At the end of May 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States redefined what constitutes a wetland, stating it must have a continuous connection with a “water of the United States” (a major body of water such as an ocean, river, stream, or lake). This ruling was a setback for the Environmental Protection Agency and our line of work as it narrows how to define a wetland and discounts its importance to our ecosystem.
On September 14, 2023, the EPA announced a final rule to help combat these changes by reversing limitations on state and tribal authorities to approve and/or deny permits at their level. The final Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule allows these legislators to protect the quality of their land’s waters from adverse impacts of federally permitted projects. Under this ruling, projects cannot conduct any activity that could affect the water of the United States unless approved by the land’s state, territory, or tribal owner.
Other components of this rule include:
- Flexibility to communicate with stakeholders for a quicker certification process.
- Limiting delays by laying out the required contents in a request for certification.
- One-year maximum timeline with a default 6-month timeline.
- Provides regulatory certainty by clarifying that legislations may only consider the negative impact on water quality.
- Increased flexibility due to changes as the project progresses.
Like the administration who passed this rule, Cherry Ridge LLC supports economic growth through infrastructure and community development, while remaining committed to protecting the environment and access to clean water for all individuals. That’s why we are in the business of monitoring projects for any environmental impact and ensure that businesses are in compliance with up-to-date state and federal rulings.
Reach out to us to discuss how this latest ruling may impact your outstanding or upcoming project or community.
Environmental Protection Agency. (2023). Final 2023 CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401/final-2023-cwa-section-401-water-quality-certification-improvement-rule