Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

Delegate Evan Hansen appointed to EPA advisory committee

Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, was among 12 local government officials across the country appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee.

The EPA’s announcement said the 31-member LGAC provides advice to EPA on developing stronger partnerships with local governments and building their capacity to deliver environmental services and programs.

The members include state legislators, county commissioners and city mayors; one of the 12 new members is a Mohawk Nation chief.

“Ensuring the agency is well informed on how its programs impact local governments is an essential part of our decision making process,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the release. The LGAC and the Small Communities Advisory Committee “provide invaluable insight on how to best work with our local partners to build and maintain strong environmental programs, and I look forward to working with them in the coming year.”

Hansen said the LGAC hasn’t met yet, so his role hasn’t been defined.

“I think the communication is going to go both ways,” he said during an interview at the state Capitol. “We can provide information to then about how their proposed laws and regulations are impacting us, and we’ll also learn from them.”

Hansen is also a principal of the Morgantown consulting and research firm Downstream Strategies.

EPA said the committees will meet sometime early this year.

The Dominion Post asked Hansen about issues where the EPA may need to learn from local communities and he mentioned his bill and its Senate twin, the Clean Drinking Water Act, which died but have been turned into a study resolution.

Both bills dealt with toxic manmade chemicals known as PFAS, which are found in various household products and cleaning supplies, in water-repellant fabric and firefighting foam. They are suspected of being carcinogenic.

They had three aims: One, they required industrial sites that have used PFAS to disclose that to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Two, those facilities wouldhave to monitor their discharges.

Three, state agencies would use the data gathered to propose Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act thresholds. West Virginia is among the states exploring or taking action on PFAS in the absence of federal EPA action, Hansen has said.

The study resolution is SCR 46, which passed the Senate and is awaiting House action. It calls on the state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health and Human Resources to cooperatively propose and initiate a public source-water supply study plan to sample PFAS levels for all community water systems in West Virginia, including schools and daycares that operate treatment systems regulated by the DHHR.

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