The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed handing more power to states and tribes to block major energy projects based on water quality concerns.
The proposal would undo a Trump-era rule that restricted local regulators' authority to stand in the way of fossil fuel development. The new proposal would allow states to conduct a broader, more flexible review before making a permitting decision.
The public will have time to weigh in on the proposal. For now, the Trump-era rule will remain in place.
That rule required local regulators to focus their reviews on the pollution that projects might discharge into rivers, streams and wetlands. It also rigidly enforced a one-year deadline for regulators to make permitting decisions. Some states lost their authority to block certain projects based on allegations they blew the deadline, the Associated Press reported.
The EPA is taking the position that states should have authority to look beyond pollution discharged into waterways and “holistically evaluate” the impact of a project on local water quality. The proposal would gives local regulators more power. It allows localities to make sure they have information needed before facing deadline pressure to then issue or deny permits.