WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today led all of her Republican colleagues on the committee in introducing the Section 401 Certification Act, legislation codifying the Trump administration’s 2020 Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule (401 Rule). Specifically, the legislation would ensure infrastructure projects are not denied permits because of political motives rather than actually protecting water quality.
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is designed to provide states and authorized Indian tribes an important tool to help protect the water quality of federally regulated waters within their borders. Congress did not intend for it to be used to address political interests that do not relate to water quality, such as blanket opposition to certain electric transmission, pipeline, road construction, agricultural, and other projects. States’ abuse of this process has negatively impacted interstate commerce, particularly as it relates to energy commodities.
“Section 401 is meant to protect water quality. It is not a broad license for states to block economic activity or infrastructure based upon political factors. We see the consequences of Section 401 misuse playing out across the country: The lack of sufficient infrastructure to transport natural gas contributes to higher energy prices. At a time when Americans are projected to pay 30% more for their heating bills this winter, states should be encouraging energy infrastructure buildout, not twisting federal water regulation to fit their vendetta against fossil fuels and pipelines,” Ranking Member Capito said.
“Under the Obama administration, we saw an uptick in liberal states determined to needlessly delay, and even block, pipeline and other infrastructure projects they deemed politically unsavory, not for legitimate objections allowed by law,” Senator Inhofe said. “Radical states have abused the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification process to delay needed interstate projects from railroads and pipelines to hydropower projects for far too long. Under the leadership and careful direction of President Trump, we were able to streamline and clarify the water quality certification process to ensure projects important to economic development and energy independence are assessed solely on impacts to water quality as intended. I am glad to join Ranking Member Capito to introduce this bill that would make the Trump-era rule permanent by codifying it into law.”
“It’s troubling to see the Biden administration use the 401 certification process as a means to delay or cancel important energy infrastructure projects. The current rule is able to curb abuses of the Clean Water Act without holding critical projects hostage. This legislation will ensure we can maintain an efficient permitting process and promote energy independence,” Senator Boozman said.
“For far too long Section 401 of the Clean Water Act has been used by liberal, activist states to hijack energy infrastructure and sabotage energy producing states, like North Dakota, without legitimate cause. With energy prices skyrocketing, it’s high time we provide much needed regulatory certainty and guardrails to prevent future abuses. Our bill codifies President Trump’s rule to protect against the weaponization of Section 401,” Senator Cramer said.
“For far too long, federal Clean Water Act regulations have been weaponized to hold back important projects,” Senator Wicker said. “The Trump Administration reined in this abuse by ensuring issues unrelated to water quality are no longer used to deny or slow-walk energy infrastructure. I am glad to cosponsor an effort to make this sensible rule permanent. At a time when inflation is running rampant and energy costs are rising, the last thing the American people need is for projects that would create jobs and promote economic growth to be hindered.”
“Now more than ever, hardworking Alabamians and Americans are facing rising prices in energy commodities. By codifying Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to its intended scope – to protect water quality – this legislation would support the checkbooks of American households and properly safeguard infrastructure projects in our energy and development sectors. As such, I am proud to join my EPW colleagues to ensure that Section 404 project permits are issued in a timely manner and in accordance with the law,” Senator Shelby said.
“Under President Trump, the EPA focused its efforts on actually protecting our water instead of finding petty reasons to stop new construction,” Senator Lummis said. “President Biden is again turning the EPA into a weapon of the far left to halt American advancement and infrastructure under the moniker of environmentalism. This harms my constituents in Wyoming, and doesn’t really help the environment. The Section 401 Certification Act would get politics out of the Clean Water Act, and allow for much-needed Wyoming and American infrastructure updates. I’m proud to join Senator Shelley Moore Capito in supporting this bill.”
“Too often, we have seen critical infrastructure projects delayed or blocked due to the abuse of the regulatory process under Section 401 at the request of far left radical environmentalists,” Senator Sullivan said. “This legislation will codify into law needed permitting reforms that were promulgated during the Trump administration to ensure we are developing our economy, infrastructure and energy projects to utilize America’s energy abundance, create good-paying jobs, and lower costs for hard-working Americans.”
“I completely support this effort to curtail the bureaucratic abuse of our clean water laws,” Senator Graham said. “I’m all for reasonable regulation of federal waters, but it is clear the Biden administration is taking the concept of clean water regulation outside any reasonable definition. It’s a complete power-grab.”
Click here to read the bill text.
Click here to read the one pager.
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