The West Virginia 2022 Legislative Session has ended. We have spent countless hours meeting with legislators and their staff on issues and proposed legislation such as workers’ compensation and tort reform, licensing foresters, forest carbon markets, and managed timberland tax program. Our weekly updates have helped to motivate you as a member to reach out to legislators, so they hear directly from constituents. Thank you for your time and energy. It has made a difference.
We took on some big and important issues this year. Our goal was to protect the private property rights of our members, provide a favorable regulatory framework for the wood supply chain, and to allow the free market to determine the outcomes, with a minimum of government intervention.
We are also engaged in federal issues because they also impact you. We maintain membership in several national associations—Forest Resources Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, The Hardwood Federation, and the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Association—so we can keep apprised of the important and emerging regulatory changes.
Below are some key issues we are constantly monitoring.
Water of the US
The Biden Administration is proposing to roll back water quality regulations to the pre-2015 regulations that were unclear in defining water of the US. This leaves states like West Virginia vulnerable to interpretations of ephemeral stream that would be serious concerns on timber harvesting and landowners. WVFA has joined dozens of national and state associations to comment on this proposal.
The federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a decision by a lower court validating the proper application of the Endangered Species Act by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concerning the Mountain Valley pipeline in West Virginia. While this decision impacts many forest owners, it also raises concerns regarding similar USFWS consultations on forest harvesting in the Monongahela National Forest. Having a regulatory process that is predictable is important for all forest owners and operators.