Great Greenbrier River Race Moves to "Semi Virtual"

The Great Greenbrier River Race (GGRR) organizers are excited to announce that this years' race will be  a "semi-virtual" race this Spring.
 
Instead of the one day event (which will hopefully be live on April 30, 2022), they are moving to a "at your own leisure" option for this year's event.
 
Beginning  Saturday, April 17th, and running through May 15th, 2021, you will be able to run, paddle, and pedal your way to another GGRR finish. Every weekend during this time you are more than welcome to come use the GGRR course.  If you can't make it to Pocahontas County but still want to participate, feel free to use your own course as well - please just make sure that you run 3 miles, paddle 4 miles, and pedal 10 miles.
 
This will be a self-reporting / on-your-honor system. Once you have completed the distance(s), log your times into the registration system on TriStateRacer.com.
 
Please feel free to make this as convenient for you as you need by breaking up the sections of the race into multiple days or of course complete in all in one day as you normally would have. For the virtual race, there is no way of tracking teams, therefore, only solo racers will be recognized.
 
Please note,  the run course will be slightly different since we cannot block off the main street, but we will still utilize the portion of the trail that you have raced on in years past and it will be well-marked to avoid confusion.
 
"Again, this is not how we wish this year was going to be, but is the best that we can do under the current situation. We do hope that you will join us, either in-person on one of the available weekends, or virtually. If you have any questions, please feel free to email ggrrracefun@gmail.com or send us a question to our Facebook page."
 
For those of you that carried your 2020 registration to 2021, please let the GGRR Management Team know how you would like to proceed.



FIND AREA RIVER GAUGES AND FLOW CHARTS @
 
The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee was the first group this year to hold a public hearing on pending legislation.

W.Va. House Judiciary Committee Holds First Public Hearing Of 2021  
On Water Quality Bill
 
Legislation in the House of Delegates would update water quality standards by adopting a quarter of recommended rules for pollutants that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created in 2015.
 
Representatives for companies regulated by these rules, like the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, say House Bill 2389 is "scientifically defensible" and reasonable.
 
Meanwhile, environmental advocates argue that the bill is an incomplete effort, incorporating several new rules that would weaken existing water quality standards and ignoring dozens of other EPA recommendations to increase regulation.
 
"We're really shifting the burden onto our public water systems to treat for a higher levels of toxins and carcinogens in our water," said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. "That cost, eventually, for that treatment, gets passed on to customers. So we are paying the price for the cost of relaxing standards that benefit polluting industries." Rosser was one of several advocates who spoke to the House Judiciary Committee Monday, during the first virtual public hearing of the 2021 legislative session.
 
The committee heard from watershed organizations, environmental lobbyists, religious leaders and tourism businesses Monday morning, who participated in the hearing. They argued that House Bill 2389 would endanger public health, putting thousands of West Virginia residents at risk for more harmful water pollutants.
 
"In a state blessed with beautiful rivers and plentiful fish, where we are encouraging tourists to come and enjoy our waters, shouldn't we try to make our waters cleaner and safer so that residents and tourists can safely eat the fish out of our rivers?" asked Autumn Crowe, treasurer for the Greenbrier River Watershed Association.
 
Speakers, many of whom have ties to the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, also said the bill could discourage people from visiting and living in the state.
 
"As a guide and as a white water rafting company owner, I know what clean water means to this state," said Paul Breuer, who created the Mountain River Tours for white water rafting, one of the four founding groups behind Adventures on the Gorge. "Tourism is growing. This beautiful state can handle a lot more tourists, if they know the water is clean."
 
The bill addresses 24 out of 94 recommendations for water pollutants the EPA made under the Obama administration in 2015.
 
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection approached the West Virginia Legislature in 2018, with requests to adopt at one point more than 50 of the EPA's suggestions.
 
Upon objections from representatives for groups regulated by this bill, like manufacturers and coal companies, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 163, giving the DEP until April 2020 to come back with new recommendations.
 
Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, defended the process that led to the legislation. He described a working group of lawmakers and industry representatives, all of whom he said studied the original recommendations from the EPA before deciding what to include in new bill. "I think it's also critical that West Virginia consider the appropriateness of any proposal from the federal Environmental Protection Agency before adopting federal standards wholesale, as some would advocate," Bostic said.  
 
The House Judiciary committee is the first to hold a virtual public hearing this year. Not only do temporary pandemic-related House rules allow for online hearings, but they also allow committee chairs to deny requests for hearings, based on resources, staffing and timeliness.
Normally, committee chairs are required by House rules to offer public hearings on legislation, as they're requested.
 
There were at least 30 participants Monday from all over the state, all of whom delivered two-minutes statements. At one point, legislative staff reported more than 100 viewers of the event on YouTube.
 
Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.
 
 
HB 2389, allows for more chemical toxins in our water. 
Public health experts agree that any additional exposure to the toxic chemicals regulated by human health criteria would pose increased risks to our health. 
In a state with the 3rd highest cancer death rate in the nation, do we really want to take that risk?
 
A map showing the proposed route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County_ Virginia.
A map showing the proposed route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County_ Virginia.

ATC Rejects Mountain Valley Pipeline Opponents' Request to See
$19.5 Million Agreement

February 24, 2021    Clay Bonnyman Evans

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy this week denied a request to release the full text of its August 2020 "voluntary stewardship agreement" with Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, the company overseeing construction of a 303-mile natural-gas pipeline that will cross the Appalachian Trail near Pearisburg, Va.

Opponents of the pipeline delivered a petition signed by more than 400 "ATC members, volunteers and/or Trail supporters" to ATC President and CEO Sandra Marra and the board of directors Feb. 16.

On Monday, the ATC informed the petitioners that it would not make the agreement public.
"As a matter of ATC's policies, standard philanthropic practice, and for reasons that have been previously discussed, the voluntary stewardship agreement with the Mountain Valley Pipeline and The Conservation Fund is private," the ATC said in a statement, which included a link to the August announcement of the agreement.

Under the agreement, MVP committed up to $19.5 million "for use by the Conservancy to conserve land along the Trail corridor and support outdoor recreation-based economies in Virginia and West Virginia," according to the ATC.

Opponents criticized the ATC's continued unwillingness to make the agreement public.
"The ATC's actions are a truly grotesque departure from their public 'Identity Statement,' which claims the 'Conservancy's staff and board embodies honesty, mutual respect, openness, continuous learning and improvement, and excellence,'"ATC member Russell Chisholm said in a statement released Feb. 24. "Instead, the decision to enter into a Voluntary Stewardship Agreement and refuse to provide transparency about the decision inappropriately prioritizes the power of the Board over the wishes of ATC members and the public."



MVP seeks new amendment at FERC,
faces divestment campaign from green groups

 
Mountain Valley Pipeline has pitched a new, amended application at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, even as environmental groups launched new efforts to encourage divestment from the US natural gas project.

The 303-mile, 2 Bcf/d natural gas project, connecting Appalachian Shale gas to Mid-Atlantic markets, is seeking to get back on track following court and regulatory setbacks. To overcome long-running legal hurdles to its water crossing authorizations, MVP in late January announced it would revamp its permitting approach.

Following through on that, it filed an abbreviated application at FERC Feb. 19 seeking to use trenchless water crossings methods at 120 locations to cross 181 waterbodies and wetlands that FERC originally authorized for open cut methods (CP21-57). MVP also proposed "minor adjustments" to avoid aquatic features and said no new landowners would be affected by the changes it has proposed.

MVP also submitted new applications for an individual permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers for those areas where it hopes to use open cut crossings.

"The commission's approval of this application and the Corps' approval of the individual permit would allow Mountain Valley to complete all remaining crossings project-wide," it said in the application. FULL STORY HERE




CURRENT ACTION ALERTS  

Clean Water
The water quality standards rule's first stop as it works its way through the legislature is the House Judiciary Committee. Contact members of the committee today and ask them to make public health their #1 priority and reject any change that would weaken our water quality standards.
 
Friends of Cheat 
Help FOC request a public hearing for an 800 acre development along the Big Sandy and Laurel Run. WVDEP is receiving public comments on the development's construction stormwater permit. We're gathering more information on the permit application now. Help us request a public hearing by writing to WVDEP before March 7, 2021. Email WVDEP Sharon Mullins, Permitting Section at Sharon.A.Mullins@wv.gov - Include your name and contact information and the permit number: WVR111041 (More info HERE)
 
Climate Change 
March 10, 2021 4:00pm - 5:00pm The second session of a five-part discussion series, "Standing Up for Appalachia: Dialogue for a Positive Change," hosted by West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light and funded with grant support from the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. The topic of March's event will be climate change, its impacts on WV, relevant policy/legislation updates, and ideas for taking action locally. All are welcome to tune in.  Please register to receive the Zoom link  HERE 
Panel members include:
Perry Bryant, Founder, WV Climate Alliance
Dr. Sarah Cross, Campaign Coordinator, WV Rivers Coalition
Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Federal Policy Associate, Interfaith Power and Light
Morgan Sell, Director of Youth and Campus Programs, Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church
  
FERC Workshop
April 16, 2021 9:00am - 5:00pm  The workshop will provide interested parties with the opportunity to provide input to the Commission on the creation of the Office of Public Participation. The Commission intends to establish and operate the Office of Public Participation to "coordinate assistance to the public with respect to authorities exercised by the Commission," including assistance to those seeking to intervene in Commission proceedings, pursuant to section 319 of the Federal Power Act (FPA). 16 U.S.C. ยง 825q-1. Congress directed the Commission to provide, by June 25, 2021, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a report on the Commission's progress towards establishing the Office of Public Participation, including an organizational structure and budget for the office, beginning in fiscal year 2022.  Full info HERE  
   
 
Follow these pages 
WV Rivers ~ WV Rivers is the statewide voice for water-based recreation and clean, drinkable, swimmable, and fishable rivers and streams-from the headwaters to wherever water flows in West Virginia.  
 
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. 
 



THE LEGISLATURE ~ MAKE SURE THEY ARE WORKING FOR YOU 


West Virginia Legislature Live is a video & audio web streaming initiative of the House of Delegates and Senate  and offers live webcasts of official legislative proceedings on things such as Agriculture & Natural Resources,  Small Business & Economic Development, Workforce Development and more.  
  
 WV Senate ~ Find your Senate Representative and how to contact them.   
 
WV House of Delegates ~ Find your House Representative and how to contact them.     
 
WV Bill Status ~ Read full text and synopsis of, and track bill; find sponsors and co-sponsors  
FERC Live Commission Meetings ~ A free live webcast is offered for every commission meeting.  Each is archived for three months. February meeting is Thursday, February 18, 21.  
 

 
If you appreciate the work we are doing, please consider a donation today.
 
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Contract Position Open

The Greenbrier River Watershed Association is going to contract with a new coordinator. If you are interested in working about ten hours a week on projects with a goal of educating the public about our issues, please let us know and we will forward you the job description.  
 
 
 
WV Flood Tool