Several bad bills that would have been harmful to water quality and the environment, died this legislative session thanks to the efforts of our friends at the WV Rivers Coalition and the WV Environmental Council (WVEC). Two bills that passed, but to which our allies were able to secure improvements were:
SB 290: This bill makes changes to water quality standards and pollution limits, and eliminated benchmarks used to determine that best management practices were being used to treat industrial discharges. WV Rivers and WVEC were part of stakeholder meetings designed to improve the bill, but the real work will happen during the rule-making process.
SB 626: This bill is generally related to coal mining. In its original form it weakened the public notice process for surface mine permits and deleted a large section of the Water Pollution Control Act. Based on recommendations from WV Rivers and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), the House amended SB 626 maintained public notice by publication in local newspapers. The water quality certifications and mitigation requirements for surface mines will be addressed through rule-making.