Press Releases

Hearing to Examine EPA’s Broadening Interpretation of Clean Water Act Veto Authority

Washington, DC, July 11, 2014 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), will hold a hearing next week to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) expanded interpretation of its veto authority under the Clean Water Act.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has the lead responsibility for administering the dredge or fill (wetlands) permit program under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, while the EPA has a complementary role in administering section 404.

Recently, however, the EPA has asserted more broadly its veto authority under section 404; the agency’s broad interpretation has evolved into the authority to veto before a permit is applied for, while an application is pending, or after a permit has already been issued.  A recent example of the EPA’s new assertion of its veto authority is Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine in West Virginia: a case where EPA vetoed the mine permit after it had been issued by the Corps, even though the mine was operating in compliance with the permit.  EPA’s new broad interpretation has led to uncertainty throughout the business communities that rely on 404 permits, leading many to question whether any permit is ever actually final.

The hearing, entitled “EPA’s Expanded Interpretation of its Permit Veto Authority under the Clean Water Act,” is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.


  • Mr. William Kovacs, Vice President – Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Mr. Harold P. Quinn, Jr., President and CEO, National Mining Association
  • Mr. Nick Ivanhoff, Senior Vice Chairman, American Road and Transportation Builders Association
  • Ms. Leah F. Pilconis, Esq., Senior Environmental Advisor, Associated General Contractors of America
  • Mr. Richard Faulk, Senior Director, Energy and Environment, George Mason University School of Law
  • Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School
  • More information about the hearing, including testimony, additional background information, and live webcast, will be posted here as it becomes available. 

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