Senate Bill No. 451
(By Senators Grubb and Macnaughtan)
[Introduced February 20, 1995;
referred to the Committee on Natural Resources; and
then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter twenty of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, by adding thereto a new article,
designated article twelve, relating to
environmental protection; creating the office of
environmental advocate within the attorney
general's office; providing for the appointment of
an advocate; prescribing the powers and
qualifications of the advocate; providing for the
administration and staffing of the advocate's
office; and authorizing an assessment against
permit holders to generate funds for the
implementation of this article.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter twenty of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be
amended by adding thereto a new article, designated
article twelve, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 12. ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATE.
§20-12-1. Short title.
This article shall be known and cited as the
"Environmental Advocate Act."
§20-12-2. Legislative findings and purpose.
The Legislature finds that West Virginia's natural
environment is threatened by a myriad of pollution
The Legislature further finds that:
(a) The protection and preservation of the state's
natural environment is a fundamental responsibility of
(b) A clean environment is one of the cornerstones
of current and future economic development activities.
(c) State agencies and instrumentalities must often
competing interests in evaluating practices and policies
that impact the natural environment.
(d) Many times citizens are unable to afford the representation necessary to adequately defend a
threatened and valuable environmental resource.
Therefore, it is the purpose of the Legislature to
establish an office of environmental advocate to ensure,
to the maximum extent possible, that the state's natural
environment is defended whenever and wherever necessary.
§20-12-3. Environmental advocate; oath of office;
salary; office location.
There is hereby created, under the authority of the
attorney general of the State of West Virginia, the
office of environmental advocate. Before entering upon
the duties of this office, the environmental advocate
shall subscribe to an oath of office, which shall be
filed in the office of the secretary of state. The
salary of the environmental advocate shall be determined
by the attorney general. The office of the environmental
advocate shall be located in Charleston.
§20-12-4. General powers of advocate.
The environmental advocate has the powers and duties
granted under this article and all other powers necessary
to carry out the purposes of this article. Any
enumeration of powers is not intended to restrict the
general powers of the environmental advocate.
§20-12-5. Authority of advocate.
The environmental advocate has the authority to:
(a) Institute, intervene in, or otherwise
participate in, proceedings in state and federal courts,
before administrative agencies, and before any other
body, concerning any act, order, bill, resolution,
practice, activity, or failure to act, that will have an
impact on the state's natural environment.
(b) Take any action he considers appropriate with
respect to environmental complaints.
(c) Institute, participate as an additional party
in, or intervene as a friend of the court in any
proceeding involving an impact on the state's natural
(d) At the request of one or more citizens, or
whenever in the advocate's opinion the public interest is
served, represent said citizens in proceedings arising
out of actions impacting the natural environment.
(e) Exercise all the same rights and powers
regarding examination and cross-examination of witnesses,
presentation of evidence, and other matters as any party
in interest appearing before the agency or body in
(f) Educate the general public concerning
environmental protection; and
(g) Conduct studies and issue reports concerning
various topics relevant to protecting and preserving the
state's natural environment.
§20-12-6. Qualifications of advocate and employees of
(a) No person may be appointed environmental
advocate unless he or she is admitted to practice law in
(b) The environmental advocate shall be a resident
of this state during the term of office, and shall not,
during such period, hold any other office of either trust
or profit under the government of the United States, this
state, or any political subdivision thereof. This
section shall not be construed to preclude the advocate
from serving as a member of the reserve of the armed
forces of the United States, the West Virginia national
guard, the air national guard, or the naval militia. The
environmental advocate shall not engage in any other
occupation or business, but shall devote his or her
entire time to the duties of his or her office.
(c) No person who is in the employ of or acting in an official capacity with any company subject to a
proceeding within which the environmental advocate could
become involved, or who is pecuniarily interested in, or
holds stocks or bonds of any such company, or is a
candidate for elective public office may be appointed as
advocate or be appointed or employed by the advocate. If
any such appointed or employed person becomes, subsequent
to his or her initial appointment or employment, the
owner of such stocks or bonds, or otherwise becomes
pecuniarily interested in such company, he or she shall
divest himself or herself, within a reasonable time
period, of such ownership or interest. If he or she
fails to do so, his appointment or employment shall be
terminated. If any such appointed or employed person
becomes a candidate for elective public office his or her
tenure shall be terminated.
§20-12-7. Employees of environmental advocate;
salaries; contracts for outside services; funds.
(a) The environmental advocate may, during the term
of office, employ and fix the salaries of such lawyers,
scientists, engineers, geologists, statisticians,
economists, clerks, secretaries, stenographers, and other
employees as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this article. All employees of the advocate and the
expenses of the office of the environmental advocate,
shall be paid by the treasurer from the funds
appropriated for the use of the advocate after payment
has been approved by the advocate.
(b) The advocate may contract for the services of
technically qualified persons in the area of
environmental protection to assist in carrying out the
purposes of this article. Such persons shall be paid
from funds appropriated for the use of the advocate after
payment has been approved by the advocate.
§20-12-8. Assessment for payment of all expenses
incurred by the advocate's office and the
committee; adjustment of assessments from surplus.
(a) For the sole purpose of paying salaries and
expenses of the office of environmental advocate, the
attorney general shall establish by rule an assessment or
fee, and penalties for nonpayment thereof, utilizing an
equitable formula by which an amount, based on pollution
discharge permits and other environmental permits, shall
be assessed on every such permit holder operating in this
state. Such assessment shall be an amount calculated to
produce five hundred thousand dollars for the fiscal year ending the thirtieth day of June, one thousand nine
hundred and ninety-one. Thereafter, such assessment
shall be in an amount equal to the appropriation for the
office in each fiscal year.
(b) Such fees shall be deposited in a special fund
in the state treasury designated the "Environmental
Advocate Fund," to be appropriated as provided by law for
the purpose of paying the salaries and expenses of the
office of environmental advocate. Any balance remaining
in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall not
revert to the treasury but shall remain in the fund and
may be appropriated and used as provided above in the
ensuing fiscal years.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish an
office of environmental advocate within the attorney
This is a new article, therefore strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.