BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. – House Speaker Tim Miley and Senate President Jeff Kessler sent out a release after the final meeting of the three-day interim session regarding their desires in addressing issues with the Above Ground Storage Act.
The two urged Governor Tomblin to allow a brief special session during the upcoming September interim meetings in order to modify the bill.
“It would be a very quick, short and sweet modification to the bill that would extend the date by which these tanks for these small, independent oil and gas producers would have to be inspected and certified,” Miley said.
Kessler said, through the session, they can address claims the January 1, 2015 deadline for inspections is unattainable for some small businesses.
“We could probably, in my view, fix it and delay the certification and inspection provision of that for a period of one year,” he said. “Still require the registration but delay certification and inspection, which are really what seem to be giving the folks the heartburn because they’re being asked to go though an inspection protocol when the rules for inspection haven’t been written yet by the DEP.”
“To require folks to go out and have a thousand or two-thousand dollar inspection done under rules that don’t yet exist isn’t fair or productive,” Kessler continued. “Let’s take a deep breath on that, let DEP finish their rule-making process and then we’ll be able to have a better determination on the inspection process.
While the release states they are “extremely proud of the comprehensive regulatory legislation produced earlier this year to protect drinking water for our state citizens,” they want to be fair to businesses as well.
“Obviously our main priority is making sure we protect our drinking water, but we can do that without being unfairly or overly burdensome on any industry,” Miley said. “So there’s always that fine line as to where reasonable regulation end and burdensome regulation begins.”
The two believe while the DEP will move forward with creating an inventory and conducting a risk assessment of above ground storage tanks statewide, “Any continued delay in taking action on this matter only causes uncertainty within affected industries and the families that rely on them for employment.”
The two stressed conducting the session during the interim meetings will not incur any additional cost to the taxpayers.
On Wednesday, the Governor’s Office of Communications sent out a statement on his behalf.
“As a longtime legislator, Governor Tomblin appreciates the hard work of President Kessler, Speaker Miley and their members in passing this important legislation to safeguard our state’s water sources,” the release stated. “He understands the concerns expressed by those who must comply with the new regulations and appreciates that those rules are not yet finalized, and a special session may be the best way to address that situation. The governor has directed members of his senior staff and DEP Secretary Randy Huffman to continue discussions with concerned citizens and industry representatives to establish an appropriate solution that balances regulations and compliance requirements with the safety of our public water sources.”
Earlier this week, Governor Tomblin was preparing to call a Special Session for the implementation of the bill, but it was delayed after his administration spoke with environmental groups.