US Senate Bill Fixes States Blocking Pipelines via Water Permits

Once upon a time, before far-out liberal governors like NY’s Andrew Cuomo weaponized the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), states would use their federally-delegated authority under the CWA (Section 401) to provide feedback and get changes/tweaks to interstate pipelines passing through their respective states. Then Cuomo (now others) started bending the intent of their delegated authority under the CWA and began abusing it to block federal policy by blocking approved pipelines that benefit the citizens of many states. That’s why the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was created–to review and authorize energy projects, like pipelines, that pass through multiple states. If not for FERC, no pipelines (or electric transmission lines) would ever get built across state lines because one state will selfishly block such projects–“What’s in it for us?” Andrew Cuomo has stated publicly that he has and will continue to block interstate pipeline projects and new gas-fired electric plants (see NY Gov. Cuomo Says He’ll Block All New Gas-Fired Elec Plants). This must stop. Cuomo’s actions violate the spirit if not the letter of the law. There has been an outcry to overrule Cuomo and others abusing their CWA authority. Until now, it’s been all talk. Talk is cheap. Who will stand up to the bully Cuomo and other bullies like him? Four brave senators from the U.S. Senate, that’s who. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Steve Daines (R-MT) have introduced a bill called “Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018” that will ensure state water quality permitting reviews for proposed pipeline projects are limited to direct water quality impacts of that pipeline, and that decisions to grant or deny a permit must be made based on water quality reasons only. It plugs loopholes currently used by Cuomo and others under the CWA 401 certification process. In other words, the senators are about to slap Andy Cuomo and those like him back into line–IF the bill passes…

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