EPA Strengthens Water Protections with New Rule

EPA Strengthens Water Protections with New Rule

The finalized rule emphasizes state and tribal authority in water quality certifications.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced its final Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule. This rule strengthens water resource protections and streamlines quality reviews for pivotal infrastructure and development projects.

According to a release dated Sept. 14, the rule aims to safeguard essential water resources by reinforcing state, territory and tribal authority. The rule sets a six-month default timeframe and a maximum one-year certification review period. It focuses evaluations on potential adverse water quality impacts and aims to curtail delays by defining certification request content.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting economically secure, healthy and sustainable communities” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a statement. “To achieve this goal, we must protect our water resources while also making investments that move our nation forward. With EPA’s final Clean Water Act Section 401 rule, we are affirming the authority of states, territories and tribes to protect precious water resources while advancing federally permitted projects in a transparent, timely, and predictable way.”

This EPA action follows a directive from Executive Order 13990, which prompted a review of the 2020 CWA Section 401 Certification Rule. Feedback during a 60-day public comment phase influenced the rule's final iteration.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor for Environmental Protection.

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