Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 8, 2013

Unanimous W.Va. House votes to weaken EPA standard

CHARLESTON — A unanimous House of Delegates wants West Virginia to set its own safety standards for a substance that ends up in state waters from coal mining.

The Department of Environmental Protection would study and develop selenium guidelines under the bill sent to the Senate on Friday.

Studies have found this naturally occurring element harmful to aquatic life, and to humans with high-level exposure. 

Bill supporters argue the federal standards are overly restrictive. They say West Virginia’s fast-moving streams can tolerate higher selenium levels than slow-moving rivers and stagnant lakes. 

But if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejects the standards set by West Virginia, it could end up in court.

The EPA has been revising its standards since 2004 and says it should have them by the end of the year.

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