The Biden administration has unveiled new regulations that expand the authority of states and tribes to deny certification for infrastructure projects, such as fossil fuel pipelines that may impact water sources.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule, a move that was applauded by a diverse group of Democratic governors who stated that it would enhance their ability to safeguard the environment and weigh in on key federal permits, as Fox News reported.
According to the EPA, the rule realigns the extent of a provision in the Clean Water Act of 1972, Section 401, which prohibits projects that result in any discharge into waters from being approved.
From the EPA
"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting economically secure, healthy, and sustainable communities," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Thursday in a statement.
"To achieve this goal, we must protect our water resources while also making investments that move our nation forward," he continued.
"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," he added.
The Previous Legislation
For quite some time, states had been rejecting fossil fuel projects in their territory by invoking their rights under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.
For instance, in 2018, New York revoked approval for a natural gas pipeline, and in 2019, Oregon made a similar move with an export certification for the same fuels.
To limit state jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, however, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2019 related to energy security and infrastructure.
Democratic-led states challenged the Trump administration EPA's finalized regulations in federal court in 2020, limiting the extent to which the states may interfere in federal permitting for operations that could affect water supplies.
"As Attorney General, I stood up to efforts to undermine this and now, as Governor, I'm grateful to see it restored," Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey added.
"Massachusetts thanks the U.S. EPA for strengthening the partnership envisioned by the Clean Water Act with today’s rule, helping us fulfill our commitment to protecting waterways across Massachusetts," she said.