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JANUARY 2015


your enforcement effort. It doesn’t work that way,” said Huffman. “It’s like the Freedom Industries site,” he added. The most effective way to prevent such an incident, he says, is through registration and certifi cation—as will now be the case with new regulation.


TO: There are farmers in


the Eastern Panhandle that say SB373 goes too far. To this, Huffman says the legislature


spent too much


time “on the fringe” to include every conceivable tank, rather than the ones that pose the most danger to drinking water supplies. “We have 50,000 tanks registered,” he said. “But 50,000 tanks are not a risk to our water supply. There are 5–7,000 where we need to focus our energy. Now for farmers, we have to spend our time regulating [tanks] even though we don’t perceive a risk.”


TO: Despite the thorough


debate SB373 received in the legislature, Huffman says it is needlessly


complicated.


He would rather the law had focused on zones of critical concern, the sensitive areas that infl uence public water systems—areas that


are


included in the law. Huffman thinks the bill could have been better focused had his agency been consulted more in the law making process. “The House Judiciary Committee chair gave me one meeting, and that was it,” he


said. He says the legislature kept DEP out of the process, then legislated away most of the department’s fl exibility in rulemaking.


TO: There has been historical animosity between the “environmental


community”


and government in the state. How does that affect the regulatory process? Huffman takes out a piece


of paper and draws a basic Bell Curve. “The vast majority of what we do in this business is in here,” he says, pointing to the 90 percent in the middle. “But the debate is always here,” he says pointing to the outer two 5 percents on either side. “We have one side, the environmental community, debating


side debating


here; the other here,”


said


Huffman. “Whenever there is an opportunity to take these 5 percent extremes and move them into the center, nobody will blink, because if they do, let’s say, if the environmental community appears to be coming to the table with the coal industry on something, you can’t do that. The same thing [is true with] the coal industry. They say, ‘We’re over regulated as it is, so I’m not about to give on this one little issue, because if I give on this, they’ll expect me to give more.’”


Huffman says, as a result, “Anybody who gives is viewed as weak by their base.” TO: Has anything changed in


the last year?


Huffman says a couple groups have emerged that have made the environmental community’s voice stronger. “They are willing to come to the table and talk about things real things that can be done in real time that can make a real difference,” he said. “That’s been the most refreshing thing that happened in this process.” For Huffman,


the most effective advocates, whether a


citizen or trade group, show a willingness to come to the table and talk about the issue at hand not—about every other issue of concern. Otherwise, said Huffman, “I feel like there’s nothing I can do as an agency because their concerns” are not at a level that he can affect. The groups that


are


successful, says Huffman, are those that are willing and able to advocate for, what he calls, “the here and now.”


21


He thinks the environmental perspective is well served by these activists. “They are not trying to use their access for an issue that I may or may not be able to do anything about.” Those advocates, says Huffman, are already making a difference in West Virginia. “I appreciate that at a level that I can’t even explain,” he said. “A year ago there is not a chance that would have happened.”


Photo Credit: Molly Humphreys Aguilar Piccadilly Posh Photography


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