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What They Are Saying: EPA Issues Proposed Rule on Clean Water Act Quality Certification

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On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule to implement Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This action will increase the transparency and efficiency of the 401 certification process and to promote the timely review of infrastructure projects while continuing to ensure that Americans have clean water for drinking and recreation.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge:
“With natural beauty and energy resources, states like Arkansas stand to benefit from EPA’s proposed Clean Water Act rule. Today’s guidance gives Arkansas the freedom we need to develop our energy infrastructure while preserving and protecting the natural beauty and water resources that draw millions of Americans to our state each year.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry
“Abuse of the WQC process has resulted in staggering amounts of regulatory waste and delay, costing many hard-working Americans the chance for a good-paying job. So I appreciate the EPA’s efforts to ensure Section 401 is used for its intended purpose to protect water quality, minimizing its potential for misuse and providing predictability in permitting energy infrastructure.”

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt:
“Oklahoma is currently enjoying the cleanest water in state history, and protecting those sources is our state’s highest priority,” said Gov. Stitt. “I applaud the Trump administration and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for the new rule under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. It is an important step in protecting the integrity of the Clean Water Act and the states’ role to set their own standards, while ensuring that Oklahoma’s growing economy is not stifled by misuse of the federal regulatory process.”-

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum:
“This action to streamline the permitting of essential energy infrastructure promotes overall U.S. energy dominance, allowing us to sell energy to our friends and allies versus buying it from foreign sources. We thank the EPA and Trump administration for supporting responsible energy development that protects our environment, creates jobs and grows our economy.”

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon:
"This is a much-needed step toward modernizing the application of the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 and Wyoming’s comments are reflected in today’s proposed rule,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “We are proud of Wyoming’s primary role and fiercely defend our state’s rights. Our responsibilities in Section 401 certification decisions have always been timely and based upon water quality. It’s critical that all states are held accountable by requiring rationale for 401 certification denials. With these updates, I welcome the pending implementation of EPA’s updated regulations.” 

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW):
EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
“The Clean Water Act is being hijacked by a number of coastal states to block energy projects. This coastal blockade cannot continue. It threatens America’s energy dominance and unfairly harms energy workers in Wyoming and other states. These coastal states are preventing cleaner American fuels from getting to communities in the North East and around the world. These states can’t be allowed to weaponize the Clean Water Act. I applaud the Trump administration for working with me to develop solutions.”

EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Chairman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)
“It is encouraging to see the EPA moving forward with this proposal according to President Trump’s timeline. We cannot let states hijack energy infrastructure without legitimate cause and prevent the United States from continuing its energy revolution. I will continue working with the EPA to ensure the final regulations are right for North Dakota, and I urge stakeholders to offer their input.”

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
“Today, we are one step closer to making sure that water quality certification reviews are used solely to protect water quality – and not as a tool by environmental activists to delay and block pipelines and needed infrastructure projects. The EPA’s proposed reforms fully implement President Trump’s executive order on Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth and will continue our path to energy dominance. I’m glad to have worked with the president and EPA Administrator Wheeler to enact these reforms.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
“This is a welcome change that will make sure our regulatory and permitting processes are clear and avoid costly and unnecessary burdens that have the ability to disrupt development and the completion of critical infrastructure projects, such as pipelines to get West Virginia natural gas to markets around the country. These clarifications of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act ensure a more responsible and predictable permitting process and help prevent unnecessary costs and delays. Through these reforms, we can help encourage and support both infrastructure development and economic growth. Today’s announcement is further proof that the Trump administration is committed to rolling back harmful regulations that do nothing but hold back our efforts to improve our economy and environmental quality.”

Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.)
“This is great news for Montana’s energy economy,” said Daines. “Today’s announcement will help stop activist bureaucrats from abusing the law to limit the potential of Montana’s booming energy economy. Common sense regulation will lead to more high paying jobs for Montanans and strengthen our nation’s energy independence.”

Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)
“This is important for exporting Wyoming’s natural resources and supporting jobs in our state. Clarifying the water quality certification process should lead to a more responsible permitting process focused on protecting America’s water rather than political motives.”

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons:
“The EPA’s efforts to modernize regulations and deliver regulatory certainty have contributed to strong manufacturing growth in recent years. This proposal is a win for manufacturers that would build on that success by offering much-needed clarity to states and manufacturers alike. Too often, the vaguely worded Section 401 has been used as an excuse to block critical infrastructure and trade projects. By setting clear guidelines, the EPA is empowering manufacturers to invest in our people and communities with confidence and to work with state leaders to protect our water and environment.

“We are grateful that Administrator Wheeler chose to announce this landmark proposal at the NAM’s Council of Manufacturing Associations’ Summer Leadership Conference. It demonstrates that by working together, government and business leaders can ensure economic growth and environmental stewardship go hand-in-hand.”

U.S. Chamber’s Global Energy Institute Acting President Christopher Guith:
“Congress never intended for Governors to use the Clean Water Act as a political tool to block projects for reasons unrelated to clean water.  We support EPA’s new rule to prevent more abuse, facilitate construction of necessary energy infrastructure, and continue economic growth.”

API Vice President for Midstream and Industry Operations Robin Rorick:
“API is pleased that the EPA’s new rule continues to support a rigorous, consistent and transparent process for Section 401 water quality certifications, and maintains the vital role that states play in protecting water quality within their borders. A well-defined timeline and review process for water quality certifications are integral to developing infrastructure that reliably provides clean and affordable energy to American families and businesses every day.”

NGSA President and CEO Dena Wiggins:
“This is a welcome and valuable clarification to the part of the Clean Water Act that outlines states’ participation in the certification process. This proposal should restore Section 401 certification to its intended purpose of ensuring water quality while enabling the development of critical infrastructure.

“Clearly establishing a very reasonable one-year deadline for states to act on water quality concerns related to project permits reaffirms states’ roles while helping to prevent instances where states have misused the certification process as a political tool to indefinitely delay or block a much-needed project. The regulatory change will enhance the predictability and efficiency of the permitting process for interstate natural gas pipelines and will allow states and federal authorities to do their jobs of protecting water quality.”

Center for LNG Executive Director Charlie Riedl:
“We commend EPA for working to fix the parts of the state water certification process that were broken without compromising on environmental standards. We think this proposed change will provide greater clarity and certainty to the process of permitting LNG facilities and infrastructure.”

Interstate Natural Gas Association of America President and CEO Don Santa:
"INGAA supports EPA’s proposed rule for the implementation of updated guidance pertaining to Clean Water Act Section 401 and the protection of water quality. When an infrastructure project requires federal authorization, Section 401 of the Clean Water Act provides states and tribes the opportunity to certify or deny that any discharges from the project to regulated waters will comply with applicable federal water quality standards. While the statute recognizes the distinctive roles of the federal and state governments in the environmental review process, the balance between those roles has recently been disrupted and some states have viewed Section 401 as a means of determining which interstate pipeline projects are in the public interest and which are not.

“EPA’s draft rule is necessary to restore efficient and consistent implementation of Section 401 reviews. We welcome today’s action to clarify the discrete roles of federal, state and tribal authorities throughout the Section 401 review process."