Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined U.S. Representatives Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) in leading an effort to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from undermining the ability of states and tribal communities to set strong water quality standards that protect drinking water and improve the health of local rivers, streams and aquatic wildlife.
This letter enjoys strong support from the leaders of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC).
“We write to express our serious concerns regarding the proposed rule … which attacks state and tribal rights under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA),” the Members wrote. “We urge EPA to withdraw this harmful proposal.”
The Members continued: “Section 401 review empowers states and authorized tribes to issue water quality certifications (WQCs) that must be included within certain federal permits and licenses. These permits and licenses cover such projects as pipeline and hydropower development, sewage and wastewater treatment, and the dredging of rivers and filling of wetlands. Importantly, these permits cannot be issued unless the states and authorized tribes are given an opportunity to ensure that local resource management standards consistent with the CWA are satisfied. Section 401 is vital as it can be states’ and authorized tribes’ only meaningful opportunity to protect their water resources from potentially harmful projects.”
The Members concluded: “Ensuring the fullest protections of our waters is essential to communities, especially our most vulnerable, and ecosystems across the Nation. Our constituents rely on clean water for consumption, recreation and agriculture, not to mention the use of water in industrial and commercial operations. For these reasons and more, we respectfully urge EPA to withdraw the proposed rule.”