CHARLESTON, WV - Senator John Unger (D-Berkeley) will introduce a bill in the 2019 Session of the West Virginia Senate that will require public meetings in the area impacted by any air or water permits.
“We’ve had a lot of concerns expressed with the Clean Air Permit given to Rockwool, Inc,” Senator Unger said. “Though the public comment period ran legally, a meeting was not held in the community that will be affected. I want to make sure that in the future, our communities have a chance to give input to the processes that directly affect them.”
The Rockwool stone insulation manufacturing facility is expected to bring 150 jobs to Jefferson County, but many residents have raised health and safety concerns since its location is near three schools. The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Air Quality policy regarding permits for projects like the Rockwool plant requires the DAQ to publicly issue a notice of “intent to issue a permit,” followed by a 45-day public comment period. A physical meeting is allowed, but not required.
Though the permitting and public comment period complied with DEP policy, citizens are incensed that there was no public meeting in Jefferson County regarding the Clean Air Permit.
“We need to do better,” said Unger. “People who will be affected by development should be able to learn about it, express concerns, and get their questions answered. There’s absolutely no way Rockwool’s air quality permits should have been approved without a public meeting being held in our community. If the citizens’ voices had been heard, I believe these permits would not have been approved at all. That’s why I’m going to introduce this legislation.”
Unger’s bill will require mandatory meetings to be held in the communities that will be impacted by Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act permits.