WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s final regulations regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. 

“I applaud the Trump administration’s commitment to improve implementation of the Clean Water Act. This rule will help ensure certain states can no longer abuse the water certification process for political purposes,” said Barrasso. “The state of Washington has hijacked this process and blocked Wyoming coal from being exported. The Trump administration’s rule will allow important energy infrastructure projects to get done faster. It’s an important step in the right direction to help Wyoming coal and other energy markets. I will continue to work with the Trump administration on this critical shared priority.” 

Background Information

EPA’s issuance of today’s regulations meets the agency’s requirements to implement President Trump’s April 10, 2019 executive order Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth. Under the executive order, EPA was required to improve the water quality certification process under Section 401 of Clean Water Act through new guidance and regulations. Barrasso along with Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Steve Daines (R-MT) called on EPA to re-evaluate implementation of section 401 in an October 2018 letter to then-Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. 

On November 19, 2019, EPW held a hearing on the need to reform how Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is implemented 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. At the hearing, senators heard testimony from Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming and testimony from Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma who both called for reform. 

On April 9, 2019, Barrasso introduced S.1087, the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019. 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. The legislation is cosponsored by Daines, Inhofe, Capito, Enzi, along with Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).