The attorneys general of 20 states and Washington initiated a lawsuit (pdf) against the Trump administration on Tuesday, alleging that new federal rules to streamline Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permitting processes undermine their ability to halt infrastructure projects they believe could harm their waterways.
The consortium of states says that new rules issued last week by the EPA change procedures that gave state governments the authority to review or block projects the federal government had permitted and that involved water bodies within their borders.
In April 2019, President Donald Trump issued an executive order, officially titled “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth,” which was designed to streamline the permitting process and reform “outdated” federal legislation.
“EPA is returning the Clean Water Act certification process under Section 401 to its original purpose, which is to review potential impacts that discharges from federally permitted projects may have on water resources, not to indefinitely delay or block critically important infrastructure,” said EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler in a June statement.
Wheeler said that the final rule was “following through on President Trumps Executive Order to curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that have held our nations energy infrastructure projects hostage, and to put in place clear guidelines that finally give these projects a path forward.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in an August 2019 statement that he supported the rule change.
Its time to reform the Clean Water Act to stop these governors from weaponizing the law against Americas people, economy & environment.
— Sen. John Barrasso (@SenJohnBarrasso) December 20, 2019
“The Clean Water Act is being hijacked by a number of coastal states to block energy projects,” Barasso said. “This coastal blockade cannot continue. It threatens Americas energy dominance and unfairly harms energy workers in Wyoming and other states. These coastal states are preventing cleaner American fuels from getting to communities in the North East and around the world. These states cant be allowed to weaponize the Clean Water Act. I applaud the Trump administration for working with me to develop solutions.”
The attorney generals, in the lawsuit, said they believed the rule change weakened states abilities to protect their aquatic environments.
“Instead of protecting the environment, this administration is yielding to polluting industries and undermining a key tool states use to protect their water,” said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement. “We will continue to advocate for a clean and healthy Washington and confront the powerful special interest groups that dictate this administrations actions.”
Our office filed a lawsuit today against the Trump Administration for attempting to dismantle key protections within the Clean Water Act. The new regulation reverses 50 years of long-held & effective state & tribal water quality regulation. Read more here: Read More From Source