Senate Bill No. 456
(By Senator Grubb)
[Introduced February 19, 1996; referred to the Committee on the
Judiciary; 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
§20-12-2. Legislative findings and purpose.
The Legislature finds that West Virginia's natural environment
is threatened by a myriad of pollution sources.
The Legislature further finds that:
(a) The protection and preservation of the state's natural
environment is a fundamental responsibility of state government.
(b) A clean environment is one of the cornerstones of current
and future economic development activities.
(c) State agencies and instrumentalities must often balance
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 whereever necessary.
§20-12-3. Environmental advocate; oath of office; salary; office
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
§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
§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
(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 environment.
(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
(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 question.
(f) Educate the general public concerning environmental
(g) Conduct studies and issue reports concerning various topics relevant to protecting and preserving the state's natural
§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 this state.
(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
(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-seven. Thereafter, such assessment shall be in an
amount equal to the appropriation for the office in each fiscal
(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
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish an office of
environmental advocate within the attorney general's office.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.