Following a careful reconsideration of the water quality certification rule promulgated in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) is publishing for public comment a proposed rule revising and replacing the Agency’s 2020 regulatory requirements for water quality certification under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401. This proposed rule would update the existing regulations to be more consistent with the statutory text of the 1972 CWA; to clarify, reinforce, and provide a measure of consistency with respect to elements of section 401 certification practice that have evolved over the 50 years since the 1971 Rule was promulgated; and to support an efficient and predictable certification process that is consistent with the water quality protection and cooperative federalism principles central to CWA section 401. This proposal is consistent with the Executive order signed on January 20, 2021, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” which directed the Agency to review the water quality certification rule EPA promulgated in 2020. The Agency is also proposing conforming amendments to the water quality certification regulations for EPA-issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
Comments must be received on or before August 8, 2022. Please refer to the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for additional information on the public hearing.