West Virginia’s new storage tank law which, “regulates aboveground chemical storage tanks” has been in effect since the end of the state’s legislative session, which was completed this April. One of the provisions of the law is that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will write detailed storage tank safety standards. These standards will not be submitted for legislative review until next year, concerns are already mounting regarding their writing and implementation.
One issue that has arisen is that of storage tank permits and citizen lawsuits. When the law was written lawmakers did not include a citizen lawsuit option, which would have allowed citizens to sue companies if the new rules were not enforced. However, the state’s DEP will require companies to register for permits for their tanks. From Insurance Journal:
Using one existing permit type could save regulators time and effort. But industry groups think it also would unintentionally allow citizen lawsuits and federal Environmental Protection Agency oversight since that permit falls under the Clean Water Act.
This situation could create a loophole that would allow citizens to file a lawsuit, as it brings a federal element into the equation. Several groups have taken advantage of the loophole to file lawsuits under the Clean Water Act against other industries in West Virginia, including the mining industry.