On December 9, a Joint Committee of the West Virginia Legislature voted 7-4 to approve a proposed water quality rule submitted by the Department of Environmental Protection. The proposed rule weakens 13 current standards. All seven Republicans on the Committee, including Patricia Rucker of Jefferson County, voted in favor. The rule must go to the full Legislature for approval.
The DEP originally submitted a proposed updated rule in 2018. Because industry complained, the Legislature deferred the proposed rule until 2021. The West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association says that the weakened rules are supported by scientific evidence about what levels of certain chemicals in the water are safe. Environmental groups argue instead that, as a matter of policy, rules regarding what goes into our drinking water should never be relaxed.