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, to the committee. Gordon was 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. The state of Washington has abused Section 401 to block the export of Wyoming coal by not granting permits to build the Millennium Bulk Terminal project.
Barrasso introduced Gordon to the committee prior to his testimony. “I am very pleased to introduce Governor Mark Gordon, who was sworn in as the state of Wyoming’s 33rd governor on January 7 of this year.
“Governor Gordon has served the people of Wyoming for years. He’s a native of Kaycee, Wyoming in Johnson County, grew up and worked on his family’s ranch. He became a successful rancher and businessman himself.
“Prior to his election as governor, he also served as state treasurer from 2012 until this January. His leadership as state treasurer resulted in, improved returns on state investments, better protection of state savings, and increased transparency for the public.
“Governor Gordon’s efforts to improve the state’s financial portfolio, resulted in Wyoming being ranked number one in the country for transparency. As governor, he is working to make Wyoming’s government more accessible, productive, and efficient.
“Governor Gordon, we are honored that you are testifying before the committee. I know you have much to share about Wyoming’s commitment to responsible energy production and the state’s strong record of environmental protection. I look forward to our continued partnership to grow Wyoming’s economy,” said Barrasso.
In his written testimony, 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.
For more information on Gordon’s testimony and the hearing, click here.