Department of Environmental Protection

Drill cuttings dumped at WV landfill.
Bill Hughes

In the growing wake of the natural gas boom, West Virginia has been trying to figure out what exactly to do with waste generated by the oil and gas industry. 

water faucet

West Virginia's water quality standards will be discussed during a public meeting this week.

Charleston Daily Mail

Can West Virginia comply with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan? And if so, at what cost?

Those are the questions Randy Huffman is trying to answer. Huffman is Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Huffman came on “The Front Porch” podcast to talk about how his agency is dealing with Obama's plan to reduce greenhouse gases from power plants.

Here are 10 takeaways from our interview with Huffman that will (hopefully) help you understand the Clean Power Plan’s impact on West Virginia.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

The city of Salem is facing more than $82,000 in fines for environmental violations at its wastewater treatment plant.

In a consent order signed in early April, the state Department of Environmental Protection said it issued the plant a variety of violations starting in 2007. They ranged from creating sludge banks in Salem Fork of Ten Mile Creek to failing to report a large spill from a grit remover bagger system.

West Virginia Legislature

Friday in the House, three bills were up for passage. First was House Bill 2004, which would require a procedure for the development of a state plan in regard to the Clean Air Act.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After the chemical leak from the Freedom Industries site was discovered, some blame was quickly placed on the state Department of Environmental Protection for not properly regulating the tanks. But soon enough, both the public and state lawmakers found out the DEP had no authority over the inspection of those tanks.

That quickly changed as the 2014 legislative session progressed, passing a law to create a registration and inspection program.

Freedom Industries

State regulators are taking public comment and holding a hearing on a proposed rule that regulates aboveground storage tanks.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

That Christmas tree adding holiday flair to your living room could become a condo for fish in a West Virginia lake.

Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia environmental officials say the state lacks a strong program to deter falsification of coal company water samples.

The Charleston Gazette reports that Department of Environmental Protection officials made that observation Thursday at a regulatory board hearing. The state Environmental Quality Board did not rule on an appeal by Appalachian Laboratories Inc., which lost its Clean Water Act certification after an employee pleaded guilty to falsifying water quality samples.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State lawmakers were updated Monday morning on a study the Department of Environmental Protection began earlier this year. That study focuses on the level of radioactive material in drill cuttings from horizontal fracking sites.

The West Virginia DEP has tested 15 sites for levels of radioactivity in drilling waste. The test sites included Wetzel County’s landfill, an Ohio water treatment plant, and multiple drilling sites in counties in North Central West Virginia.

Department of Environmental Protection

The latest figures from the Department of Environmental Protection indicate that there are upwards of 400 horizontal well pads in West Virginia. Sounds pretty straight-forward. What does that mean? How many more will there be?


When the legislature passed Senate Bill 373, they mandated the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection create a program to register and inspect all above ground storage tanks, something the state had never done before.

The bill came in response to January's chemical spill in Charleston that left 300,000 people without drinking water for days, but for months storage tanks owners have been left with only some vague guidelines about having their tanks registered and inspected by the dates mandated in law. 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Stakeholders met with the governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection Friday to discuss possibly calling the legislature into a special session. The session would be focused on fixing some unintended consequences both Senate and House leadership see in the above ground storage tank bill passed earlier this year.

Friday’s meeting was the second this week focused on Senate Bill 373, legislation that came as a response to January’s chemical spill in Charleston. The spill contaminated 300,000 people’s drinking water for as many as ten days.

Cecelia Mason / WV Public Radio

Wildflower photos are being sought for West Virginia's next "Roadsides in Bloom" calendar.

The state departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation are sponsoring the 12th annual West Virginia Operation Wildflower calendar photo contest. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Surface Mine Board has finished hearing testimony in the appeal of a mine located next to the Kanawha State Forest.

In the second day of hearings, board members heard testimony from the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, employees of the DEP and a consultant who helped write the mine permit, among others.

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The America Legion says the VA is a system worth saving.


Coal Stock Pile

Given the political climate around the EPA’s proposal, it seems unlikely that state lawmakers would have a policy without coal. Still, the United Mine Workers of America says workers and their families should be concerned about this new regulation. Groups from West Virginia and across Appalachia are gearing up to show support and protest of the EPA’s proposed rule.

Groups like the United Mine Workers of America and Coal River Mt. Watch are traveling to Pittsburgh later this week.

As it stands, the EPA rule would let states come up with their own energy policy on how to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. Given the political climate, some environmentalists worry it will be business as usual for the coal industry leaving little room for renewable energy. After all, lawmakers in states like West Virginia and Kentucky aggressively and consistently favor coal in speech and policy.

DEP Tank Registration Program Opens

Jun 13, 2014
Freedom Industries

Recently, an overflow of water from a trench at the Freedom Industries tank site in Kanawha County reached the Elk River. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection issued two notices of violation to Freedom for the incident. But while that tank site is being monitored regularly, the DEP is also beginning to focus attention on a whole bunch of other aboveground storage tanks too, that aren't receiving as much attention. Ben Adducchio has more.

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Danny Webb Construction began shutting down above ground pits last month in Fayette County that held oil and gas waste. The waste likely came from horizontal drilling operations.

In a more recent development, the DEP says a tank that was holding some of that waste, leaked during the process, but was cleaned up.

Concerned citizens have been expressing concerns with this particular operation for years.

Environmental groups ran some tests last year and while results have turned up inconclusive, it still raised red flags.

The United Mine Workers of America is joining the coal industry in a rare occasion to oppose proposed regulations meant to curb carbon emissions.  The industry worries the regulations will financially cripple coal’s economy, as well as West Virginia and everyone dependent on a coal job.

With 95 percent of the energy produced in West Virginia coming from coal fired power plants, many within the industry feel the state will be the hardest hit by the new proposal.

Roger Horton, a retired miner from Logan County paints a grim picture already evolving in coal country.

He sees an EPA ignoring its economic impact on countless coal mining families.