By Luanne McGovern
The West Virginia legislative interim sessions have been relatively quiet this year but will likely get busier as the fall progresses. Interim sessions are planned for every month, starting in August. As they say, the “Bad Idea Factory” will be gearing up. The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy will keep you informed as issues of concern arise in the coming months.
The Conservancy will again partner with the West Virginia Environmental Council, West Virginia Rivers, and other aligned organizations to plan for the 2024 regular legislative session. Like last year, a legislative planning forum is scheduled for early November to set priorities for our lobbying efforts. If you would like to join us, here is the link to the registration: https://bit.ly/3OaqVYa
Our priorities for 2024 are expected to be similar to 2023—all issues impacting public land use, Off-Road Vehicles on public lands, community solar, PFAS in drinking water, orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells, aboveground storage tanks, etc. We had a great lobbying and member engagement effort last year and plan to repeat and enhance this in 2024. We would love to add members to our Legislative Committee, so if you are interested, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
PFAS in Drinking Water
Last year the legislature passed House Bill 3189 to provide the next steps for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to conduct follow-up studies and create action plans to address these “forever chemicals” at their source. There are over 130 public drinking water sources with Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels over the Environmental Protection Agency health advisory limits. These follow-up studies and action plans are vitally important to ensure clean drinking water for all West Virginians, and we must hold the Department of Environmental Protection accountable to ensure that they follow through.
PFAS is not just a problem for those residing around industrial areas. PFAS has been found in multiple drinking water sources in the West Virginia Highlands, including the town of Davis in Tucker County. A PFOA + PFOS level of 11 parts per trillion (ppt) was recorded at Davis, many times the EPA health advisory limits. To find out about the PFAS testing in your town, check out this link from West Virginia Rivers: https://bit.ly/3OvukCe
Contact Your Legislators
The most important way that you can do to help in 2024 is to reach out to your legislators and make your voice heard! It can be intimidating at first to visit, call or email your Senator or Delegate, but they are working for us and need to listen. If you need help finding who represents you, here is a quick link: https://bit.ly/475DBbn
I hope to see you in Charleston in 2024!