Western Caucus Members Applaud New EPA CWA 401 Rule

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Washington, June 1, 2020 | Doug Levine (202-225-2315) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to increase the efficiency and transparency of the Clean Water Act Section 401 certification process. This new rulemaking will ensure that new infrastructure projects will receive a timely review process and ensure that Clean Water Act standards are still being met.  

“Today’s final rule from EPA is a win for American consumers, workers and our environment. Domestic interstate commerce ties our states together today in a way never thought possible when these regulations were published nearly 50 years ago. Time and time again, we have seen states abuse the CWA process for political purposes denying their neighbors responsible access to markets and customers access to lower prices. I applaud President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for recognizing the blatant political abuse of this system and rectifying it for all Americans,” said Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04) 

“I applaud President Trump and EPA Administrator Wheeler for their final rule that will prevent further abuse and politicization of Clean Water Act Section 401 authorities. Some states have abused Section 401 authorities to block the construction of critical energy infrastructure projects for reasons completely unrelated to water quality. This new rule maintains strong standards for water quality, while also supporting the high-paying construction jobs needed to build pipelines, export terminals, and other critical energy projects. This important rule will provide common sense reforms to ensure our nation’s waterways are protected, while putting an end to the radical tactics some states are using to pursue their 'keep it in the ground' agenda,” said Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01)

“I’ve always believed that environmental stewardship and domestic energy production should go hand-in-hand, and this final rule will support that goal. The Clean Water Act was never intended as a tool to block critical energy infrastructure projects.  Instead, the EPA is now tailoring it to fulfill its original purpose – protecting American water resources from pollution – without being overly burdensome on our infrastructure.  This kind of proactive approach is exactly what we need, and I thank the Administration for their leadership,” said Vice Chairman for Infrastructure and Forestry Bruce Westerman (AR-04). 

“Louisiana and other states are blessed with an abundance of energy resources that can be produced safely and cleaner than foreign alternatives. This rule ensures that we truly have an all-of-the-above energy strategy in the United States. I appreciate Administrator Wheeler and the administration’s effort to improve transparency and public participation through these revisions,” said Vice Chairman for Oceans and Ocean Energy Garret Graves (LA-06). 

“Energy infrastructure projects create American jobs and strengthen our country's all-of-the-above energy portfolio, I applaud Administrator Wheeler for streamlining this process for infrastructure projects, ensuring protections for our nation's water and waterways, and empowering the United States to continue to bolster our energy independence,” said Vice Chairman for Departments of Interior and Energy Dan Newhouse (WA-04). 

“A fantastic theme in President Trump’s Administration is making our government more efficient, cutting the unnecessary red tape that weighs down our laws. Administrator Wheeler is continuing that progress at the EPA. I’m glad to see this new rule implemented, interpreting section 401 of the Clean Water Act the way it was intended and eliminating abuse. Our nation’s waterways are not political pawns, they are essential to commerce, recreation, and maintaining our environment. I was proud to lead my colleagues on a letter of support last year when the rule was proposed, and I am proud to see it in action soon. This will go a long way in protecting our water quality and stopping overburdensome regulations from impeding work. It’s great to see government function the way it was intended,” said Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-01) 

“We applaud the EPA for today’s announcement. This final rule on Section 401 puts an end to abuse of the Clean Water Act, helps accelerate the construction of vital energy infrastructure, and ensures the protection of our nation’s waterways. We look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues and the Trump Administration to promote American energy infrastructure while protecting water quality across communities,” said Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02). 

“The 401 permit was designed to keep our navigable waters clean. Under the Obama Administration, it moved beyond navigable bodies of waters and was used for political motivations, causing negative intentional and unintentional consequences to businesses and industries. I applaud Administrator Wheeler for taking this action which will promote investment in America’s energy infrastructure, while protecting water quality," said Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02)

“I commend the Trump Administration and Administrator Wheeler for issuing the Clean Water Act Section 401 Final Rule. States have weaponized the Section 401 certification process to deny permits for pipelines, hydropower projects, and export terminals for ideological and political reasons that have nothing to do with water quality. Litigating every permit and blocking pipelines and clean energy projects has an adverse environmental impact and harms consumers. I commend the EPA announcing this final rule to accelerate energy infrastructure and capitalize on the American Energy renaissance to bring clean burning Natural Gas from places like the Bakken and Appalachia to regions without the necessary transportation infrastructure," said Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03).  

Background 

Last October, 22 Western Caucus members signed a letter to EPA that expressed support for this rule. That letter was led by Western Caucus member Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-01).

The Western Caucus has consistently been a vocal supporter of rulemakings from this administration that have streamlined federal permitting processes, such as this new rule published today. 

Background courtesy of the EPA:

Clean Water Act Section 401 gives states and authorized tribes authority to assess potential water quality impacts of discharges from federally permitted or licensed projects that may affect navigable waters within their borders. Properly implemented, Section 401 is an important tool that can be used to help protect water quality while allowing federal permitting and licensing processes to proceed in a timely manner.

At the time the Executive Order was issued, EPA’s water quality certification regulations were nearly 50 years old and did not reflect the statutory language in Section 401. Prior to issuing its proposed rule, EPA held consultations with state, local and tribal partners and engaged with federal partners on this rulemaking effort. The agency also invited written pre-proposal recommendations through a public docket. EPA received more than 120,000 public comments on the proposed rulemaking and carefully reviewed all comments received in completing this final rule.

More information from EPA can be seen HERE
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