Inhofe Praises EPA’s Guidance to Improve the Water Quality Certification Process

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released the following statement supporting the guidance issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the water quality certification process. 

“The unfortunate trend of activist state governments blocking projects that they deem politically unsavory has to end,” Inhofe said. “By clarifying the scope of state reviews under the Clean Water Act, we can ensure that critical projects are assessed based solely on their impacts to water as the statute intends. I am glad President Trump shares my commitment to making sure that environmental extremists can’t hold up our progress towards energy dominance.”

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.

Background Information

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

Inhofe joined U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), in introducing the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019. The legislation is also cosponsored by Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).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.