Busy WV Legislative Session for WV Environmental Council
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by Jim Kotcon, WVEC Chair |
The 2008 WV Legislature actually has quite a few good bills on the floor. Hopefully, they just won't get left there!
Literally dozens of environmental bills are working their way through the WV Legislature in hopes of passage before the 2008 session ends on March 8. The West Virginia Environmental Council is again coordinating lobbying efforts and a weekly update is posted at www.wvecouncil.org.
Key Bills for a Better Environment
The Bottle Bill (SB 135 & HB 2773). This bill would reduce littering and encourage recycling by establishing a 10-cent deposit on beverage containers. Although this bill has significant opposition from industry every year, support among citizens remains high and progress is being made.
Prohibiting Valley Fills (SB 588) This bill would prohibit mining permits that require placing fill within 100 feet of streams. This would likely prohibit most Mountaintop removal mines.
Clean Elections (SB 240 & HB 4050). These bills would help end excessive influence by polluters on politicians by authorizing voluntary public financing of election campaigns. Candidates could address the needs of the people, instead of constantly searching for campaign funds from special interests.
SB 299 would create a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, requiring utilities to develop renewable energy sources. SB 300 would disallow accelerated rate recovery for transmission lines. This would reduce some of the financial incentives for utilities to propose new transmission lines where they are not needed. SB 487 and HB 4028 would authorize cities and counties to enter into long-term energy savings contracts. These would encourage energy efficiency improvements, modern heating and ventilation controls, and other environmental improvements.
HB 4095 would create a commission to study the impact of global warming in West Virginia. This would be the first significant effort by our state government to address the issue. HB 4133 would establish California emissions standards for automobiles sold in West Virginia. These would include standards on emissions of greenhouse gases.
HB 4005 and HB 4305 would authorize tax breaks for alternative fuels vehicles, and for energy efficient products.
Contact your State Senators and Delegates to urge support for the above bills, and to oppose the bills below. Mailing and e-mail info is on page 2 of the newsletter.
Bills from the Polluters’ Wish List (Oppose these bills!)
HB 2492 would specifically exempt fill material from the definition of wastes prohibited in West Virginia streams. This would essentially legalize the dumping of overburden from mountaintop removal mines into valley fills.
SB626 and HB 4438 would expedite air pollution permits, undercut public comment opportunities, and worst of all, exempt many “modifications” of pollution facilities from numerous permitting requirements. These “modifications” would allow significant increases in pollution without public comment or review.