Jan. Natural Resources Report to the State Board

WV Legislative Priority, 2011

The LWVWV supports the regulation of horizontal/Marcellus Shale drilling for natural gas in order to protect the nearby residents and the environment (water, air, and land.) We will also support other environmental bills as action is needed.


Two bills will be submitted to the legislature – The interim committee’s bill and the WVDEP’s. Both bill drafts are long (more than 100 pages long) and legally and technically complex. The DEP’s bill includes a new fee on horizontal wells that would add 34 people to the oil and gas office’s staff, including increasing the number of inspectors from 18 to 36. This fee is necessary to enforce a new law and subsequent regulations. Don Garvin has written a comparison of the bills. See the Environmental Council’s Green Legislative Update, January 14 for an extensive review of the bills. Neither bill covers air pollution from MS operations or permits for large water withdrawals. Neither bill establishes a permit system for large water withdrawals. (The League contacted the legislators on the committee asking them to pass out the bill.)

Water Quality Standards Rule Advances (From Environmental Council’s Legislative Update, Jan. 14)

“The Joint Legislative Rulemaking Review Committee passed WV DEP’s proposed changes to the Water Quality Standards Rule (47CSR2) with no changes at its last Interim meeting Monday evening. It’s now ready for consideration by the full Legislature. The rule contains a new water quality standard for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) of 500 mg/l “in stream”, which is stricter than Pennsylvania’s standard of 500 mg/l at a public water supply intake. TDS is primarily chemical salts associated with mining and oil and gas activities. The changes proposed in this rule are required by EPA under the Triennial Review provisions of the federal Clean Water Act. (The League sent comments on the rule during the rule making process.We also contacted all the legislators on the LRRC Committee asking them to vote to pass out the rules.)

Bill to Ban Coal Slurry Injection Advances (From Environmental Council’s Green Legislative Update, January 14)

The Interim Joint Legislative Judiciary Committee passed out a bill that would permanently ban the injection of coal sludge into underground coal mines, with “recommendation” that it be passed by the full Legislature. The bill contains tax incentive provisions for coal companies who upgrade to new technologies for dealing with the waste that results at coal prep plants. Thus both houses will submit a bill on this issue.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vetoed the proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine.

This veto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of the mine proposed for the Blair area of Logan County, is for 2,300 acres, the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. See the Coal Tattoo Blog, Charleston, Gazette for full information on the denial of the permit.

The WV League has asked the LWVUS for permission to contact the USEPA commending the agency for its action. Meanwhile as individuals you may wish to contact Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA., JACKSONLISAP@EPA.GOV.

Bayer to Phase Out MIC

Bayer CropScience announced Tuesday that it will stop making, storing and using the deadly chemical methyl isocyanate MIC at its Institute plant as part of a corporate restructuring. Unfortunately 220 jobs will be lost, but workers and the community will be safer.

Water Pollution in Drinking Wells, Wood County. (From Sustained Outrage Blog, by Ken Ward, Charleston, Gazette, January 4)

A study of drinking wells in the Parkersburg area concludes: Private drinking water wells in West Virginia and Ohio communities surrounding the DuPont Washington Works facility are contaminated with PFOA. Concentrations in private wells are, in some cases, much greater than those observed in area public water districts…. PFOA (also known as C8) is used in the manufacture of Teflon® nonstick polymers. PFOA has been shown to increase risk of cancer, reproductive problems, and liver damage in laboratory animals, although human health effects are less clear.

COAL ASH DISPOSAL (From Nov.30.2010 Coal Tattoo)

Nearly two years ago, 978,000,000 gallons of wet coal ash spilled into the Emory River and its tributaries near Kingston, Tenn. Now researchers from Duke University report that the spill polluted downstream sediments with unexpectedly high levels of a particularly toxic form of arsenic.

Vermont Law School’s Environmental Watch List 2011 (http://watchlist.vermontlaw.edu/)

Two of the items on the list are of special interest to those of us who live in WV.

1. Climate and Energy Legislation and the International Treaty Process on Climate. The article gives reasons why the legislation died in the last Congress and what the future might bring.

2. Protecting EPA’s greenhouse gas rules.

The WV League is asking the LWVUS to include protection of the rules as a legislative priority. The Rules include increasing the gasoline standards for automobiles and trucks. Also on May 13, 2010, the EPA issued the greenhouse gases “tailoring rule”, to regulate stationary sources under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review and prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program.

WV’s members of Congress have been working to stop this rule because it will affect the use of coal for power production and industry.