An important provision in the Clean Water Act—Section 401—authorizes states and tribes to review applications for federally licensed or permitted projects to assess potential impacts to water quality. Pipelines, fossil fuel export terminals, dams, and other large projects can harm water quality in many ways, including by filling in wetlands, damming rivers, and digging trenches through streams and other water bodies. A state or tribe can approve, reject, or request modifications to these projects.
But now EPA wants to make it harder for states and tribes to protect their own water resources by restricting their Clean Water Act authority in the following ways:
Limiting Review Time —Limits time states and tribes have to review a project to no more than one year. Certain projects, would be limited to six months. If a state or tribe fails to act within that time frame they lose their right to certify that project.
Shrinking Scope of Review—Strips states and tribes of their authority to consider the overall health and biological integrity of water bodies. Instead, 401 certification decisions can only consider discharges of pollution from a point source—not erosion, sedimentation, or low stream flow.
Giving Federal Government Final Word—Allows federal agencies to override a state’s or tribe’s decision to approve, reject, or set conditions on a permit. The state or tribe would then need file a legal challenge to overturn the agency ruling, all while allowing the project to proceed.
Learn more here. Send a message to EPA today.