Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - July 20, 2018.  


Trump now wants Putin to visit the White House this fall; Also on the Friday rundown: health insurance rates to rise by almost 9 percent in California; and as the climate crises reaches “Zero Hour” young people take a stand.

Daily Newscasts

Bill to Gut Drinking Water Protections Provokes Fury

PHOTO: A law passed amidst protests at the state Capitol after last year's Freedom Industries chemical spill may be gutted by bills at this year's legislative session, according to observers. Photo by Dan Heyman
PHOTO: A law passed amidst protests at the state Capitol after last year's Freedom Industries chemical spill may be gutted by bills at this year's legislative session, according to observers. Photo by Dan Heyman
February 6, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Bills that critics say would gut West Virginia's new drinking-water protections are provoking public anger just days after being filed.

House Bill 2574 and Senate Bill 423 would undo many provisions of the law passed after last year's Elk River chemical spill. One analysis says the bills would exempt 99 percent of the storage tanks regulated under the law - including the chemical tanks that had been at Freedom Industries.

Chelena McCoy, who was living in Charleston at the time of the spill, said she had lingering health impacts from last year's drinking-water contamination. She said she was enraged, shocked and appalled when she heard about the new legislation.

"It just absolutely infuriates me. The anger goes through my body when I even think about it," she said. "I just can't allow myself to believe that our representatives would stoop that low."

The West Virginia Manufacturers Association describes the exemptions as sensible, focusing the tank rules on cases that present the most direct threat to drinking water.

Some members of the general public say they've been expecting something like this. Donna Willis of Institute, a disabled former legal secretary, said the chemical spill caused financial and health problems for her.

Willis said she's seen the chemical industry get away with dangerous activities for years, so she fully expected an attempt to, as she put it, "milk water" last year's law.

"We knew this was going to happen," she said. "It was no big surprise, at least not to me, because the state of West Virginia refuses to regulate industries, especially chemical industries."

On the other hand, McCoy said she was surprised to hear of the new legislation, adding that this entire situation has damaged her opinion of the state's lawmakers.

"Our politicians have been quick to try and protect industry," she said, "but I have always felt some of that was naivete. After last January, there is no way they could blame it on ignorance."

The bills were filed this week. Follow them at legis.state.wv.us.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV