Trump Administration Order Would Unravel State Power to Enforce Clean Water Act

Washington, DC — The Trump Administration is expected to issue an order to limit the time that states can take to review complex federal projects and determine if the projects would meet the state’s water quality standards. This authority, known as water quality certification, is a critical part of the Clean Water Act and gives states an important voice in protecting their waters when federal projects may threaten to pollute the state’s waters or degrade its aquatic habitat. Under water quality certification, a state can effectively veto a federal project requiring a federal permit that it determines will not protect its water quality and aquatic habitat. By short-circuiting state review of complicated projects, this proposal would make it more likely that the states can’t make a decision in time, which effectively waives the state’s ability to object to harmful projects.

“The Trump Administration’s proposal would trample on state authority to protect waters within their own borders,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. “The environmental consequences could be disastrous, putting at risk a state’s ability to protect the lakes, rivers, streams, and other waters that support its drinking water supply, outdoor economy, and wildlife from pollution and degradation. This action would be a direct attack on clean water.”

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