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EPA Final Rule Promotes Energy Infrastructure While Protecting America’s Water

June 1, 2020
Press Release
Rule Prevents Some Governors From Helping Russia and China

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) released the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final rule that will help accelerate and promote the construction of important energy infrastructure across the United States while protecting our nation’s waterways. The EPA final rule increases the transparency and efficiency of the Clean Water Act Section 401 (Section 401) certification process in order to promote the timely review of infrastructure projects while continuing to ensure that Americans have clean water for drinking and recreation.

“This announcement is an important step ensuring states’ rights in protecting their water resources while eliminating a new obstructionist tool used by activists to prevent access to affordable clean American energy,” Graves said.

In recent years, governors in New York, Oregon, New Jersey and Washington have used water quality certification under the Clean Water Act as a way to block energy projects in their state.

“We have seen the ignorance behind these strategies disproportionately impact the poor by increasing the cost of energy to heat and cool homes. When similar tactics were carried out in New England, Americans were forced to rely upon Vladimir Putin to provide energy for their homes. These liberal governors need to decide if they are going to represent America’s interest or those of China and Russia,” Graves said.

The final rule clarifies the role of states in exercising their authorities under the Clean Water Act to ensure that high-quality infrastructure improvements are not held hostage for political reasons, while ensuring full compliance with environmental protections. 

“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,” Graves said.

To read the EPA release, click here.

To read the final rule and to learn about the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification process, click here.

Background:

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.

The courts recently limited states abilities to repeatedly extend decisions and deadlines associated with Section 401. 

EPA finalized this rule pursuant to the direction of Executive Order 13868, “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth.” In this Executive Order, President Trump directed EPA to review Section 401 and EPA’s related regulations and guidance to determine whether the agency’s policies should be updated or clarified. 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.

 

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