CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State Senate President Jeff Kessler said he’s not opposed to tweaking the tank law that was passed during the 2014 legislative session. A guest on MetroNews Talkline Monday, Kessler said he doesn’t want to rush into anything.
The tank bill, or the Above Ground Storage Act, requires registrations and inspections of above ground storage tanks in West Virginia, large and small. That’s causing concern for small tank owners, especially those in the oil and gas industry, who have said the cost of complying with the law could put them out of business.
Kessler said the legislature will make the changes if they are needed.
“We tried to address every issue as it came up so that the folks who work in the real world and have to deal with these regulations and real life applications to make sure they’re reasonable and they’re fair and they’re targeted to do exactly what they’re supposed to do. If we find out they don’t, we tweak it and fix it,” explained Kessler.
The bill dominated the legislative session following the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River in Charleston and the resulting water emergency in parts of nine West Virginia counties.
President Kessler said he doesn’t want to rush with changes to the new law but he said he also doesn’t believe tank owners who already are registered in other areas of government need to repeat the process. He said he wants to see the industry’s proposed fix.
“I’d like to see their recommendations. I’d also see what the DEP comes up with, if anything. Then I think we have something concrete that we can look at in black and white, this is reasonable, let’s get it done,” said Kessler.
Kessler said what he doesn’t want to see is a protracted special session to deal with the issue. He said he would want to get in, vote and get out.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Tim Miley said he too is concerned about small tank owners and the impact of the bill. He’s asking the DEP to address the situation and if it can’t be fixed, then delay phase one of the implementation of the bill set for Oct. 1 until a special session is called or lawmakers can deal with it during the 2015 session starting in January.
The Senate version of the bill had exemptions for the smaller tanks but the House expanded the legislation.