PRESS RELEASE for TUESDAY, JANUARY 28TH
Legislators Aren’t Drinking the Water: Report Card Reveals Bi-Partisan Support for Progressive Response to Water Crisis
Initial Results of Legislator Poll Show Republican and Democrat Support for Increasing DEP Inspectors, Following Federal Chemical Safety Board Recommendations, and Increased Emergency Response Funding
Charleston, WV – Today, Regenerate West Virginia, a local Political Action Committee is releasing initial results from a survey of legislators from areas affected by the chemical spill. The results show broad support for a safety-first agenda, one that bolsters regulations and puts families before corporate interests. Legislators agree on one other thing: none of them is drinking the water, and none believes it is safe for others to drink.
Of the 6 respondents thus far, all of them (including Doug Skaff-D, Chris Walters-R, Meshea Poore-D, Nancy Guthrie-D, Jeff Eldridge-D, and Ted Tomblin-D) showed unanimous support for the following, hard-lined responses to the spill.
- All agreed to support increased funding to the West Virginia DEP to allow for chemical storage facilities upstream of drinking water intakes to be inspected annually.
- All agreed to support legislation to increase resources to local emergency planning committees to better assess and prepare for future disasters.
- All agreed to support legislation implementing the Hazardous Chemical Release Prevention Program, which would require third-party safety audits of hazardous chemical facilities, as recommended by the federal Chemical Safety Board.
- All stated that they had contacted the Governor’s office to urge him to make Disaster Unemployment Assistance available for working families who lost work hours because of the water crisis.
The poll also asked legislators if they were drinking water coming from the tap, which some in government have said is safe to drink for people other than pregnant women. Every respondent who was directly affected by the spill agreed on this point, as well: none of them feel safe drinking the water yet. This is an important finding in light of some recent reports that free water stations may begin closing soon.
Regenerate-WV thanks and congratulates these legislators for their commitment to strong reforms that put clean water for all above special interests. Regenerate is urging residents of the affected areas to contact their legislators in support of implementing the Chemical Safety Board’s recommendations and to contact the governor’s office to make Disaster Unemployment Assistance available to people who lost work hours due to the crisis.
“We want delegates from Kanawha and surrounding counties at the forefront, putting our families’ safety ahead of corporate interests,” said Lida Shepherd, a Charleston mother and board member of Regenerate-WV. “This poll is only a start, and it only counts if we see real commitment in the legislature to enforce existing laws and implement the recommendations that will keep our water safe and ensure some measure of accountability, so that this disaster never happens again.”
Legislators in the affected counties received the survey in paper form at their legislative offices and by e-mail to their legislative e-mail addresses. Follow-up calls were also made last week.
The Political Action Committee will keep the survey open for legislators who have not yet been able to respond, and hopes to keep adding supporters in the coming weeks.