Two dozen West Virginia residents and environmentalists urged state lawmakers to defeat legislation they say would sharply lower the standards for measuring the quality of streams affected by coal mines' toxic sludge and acid drainage.
The bill, passed 32-2 by the Senate, would direct the Department of Environmental Protection to measure waterway health by fish populations instead of insect life.
At Monday's House Committee on Energy hearing, environmentalists said they were left out of stakeholder discussions on the legislation pushed by the coal industry and the hearing was the first opportunity for public comment.
Three West Virginia coal industry representatives say the change will remove barriers to their struggling industry's ability to compete.
The original bill would have cut state mine safety inspections, provisions opposed by union miners and removed.