WV Senate OKs bill that could increase water pollution
Legislation that could allow increased discharges of toxic chemicals into West Virginia’s rivers and streams won final approval from the state Senate Tuesday, giving business and industry lobbyists a major victory on a long-sought change in the way the state calculates water pollution permit limits.
Senators voted 20-13 in favor of House Bill 2506 and sent the measure to Gov.
DEP officials have previously used a more protective low-flow stream figure in calculating those permit limits.
Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, noted that the legislation makes West Virginia’s permit calculations less stringent than surrounding states.
“I don’t think our path to economic development is saying we allow more pollutants into our streams than other states.” While lawmakers heard testimony from DEP officials, industry lobbyists and a consultant working for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition on the issue, the legislative review of the bill brought out no clear answers about the extent to which pollution discharges could be increased or about long-term public health implications of the bill — or about exactly what new businesses and jobs such a change in environmental rules would bring to West Virginia.
Miller’s amendment was rejected on an 18-11 vote with five senators absent.
I am certain of it from the science I learned.” Never fully explained during legislative discussions on the bill, though, was why the DEP under the previous administration rejected EPA’s recommendation to use harmonic mean for both types of pollutants, keeping a low-flow measurement for non-carcinogens, as surrounding states also do.
Various industry groups have waged an on-and-off effort to change the state DEP to using harmonic mean since the early 1990s, when a proposal to do so was defeated after one of its chief opponents, the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, ran a public relations campaign that dubbed the measure the “Cancer Creek Bill.” Trump noted during Tuesday’s floor debate that after passage of harmonic mean, West Virginia will still continue to apply its drinking water standards, known as Category A, to all segments of all rivers and streams statewide, even when there is no public drinking water intake present.
“West Virginia provides as great or greater protection to its waters in terms of drinking water criteria than any of our surrounding states,” Trump said.
I like that our state says every stretch of every river and stream is going to meet drinking water criteria.” Voting against the final bill were Sens.