CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a leader on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today issued the following statement after the White House announced a new policy concerning Section 401 of the Clean Water Act:
“Section 401 of the Clean Water Act has been abused by liberal state governments for years to politically attack the fossil fuel industry,” Senator Capito said. “The policy announced today means West Virginia producers could finally have a fair shot at selling affordable natural gas to consumers in New England and elsewhere around the country. The result of states like New York blocking new pipeline construction is that our fellow Americans must pay more for dirtier foreign energy, such as polluting fuel oil, often from hostile regimes like Russia. Doing this when our country is so energy rich is nonsensical, wasteful, expensive, and hurts our economy, our environment, and American workers. I’m glad the Trump administration is standing up for American energy independence and putting a stop to the political gamesmanship around Section 401.”
Today’s announcement follows an Executive Order by President Trump asserting American leadership in energy. As a member of the EPW Committee and strong supporter of West Virginia’s energy industry, Senator Capito has been a longtime proponent of Section 401 reforms.
Liberal states like New York have cited Section 401 of the Clean Water Act as justification to block construction of energy infrastructure projects, including natural gas pipelines. This has forced states in New England to import foreign energy or use dirty fuel oil rather than import natural gas from West Virginia and the greater Appalachia region. Senator Capito questioned witnesses about the environmental impact of these actions versus importing Appalachian natural gas through pipelines in an EPW hearing on November 19, 2019.
On October 4, 2018, Senator Capito, EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), sent a letter to then-Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler regarding implementation of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. In the letter, the senators asked Acting Administrator Wheeler to provide implementation direction to federal agencies regarding Section 401, in light of abuses by certain states. The executive order directly responds to this letter by tasking EPA with leadership over Section 401 reform.