The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Council of Manufacturing Association’s (CMA) hosted its 2019 Summer Leadership Conference in Charleston, SC featuring an address from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
At the event, Administrator Wheeler announced an EPA proposal to clarify Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. He stated, “the EPA’s efforts to modernize regulations and deliver regulatory certainty have contributed to strong manufacturing growth in recent years. This proposal is a win for manufacturers that would build on that success by offering much-needed clarity to States and manufacturers alike. Too often, the vaguely worded Section 401 has been used as an excuse to block critical infrastructure and trade projects. By setting clear guidelines, the EPA is empowering manufacturers to invest in our people and communities with confidence and to work with state leaders to protect our water and environment.”
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives states an important role to play in ensuring water quality standards are not impaired by federally permitted projects. This proposal will give State and Federal partners more clearly defined roles, responsibilities and consistent expectations in line with the statute and recent court decisions. The proposed rule seeks to protect waters by strengthening the Section 401 process.
In addition to the announcement, he noted under the Trump administration the EPA has worked on 42 deregulatory actions that will save $3.2 billion in costs savings. The EPA is also focused on reducing obstacles for permitting.
“We did not know how long permitting processes took from start to finish,” Wheeler said. “You can’t improve a process if you don’t measure it. Because we are now tracking the process, we’re able to fix problems on a monthly basis, rather than annually. We’ve already seen dramatic improvements.”
EPA has reduced the backlog of new permit applications older than six months by more than 40% with an ultimate goal is to make all permit decisions, up or down, in six months.
In addition to Administrator Wheeler, the Summer Leadership Conference featured RealClearPolitics Associate Editor and Columnist AB Stoddard, American professional endurance athlete and adventurer Colin O'Brady and NAM President & CEO Jay Timmons.