G.R.E.E.N.
Grass Roots Environmental Effort Newsletter

July, 1999

Spring Camp Meeting Successful

by Elizabeth Sampson, WVEC President

The May meeting was a success despite some initial setbacks. We had moderate attendance but some interesting exchanges. One example was the good news shared by Doyle Coakley, of his case win with the WV Environmental Quality Board. One of the important points that Doyle made is the fact that one person can make a difference and that a citizen can carry a case through without having to employ an attorney. Congratulations to you, Doyle!! You are special!

Pam Nixon, DEP Environmental Advocate, made a well thought out presentation. We appreciate you, Pam! Write to DEP and encourage them to provide Pam with a full-time secretary. Without one, it is difficult to run her office as effectively as possible.

Senator Brooks McCabe shared some of his thoughts on how WVEC can work more effectively with the Legislature. He suggested taking time to let legislators know what WVEC wants and where we are going so they can help. Also, show Legislators how to get there and who benefits and they will help get the message through. He indicated that it is very important to take the time to talk to the leadership and all legislators and not just focus on who we see as our "friends." He believes that environmental issues are of concern to many legislators and that it is important that we help them understand our concerns. He stated that we have science and "right" on our side.

Updates by leaders on other issues such as mountaintop removal, air quality, solid waste and quarries, and Blackwater Canyon were also given.

The continuing review of the WVEC brought forth much discussion. It seems to most of us that, in our ten-year existence, we have been a successful organization. We have made a very positive presence at the Legislature. In fact, such success is unknown in other states. There seems to be consensus that we should start with the good things we have done and build from there. Some of you will recall that as President, one of my goals was to review, with the help from members all over the state, our organization, and to become an even more effective environmental group.

Please write or call me over the next two months with your input so that at the Fall Conference we will be able to present a good organizational overview. Remember that reviewing our structure with reference to regions and reviewing the bylaws are a part of this total review.

 

Fall Conference Returns to Pioneer

The WVEC was "born" in 1989. Ten years ago groups, organizations and individuals collectively joined together and created a common bond as well as a board of directors. Our state was organized into regions blanketing West Virginia with a grassroots organization connected to each other and our issues.

For the last decade WVEC has come together in the Spring and Fall to reflect, work on issues and plan for the future of West Virginia's environment. Due to popular demand, the Fall Convention will again be held at Camp Pioneer in Beverly just outside of Elkins. The camp offers us a beautiful setting in which to hold workshops, have discussions, get reacquainted and welcome ever-growing new groups and members.

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending September 17, 18, 19th. WVEC needs you. West Virginia needs you. Our natural resources needs you. Go ahead. Think globally, act locally.

 

Fire & Grit: Orion Society Millennium Conference

by Denise Poole

The experience began the evening of June 21 at the newly constructed U.S. Fish & Wildlife Training center in Shepherdstown, WV. People gathered under a gigantic white tent with music, readings, and later, a Summer Solstice Celebration around the fire. It concluded three evenings later on the nearby Antietam battle field with a candlelight glow forming a "river of lights" representing the "river of blood" that flowed from this bloodiest of battles. The three days and nights in between were filled with what can only be described as a spiritual, intellectual and emotional inspiration, celebration and rejuvenation.

Almost 600 environmental activists from 48 states and places around the globe attended Plenary Speeches, Dialogue Sessions, and smaller Collegium groups each day. In the evenings we enjoyed phenomenal music, poetry and essays. Wrapped in truth & humor in a way that touched our soul, spirit and hearts we hung on every word, shared our own experiences and relished every moment. Five West Virginians attended - all WVEC members. Ruth & Hugh Rogers, Charlie Waters, Janet Fout (my traveling bud) & myself. We were among our extended enviro tribe. Art, nature, music & science wove together in a beautiful blended balance. As it should be.

Imagine being inspired by nature writers & environmental activists Wendell Berry, John Elder, Terry Tempest Williams, Scott Russell Sanders, Richard Nelson, Peter Mathiessen, Barry Lopez, Jan DeBleu and others. They spoke about "The Table of Restoration"... "Questions of Scale" ... "Establishing a Multi-cultural Sense of Place" ... "One Agrarian's Perspective" ... "The Force of Spirit".

"We live in an era of denial" John Elder

"Underlying everything, we need to keep in our heads that we are in the middle of a undeniable crisis" Bill McKibben

Perhaps for a sense of balance Bruce Babbit, Sec. of the Interior and William Wade, retired Pres. of ARCO were also Plenary speakers. Mr. Babbit made reference to the dam on the Kennebec river about to be demolished as an enviro victory. He offered this advice: "Make connections to your surroundings for the future." I wonder if he knows he's quoted regularly saying how MTR reclamation has a nice rolling hills effect and is probably how West Virginia looked millions of years ago?

Mr Wade informs us that there is a 'greening' in corporate America. "No corporation can afford to be seen as an enemy of the environment." (afford?) He did offer this insight into the Inc. world, saying that they don't trust us any more than we trust them.

The conference was so fulfilling, overwhelming and inspiring that we didn't have time to absorb each session. On the return trip home, still reflecting and basking in the experience, Janet said, "It's like a rich dessert you can't finish. Like a piece of cake with double layers of double chocolate with double chocolate syrup in between." "With whipped cream and a cherry on top" I added. "With raspberry sauce all over" Janet concluded. We just left it at that.

 

What If?

"It is not going to be any less than between $2 million and $3 million."-- Charles Ryan, Underwood PR spokesman, on how much it costs to run for Governor of West Virginia, Charleston Gazette, April 11, 1999.

How much does it cost to buy a state? Cecil Underwood will likely spend between 4 and 6 million dollars for the privilege of four more years spent doing favors for his old coal cronies. Bob Wise will probably spend around $3 million. Bob Kiss and Joe Manchin hope to match that.

What will all those bucks go for? Spin doctors and pollsters, media specialists, and handlers and spokespersons. It's the time of year when that new breed of corporation, the political consulting firm, signs on its clients. They will bring us our future governor, packaged with all the care of a box of breakfast cereal, and the actual contents, bland and shaken down, will be just as invisible.

As a novelist, I always like to ask "What if?" What if someone ran for governor without all that protection? What if a candidate did without pollsters and just said, "I'm taking on these issues because they're important and I'm taking these positions because I believe they are right."

What if a candidate did without spin doctors and just said, "Here I stand, let the chips fall where they may," or "My spiritual beliefs affect the positions I take." What if a candidate did without high-powered media consultants, got together with some friends and came up with his/her own ads?

What if a candidate tried to do what was in the best interest of the average West Virginian and locally-owned small businesses rather than the coal and timber barons, the absentee landowners, the out-of state corporations that pull out whenever the mood takes them?

What if a candidate had the guts to stand up to the National Rifle Association? What if a candidate said it's important to let local communities decide if they want their schools consolidated? What if a candidate said it's better to tax tobacco than food?

What if a candidate said it's time to say NO once and for all to mountaintop removal, and to make sure the state benefits as much as possible from the last days of coal?

I've been asking myself these questions for months now, and I want to know how this story would end. So I would like to become that candidate for governor.

It's not an easy task, as I'm becoming aware. This kind of candidacy doesn't fit with the Democratic and Republican "parties" as they currently exist. The two supposedly separate entities have more in common than not, as the Charlotte Pritt campaign proved. The kind of honest and open candidacy I envision can only be run by an Independent, one who tries to speak to both Republicans and Democrats who are disgusted by our current political mess.

Another problem is the difficulty for an Independent/Third Party candidate to get on the ballot. Friends and supporters are now busy collecting the thousands of signatures needed to qualify for ballot status. People who sign my petitions must be informed they are giving up their right to vote in the May 2000 primary election, even though there is no penalty if they do vote. Even people who support my candidacy have trouble with this repressive provision. I am therefore running under the banner of the new Mountain Party, in hopes that future candidates will not have to go through this onerous process.

I don't expect to raise millions of dollars, nor do I want to. How can anyone, I wonder, countenance spending that kind of money on a bunch of suits in Washington while West Virginians go without health care? If Underwood, Wise, et al will use the money they've raised for the basic needs of our people, I'll withdraw and vote for one of them myself.

As for the impossibility of being elected with less than $2 million, I want to ask Mr. Ryan to consider: What if David beat Goliath again?

Denise Giardina

Editor's note: Denise can be contacted by writing to:

Friends of Denise Giardina
POB 6344
Charleston, WV 25302

First Day of Summer

Smog Season Has Already Begun

by Jim Kotcon

The summer of 1999 is already shaping up to be a disaster for West Virginians who want to breathe the air. As of June 16, the state had already had 7 days of unhealthy air, with violations of health-based standards at five of the state's six ozone monitors. The highest ozone readings were in Charleston, but the most exceedances were in Huntington. Parkersburg, Weirton and Wheeling were close behind.

According to EPA's website [www.epa.gov/airnow], much of West Virginia, including many counties without an ozone monitor, has experienced pollution levels that threaten health, affect crops and damage forests. Ozone creates a host of breathing problems for kids, the elderly, people with heart and lung disease, and even healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors.

EPA had proposed new ozone standards and an "Ozone Transport Plan" that focused on reducing power plant pollution as the fastest and cheapest way to protect people's health. A coalition of states, led by Gov. Underwood, challenged the plan in court and won a delay in its implemention. EPA is now working on a more narrowly targeted plan to require specific emissions reductions from power plants in response to legal petitions filed by Northeastern states. Although utilities are also trying to overturn this plan, West Virginia has already agreed that emissions from its power plants are affecting air quality in Pennsylvania, making the legal arguments harder for the polluters.

One ironic consequence of Underwood's policy is that West Virginia lost much of its flexibility to address power plant pollution. While the original EPA plan called for the states to develop their own plans for meeting pollution reduction targets, the legal challenges from Northeastern states will require specific reduction targets from specific West Virginia power plants. And since the EPA Ozone Transport Plan is on hold, West Virignia will be forced to make cuts while power plants in some other Midwest states are now off the hook. What is truly ironic is that some of the pollution causing West Virginia's ozone problem is blowing in from some of these surrounding states that have been let off the EPA hook by the Governor's legal appeals.

The real loss for West Virignia will be the health of West Virginia citizens and the health of our agriculture and forest industry. While the legal petitions from Northeastern states will result in minor improvements in their air quality, the biggest beneficiaries of the pollution reductions would be right here. EPA's pollution reductions should help West Virginia avoid the kind of ozone exceedances that are currently damaging health and reducing agricultural and forest industry production.

What You Can Do:

Summer is the heart of smog season. Check the EPA's website above for daily ozone forecasts. Reduce outdoor activity when unhealthy air occurs, especially for young children, the elderly, or those with respiratory diaseases such as asthma.

Contact the Governor's office toll-free at 1-888-438-2731. Ask him to reverse his failed policy of helping polluting power plants and begin working to reduce West Virginia's pollution emissions.

 

Baby steps toward Blackwater Canyon National Park!

by Viv Stockman

Whew! Lindy Point is saved, so we can all rest easy, right? WRONG! What good is a scenic overlook without the scenery? What will become of endangered species habitat and the Canyon's immense quiet if John Crites builds his "resort"? What would happen to Blackwater Falls State Park if Crites develops those condominiums?

The Charleston Gazette's editorial page editor, Dan Radmacher, succinctly summed up the situation is his column "Make Crites an Offer He Can't Refuse" (see http://wvgazette.com/Columns/radmacher0618.html):

"Face it, the canyon won't be safe until it is totally in public hands. The (Lindy Point) dealis a minuscule start - less than 2 percent of the canyon.

"Under the deal, Crites sold the state five acres that includes Lindy PointIn addition, Crites is giving the state 50 acres, including the road that leads to Lindy Point.

"Crites gets $50,000 an acre - or 30 times the per-acre price Crites paid when he bought the land. If Crites could get the same price for the entire canyon, he'd make $150 million. Not bad for a $5 million investment.

"If you include the "gift," the per-acre price is $4,500 - a still hefty 267% return on Crites' investment. The entire canyon at that rate would net Crites more than $13 million.

"Funny, when Crites' pays taxes on this land, the entire 3,000 acres is assumed to be worth only $215,000.

"I still believe the state or federal government should use eminent domain to condemn this property and turn it into a state or national park. In a truly just world, Crites would get paid the valuation he accepts when he pays taxes (or he would pay taxes on the actual value of the land).

"The goal must be to get public ownership of the entire canyon, and that needs to happen before Crites builds the huge resort he is seeking permits for. The sad, cynical thought has occurred to me that Crites may have traded Lindy Point, which I understand he wanted to keep in his family, in exchange for expediting those permits.

"I don't know what Crites' plans are, but I do know he has misled the public in the past.

"Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., issued a statement supporting acquisition of the canyon property from a "willing seller." With this deal, Crites has shown he's willing to sell, if the price is right.

"If Crites won't be reasonable, though, the government shouldn't hesitate to use eminent domain to make him an offer he can't refuse."

Rep. Mollohan and Senators Byrd and Rockefeller need to hear from you. Tell them you want Blackwater Canyon saved as a national park. For their addresses or more information, contact vivian@wvadventures.net.

 

Walk for the Mountains

by Viv Stockman

Mountaintop removal is a massacre of our communities, our biological life support systems and, thus, our futures. It must be stopped. Here's your chance to proclaim that, to go tell it OFF the mountains, over the hills and everywhere, from Harper's Ferry to Huntington.

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition is organizing a "Walk for the Mountains" beginning July 7 in Harper's Ferry and ending (tentatively) August 19 in Huntington, with a Grand Finale in Charleston a few days later. Larry Gibson, who has recently had heart surgery, will walk as much as possible along a 490-mile route that crosses the state. WV Highlands Conservancy board member Julian Martin-WVHC is one of the co-sponsors of the event-will follow Larry in a vehicle. Both will speak at events all along the route.

You can help in several ways: Join in the walk for an hour, a day, a week or a month. Arrange a local meeting so that Larry and Julian can address folks in your community. Contact the press and let them know when the walk is coming through. Arrange a local meeting, press conference or other event that suits your community. Donate money. Help spread the word. Buy a tank of gas or a bumpersticker. Offer the walkers a cool drink, a meal, or a place to stay for the night. Give Larry a nice pair of broken-in high top sneakers-size 6 1/2.

All along the route, many volunteers will be needed to help set up Carol Jackson's mountaintop removal cemetery, which features over 900 cardboard tombstones, symbolizing the wholesale destruction of West Virginia's streams, forested mountains and mountain communities.

Indeed, Julian and Larry will be discussing campaign contributions that our elected officials get from coal companies. They will point out the need for campaign finance reform if we are to reclaim the democratic process from corporate interests, interests that see nothing wrong with the unchecked greed that creates and perpetuates mountain massacre.

The route includes Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, Berkeley Springs, Romney, Thomas, Parsons, Buckhannon, Webster Springs, Summersville, Fayetteville, Whitesville, Hamlin, and Salt Rock. Side trips will be made for engagements in Morgantown, Clarksburg and other towns. Come join this summer's hottest event. For more information or to volunteer, e-mail OVEC at ohvec@ezwv.com or call 304-522-0246. With your help, we can STOP the destruction of our mountains!

 

Quarry Quandary

by Tom Degen

The DEP has finally promulgated a quarry rule to cover limestone, sandstone, and sand. Those three materials have always been exempt from reclamation and bonding requirements, so this rule should be welcomed, right? Well, almost. Many issues that concerned citizens want are not in the rule, which raises the question of the agency's timing.

In a 1994 decision, the Supreme Court "strongly suggested" that the DEP write a separate rule relating to sandstone, sand, and limestone. After a failed attempt to do that, the agency decided that it would be better to write a new quarry law than to propose separate regulations. The agency and the industry met numerous times (without citizen input) since then, and the bills they have developed have become increasingly lopsided towards the industry's agenda, culminating in last session's bill that would have exempted quarries out of the groundwater act and grandfathered the industry out of key provisions of the bill.

In the meantime, West Virginia's economy has been diversifying and growing, resulting in increased negative impacts from quarries. A quarry expansion threatens Snowshoe, the state's premier tourist attraction. The eastern panhandle is growing fast- quarries find they are not operating in the "sticks" anymore, and their operations run right up to new homes and development. Similar conditions exist in Wood County, and in the southern part of the state there are more and more complaints about blasting damage from quarries.

The Legislature, which is finally seeing its efforts to grow the economy pay off, has decided that the quarry issue warrants an interim committee study. So why does the DEP choose to promulgate a rule now?

Regardless of the agency's intent in this matter, the effect of its action may be to weaken the momentum for a balanced quarry bill. Already there have been legislators talking about holding off on legislative action until the rule is done.

But some of the most crucial of citizen concerns, such as hydrological studies, groundwater monitoring, replacement of water supplies, dust and noise abatement, compliance with local zoning ordinances, updated insurance and bonding requirements, and a special reclamation fund cannot be addressed by the agency until the legislature authorizes it through legislation.

Read the rule (available from the secretary of state) and submit comments on it, which are due July 19. Some features worthy of comment are: provisions for things that citizens want, such as permit transfers and renewals, pre-blast surveys, and public hearings are weak; the statutory authority for some provisions is questionable; the grandfathering provisions are excessive; and many concerns can't be addressed without legislation, so the agency should wait for the interim committee's work.

Tell your legislators and members of Joint Judiciary Subcommittee A, which is studying quarries, that legislation is needed, and the rule should be withdrawn until the interim committee can do its work.

Joint Judiciary Subcommittee A

Senate: Wooton (ex officio), Snyder (Co-Chair), Fanning, Hunter, Kessler, McCabe, McKenzie, Oliverio, Ross. House: Staton, (ex officio), Linch, (Co-Chair), Dalton, Faircloth, Johnson, Mahan, Pino, Smirl, Webb

This committee will also be studying solid waste structure, tires, and yard waste.

 

Timber Update

by Mike Withers

House Concurrent Resolution 72 requested the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to make a study of the economic effect of the managed timberland tax. The committee is asked to report to the regular session of the 2000 legislature on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations.

At the Beckley interims, I attended the Judiciary Subcommittee C and the Forest Management Review committee (FMR) meetings. At the FMR meeting there were two main points of interest. First it was announced that a committee had been formed to look at the managed timber issue and that committee was scheduled to tour a timber site the next day. The FMR committee discussed the proposed salvage logging operation in Kanawha State Forest. A letter from the forest foundation opposing the logging was read and discussed. Senator Ross moved that the committee recommend passage of legislation allowing this salvage logging in the Kanawha State Forest. The motion passed on a voice vote with only Delegates Mahan and Willison dissenting. Watch out for this one in the next regular session.

Monday afternoon I was able to track down the membership of this mysterious managed timber committee. The members are: Senators Fanning(Chair), Bailey and Deem. and Delegates Campbell(chair), R. White and (vacant not yet appointed).

On Tuesday morning the group left for a timber site on Sandstone Mountain. I followed the procession. The committee was accompanied by a member of the Raleigh County school board who had requested the group visit this site. Senators Ross and Helmick also were in attendance. The district forester was there to answer questions. Many interesting questions were asked concerning timber practices and regulations. Several legislators appeared to be surprised with what they saw and heard. I viewed this as a very good initial meeting of this committee.

This committee is actually charged with dealing with H C R 72 (managed timberland tax) and S C No. 23 which asks for a study of timbering practices in the border counties in southern West Virginia.

WV Youth Leaders 139, Coal Bowl 0

by Rick Eades

Denise Giardina, in speaking to selected sophomore representatives of 139 West Virginia high schools at a Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership panel on the future of coal in WV, asked, "How many of you hold some aspiration to some day work in the coal industry?" Exactly zero hands went up. Denise was joined on the panel by Rick Eades, DEP Director Mike Miano, and Coal Association President Bill Raney. After an animated question and answer session, HOBY students presented momentos and hugs to panelists, at which point, Bill Raney mumbled, "I can't believe anyone would want to hug me after that."

 

Bad Wind Stings Air Permitting Workgroup

by Rick Eades

After 8 months of air permitting stakeholder meetings, critical issues (public participation and modeling) are now being addressed with less than a week to go. Why? Industry has again subverted the process. Hats off to Dave Flannery, Jackson & Kelly mercenary, for derailing the workgroup with entire industry rewrites of draft regulation that had been agreed to. The DEP and citizens confronted Mr. Flannery at the next to last meeting of the group, after a particularly odious June 22 memo from Flannery to the group denying that industry agreed to anything.

Attorney Mary Anne Maul, the League of Women Voters, OVEC and CAG struck a match to this paper tiger at a June 24 meeting, circulating a memo that documented their opposition to this transparent industry practice. The emperor or chemistry industry empire may have the most coifed, buffed and starched mouthpieces that money can buy, but Mr. Flannery must have been feeling a strong breeze across his freshly flushed cheeks. Get ready for the legislature, where West Virginia's air quality rules on permitting will be in the hands of people like Mr. Flannery and our elected officials.

DEP Sends Citizens Message

Coal flexed its muscle again, loading the stakeholder group for new mountaintop removal blasting rules. DEP and a facilitator caved in and created a workgroup with a 3:1 ratio of those whose jobs directly depend on coal to citizens affected by blasting. With 5 weeks to "come to consensus" and the bad after taste of last year's Governor's Task Force still lingering, citizens are feeling like Native Americans who repeatedly were asked to participate in making treaties, and still ended up with raw deals and broken promises.

Speaking of Coal and Fairness, the WV Organizing Project has been particularly interested in several major coal permits and recently learned of coal and state officials' concern for citizens last week. Objections to a slurry impoundment permit (with a dam higher that the New River Gorge is deep) earned citizens a public hearing on Fri. July 2nd at 6PM. Who will be the first to deny malintent and plead innocence for this 4th of July weekend scheduling? Did someone say it is time to celebrate our independence?

 

The Media is the Massage

by Charlie Feldhake

There are a lot of conflicts in our society over a wide range of issues. The debates sometimes become pretty heated, but they are healthy. It is only by acknowledging and considering a wide range of perspectives that wise choices can be made on how to solve problems.

Sometimes parties with a vested interest try to stifle debate, especially if they have a lot of wealth and influence. We see large corporations behaving this way with increasing frequency. I recently read a quote by an Australian writer, Alex Carey, that describes this trend rather nicely. He wrote "The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."

How is corporate propaganda disseminated? Through advertising, of course, but also through public relation firms. According to John Stauber, founder and editor of the quarterly investigative journal, PR Watch, almost half of everything in the news actually originates from PR firms. This is in addition to the more than $100 billion a year corporations spend on advertising.

In fact, John Stauber maintains "The PR industry just might be the single most powerful political institution in the world. It expropriates and exploits the democratic rights of millions on behalf of big business by fooling the public about the issues."

An example of an aggressive PR campaign being waged is that by Arch Coal over the upcoming trial on the legality of the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit near Blair. It would have you believe this is only a "jobs" issue because it is in its best interest to limit it to that. The impact on jobs is an important issue but there are a lot of other important issues involved.

The tragedy is that they are spending a lot of money on this PR campaign which may end up being counted as overhead against the profitability of West Virginia mining. In the long run it may cost jobs! They should be spending that money finding ways to mine that entails getting legal permits. (Surprise! Yes, some people against illegal mines actually think there is such a thing as a legal mine, contrary to PR propaganda).

One irony is that mounting a PR campaign in this situation is probably a waste of money. Manipulating public attitudes works when trying to get a favorite candidate elected to public office. In this case, it is unlikely to influence a conservative Republican-appointed federal judge.

You see, corporations don't like liberal judges (largely Democrats) that interpret laws to right social wrongs. During the civil rights struggles, women's liberation struggles, and handicap rights movements, liberal judges cost them a lot of money. Corporations therefore support the Republican party in part to get conservative judges appointed that will uphold a strict, literal interpretation of the law. Corporations contribute heavily to get their legislators elected to pass favorable laws and want judges that will narrowly uphold them.

Arch Coal would love desperately to influence Judge Haden. Having a conservative judge preside over this trial will probably backfire on corporate interests because if he is true to form, he will rule only on whether or not their permit complies with the law. He will not take it upon himself to change federal mining regulations. That is a debate for the halls of Congress. That is where the 1977 Federal Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act was passed that has authority over this case.

Of course, Arch Coal may, in this case, be itself a victim of a PR firm. In order to drum up business, a PR firm may have convinced Arch Coal that they can influence anything using clever propaganda. In this case, they just may be wrong.

 

Music For the Millennium -- Sustainable Festival

Tom Roberts Assoc. Park - Daily, WV (south of Elkins on the Tygart River)

September 10, 11, 12 1999

"Music For the Millennium" is the first annunal Sustainable Festival. With the belief of "harmony in diversity" while preserving our natural resources, collaborators for this event feel that sustainable economic diversity is the way of the future for West Virginia.

Collaborators include: WVEC, Mt. State Organic Growers & Buyers Assoc., WVU Extension Service, Mt. State Dowsers, Master Gardeners, Natural Lifeways Inc., Weston Farmers Market, Fairmont State Student Enviro Club.

At the Festival:

* Music Fri night, Sat day & night

* Camping: Friday & Saturday night

* Day passes available

* Enviro Groups & Organization Displays

* WV Arts & Crafts

* Green Business displays

* Demonstrations

* WV wine & beer

* Food vendors

* Saunas & Hot tubs on premises

* Swimming in Tygart River

More energy is welcomed and encouraged! If you would like more information or would like to be a part of future planning, please get in touch. Reservations for nonprofit organizations, green businesses, artists booths, and contributing musicians are sought.

Contact: Denise Poole, WVEC @ 304-346-5891 or 304-522-8409 E-mail: dpoole@wvwise.org

 

Keep It Clean! Our Water That Is

by Pam Moe-Merritt, West Virginia Rivers Coalition

The West Virginia Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is issuing two public notices about changes to and implementation of water quality standards that stand to have great impact to West Virginia's waters.

Remember that the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires states to decide what their waters are to be used for and to set appropriate levels of protection depending on that use. The minimum designated use allowed under the CWA is swimming and protection of fish and aquatic life. Also under the CWA, states designate uses, and the EPA approves those uses.

In West Virginia, the EQB establishes designated uses for our waters. It is made up of five Governor's appointees. The legislature grants final approval of EQB's decisions about uses and water quality standards. Each waterway is classified as Category A - waters used for drinking water, Category B - waters used for propagation and maintenance of fish and other aquatic life, or Category C - recreational uses such as fishing, boating and swimming.

One change the EQB is contemplating would affect the designation of water for use as public water supplies. It is considering the following options for designation of waters as Category A - our public drinking water supply waters:

1) Retaining the existing designation of Public A waters, i.e., all state waters are Public A and would be protected for existing or potential use as drinking water;

2) Delegate use of protective zones to be designated according to the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program (SWAPP) developed by the WV Bureau of Public Health;

3) Authorize the Office of Water Resources to review the Public A use designation of a stream during the NPDES permit review process; and

4) Apply the use designation for a distance five miles upstream of existing water supply intakes.

This proposed change is on the super fast track! A public meeting will be held at 7 PM on July 15th, the public comment period closing date.

The second change is regarding the lack of an antidegradation implementation policy. Here the CWA is supposed to ensure that our clean rivers stay clean and our dirty rivers don't get any dirtier. Antidegradation is also the background against which all pollution discharges are to take place. In West Virginia, antideg offers three levels of protection:

Tier 1 - all rivers are automatically protected for "existing uses" - the highest uses that have taken place any time after November 1975 - and must be maintained.

Tier 2 - rivers where water quality exceeds that required for existing uses or High Quality Waters. The quality of these waters must be maintained unless an important local economic or social need would be met by allowing some level of degradation. Most of West Virginia's rivers are classified as Tier 2.

Tier 2.5 - rivers of special concern, i.e., designated Wild & Scenic Rivers, all naturally reproducing trout streams, all streams and bodies of water in state and national forests and recreation areas and National Rivers. No activities which result in reduction of ambient water quality are allowed.

Tier 3 - rivers of the very highest quality or Outstanding National Resource Waters. These include natural trout streams and rivers running through wilderness areas. Their very high water quality must be strictly maintained, without exception.

Recall that the WV Rivers Coalition, WV Highlands Conservancy, WV Citizen Action Group, WV Council Trout Unlimited and numerous individuals recently filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA because of the lack of an antidegradation implementation policy. There is a policy, but no plan to put it in action. Our goal is to get a plan of action to keep these waters clean!

The public hearing for the proposed antideg implementation policy is Thursday, July 28th at 7 PM at the EQB office in Charleston. The board plans to file this document in August - in time for action during the next legislative session.

To receive a fact sheet about comments to submit on these two proposed changes, contact Pam Moe-Merritt at (304) 637-7201 or pmoe@neumedia.net.

 

West Virginia Rivers Coalition Action Alert: Be a River Watchdog!

Decades of poor economic and land use decisions have resulted in serious water quality problems all over West Virginia. Industry produces increasing amounts of toxic discharges, unplanned development contributes sewage discharge and storm water runoff, and factory poultry farms degrade drinking water sources to unsafe levels. Most operations like these require permits that specify discharge quantity and composition.

Fortunately, a West Virginia Rivers Coalition workshop is a step in the right direction to help YOU keep an eye on point-source pollution discharge, and what is and isn't approved. "Permit Watchdogging" is a one-day training to help local watershed activists understand and comment on the otherwise technical "NPDES" permit applications for point-source discharge. You'll be led through a sample permit, and with pointers from ace trainer Barry Sulkin, you'll learn how to comment on applications to help keep pollution to a minimum.

In the morning, WVRC will give a brief overview of the Clean Water Act, followed by Barry's workshop, "Watchdogging Permits: Tricks of the Trade." In the afternoon, we'll take a look at a permit in the Coal River area, and if conditions are right we'll take a trip to the site itself. At the end of the day, we'll have a general discussion about getting a permit watchdogging network going in West Virginia and creating a plan to do so. Also, if participants wish, Barry will lead a "wet lab" that investigates aquatic life and how it relates to a river's health.

Barry, who lives in Nashville, started and heads the Tennessee chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and is a former chief of the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation. Since leaving the Department, he has created an extensive practice as an investigator and scientist serving citizen groups and others on Superfund, water quality, and other issues.

ACTION:

Come learn how to be a River Watchdog! The training is set for July 17, 1999 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at Alum Creek, W.Va., a few miles south of Charleston. The cost is $10 per person, and preregistration is required. There's a limit of 30 participants, so register soon!

If you'd like to attend, send your name, address, organization name, phone number, e-mail address, and a check to:

WVRC, 801 North Randolph Ave., Elkins, WV 26241

Please make checks payable to WVRC. We'll send you directions when you register. And please bring a brown bag lunch.

QUESTIONS?

Call WVRC at 304/637-7201. Or e-mail pmoe@neumedia.net.

Also, evening fishing/canoe trips are possible through the Coal River Canoe Livery, with free primitive camping available. Call John Walls in advance at 1-800-226-6311 for details.