Dear Senator McConnell:
On behalf of more than two million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I applaud you for introducing the State Water Quality Act, which will clarify the rules on issuing new and renewal permits under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, among other improvements.
The permitting process has become too convoluted and too politicized. One of the main causes of this is new agency guidance that reaches beyond the original intent of the law. For example, regulators have started to implement regulations relating to wetlands—even though wetlands aren’t included in the definition of “navigable waters” in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Another reason for this break-down in the permitting process is politics. Federal administrators are retroactively vetoing permits after they have already issued them, as highlighted in the recent Mingo Logan case in the D.C. Circuit.
These confusing permitting rules mean that businesses, employees and communities face a lot of uncertainty about the future. Even if a business secures a permit and invests time and money into a project, the project can be pulled at any time when control of EPA changes hands. If these investors and employees had more certainty about the future, then they would be more likely to develop new projects.
Your bill would mitigate several of these issues by clarifying permitting rules and defining authority. Your legislation addresses the wetland issue by stopping the EPA from finalizing its draft guidance that seeks to extend federal CWA jurisdiction far broader than Congress intended. It also sets additional limits on EPA administrators’ authority to revoke permits after granting them. In many cases, your bill will turn control of licensing and permitting over to the state government. Notably, your legislation also calls for stronger economic impact studies, which will help us understand how these regulations affect job creation and economic activity.
AFP is proud to support the State Water Quality Act, which would bring more certainty in the permitting process and safeguard property owners from power-hungry regulators. I urge your colleagues to support its passage, and I look forward to working with you in the future.
Director of Policy
Americans for Prosperity