One Charleston Manufacturer Pressing for Delay of Water Rules
According to an environmental lobbyist, West Virginia lawmakers have been getting pressure from a specific Charleston manufacturer opposed to updating the state’s water rules. Under pressure from the specific Charleston manufacturer, a state Senate committee has moved to delay updating human health criteria in water-quality rules.
Clean-water advocates hope for more support in the House. The most recent step in the back-and-forth on water-pollution limits came last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It voted to delay implementation of new allowable levels for nearly 60 potentially toxic pollutants until 2021. Karan Ireland with the West Virginia Environmental Council says lawmakers have been getting calls from a Charleston manufacturer who is threatening to leave the state if Senate Bill 167 becomes law with the updates.
“There are legislators on both sides of the aisle who feel pressure from particular entities who are saying ‘if we’re forced to comply with this right now, we might not be here next year,” said Ireland. “Certainly no legislator wants to hear that.”
The Environmental Protection Agency issued regular updates for about 100 water pollutants almost four years ago, as required by the Clean Water Act. The state Department of Environmental Protection folded 60 of the new allowable levels into its annual rules legislation, but the proposal has proven controversial.
Ireland says the new limits are based on better research done since the state’s rules were last overhauled in the mid-1980s. But she says the unnamed manufacturer seems to have enough influence to delay the changes for another two years. Ireland says the threat of losing jobs carries a lot of weight with lawmakers.
“I personally heard from legislators that they’d been getting calls from a manufacturing facility here in Charleston that if these updates were adopted, that it was going to be cumbersome enough to them that it might put them out of business here,” she said.
Ireland says state employment records show jobs at the company already declining. According to the D-E-P, about two-thirds of the rule updates would mean tighter pollution limits, while one-third would loosen permitted levels.
Thanks to the West Virginia News Service for the information in this story.