WV E-Day ~ February 16, 2022
This year, the West Virginia Environmental Council E-Day will be hosted online via Zoom on Feb. 16 from 6-7:30 p.m.
The annual day of advocacy will include a legislative update from a couple of our member groups, West Virginia legislators, and the WVEC lobby team on bills we’re following and other happenings at the Capitol.

A suggested donation of $10 will go toward supporting our lobby team. For a donation of $50 or more, we’ll send you our newest t-shirt to thank you for your contribution!

You can also support the WVEC by participating in the E-Day silent auction where you’ll have the opportunity to bid on a limited edition print by Ray Harm, a nationally known wildlife artist who helped to raise funds for education, health, nature and many more organizations throughout his career.


MVP Dealt 1,2,3 Punches from Courts
Court deals major blow to Mountain Valley pipeline

January 26, 2022|Niina H. Farah, Carlos Anchondo |Energy Wire

The Mountain Valley pipeline yesterday[January 25, 2022] hit a significant setback after a federal appeals court tossed out key approvals for the natural gas project.

In an unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management reviews of the pipeline’s impacts had again failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The court then tossed out the agencies’ analyses that would have allowed the unfinished, 304-mile natural gas pipeline to cross through a roughly 3.5-mile section of the Jefferson National Forest (Energywire, Jan. 20, 2021).

“The Forest Service and the [Bureau of Land Management] erroneously failed to account for real-world data suggesting increased sedimentation along the Pipeline route,” wrote Judge Stephanie Thacker, an Obama appointee, in the panel’s decision.

The ruling calls into question the fate of the nearly fully constructed pipeline, which has been met with multiple legal challenges and has faced yearslong construction delays. Continued HERE


Federal court (again) overturns (another) Mountain Valley Pipeline permit
4th Circuit vacates Fish & Wildlife approval over
endangered species impacts

February 3, 2022|Sarah Vogelsong |Virginia Mercury

The hits keep coming for the embattled Mountain Valley Pipeline, with the Richmond-based U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning yet another key project approval this week, this time because of impacts to two endangered fish species. 

The court in an opinion filed Thursday [February 3, 2022] determined that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had erred in a September 2020 finding that Mountain Valley was unlikely to jeopardize several endangered species. 

“We recognize that this decision will further delay the completion of an already mostly finished pipeline, but the Endangered Species Act’s directive to federal agencies could not be clearer: ‘halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost,’” Judge James Wynn wrote in the 4th Circuit’s opinion. Continued HERE

Mountain Valley hits another snag in its pipeline plans

February 11, 2022| Lawrence Hammack |Roanoke Times

Already slowed by winter weather and a court’s reversal of two vital permits, construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has hit another hiatus.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said this week it will not act on Mountain Valley’s pending application to cross streams and wetlands now that a federal appeals court has struck down another agency’s conclusion that the pipeline would not jeopardize endangered species in its path.
“Our evaluation will require review of a valid BO,” or biological opinion, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Col. Jayson Putnam of the Army Corps wrote in a letter Wednesday to an attorney for pipeline opponents.

On Feb. 3, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated an opinion from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, ruling that the agency had not adequately considered how construction of the 303-mile long natural gas pipeline would impact endangered species in its path.

After receiving the letter from Putnam, attorney Derek Teaney of Appalachian Mountain Advocates on Friday withdrew a request to the Fourth Circuit to stay the stream-crossing permitting process, which had been made before the Feb. 3 ruling.

With the Corps’ assurance that it will not move forward for now, there is no longer a showing of “irreparable harm” to the environment that would have required a stay, Teaney wrote in court documents.

The latest development means that Mountain Valley is nowhere close to obtaining three sets of federal permits it needs to complete the $6.2 billion project. “The recent letter from the Corps means MVP can’t be granted an ‘all access pass’ to our waterways before the pipeline’s effects on endangered fish are carefully studied,” Caroline Hansley, a senior organizer with the Sierra Club, said in a statement Friday.



MVP Public Notice:
Roanoke Times, January 29, 2022

Notice is hereby given that Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC has requested authorization from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to install a natural gas pipeline, with associated temporary construction access bridges, beneath the beds of eight (8) streams and/or rivers with drainages greater than 5 square miles, which are considered to be State-owned subaqueous bottomlands of the Commonwealth along the designed project corridor in Giles, Roanoke, Montgomery, Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties for the Mountain Valley Project.

Send comments/inquiries within 15 days (by February 18, 2022)

Marine Resources Commission
Habitat Management Division
380 Fenwick Road, Bldg 96
Hampton, VA 23651 OR

West Virginia Environmental Council
GREEN Legislative Update
Sarah Carballo
As new bills are introduced, we will add them to this list, along with any updates or changes on the current bills. If you have any questions or concerns about any bills, please reach out to Hannah King (hking1275@gmail.com) or Lucia Valentine (luciavalentine10@gmail.com).

West Virginia legislators are currently considering whether to—once again—cut the state’s already low severance tax. This would prove costly and harmful to our state budget.

WV Rivers Coalition
Join WV Rivers for a Mid-Session Legislative Update on Thursday, February 24 at 7:00pm on Zoom. We'll provide updates on our policy priorities, and you'll hear directly from the Legislators working to advance them. A Q&A will follow the presentation.


Crisis
The DEP Office of Oil and Gas (OOG) has been forced to severely reduce its staff due to budget shortfalls. Currently, OOG only has 9 inspectors overseeing approximately 75,000 wells and 28,000 tanks across the state. That’s 1 inspector for every 8,000 wells. Even when OOG had 1 inspector for every 4,000 wells, scientists found that 53% of a sample of conventional wells in WV were leaking an average of 9 cubic feet of methane per hour.
Cause
The problem is OOG is primarily funded through a one-time well work permit fee, though routine oversight and emergency response is needed beyond the initial drilling phase to help prevent environmental harms and threats to public safety. Over reliance on a one-time fee for the only DEP permitting program that gets no federal money, subjects OOG’s budget to dramatic shifts based on number of wells drilled in any given year. Given that Marcellus wells are generally 60 times more productive than conventional wells, it takes fewer wells to produce high volumes of gas than in the past. The funding structure doesn’t provide stability nor nearly enough resources for adequate oversight of the range of activities involved in oil and gas development.
Solutions
Annual fee per well. SB 480 and HB 2725 provide for an annual fee per well. Every other regulated industry has to pay an annual permit fee. Under SB 480, only wells producing 10MCF/day of gas or greater would have to pay an annual $100 fee. SB 480 would only get OOG back to 1 inspector for 4,000 wells. Under HB 2725, all wells would pay an annual fee of $100 resulting in approximately $6.5M for OOG annually. Wells that cannot afford pay $100/year are already dangerously marginal, and should be plugged before the state is further burdened with more abandoned unplugged wells. Such fees could be tiered where higher producing wells pay more according to a sliding scale, resulting in more stable revenue for OOG.
Percentage of severance tax dedicated to OOG. SB 613 dedicates 1.5% of oil and gas severance tax to the OOG. SB 613 would result in an approximate average of $3M for OOG annually, though it can fluctuate dramatically. This approach requires redirecting existing revenue meeting other needs of the state to OOG.
Bottom Line
OOG needs more resources to properly manage its oil and gas program. The current revenue structure is collapsing. We believe OOG needs stable revenue that supports at least 1 inspector for every 2,000 wells; this would require around $3M in additional annual revenue. We support the oil and gas industry paying their fair share to do business in our state, as other industries do, and thus support the annual fee approach.
Action Needed
Contact the members of the Senate Energy Industry and Mining Commitee and your legislators and urge them to support these needed solutions to the OOG funding and staffing crisis.  

Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Webinar
February 17, 2022 @ 6:00 PM

Join us for a citizen water quality monitoring webinar and learn why to monitor and how to effectively use the data you collect.

About this event
Collecting water quality data of various kinds can be an educational and rewarding activity for volunteers. That information can also be of great value in addressing and preventing pollution problems and this webinar will help participants understand how to effectively use data they gather.

Wild Virginia and the Izaak Walton League invite you to join us on February 17, 2022 at 6 p.m. to explore ways volunteer monitors can help protect and improve conditions in the places they use and value.

Many Virginians have joined programs to monitor waters in their areas, to check for specific problems or simply to provide a fuller understanding of conditions in the places they care about and use. The activity of monitoring is, in itself, beneficial in getting people in and around their valued waters.

But monitoring results can also be used to affect the ways we and decision makers act, in planning activities on the land and in the streams to prevent problems and addressing problems that already exist. Issues we'll explore in this discussion include:
  • Different types of monitoring (chemical, biological, physical) and why the information yielded by each type can be valuable.
  • How to plan your monitoring to make sure it meets necessary standards to influence decisions.
  • How to document your methods and findings to assure the credibility of findings.
  • Where and how to present the data to and how to ensure that it is valued and effectively used.

Whether you are already part of a monitoring program or are considering getting involved, this session can be useful to you.


The Great Greenbrier River Race

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Registration is now OPEN for the 35th Annual Great Greenbrier River Race!! Come race with us on Saturday, April 30th, 2022!

In case you missed it...a round up of news

FERC Monthly Virtual Open Meeting
February 17, 2022
Virtual Open Meeting (Free Webcast available best viewed using Microsoft Edge)
Commission meeting held in Commission Meeting Room (Room 2C) at FERC Headquarters, 888 First St. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20426
free live webcast is available for this meeting from 10:00 am - 11:00 am. All webcasts are archived for 3 months. Full info HERE 

Volunteer
Make your time count by volunteering with your favorite non-profit to do any number of things from helping with river cleanups, to monitoring rivers and creeks, to making phone calls or licking envelopes. You make a difference.

Follow these pages 
WV Rivers ~ WV Rivers is the statewide voice for water-based recreation and clean, drinkable, swim-able, and fishable rivers and streams-from the headwaters to wherever water flows in West Virginia. 
New River Conservancy ~ Protecting the water, woodlands and wildlife of the New River Watershed. River Clean Ups
Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance ~ Protecting the heritage, resources and economy of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge region.
WV Environmental Council ~ Facilitate communication and cooperation among citizens in promoting environmental protection in West Virginia, to assist in organizing grass roots groups, to facilitate interaction among established environmental organizations, and to correspond with all appropriate local, state, and federal agencies involved in the management of West Virginia's environment. 
Wild Virginia ~ Along with our partners, alliances, and citizens like you, we press on in the fight against fracked gas pipelines in our region. The Mountain Valley Pipeline poses a great risk to our forests and surrounding communities. We are also working to improve habitat connectivity for wildlife throughout Virginia and to ensure that all of our waterways are fully protected in accordance with the law.
Stop the Money Pipeline ~ If we can stop the flow of money, we can stop the flow of oil. In early 2020, thirty-two organizations came together to form the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition. We stand on the shoulders of years of movement work pressuring financial institutions to act on climate.
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