(USA) Republicans want to weaken role of states in review of fossil fuel applications

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: Committee Chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) (R) of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee talks to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) (L) after a meeting to vote on the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator February 1, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. All ten Democratic committee members boycotted the meeting and forced Chairman Barrasso to adjourn without voting on the nomination. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mark Hand | Think Progress | 01/08/2018

States’ denial of water quality permits angered the fossil fuel industry

Senate Republicans introduced legislation on Tuesday that would take regulatory power away from states in order to expedite the approval of energy infrastructure projects that are facing stiff resistance from the public.

The bill, dubbed the Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, is part of an effort by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress to reduce the ability of states to use their authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act to prevent the construction of projects such as pipelines or coal export terminals.

“The water quality certification process is being abused by a few states in order to delay important projects,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said Tuesday in a statement.

Along with Barrasso, the bill was introduced by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Steve Daines (R-MT). They described their proposed changes to the Clean Water Act as placing “procedural guardrails and requirements on states as they process requests for certification to prevent future abuses.”