WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed the Honorable Mark Gordon, governor of Wyoming, and the Honorable J. Kevin Stitt, the governor of Oklahoma to the committee. Gordon and Stitt were testifying before the committee at a hearing titled “Hearing on S. 1087, the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019, and Other Potential Reforms to Improve Implementation of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act: State Perspectives.”
The hearing focused on the need to reform Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to stop abuses by a number of states to block important energy projects. These abuses of Section 401 have hurt the people of energy producing states.
In his written testimony, Gov. Gordon highlighted the importance of protecting water quality. “Protecting water quality within our state, and when it flows across state boundaries, has always been important to Wyoming. We recognize the value of clean water and its importance to downstream users in the northwest, the southwest, and the center of this great nation. It is in our best interest to protect our waters. This is done, in part, through responsible application of the Clean Water Act Section 401 certification decisions,” said Gordon.
Gordon also emphasized the need for reform of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act in order to stop states from politicizing certain projects. Gordon stated, “The Clean Water Act, particularly Section 401, is designed to allow States to protect the water quality. It is not a tool to erect a trade barrier based on political whims or parochial politics. I strongly contend that Section 401 must not be used to impede lawful interstate commerce. Thus, Section 401 reform is not an ‘assault on the environment,’ a means to prevent states from ‘taking control of their own destiny’ or, at worst, a cloaked attempt at ‘climate change denial.’”
Gordon concluded by stating his support of a modernized approach to Section 401 and his support of Barrasso’s Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019. “In closing, a modernized approach to Section 401 will reduce uncertainty and prevent misuse. Congress needs to take action so we are not left with ambiguities or regulations that creep to suit sectarian or selfish political aims but are rather squarely centered on purpose – in this case water quality. I appreciate any effort that can address this issue, especially the draft ‘Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019’ sponsored by Chairman Barrasso and Senators Daines, Inhofe, Capito, Enzi, and Cramer. I also support regulatory fixes aimed at focusing Section 401 certification implementation, such as EPA’s recent efforts to modernize its Section 401 guidance,” said Gordon.
Governor Stitt’s written testimony highlighted the fact that abuse of Section 401 is hurting the people of Oklahoma. He says, “The misuse of Section 401 threatens Oklahoma’s potential and the endless opportunities for her 4 million residents. It prevents Oklahoma from achieving all it can be because a loophole within Section 401 is allowing a small handful of coastal states to dictate the future for all 40-plus states. That is unacceptable.”
To emphasize the need for reform, he pointed to the imports of Russian natural gas instead of using American gas from Oklahoma. “This point was absurdly exemplified last winter when a Russian tanker of liquefied natural gas was sitting in the Boston Harbor providing for the Northeast U.S. – where pipeline development has been stalled….Those needs could have been met safely and reliably with a steady supply of clean burning natural gas from Oklahoma,” said Stitt.
He concluded his written testimony by expressing his support for reforms. “I support the actions taken by EPA and members of this committee to restore certainty to the Clean Water Act permitting process and certification under Section 401,” said Stitt.
For more information on both governors’ testimonies and the hearing, click here.