Attorney General Becerra Condemns Trump Administration’s Latest Assault on the Clean Water Act

Monday, June 1, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued a statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of a final rule that unlawfully curtails state authority to review, impose conditions on, or deny certification for federally permitted projects under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Section 401 and other provisions of the Clean Water Act preserve states’ authority to protect the quality of the waters within their borders. 

"Why the Trump Administration risks our public health and environment by curbing our ability to protect clean water is a real head-scratcher, particularly as we confront a harrowing pandemic,” said Attorney General Becerra. "The Administration's move today is just the latest assault on the Clean Water Act and our state's natural resources. We won't stand idly by as they rip away our authority under the law to preserve water quality.”

The Clean Water Act reflects Congress’ policy to “recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of states to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution” of waters within their borders. Under Section 401 of the statute, a project requiring federal approval that may result in discharges into the waters of the United States must obtain state certification confirming that the project meets state water quality standards and other appropriate state law requirements. This certification process ensures adequate assessment of the impacts of proposed federal actions and the imposition of necessary conditions to remedy these impacts.

In 2019, Attorney General Becerra led multistate coalitions in filing comment letters opposing the EPA’s unlawful guidance and proposed rule seeking to curtail state authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

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