Twenty-One AGs Filed Lawsuit to Defend States’ Authority Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, New York Attorney General Letitia James and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson led a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule that restricts states’ water quality certification authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. In their complaint, the attorneys general emphasized that Congress “specifically prohibited federal agencies from permitting or licensing such projects” if a state denies certification under Section 401, and noted that the rule establishes “new, unjustified, and unreasonable substantive limits, time constraints, and procedural restrictions” that impose “onerous federal control over virtually every step of the administrative process.” In October 2021, a U.S. District Judge vacated the rule.