Home Virginia Politics Two Really Bad Bills Pass the State Senate

Two Really Bad Bills Pass the State Senate


Actually, a lot more than two really bad bills are going to get through the State Senate, but for the moment, I want to highlight two awful ones that passed earlier today.

First, there’s SB 1025. We had a front-page diary about this earlier today, urging the Senate to reject it, and now we’ve got a press release from Wise Energy for Virginia blasting its passage.

This legislation limits the ability of state regulators to use water quality testing to make permitting and enforcement decisions involving pollution discharges from coal strip mines. In addition, the bills revoke the citizen State Water Control Board’s primary authority for administering the Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for surface mining discharges, transferring this authority to the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Senators Ticer, Whipple, McEachin, Petersen, and Marsden stood up for clean water and opposed the Senate bill in committee on Monday.

Thanks to the 5 Democrats who voted no in committee. Unfortunately, today, only Sen. McEachin and one other – still not sure who, because the vote tally isn’t available yet – {UPDATE: The other one voting “nay” was Patsy Ticer, who is retiring. Still, thanks to her for voting the right way on this.} had the courage to do the right thing in protecting Virginia’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Remember that this is the chamber of the General Assembly purportedly controlled by Democrats, so we can’t really blame the Republicans for this one. Ugh.

The second really bad bill that passed the Senate today was SB 1026, pertaining to treatment of farm animals, which I wrote about this morning and which was strongly opposed by the Humane Society of the United States. That bill also passed the State Senate on a 38-2 vote, with only Chap Petersen and Donald McEachin having the cojones – and moral compass – to do the right thing.

Truly, this was not a proud day for Democrats in the Virginia State Senate.

UPDATE: Another crazy, FUBAR bill passed the Senate 40-0 today. This one defines coalbed methane as “renewable energy,” even though methane “is a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years” and which “is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period.” Brilliant!

UPDATE #2: The Virginia Alternative and Renewable Energy Association emailed to explain the way they see the “substitute” bill that ended up passing.

It shifted the proposed incentive for utilities to utilize coal bed methane gas in the voluntary RPS section to beefing up the incentive for utilities to construct a natural gas facility.  Right now, a utility could receive 100 basis points for building a natural gas facility.  Under the substitute that was adopted in the House and Senate, utilities would be able to earn 150 basis points for a natural gas facility tat utilizes at least 50 percent of its fuel from coalbed methane gas captured in VA.

It is a win win–as it accomplishes the goal the patrons had of trying to create jobs and incentivize utilities to build in SWVA to utilize a resource in plentiful supply and cleaner than coal while keeping the definition of renewable energy pure in the Code of VA.

UPDATE #3: I heard from Sen. Petersen on SB 1025. According to Chap, the bill “was substantially watered down by a substitute and that removed most my concerns.” Chap also checked with the head of DEQ and apparently was reassured sufficiently to vote “aye” in the end. I hope Chap’s right!


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleOn Foreclosure Bills, It’s Chap 1 – Banking Lobbyists 1
Next articleArlington to Withdraw Anti-HOT Lanes Lawsuit