Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Republicans Use Rare Procedural Maneuver To Avoid Amendments 
to Cancer Creek Bill

After Judiciary Committee testimony highlighted water quality concerns, bill
was voted out of committee with no opportunity for further debate or amendments.

West Virginia State Capitol
March 23, 2017

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee used a rare procedural maneuver to end debate they didn't like on House Bill 2506, the “Cancer Creek" bill. After about two hours of testimony, mostly from opponents of the bill, Senator Randy Smith, Republican-Tucker, moved to approve the bill, which ended debate and eliminated the potential for committee members to amend the legislation.

The bill changes the criteria used to set water permit limits for pollutants from the current 7Q10 — which sets the standard based on the lowest seven-day consecutive flow of a stream — to solely the “harmonic mean” standard, which calculates the average flow of a stream. 

All surrounding states use a combination of “7Q10” or a similar low flow criteria for non-carcinogen pollution and “harmonic flow” for carcinogens.  Concerned citizens testifying about the bill pointed out this could lead to lowering the state’s water quality standards to dangerous levels, especially during drought conditions when water flows are low. 

The motion to vote on the bill passed eight to six. The motion to actually send the bill to the floor passed 10 to 5.

UPDATE March 27:  Democrats tried to amend the bill on 2nd reading from the floor.  All amendments were rejected with votes going along Party lines: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/legisdocs/2017/RS/votes/senate/03-27-0230.pdf

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