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Rouzer, Graves Introduce Legislation to Improve Water Quality Certifications and American Energy Infrastructure

  • 2022.02.01 T&I Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07) and Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06) introduced the Water Quality Certification and Energy Project Improvement Act.

This legislation amends Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and makes key clarifications to existing law regarding the appropriate scope of review for a water quality certification.  It also places procedural guardrails and requirements on states as they process requests for certification to prevent future abuses.

"The water quality certification process has been — and continues to be — weaponized by certain states to stifle important energy projects they oppose, particularly pipelines, for political reasons completely unrelated to water quality and outside of the Clean Water Act's scope," said Rep. Rouzer.  "At a time when American families are facing skyrocketing energy costs, we shouldn’t inhibit domestic energy production and its transport.  This only makes America further dependent on foreign adversaries for our energy sources.  Providing clarity to the water quality certification process is sorely needed to put an end to this irresponsible abuse of the law.  I’m proud to join my friend and colleague, Garret Graves, in sponsoring this bill."

"Over the past several years, we have watched some governors misuse the Clean Water Act to block urgently-needed American interstate energy projects," said Rep. Graves.  "The result was greater reliance on Russian energy and unaffordable utility and fuel costs for Americans. This bill helps to cut through bureaucratic red tape and useless impediments – resulting in clean, affordable, and American energy."

The Water Quality Certification and Energy Project Improvement Act would:

  • Clarify that the scope of a Section 401 review is limited to water quality impacts only;

  • Clarify that states, when evaluating water quality, only consider discharges that would result from the federally permitted or licensed activity itself – not from other sources;

  • Require states to publish clear requirements for water quality certification requests;

  • Require states to make final decisions on whether to grant or deny a request in writing based only on water quality reasons; and

  • Require states to inform a project applicant within 90 days whether the states have all of the materials needed to process a certification request.