CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill that would likely weaken selenium regulations in West Virginia is headed to the Senate floor for a final vote.The bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday would allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to implement a state-specific standard for selenium discharges from mining sites. If sites are found to have exceeded guidelines it would trigger additional monitoring instead of punishment.
The state standards would require approval from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has been revising its selenium standards since 2004 and said there would be new standards by the end of this year.The coal industry argues that federal standards are not applicable to West Virginia's fast moving streams.
Studies have found selenium harmful to aquatic life, and to humans with high-level exposure.