On May 13, Reps. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and John Mica (R-Fla.) reintroduced legislation that would limit Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overreach in the Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting process.
The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2013 (H.R. 1948) would restrict the EPA’s ability to veto dredge and fill permits previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, as the agency did with the Spruce Mine permit in 2011.
Specifically, the Rahall-Mica bill would:
- Amend the CWA to restore the long-standing balance between federal and state partners in regulating the nation’s waters.
- Preserve the system of cooperative federalism established under the CWA, which gives states primary responsibility for water pollution control.
- Prevent the EPA from second-guessing or delaying a state’s CWA permitting and water quality certification decisions if the EPA already approved the state’s program.
While the EPA recently used the CWA Sec. 402 and 404 permitting process to block coal mines in Appalachia, other entities could also be dealt a heavy hand. Quarries, farmers, and commercial, residential and infrastructure construction projects receive CWA scrutiny, according to NSSGA.