New Rules At The EPA πŸ’§

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

EPA makes adjustments to Clean Water Act

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a new proposal last Friday that would change Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The changes would limit states to one year to review new projects, limit states to only considering water quality, and allow the federal government to override a states’ decision on certain projects.

What is Section 401 of the Clean Water Act?

Section 401 gives states and local tribes the authority to assess the impact that new energy projects would have on surrounding water and to veto a given project based on that assessment. The EPA’s press release states that the rules had not been updated in β€œnearly 50 years” and the new changes would β€œmodernize and clarify" Section 401.


Washington Times: EPA seeks to limit states leveraging Clean Water Act to block pipelines

Washington Examiner: EPA issues rule to rein in blue states from blocking oil and gas pipelines

The right agrees with the EPA’s reasoning for the proposed rule. They use the blocked Constitution Pipeline project as an example of states rejecting projects based on β€œpolitical reasons” after they had already earned federal approval in 2014. The articles also assert that the proposal would prevent an β€œenergy crunch” like the one faced by New England in the winter of 2018 where it was forced to import natural gas from Russia.


ThinkProgress: Trump administration takes aim at states like New York with new pipeline rules

Common Dreams: 'Egregious Handout' to Corporate Polluters as Trump EPA Moves to Accelerate Pipeline Approvals With Attack on Clean Water Act

The left views the changes as an attempt to boost the fossil fuel industry. They highlight how the new proposal would weaken a state's authority to use the Clean Water Act to block dirty pipeline projects by imposing an arbitrary time limit on the review process. 20 NY State Senators encapsulated the thoughts of many on the left when they asserted that the President is β€œrewarding his fossil fuel cronies by removing protections that keep Americans safe”.

Where's the common ground?

Both sides agree that states have been using the Clean Water Act to block oil pipeline and energy projects. They also agree that the proposed changes would speed up the approval process of new energy projects. Both sides also acknowledge their disagreements on the changes will likely lead to a court case challenging the legality of the rule.

Water please



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