In August of 2019, the EPA released a proposed rule that would make significant changes to procedures under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Currently, CWA Section 401 gives states and tribes the right to review projects that may impact water quality. States develop their own Water Quality Standards and they use these to analyze whether and how a proposed discharge might effect local water quality. Projects under consideration include small discharges and also large, interstate energy and infrastructure projects, such as the current re-licensing of the Great River Hydro and FirstLight hydro-electric facilities located between Montague, MA and Wilder, VT/NH. Currently, the states may provide conditions in the 401 certificate that would become part of a federal license.
Connecticut River Conservancy is very alarmed at the sweeping changes that would result from this rule-making. We recently provided comments on the rule-making in coordination with the Hydropower Reform Coalition.
You can access our collective comments here: https://www.ctriver.org/wp-content/uploads/2019-10-21.HRC_.401_Comments.pdf