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August 12, 2019

Draft EPA Regulation Seeks To Speed Infrastructure Projects, Including Pipelines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week issued a proposal that would increase federal authority to grant permits for infrastructure projects, like pipelines, under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Specifically, the proposal would increase the transparency and efficiency of the Section 401 certification process and promote the timely review of infrastructure projects by setting a one-year deadline for states to act on project permits under the CWA.

The draft regulation targets states like New York that have used authority under that law to block or slow pipeline projects. According to the EPA’s press release, Section 401 of the CWA gives states and authorized Native American tribes the authority to assess potential water quality impacts of discharges from federally permitted or licensed infrastructure projects that may affect navigable waters within their borders.

The EPA’s existing certification rules have not been updated in almost a half century and are inconsistent with the text of CWA Section 401, which has led to confusion and unnecessary delays for infrastructure projects, the EPA said.

The EPA will take public comment on the draft regulation for the next 60 days. Click here to review the proposed rule and learn more about the CWA Section 401 certification process. Click here to read the EPA’s full announcement.