The Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, John Mica (R-FL.) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) have introduced the "Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011", H.R. 2018. The bipartisan bill is an effort to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) and to return responsibility of water pollution control to the states. The legislation would restrict EPA's ability to override or delay a state's permitting and water quality certification decisions under the CWA once EPA has already approved a state's program, unless the state concurs that a new standard is necessary. The bill would prohibit the EPA from withdrawing approval of a state water quality permitting program under CWA or from limiting Federal financial assistance for the state water quality permitting program, on the basis that EPA disagrees with the state.
This effort follows in the wake of EPA's recent actions regarding a West Virginia coal mine and nutrients in Florida waters. The EPA revoked the permit for the mountaintop mining site in January that had already been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and promulgated federal Numeric Nutrient Criteria over the state's objections in Florida. (Written by Nichelle Jaeger; Staff Contact: Nathan Bowen)