Fourth Edition released -- State of the Environment Report
On August 3, 2011, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) released the fourth edition of its West Virginia State of the Environment Report (SOTE). Per the WVDEP news release:
The report covers the years 2008-10 and highlights data and trends pertaining to West Virginia’s environment. The report, which comes out every three years, continues the long-term process of identifying and tracking changes in the environment that result from human activities. It also provides a basis for determining the success of regulatory and non-regulatory efforts designed to improve environmental quality.
The report is divided into four sections -- air, water, land and energy -- and examines environmental aspects such as reported emissions of toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere; West Virginia’s aquatic integrity; hazardous and solid waste generation; and the management of abandoned wells.
Purpose of the SOTE Report
Per the introduction to the SOTE, WVDEP’s purpose for this report is as follows:
The fourth edition of West Virginia’s State of the Environment Report is based on a scientific approach to describing elements of environmental quality. To the extent possible, the report presents a numerical view of the air we breathe, the quality of our waters, and the land we live on. It shifts the focus from reporting about activities that are conducted to protect the environment to the results those activities achieve in improving environmental quality. In some instances, environmental impacts of human activity cannot be measured directly. For those cases, indirect measures such as regulatory and non-regulatory program activities may be used.
The report does not draw conclusions about the quality of West Virginia’s environment. It simply presents a common base of data and trends, where possible, for others to interpret and analyze. Furthermore, this report continues what will be a long-term process to identify and track changes in the environment resulting from human activities. It also provides a basis for evaluating the success of regulatory and non-regulatory programs designed to improve environmental quality.
In this report, information about environmental quality is presented through the use of environmental indicators. These are measures of physical, chemical, biological, or socioeconomic factors that represent the key elements of complex ecosystems or environmental issues.
DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman had the following remarks concerning this edition of the SOTE Report:
Much has changed in the three years since the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released its last State of the Environment Report. The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s increased involvement in the state’s permitting process for coal mining and the natural gas industry’s rush to tap into the lucrative Marcellus Shale, for example, have created new chapters in environmental regulation.
As we present the fourth edition of the State of the Environment Report, I can assure you one thing hasn’t changed. The DEP remains steadfast in its mission of promoting a healthy environment.
To view or download an electronic version of the 2011 SOTE Report go to:
Hard copies of the report can be picked up at DEP headquarters, located at 601, 57th St, SE, Charleston, WV 25304. Written requests for a hard copy should be mailed to the “DEP Public Information Office” at the same address, or emailed to [email protected].
EPA’s Counterpart Report on the Environment
To access similar environmental quality information from a national perspective, readers may wish to review a counterpart federal EPA report entitled Report on the Environment (ROE), which can be viewed or downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/roe/. Per the EPA:
The ROE presents the best available indicators of information on national conditions and trends in air, water, land, human health, and ecological systems that address 23 questions EPA considers mission critical to protecting our environment and human health.
The ROE provides access to the information from the ROE report, published in 2008 with a companion Highlights Document, which includes the underlying methodology, references, and sources of additional information, in an on-line searchable format.
This article was partially excerpted from publically available information, and was authored by Rick Wilson, Acacia Environmental Group LLC. Any opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author, and are not intended as legal or professional guidance to any specific readers. For more information on the author see here.