WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the following statement supporting the guidance issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the water quality certification process.

“States should not be able to hijack the Clean Water Act to shut down important energy projects,” said Barrasso. “We need reform, and we need it fast. States like Washington, New York, and New Jersey are preventing us from using and exporting our energy resources. President Trump and I share a strong commitment to addressing this critical issue.”

The guidance implements President Trump’s April 10th executive order Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth. Section 3 of the executive order required EPA within 60 days to issue guidance to states, tribes, and other agencies as EPA works to improve the water quality certification process under Section 401 of Clean Water Act. After issuance of the guidance, EPA must propose new regulations within 120 days.

The guidance issued today replaces a 2010 interim “handbook” that contained clear misstatements of law. Barrasso, along with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Mike Enzi (R-WY), requested EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to review that handbook in an October 4, 2018 letter.

Background Information

Barrasso introduced the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Daines, Inhofe, Capito, Enzi, and Kevin Cramer (R-ND). The bill amends section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The legislation makes several key clarifications to existing law about the appropriate scope of review for a water quality certification. It would also place procedural guardrails and requirements on states as they process requests for certification to prevent future abuses.