Local businesses in favor of stronger regulations after the Jan. 9 chemical leak into the Elk River have support beyond the Mountain State from the American Sustainable Business Council.
The ASBC is pushing for federal regulation to protect people from hazardous chemicals and to encourage the creation of safer chemicals.
"We want them to understand, small and medium-sized businesses across this country are standing up with them," said Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council. "They're part of the bigger picture."
Jennifer Pettigrew Burns, owner of Ms. Groovy's Catering on Charleston's West Side, said support from the national group reinforces her belief that campaigning for stricter regulations is the right thing to do.
"This is a national thing," Burns said. "It can happen in any part of the country that have storage tanks with toxic chemicals."
A petition signed by more than 100 West Virginia business owners voicing concerns and listing recommendations for regulations was presented to the legislature Monday.
Burns said Monday was a good first step in making the legislature aware of the business community's concerns about the chemical spill and encouraging the passage of Senate Bill 373, the Water Resources and Protection Act.
The bill was spurred by thousands of gallons of MCHM and PPH leaking into the river contaminating the drinking water for 300,000 people. Businesses and schools were closed for days until DO NOT USE orders were lifted throughout the nine affected counties.
Burns said it's been a challenge to maintain her own business operation while helping organize local business leaders.
"It's very important," Burns said. "Our voices do need to be heard -- the collective voice of small businesses in those nine counties need to be heard."
Knapp and Burns agree the only way to make sure more communities do not go through a similar disaster is for regulation reform.
Since the chemical leak, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has renewed a push to revamp the Toxic Substances Control Act, which would help get more health information on the more than 80,000 chemicals currently in use.
At a meeting Wednesday with small business owners affected by the water crisis, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said that TSCA, which hasn't been updated since it was passed in 1976, should be looked at again. She declined to say how she would vote if the bill came up in the House, saying she would need to read the specific version.