Dettinger refused to identify the client he was working for in reviewing the governor's chemical tank legislation. Records at the state Ethics Commission list him as a lobbyist for Antero Resources, a major natural gas producer, and Braskem/Odebrecht, the company that proposes to build a natural gas "cracker" plant in Wood County.
In July 2011, when Dettinger was Tomblin's general counsel, he denied a Charleston Gazette public records request that sought information about what sort of input industry groups had on an executive order on regulation of the Marcellus Shale drilling boom in the northern part of the state.
Records show Dettinger was making suggestions to Pizatella about the governor's chemical tank bill as late as 10:23 a.m. Jan. 20, less than four hours before Tomblin announced his proposal during the 2 p.m. news conference.
Dettinger forwarded for Pizatella an email he received from another Steptoe & Johnson lawyer, David Flannery, in which Flannery suggested the bill should include the option of civil fines -- not just criminal penalties -- for violations of the chemical tank requirements.
Like Dettinger, Flannery declined to identify a client he was working for in reviewing the governor's draft legislation. Flannery was not listed as a registered lobbyist on the latest booklet published by the Ethics Commission.
Asked to describe his role in helping to develop the governor's legislation, Flannery said last week, "You give me more significance with your question than is probably appropriate. I wish I had that much stroke with the Governor's Office."
As introduced, the governor's bill added the language Flannery suggested, but increased the potential criminal penalties from six months in jail and a $10,000 fine to up to a year in jail and a $25,000 fine. Those penalties were reduced to the levels Flannery suggested in a related bill passed by the state Senate.
Records released by Tomblin's office also show that Rebecca Randolph, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, submitted proposed legislative language to DEP general counsel Kristin Boggs at about 6 p.m. on the evening after the governor's "stakeholder" meeting.
In an email message to Boggs, Randolph provided a list of 18 different exemptions that would exclude various types of aboveground storage tanks from the governor's bill.
"In looking at this and determining what would address some of our concerns with the [bill], I'd submit the following for consideration," Randolph said.
Industry officials have said that the types of tanks proposed to be exempt are covered by other laws or regulations, but Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, has asked legislative staff to provide more details about those other laws or regulations.
The governor's bill did not include the exact wording proposed by Randolph, but it did include a long list of exemptions. The bill passed by the Senate contains similar exemptions, and citizen groups have complained strongly about those provisions.
During a public hearing Monday night, longtime West Virginia Sierra Club leader Jim Kotcon offered lawmakers some advice for moving forward and reforming the system in response to the chemical leak.
"Who are we listening to?" Kotcon asked. "If you want a bill that protects clean water, you should probably listen to people who advocate for clean water, not the polluters."
Later in the hearing, West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton spoke on behalf of the state Business and Industry Council, a collection of industry trade groups.
"What occurred at Freedom [Industries] must never again happen in West Virginia," Hamilton told lawmakers. "And BIC members stand ready to offer our resources and expertise within our members as we craft this needed amendment to public policy in West Virginia."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.