West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Janet Butler / USFWS

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s namesake is apparent upon stepping outside its visitors center in Williamstown, West Virginia. Gazing past bird feeders and the forested bank of the Ohio River, a skinny island looms large.

“So Buckley Island is right across the water from us,” says Michael Schramm, visitor services manager at the refuge.

Adobe Stock

The West Virginia Legislature has passed a bill containing a set of environmental regulations, including a controversial water pollution rule that was pared down during the legislative process.

The House passed Senate Bill 163 on a 78-22 vote. The measure, which passed in the Senate last month, is now in effect.

Mirijana Beram

State regulators are fining the operators of the natural gas Rover Pipeline more than $430,000 for water pollution violations.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday that Rover Pipeline LLC, which is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, violated its permit and state laws on multiple occasions.

 


West Virginia Governor's Office

Environmentalists are urging Gov. Jim Justice to limit the special legislative session starting Thursday to budget issues and not recently passed but conflicting legislation that would raise pollution limits.

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition and 13 other organizations say the conflicting language indicates the lack of careful scrutiny by lawmakers and that the industry-backed bills passed despite strong public opposition.

Ibrahim.ID / wikimedia Commons

Environmental groups are taking legal action to require the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to treat water pollution at bankrupt coal mines in Barbour, Nicholas and Preston counties.

News outlets report that West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club filed two lawsuits in two federal courts on April 20. The plaintiffs accuse West Virginia of violating the Clean Water Act by allowing excessive amounts of pollutants to discharge from the abandoned coal mine sites.

Freedom Industries
AP

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition and 21 other partners will host a free public forum Saturday. The goal is to help the public find out how to get involved in protecting the drinking water. 

The event coincides with the second anniversary of the Freedom Industries' chemical leak in the Elk River. Those involved in the forum will discuss how to help shape source water protection plans that water utilities are required to submit to the state. 

Malepheasant / wikimedia Commons

A Virginia foundation has awarded an $80,000 grant to the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

The coalition says the two-year grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment will support its efforts to promote responsible water policies.

The Williams River Valley
Thomas Fletcher

An area of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia known as the Birthplace of Rivers is getting some special attention this week.

The name Birthplace of Rivers refers to a wilderness area in the eastern part of the state that contains the headwaters for the Cranberry, Cherry, Gauley, Elk, Williams and Greenbrier rivers.

Bill Hughes

A bill to roll back regulations of storage tanks is making its way through the legislature. This week the House Judiciary Committee passed a version of Senate Bill 423 by a narrow vote of 13 to 12 without making any significant changes to the proposed legislation.


Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A new report says drinking water sources in West Virginia are at risk of contamination from thousands of aboveground storage tanks.

The report says the greatest risk is posed by 3,167 tanks near and upstream from surface drinking water intakes. A 2014 state law requires extra safeguards for tanks in these areas.

Elk River Chemical spill
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Leaders of citizen groups, a water scientist and an impacted mother held a phone-based news conference this week to look back on the crisis and outline the progress, pitfalls and next steps in their work to ensure safe drinking water for all West Virginians.

Provided

Environmentalists, activists and artists of all sorts are commemorating the one year anniversary of a chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston. The spill of MCHM by Freedom Industries tainted the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians across nine counties and left them without usable tap water for days. 

Here's a list of some of the events happening around Charleston and elsewhere to mark one year since the spill: 

The Senate proposes many questions to the House Bill that would allow for funding for small businesses following an emergency, the House of Delegates focuses on emergency preparedness in the event of future disasters,  and Angela Rosser of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition outlines her organization's policy recommendations following the chemical spill.

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