Last month, the White House issued an executive order clarifying the use of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which deals with the interstate infrastructure permitting process. Ahead of that executive order, the NC Chamber joined a number of other state chambers of commerce in urging Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to make necessary changes to Section 401’s implementation so that interstate energy infrastructure projects can be permitted in a safe and timely manner. I’m pleased to share that following our letter and the executive order, the EPA has started the process of streamlining and clarifying this section’s scope and focus.
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is a well-intentioned exercise in cooperative federalism, or the idea that federal and state governments should both have a say in the development and permitting processes for interstate energy infrastructure projects. However, in recent years, some states have abused this section to block projects that would otherwise result in more efficient energy delivery across the country.
Streamlining burdensome regulations, including cumbersome permitting processes, has always been a top priority for the NC Chamber. Allowing critical infrastructure projects to reasonably advance at the speed of business while preserving and protecting our environment is a fundamental balance we must strike. We are encouraged by this executive order and the EPA’s action, and will continue to advocate for a modernized, streamlined regulatory climate in both North Carolina and nationwide.
Gary J. Salamido
Chief Operating Officer and Acting President
Read the full letter here or below:
Dear Administrator Wheeler:
The undersigned organizations represent thousands of businesses and workers throughout the country and we recognize that the reliable delivery of energy is vital to economic growth and national security. We believe that maintaining and growing our energy infrastructure is necessary to ensure that energy supplies can be delivered across the country.
Unfortunately, the environmental review and permitting process for energy infrastructure has become a target for environmental activists and states that oppose the production and use of fossil fuels. Specifically, the Clean Water Act – Section 401 (CWA 401) permitting process for interstate infrastructure projects is increasingly being used to create costly delays and even the cancellation of energy infrastructure projects.
We respect that Congress designed the CWA 401 permit process to reflect their commitment to a balance between federal and state authorities (cooperative federalism). However, a single state’s actions to thwart the construction of an interstate pipeline or infrastructure project prevents neighboring states from realizing benefits from the project. No single state should have the ability to use its CWA 401 authority to dictate national policy, thereby harming other states and the national interest and damaging cooperative federalism.
We are writing to encourage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve the predictability of the CWA 401 process by working with states and other federal agencies to streamline the implementation of CWA 401, and to ensure that the process aligns with Congress’ intended statutory requirements.
We urge EPA to make changes necessary to ensure that interstate energy infrastructure projects can be permitted in a safe and timely manner and constructed so that energy can be delivered efficiently and reliably throughout America.
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Colorado Chamber of Commerce
Illinois Chamber of Commerce
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Oregon Business & Industry
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry
The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Virginia Chamber of Commerce
West Virginia Chamber of Commerce