American Rivers statement on EPA decision to revise Clean Water Act Section 401 rule

May 27, 2021 
Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its intent to revise the 2020 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule after determining that it erodes state and tribal authority. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is the provision that provides the federal-state-tribal partnership collaborative authority by requiring state and tribal water quality certifications for projects. 

Under the Trump administration, the EPA severely curtailed the authority of states and tribes under Clean Water Act section 401 to affect federal dam, pipeline and other infrastructure construction and operations through state water quality certifications. This authority is extremely important to states and tribes as it provides a powerful say in federal infrastructure planning and licensing processes. American Rivers has worked with states and tribes on many occasions to improve dam operations, fish populations, and river health using section 401, and we have defended this authority all the way to the Supreme Court.  

Tom Kiernan, president of American Rivers, made the following statement about EPA’s action today: 

“We applaud the Biden administration for taking this important step to restore clean water protections. Strengthening tribal and state roles is critical to defending river health. We are disappointed, however, that the Trump administration’s 401 rule will remain in effect during the revision process. We will continue to work to ensure tribes and states have the full ability to advocate for their rights and interests when it comes to clean water and river protection.”