EPA proposed rule on Clean Water Act seeks to promote transparency

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule to implement Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which seeks to increase the transparency and efficiency of the certification process and promote timely review of infrastructure projects.

Announced by EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler at the Council of Manufacturing Associations Summer Leadership Conference in Charleston, US, the new rule will ensure that Americans have access to clean water for drinking and recreation.

“Under President Trump, the United States has become the number one oil and gas energy producer in the world, while at the same time continuing to improve our air quality,” said Wheeler. “Our proposal is intended to help ensure that states adhere to the statutory language and intent of Clean Water Act. When implemented, this proposal will streamline the process for constructing new energy infrastructure projects that are good for American families, American workers, and the American economy.”

Earlier this year in April, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order and instructed the EPA to take action to speed up and promote the construction of pipelines and other energy infrastructure. The EPA must consult with states and tribes when reviewing and updating guidance and regulations related to Section 401 of the CWA.

This element of the act gives states and authorised tribes the authority to access potential water quality impacts of discharges from federally permitted or licensed infrastructure projects that could impact navigable waters within their regions.

Existing EPA certification rules are outdated and inconsistent with Section 401 of the CWA, which results in confusion and delays for certain infrastructure projects. This proposed rule will clarify the timeline and scope of the certification review and action to be consistent with language used in the CWA.

Public comments are welcomed on the proposed rule for 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register, with more information available on the EPA website.

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