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What They Are Saying: EPA Issues Final Rule that Helps Ensure U.S. Energy Security and Limits Misuse of the Clean Water Act

06/01/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a final rule that will help accelerate and promote the construction of important energy infrastructure across the United States, while ensuring the nation’s waterways are protected. The agency’s 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. Here is what elected officials and stakeholders are saying:

Senate

Chairman John Barrasso (WY), Committee on Environment and Public Works: “I applaud the Trump administration’s commitment to improve implementation of the Clean Water Act. This rule will help ensure certain states can no longer abuse the water certification process for political purposes. The state of Washington has hijacked this process and blocked Wyoming coal from being exported. The Trump administration’s rule will allow important energy infrastructure projects to get done faster. It’s an important step in the right direction to help Wyoming coal and other energy markets. I will continue to work with the Trump administration on this critical shared priority.”

Senator Jim Inhofe (OK): “I am pleased to see the EPA’s announcement of the Clean Water Act Section 401 final rule which fully implements President Trump’s executive order on Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth and continues our path to energy dominance. This rule will reform the water quality certification review process to ensure it is used for its intended purpose—to protect water quality—not as a tool by environmental activists to unnecessarily delay and block pipelines and needed infrastructure projects. President Trump and Administrator Wheeler continue to make needed reforms a reality.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV): “Section 401 of the Clean Water Act has been abused by liberal state governments for years to politically attack the fossil fuel industry. The policy announced today means West Virginia producers could finally have a fair shot at selling affordable natural gas to consumers in New England and elsewhere around the country. The result of states like New York blocking new pipeline construction is that our fellow Americans must pay more for dirtier foreign energy, such as polluting fuel oil, often from hostile regimes like Russia. Doing this when our country is so energy rich is nonsensical, wasteful, expensive, and hurts our economy, our environment, and American workers. I’m glad the Trump administration is standing up for American energy independence and putting a stop to the political gamesmanship around Section 401.”

Senator Ted Cruz (TX): “For far too long, environmental activists and Green New Deal enthusiasts have sought to abuse the Clean Water Act to indefinitely delay infrastructure projects and limit critical interstate commerce. This rule is good news for states all across the country that care about maintaining clean water while protecting American jobs and economic opportunity.”

Senator John Hoeven (ND): “We’ve worked hard to advance regulatory relief to strengthen our nation’s economy, including for the development of critical energy infrastructure. It’s important that states and the federal government work together to ensure we can safely and efficiently deliver the U.S. produced energy needed to power homes and businesses. We appreciate the administration’s action today to bring certainty to the infrastructure permitting process while preserving environmental stewardship, as we continue our efforts to protect America’s energy and economic security.”

Senator Kevin Cramer (ND): “Just as we expect the federal government to stay within the confines of the law, states must do the same. States like Washington and New York have abused their authority, using the Clean Water Act as an excuse to disrupt interstate commerce and weaken energy producing states to try to score cheap political points. With this finalized rule, EPA Administrator Wheeler and the Trump Administration are working to protect American energy from partisan games, and I thank them for listening to North Dakotans throughout this process.”

Governors

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon: “Wyoming values clean water– we have some of the cleanest in the nation, and as a headwaters state we understand our responsibility to our neighbors. This updated rule is centered on States' delegated authority to focus on clean water issues. The improvements made under the rule close loopholes in Clean Water Act Section 401 certification processes that some states were using inappropriately to extend their own jurisdiction beyond their own boundaries, all too often for political more than purely environmental concerns. I worked with Congress and EPA over the last year to find potential solutions to Section 401 implementation. This update modernizes EPA's guidance to reaffirm States' jurisdiction over water resources within their borders. I thank Administrator Wheeler and Senator Barrasso for their efforts to bring resolution to this very important issue.”  

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt: “We appreciate President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for finalizing this vital reform to the Section 401 certification process under the Clean Water Act. This new rule preserves states’ rights to truly protect water quality, while ensuring one state cannot disrupt interstate commerce simply because it dislikes the product being sold or transported. We strongly support reasonable time and scope limitations on the Section 401 certification process to provide a fair, reasonable and consistent process for all states.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum: “This much-needed reform will streamline the permitting process for essential energy infrastructure, allowing us to strengthen North Dakota’s role as a powerhouse for the nation in a way that protects the environment. We appreciate the Trump administration and EPA for modernizing Section 401 to align with the original intent of the Clean Water Act – to protect and preserve our nation’s water quality – while supporting responsible development, economic growth and U.S. energy dominance.”

House

Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01): “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.”

Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-01): “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!”

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (MO-06): “This much needed clarification by the EPA provides clear timelines for Section 401 reviews, and also ensures that the regulatory process is properly used to protect water quality in the United States – not as a blunt instrument in a radical agenda to block energy projects. This rule is in keeping with the original intent of the Clean Water Act and removes the ability for endless partisan delay tactics for important energy infrastructure projects. This action by the Trump Administration could not come at a better time. The deregulatory agenda of this Administration has been critical to our economic strength before the crisis and now is critical to our economic recovery after the crisis. I commend the EPA and the Administration for this decisive action.”

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04): “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.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (OR-02), Energy Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Upton (MI-06), and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Republican Leader John Shimkus (IL-15): “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.”

Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06): “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.” 

Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-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.” 

Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14): “For too long, individual governors have abused the Clean Water Act to obstruct the construction of vital energy infrastructure, including pipelines to transport affordable natural gas from southwestern Pennsylvania. I applaud today’s announcement, which demonstrates the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to supporting American energy dominance while still protecting our nation’s waterways. The EPA’s final rule will lower energy costs for American families, spur job growth and economic development in our communities, and bolster our nation’s energy independence.”

Congresswoman Carol Miller (WV-03): “This rule change will strengthen our ability to extract, transport, and export our resources around the world to maintain American energy dominance. With this reform, President Trump and Administrator Wheeler have struck a tremendous balance between protecting our waterways and bolstering our energy infrastructure. By cutting burdensome regulations, we are giving power back to the states and generating new opportunities to grow our energy economy and create stable, long-term jobs for thousands of Americans.”

Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): “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.”

Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04): “I applaud Administrator Wheeler for implementing this proposal that will ensure all states adhere to the Clean Water Act. Over the last four years, the United States has become the leader in oil and gas energy production. This rule will continue to encourage the construction of energy infrastructure while protecting our critical waterways. Indeed, initiatives that also ensure areas have access to clean water are simply common sense and greatly improve the lives and health of the American people.”

Congressman Troy Balderson (OH-12): “Over-regulation and inappropriate application of certain regulations are both detrimental to Ohio’s businesses and the construction of vital infrastructure. I applaud the actions taken by EPA to balance clean water protections for all Americans with the review and construction of necessary infrastructure projects.”

Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03): “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.”

Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04): “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.”

Attorneys General

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry: “Once again, President Trump has taken action to give hard-working Americans the opportunity for good-paying jobs. By reducing regulatory waste and delay, the Trump Administration is not only protecting water quality but also providing permitting predictability.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge: “I applaud President Trump and his administration for listening to the needs of Arkansans and following through with his commitment to bring regulatory clarity where there was uncertainty. The final rule is a substantial improvement from the Obama-era rule that attempted to expand authority over private property owners. Now more than ever, today’s final ruling will provide Arkansans and businesses owners with needed regulatory certainty as they plan for the federal licensing and permitting process.”

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox: “This rule change will help us build much-needed energy infrastructure while also protecting our water resources for consumption and recreational uses. I am grateful to EPA Administrator Wheeler, President Trump, and all who have worked so hard for so long to make this happen.”

Stakeholders

Rich Nolan, President and CEO, National Mining Association (NMA): “We hope that EPA’s action today will help end the abuse of the section 401 permitting process, which has been used to obstruct projects for reasons that had nothing to do with protecting water quality. Decisions on 401 applications have dragged out for years, putting projects in jeopardy and exacerbating the already woefully inefficient permitting process hampering so many U.S. mining projects. This new clarity on the timeframes for certification, the scope of certification review and other procedures, is an important step in promoting smart investment in our country’s natural resources and infrastructure projects.”

Malcolm Woolf, President and CEO, National Hydropower Association: “EPA’s new regulations will provide greater timeliness and certainty to water quality certification for hydropower licenses by enhancing coordination between federal and state review and ensuring that certification requests are acted upon within a reasonable period of time, not longer than one year. Some hydropower projects have languished awaiting decision on the water certification for years, sometimes a decade or more. America needs the clean, renewable, and flexible electricity provided by hydropower, and the new final rule, as part of the comprehensive licensing process, achieves more timely outcomes while preserving, in our view, environment protections and state priorities.”

Dena Wiggins, President and CEO, Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA): “NGSA is pleased the EPA is issuing its final rule, which addresses key areas of the Clean Water Act’s Section 401 certification processes. NGSA supports these much-needed clarifications, including reaffirming the timelines for review and action, and clarifying the scope of review.  EPA’s efforts to promote early engagement and regulatory certainty 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.”

Rachel Jones, Vice President of Energy & Resources Policy for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): “Water covers nearly three-quarters of our planet and even more water resources are stored beneath the surface. Manufacturers understand the importance of water stewardship and have been working to protect clean water for decades. Rules like this one under the Clean Water Act help us keep our rivers clean and oceans healthy. By strengthening the state-federal partnership, the EPA is empowering manufacturers to make sustainable investments in communities and work with local leaders to better protect fragile ecosystems.”

Robin Rorick, Vice President for Midstream and Industry Operations, American Petroleum Institute (API): “API believes this rule will provide a rigorous, consistent and transparent process for water quality certifications for energy developers and manufacturers, while ensuring that the public plays an important role in the regulatory process. We support the Clean Water Act, and though certain states have continued to go well beyond its scope for water quality certifications, we hope the addition of a well-defined timeline and review process will provide certainty to operators as they develop infrastructure projects that meet state water quality standards.”