On July 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (H.R. 2018). The bill would limit the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate state water quality programs.
If this bill is passed by the Senate and signed by the president, EPA would no longer overrule state-granted water quality certifications, Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, or object to state-approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, Section 402. EPA also regulates the disposal of dredge or fill materials into U.S. waters (Section 404). While the EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could comment on proposed dredge-and-fill permits, H.R. 2018 would deny EPA the ability to block permits as it has in the past.
The bill now moves to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for consideration. However, the Office of Management and Budget stated that the Obama administration strongly opposes H.R. 2018, and that senior advisors would recommend that the president veto the bill. See the July 15 issue of This Week in Washington for more information.