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Tomblin may have alternative to special session

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants to avoid a special session to change the bill crafted after the massive chemical leak and water contamination this year, despite calls from state House and Senate leadership for the session.

“The governor agrees a special session is a valid option, but if appropriate steps can be taken administratively, that would be preferable,” said Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman Wednesday evening.

By “appropriate steps,” Stadelman said he meant actions the state Department of Environmental Protection could take in drafting rules or implementing the bill that could make a special session moot. He didn’t elaborate.

Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, issued a joint statement Wednesday afternoon asking Tomblin to call a special session in order to change Senate Bill 373. The bill dominated discussion during this year’s legislative session after a coal-processing chemical leaked from storage tanks into the Elk River and contaminated drinking water for 300,000 West Virginia residents.

“While we are extremely proud of the comprehensive regulatory legislation produced earlier this year to protect drinking water for our state citizens, it has become apparent that the Jan. 1, 2015 deadline for these inspections is unattainable,” Kessler and Miley said in the joint statement.

“Extending that deadline will allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to put in place, with public input, agency rules to fairly and effectively govern the inspection and certification process.”

Tuesday Tomblin also said a special session is an option, but wouldn’t commit to calling one.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman agrees the law as it stands now creates a “real short window” for businesses to meet inspection deadlines, but he doesn’t think the governor wants to make any changes through a special session.

“I’m not necessarily an advocate of a special session…

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