Opinion

Tomblin takes right approach to adjust spill law

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The administration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has come up with a reasonable middle ground for the implementation of a new law aimed at protecting West Virginia’s water supplies from chemical spills.

By having the state’s Department of Environmental Protection come up with a temporary rule, Tomblin appears to have addressed many of the concerns from businesses that own above-ground storage tanks regulated under the new law while preserving the law’s general mandates.

The legislature in March approved and Tomblin signed Senate Bill 373 as a response to the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River from a tank at Freedom Industries. The spill occurred less than two miles from a water intake at West Virginia American Water’s Charleston plant and contaminated the company’s water supply to about 300,000 residents. That resulted in an order to not use the water for a period of several days, and exposed the state’s insufficient oversight of above-ground storage tanks used by business and industry.

The legislation was much needed, but business groups raised concerns about the tight deadlines for registering (Oct. 1) and inspecting (Jan. 1) tanks, as well of the costs involved in paying registered engineers to do the inspections.

Hearing those complaints, legislative leaders and lobbyists urged the governor to call a special session of the legislature to address the issues and possibly postpone implementation of the law’s requirements.

Tomblin resisted those calls…

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