2 p.m. update: HR2579 has passed in the House. An identical bill, SB 472, will be considered by the Senate. Please call your senators to tell them not to support SB 472.
HR2579 is being fast tracked in the West Virginia House of Delegates under the guise of “stream protection,” when in fact this bill will weaken current selenium standards and allow the coal industry to discharge more selenium from mountaintop removal sites into streams. This bill is scheduled for its third reading in the House soon and may be voted on possibly as early as today. This bill is a blatant disregard for life and safety, in another attempt by state legislators to appease the coal industry.
Excessive amounts of selenium can harm aquatic life. When animals absorb or accumulate extremely high concentrations of selenium, that can cause reproductive failure and birth defects.
In humans, health impacts can vary from brittle hair and deformed nails, to rashes, heat, swelling of the skin and severe pains. When selenium ends up in the eyes people experience burning, irritation and tearing. Selenium bioaccumulates in the body tissues of organisms, magnifying up the food chain.
Please call your delegate today to tell her or him to vote no on HR2579, to protect human health and safety. Remind your delegate s/he is supposed to work for the people, not the coal industry.