Appalachian Chronicles

WV Senate responds to water crisis by voting to weaken water quality standards

By , Communities Digital News

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin

CHARLESTON, W.Va. January 26, 2014–The recent chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without water has raised questions about the commitment of the state’s elected leaders to protect the environment of its constituents.

Despite the fact that every leader demands accountability and promises to take steps to prevent any future contaminations, the financial benefits of supporting the coal and chemical industries means,most likely, it will be business as usual in West Virginia.

Less than a week after the spill, Senator Manchin told the people attending an event sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity that he would continue to fight back against proposed new E.P.A. regulations on coal. Just one day before the spill, Governor Tomblin promised in his State of the State address to “never back down from the E.P.A.”

Since both Manchin and Tomblin receive substantial campaign financing from the coal and chemical industry, it should come as no surprise the two politicians remain committed to protecting the interests of the two industries despite their devastating impact on the West Virginia environment.

Adding insult to injury, last Thursday, the West Virginia Senate Natural Resources Committee voted to weaken water quality standards. The committee voted unanimously to change standards for the amount of aluminum allowed in streams.

Rather than maintain the current fixed standard of the amount of aluminum allowed in waterways, the committee voted for the level of allowable aluminum to be indexed to the water’s hardness value.

A host of environmental groups including the Sierra Club said this will further weaken water quality standards and water protection in the state. But beyond that, the arrogance displayed by the West Virginia Senate Natural Resources Committee is another example of how the people in charge of protecting West Virginians continue to ignore the concerns of their constituents.

Until West Virginians decide to vote the foxes out of the hen house, nothing will change.



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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter. I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present. In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.

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  • 21st Century Pacifist

    Nothing unusual here. When I worked as a Public Health engineer for the state of Maryland politics always were the wild card. I received calls directly from state legislators trying to influence me on environmental matters. Most people will say they are environmentalist when being asked, in reality environment is a distant priority in most people’s lives. Actual environmentalist are usually addressed as weird fanatics.

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