Still have no word on whether or not the antidegradation bill has gotten a bill number and sprouted legs yet. Some rumblings that the bill may be dead and that some in the WV Legislature are ready to let it die and allow the Federal EPA to take over Clean Water Act enforcement in WV. There is debate as to whether that would be beneficial to our cause or not. Some are skeptical that the federal government can do anything efficiently and will probably make it worse. My contention is that the WV DEP has a horrible track record of enforcement of any Clean Water Act issue (see recent EPA fine on Massey Coal Company due to the lack of enforcement by WV DEP) and that the EPA might actually DO something in the case of a violation. In addition, the DEP has submitted 309 streams to be protected under Tier 2.5, which would mean 10% allowed degradation from point source permits. These are arbitrary streams. There are double this amount of streams on the B2 trout stream list which includes only wild, native and year round trout streams of significance (i.e., fingerling stocked streams). I for one, believe that scientifically almost all of these streams would qualify as candidates for Tier 3.0 (no degradation). Wait, did I just say Tier 3.0? Yes, the federal EPA does not recognize Tier 2.5, it isn’t in their vocabulary. Tier 2.5 was created as an arbitrary compromise with industry interests nearly a decade ago, a compromise that they do not intend to abide by now as these interests are pushing for no Tier 2.5 designations on private lands and want the stream list narrowed to less than 60 waters.
I personally have no reason to believe that the EPA taking over the Antidegradation Listing in WV would be nothing short of a MAJOR victory for trout and clean water.