Today, Rep. David B. McKinley P.E. (R-WV), introduced the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2021, which will help advance energy infrastructure projects, such as pipelines, export chemicals and grid modernization.
This legislation will clarify Section 401 of the Clean Water Act which is part of the permitting process for pipelines and other infrastructure projects. Currently, some states are using the Section 401 certification process to prevent and delay federally permitted projects.
"Building and modernizing energy infrastructure is vital for our economy and our energy security," Rep. McKinley said. "States like Washington and New York have been abusing the law to block coal exports and delay pipeline projects. It is critical we clarify Section 401 so Governors like Inslee and Cuomo can stop the abuse of this law on behalf of a Green New Deal agenda."
"We need to modernize our environmental review process to move our country forward. The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act, introduced by my colleague David McKinley does just that. The 401 program is abused as a tool of the elite, radical activist class to stifle development projects and limit economic growth in rural areas. Therefore, I'm proud to join my colleague in introducing this legislation and I look forward to modernizing our review process," said Rep. Pete Stauber.
"Despite the clear scope of section 401, blue state governments have abused their authority in the Clean Water Act's federal-state partnership to punish states and industries that go against their Green New Deal agenda. The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act ensures these political agendas are not part of the equation, requiring the determinations to focus solely on the permitted or licensed activity, not the whims and fancies of radical anti-energy activists. I thank Representative McKinley for introducing this bill and am proud to sign on as a co-sponsor," said Rep. Bob Gibbs.
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires that, for any federally permitted project that may result in a discharge into waters of the United States, a water quality certification must be issued by states and authorized tribes. States like New York and Washington have abused the rule by using factors that have nothing to do with water, such as vehicle traffic, train noise, and rail safety.
Specifically, the legislation will:
Clarify that the scope of a section 401 review is limited to water quality impacts only
Clarify that states, when evaluating water quality, can only consider discharges that would result from the federally permitted or licensed activity itself -- not from other sources;
Require states to publish clear requirements for water quality certification requests
Require states to make final decisions on whether to grant or deny a request in writing based only on water quality reasons; and
Require states to inform a project applicant within 90 days whether the states have all the materials needed to process a certification request.