Target: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
Goal: Fight attacks on regulations that prevent harmful oil and gas leaks.
Last year, in response to a massive chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia, lawmakers posed restrictions and regulations on nearly 50,000 tanks to protect waterways. Storage tanks located in critical areas were required to be inspected once a year for leaks and exposure.
But now, lawmakers have passed an amendment bill that drastically cuts the regulations to only 12,000 tanks that are located within five to ten miles of waterways from where drinking water comes. The number of regulated tanks is expected to drop even further because the owners of these tanks can opt out if regulated by different permits. Additionally, the remaining regulated tanks will only need to be inspected once every three years. The bill was introduced after the oil and gas industry complained of the Aboveground Storage Tank Act imposing on the industry.
This piece of legislation is very concerning, because citizens feel as if their state government is bending to industry interests rather than the safety of people and the environment. Just over a year ago, citizens were shocked to discover their waterways had been contaminated. Even when bans on water consumption were lifted, many people suffered health consequences. After dealing with these hardships, there is a widespread feeling of not being protected and disappointment toward officials’ reactions.
Aboveground tank regulations and inspections would not hinder the gas and oil industry’s ability to operate, and the safety of citizens and waterways should matter much more. Additionally, waterways not used for consumption are just as important to the environment and should be protected, too. Sign this petition to tell the governor that all waterways matter, and the health and safety of citizens is much more important than industry interests.
Dear Governor Tomblin,
Just over one year ago, the people of West Virginia were faced with a health crisis after a chemical leak contaminated the Elk River. 300,000 West Virginians were unable to drink or use tap water, and many people became sick anyway. The aquatic life and health of the waterways were dramatically affected, as well.
And now, everyone’s safety and health is being compromised all over again.
The legislation that recently passed scaling back regulations of the Aboveground Storage Tank Act is harmful to citizens and the environment. By reducing the number of chemical tanks required for inspection and allowing private companies to opt out, you are putting industry interests before those of your own citizens. With fewer inspections and regulations, the chances are high that a detrimental chemical or oil spills could happen again.
Nobody wants another spill to happen, but regulations and inspections are absolutely necessary in order to maximize the safety of these tanks. Please, Governor Tomblin, put the interests of your citizens above those of the oil and gas industry and do not sign this bill into law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: sobri via Flickr