EPA Proposes Rule to Limit States’ Ability to Protect People & Clean Water from Pollution

WASHINGTON--An administration’s proposal published today in the Federal Register would limit the information states have when making decisions about how to protect people and clean water from pollution, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. Today’s publication begins a 60 day period during which people can comment on this EPA proposal.

“This ill-conceived proposal is the latest in the administration’s attacks on clean water that our communities and families depend on,” said Blan Holman, managing attorney of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston office. “The Clean Water Act gives states tools to protect our rivers, streams, and wetlands—this proposal takes those tools away. Handcuffing state agencies tasked with protecting the water we swim in, fish in, and drink from will only lead to more pollution in the rivers that are the lifeblood of communities across the South.”

This proposed rule would dramatically reduce a state’s authority to get more information from an applicant and put in place conditions necessary to protect clean water and communities by limiting the time states can take to consider whether to issue a certification and the scope of what states can consider.

Under the Clean Water Act, states play an essential role any time a federal permit is issued. Before that permit can be issued, the state must certify that project complies with state law by approving what is known as a 401 Certification. This provision ensures that states have an opportunity to use their local expertise to ensure that clean water is protected. Often, this means that the applicant for the permit must provide more information and better safeguards for the project.

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.southernenvironment.org/
 

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