By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory and legal issues, ARTBA

ARTBA urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) May 21 not to expand Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction to include discharges into subsurface groundwater. Recent federal court decisions have clouded this aspect of the agency’s CWA enforcement, which it typically has not regulated.

For the transportation construction industry, expanding CWA enforcement into groundwater would lead to the same type of delays anticipated by the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, now in the process of being repealed by EPA. Such a broadening of jurisdiction, ARTBA warned, “would literally leave no transportation project untouched regardless of its location, as there is no area in the United States not linked to at least one source of groundwater.”

In May 21 comments, ARTBA asked the agency to reject the theory that federal jurisdiction extends to groundwater and open a rulemaking comment period on the issue to get more input from the regulated community. ARTBA also signed similar comments with a coalition of seven other trade associations on the issue.

NEPA Support for Three More States

ARTBA has reiterated its support for agreements between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and states on key environmental decisions for transportation construction projects.  A provision in the 2012 “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21) surface transportation law allows states to assume responsibility for portions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process.

Read the letters of support for Florida, Ohio, and Utah on ARTBA’s regulatory page.

ARTBA supports such agreements because they help construction of much-needed infrastructure projects begin quicker by shrinking review and approval timelines without sacrificing environmental protection. The association has also supported similar efforts in California, Texas, Arizona, and Alaska.