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EPA/OW RIN: 2040-AG12 Publication ID: Spring 2023 
Title: Clean Water Act Section 401: Water Quality Certification 
Abstract: Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 provides States and Tribes with a powerful tool to protect the quality of their waters from adverse impacts resulting from federally licensed or permitted projects. Under section 401, a federal agency may not issue a license or permit to conduct any activity that may result in any discharge into navigable waters, unless the State or Tribe where the discharge would originate either issues a section 401 water quality certification finding “that any such discharge will comply with the applicable provisions of sections 301, 302, 303, 306, and 307” of the CWA, or certification is waived. EPA promulgated implementing regulations for water quality certification prior to the passage of the CWA in 1972, which created section 401. EPA revised the regulation in 2020. In June 2022, consistent with Executive Order 13990, EPA proposed “Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule” to revise the 2020 Rule. EPA plans to finalize a revised rule after reviewing public comments on the proposed rule. The final rule will update the existing regulations to be more consistent with the statutory text of the 1972 CWA; clarify, reinforce, and provide a measure of consistency with respect to elements of section 401 certification practice that have evolved over the 50 years since the 1971 Rule was promulgated; and support an efficient and predictable certification process that is consistent with the water quality protection and cooperative federalism principles central to CWA section 401. 
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 40 CFR 121.1   
Legal Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1151   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Notice  06/02/2021  86 FR 29541   
NPRM  06/09/2022  87 FR 35318   
NPRM Comment Period End  08/08/2022 
Final Rule  08/00/2023 
Additional Information: .
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: Federal, State, Tribal 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Related RINs: Related to 2040-AF86 
Agency Contact:
Lauren Kasparek
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Water
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20460
Phone:202 564-3351