issue.
DEP Office of Oil and Gas
HB 3110 passed! It will allocate 0.75% of oil and gas severance taxes capped at $1.2 million and establish a tiered system of annual well oversight fees to fund additional inspectors for the Office of Oil and Gas. This will get us to approximately 20 inspectors for West Virginia’s 75,000+ wells, and represents a strong step in the right direction, but not the end of this conversation.
HB 2896, which would have made West Virginia an Agreement State with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and opened WV to storing nuclear waste, was ultimately defeated. This issue, however, is far from dead.