EPA Proposal Would Hurt State Efforts to Protect Local Waters

(WASHINGTON, DC)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today submitted written comments opposing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal that would hamstring the ability of states to protect water quality from pollution caused by federally licensed or permitted projects such as pipelines, dams, and power plants.

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act empowers states to review such projects for their potential to pollute local waterways. States can either require the company behind a project to take certain measures to protect water quality as a condition of issuing a water quality certification, or they can deny certification and prevent the project from proceeding if it would cause too much damage.

EPA’s proposed changes would impose arbitrary timelines on how long states may take to consider and make decisions about certifying major construction projects that could degrade their waters. It also would limit the factors states can weigh in reviewing projects and shift decision-making authority from the states to the federal government.

CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration Lisa Feldt issued the following statement outlining CBF’s objections:

“The Administration’s proposal violates the principle of cooperative federalism that lies at the heart of both the Clean Water Act and the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the federal-state partnership to restore the Chesapeake Bay. The Blueprint gives states a vital role in saving the Chesapeake Bay. In Section 401, Congress granted the states an essential tool to carry out their responsibilities to protect water quality.
“Federally permitted development of roads, pipelines, and hydroelectric projects pose clear threats to water quality. States must continue to have the authority to protect citizens’ rights to clean water without these proposed restrictions.”

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