Carper: EPA is Diminishing State Power to Protect Quality of Water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), former governor and top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released guidance for President Trump’s executive order that, in clear violation of Congressional intent, undermines states’ rights to review applications for Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 water quality certifications.

With these changes to the Section 401 process, EPA is now curtailing states’ power to review, modify or deny permits for harmful federal energy projects. For decades, states have relied on their authorities under Section 401 to protect valuable drinking water sources.

“Bending the definition of cooperative federalism to the will of President Trump’s voracious demand for ‘energy dominance,’ this EPA is rendering states voiceless and virtually powerless to protect the quality of their water. As a recovering governor, I shudder at the thought of Delaware having no real authority to review and challenge permits for federal energy projects that might threaten our coasts and water resources. Actually, Delaware did live that nightmare in the 1960s, as did so many other states – and that is why Congress established section 401 state powers,” Senator Carper said. “The president’s executive order and EPA’s new guidance are indefensible and defy the clear intention of Congress.”

Earlier this week, Senator Carper was joined by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in sending a letter to EPA demanding information related to the agency’s efforts to modify the process for state review of applications.