Owens Applauds Passage of Clean Water Permitting Reforms

WASHINGTON – Congressman Burgess Owens (UT-04) released the following statement after the House passed the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act, which included the Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act, a key provision he championed to establish clearer procedures for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in developing water quality criteria commonly used for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Twitter

“I am proud to see the House pass the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act, which includes my Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act, providing a comprehensive reform to the Clean Water Act permitting process for the first time since 1972,” said Rep. Owens. “From increasing permitting transparency and certainty to limiting frivolous litigation, this legislation reaffirms the original goals of the CWA and modernizes the path for critical energy and infrastructure projects.”

Background on the Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act:

The EPA develops recommended water quality criteria under CWA Section 304(a), which are used by many states in carrying out their NPDES permitting responsibilities. Given the importance of water quality criteria development, this bill ensures that outside comments are legitimately considered in the development of these guidelines, and that Section 304(a) water quality criteria are subject to Administrative Procedures Act notice and comment rulemaking requirements and limited judicial review, ensuring regulated entities have a seat at the table and water quality is protected.

Background on the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act:

  • Establishes a transparent process for developing water quality criteria by the EPA for CWA Sec. 402 NPDES permits, allowing for increased public participation and limited judicial review.
  • Provides certainty to NPDES general permit holders by codifying reissuance practices and requiring two-year notice if a permit will not be reissued.
  • Clarifies liability protection for NPDES permit holders, safeguarding them from lawsuits for unforeseen substances not covered in their permits.
  • Prohibits EPA from issuing a Sec. 404(c) dredge and fill permit veto before or after a final permit has been issued by the Corps.
  • Codifies practices around Nationwide Permits (NWPs) for Sec. 404 dredge and fill permits, streamlining infrastructure and energy project permitting.
  • Limits judicial review timeline for dredge and fill permits to 60 days, involving only parties who filed comments during the public comment period to prevent delays.
  • Mandates EPA and Corps to develop implementation guidance for the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in line with the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA.

The full text of the legislation is available here

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