National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn made the following statement today upon the release of the "The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011" (H.R. 2018), by Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), respectively, chairman and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:
"The legislation introduced today by Reps. Mica and Rahall is intended to provide much needed certainty for jobs and the Appalachian economy, which have borne the brunt of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory overreach and the resulting moratorium on coal mining permits in the region. By restoring the long-standing balance between state and federal regulators in the permitting process, mining operations, their vendors and suppliers and small businesses throughout the region can put more people to work, stimulate local economies and get back to producing energy for the nation.
"NMA commends Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall for their leadership on a matter of such fundamental importance to the people of Appalachia and to the nation."
If passed, H.R. 2018 would severely limit the federal government's ability to oversee state compliance with the Clean Water Act, give upstream states the power to weaken their pollution protections; and weaken the power of downstream states to protect their water supply, their communities, and their economy. This bill would threaten water quality in our nation's rivers, lakes and streams and limit the ability of both federal and state governments to ensure that all Americans have access to clean water.
Specifically, H.R. 2018 would:
- Restrict EPA's ability to revise an existing water quality standard or promulgate or promulgate a new one, unless the state concurs.
- Prohibit EPA from rejecting a water quality certification granted by a state.
- Prohibit EPA withdrawing approval of a state water quality permitting prgram (National - - Pollutant Discharge Elimination System), or from limiting federal financial assistance for the state program if a state isn't in compliance with water quality standards.
- Prohibit EPA from objecting to a state's issuance of an NPDES permit that it believes comply with Water Quality Standards.
The Administration strongly opposes H.R 2018 because it would significantly undermine the Clean Water Act (CWA) and could adversely affect public health, the economy, and the
Under the CWA, one of the Nation’s most successful and effective environmental laws, the
Federal Government acts to ensure safe levels of water quality across the country through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the enactment of the CWA in 1972, the Federal Government has protected the waterways our citizens depend on by using its checks and balances authority to review and adjust key State water pollution control decisions, where necessary, to assure that they reflect up to date science, comply with the law, and protect downstream water users in other States. H.R. 2018 would roll back the key provisions of the CWA that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the Nation’s waters fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.
H.R. 2018 could limit efforts to safeguard communities by removing the Federal Government’s authority to take action when State water quality standards are not protective of public health. In addition, it would restrict EPA’s authority to take action when it finds that a State’s CWA permit or permit program is inadequate and would shorten EPA’s review and collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers on permits for dredged or fill material. All of these changes could result in adverse impacts to human health, the economy, and the environment through increased pollution and degradation of water bodies that serve as venues for recreation and tourism, and that provide drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife.
H.R. 2018 would disrupt the carefully constructed complementary CWA roles for EPA, the
Army Corps of Engineers, and States in protecting water quality. It also could eliminate EPA’s ability to protect water quality and public health in downstream States from actions in upstream States, and could increase the number of lawsuits challenging State permits. In sum, H.R. 2018 would upset the CWA’s balanced approach to improve water quality across the Nation, risking the public health and economic benefits of cleaner waters.
If the President is presented with this legislation, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.