Reporting to the State Legislature, or Not
From an Associate Press Report, January 30, 2013
CHARLESTON, WV — The WV Department of Environmental Protection is late submitting a report on the gas industry’s use of wastewater impoundments to the Legislature because it wants to remove unsolicited recommendations from West Virginia University researchers. Secretary Randy Huffman tells The Charleston Gazette he hopes to have a final report ready when lawmakers convene for their 60-day session on February 13th. (See the schedule below.)
Huffman says the researchers went beyond the scope of their mission in making suggestions about the handling of wastewater. The DEP is removing those portions of the report, which Huffman also said had problems with formatting. “There’s nothing wrong with them making those kinds of recommendations,” he said, “but that’s not what was asked for.”
The Horizontal Well Act directed DEP to study “the safety of pits and impoundments … including an evaluation of whether testing and special regulatory provision is needed for radioactivity or other toxins held in the pits and impoundments.” Should the study indicate a need for “greater monitoring, safety and design requirements or other specialized permit conditions,” it said, the DEP must propose new rules to create those requirements.
The study is one of several that legislators mandated in 2011, when they passed new regulations for the gas drilling industry. A second report, also behind schedule, is to focus on noise, light and dust from drilling sites.
Huffman said that the report is not close to being complete, and he wouldn’t predict when it will be. “That one has a lot of holes and gaps in it,” he said.
The study was to determine, in part, whether a 625-foot buffer zone between drilling sites and homes is sufficient protection. If deemed adequate, WV DEP would have the power to propose new rules.
A third mandated study on air pollution from oil and gas operations isn’t due until July 1.
2013 LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR
Opening Day – January 9, 2013: Assemble to organize by election of officers and open and publish election returns. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)
First Day – February 13, 2013: First day of session. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)
Twentieth Day – March 4, 2013: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)
Forty-first Day – March 25, 2013: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate and the House. (Senate Rule 14), (House Rule 91a) Does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills. Does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.
Forty-seventh Day – March 31, 2013: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.
Fiftieth Day – April 3, 2013: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5b)
Sixtieth Day – April 13, 2013: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)