The 2009 Legislature Session began with a hearing called by the Joint Subcommittee on Water Resources demanding to know where DEP's results on the SCR-15 study were. The DEP stated that it would have the study out by April or May 2009.
In March, SSP legislative ally Senator Randy White introduced Senate Bill 568 to place a moratorium on all underground slurry injections. This moratorium would have stopped underground injections until both DEP and DHHR had completed their studies and found that slurry injections were safe.
Delegate Mike Manypenny introduced a broader bill addressing coal slurry in the House, House Bill 3279. This bill would have put a moratorium on all production of liquid coal waste, stopping the production of waste that is injected underground and deposited in landfills.
Both bills failed to advance out of committee and died during the session.
The Sludge Safety Project held a hearing before the Legislature to introduce a Citizens' Report on Underground Sludge Injection: Water, Health and Alternatives. Data gathered by DEP during early stages of its SCR-15 study was shared with independent researchers who used this data to work with the Sludge Safety Project to make the Citizens' Report. The Citizens' Report found that slurry injections do not meet safe drinking water standards, raising concerns about contaminants that are going into communities' drinking water.
In May, the DEP finally released its findings under SCR-15. The agency found that the data was inconclusive and it could not say for sure whether slurry was or wasn't contaminating the environment. The agency was concerned enough about the possibility, though, that it issued an immediate moratorium on all new underground slurry injection permits, prohibiting the issuance of any new slurry injection permits. This moratorium did not cover current operating permits. These permits still continued injecting slurry underground in areas throughout the state.
In July, the Sludge Safety Project held a hearing before the WV Legislative Joint Committee on Water Resources to respond to the DEP study. Biologist Ben Stout, retired miner Joe Stanley, and Prenter resident Maria Lambert all spoke about their concerns with the study findings and with slurry injections. They called for an immediate halt on all current slurry injections, in addition to the DEP moratorium.
In September, the New York Times issued a front-page story in its Sunday issue about water contamination in West Virginia communities from slurry injections.