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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
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TEEIC Laws & Regulations Section Guide

Clean Water Act (CWA)

Legislation governing the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of surface waters. The CWA (33 USC 1251-1387) defines various types of pollutants and establishes protective standards, programs, and permit requirements. The CWA was amended in 1990 by the Oil Pollution Act (33 USC 2701 et seq.) to incorporate requirements for the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to oil spills at non-transportation-related facilities. The full suite of CWA regulations promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is available at 40 CFR 100-136, 401-471, and 500-503. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) also has responsibility for Section 404 of the CWA related to permits for the discharge of dredge and fill material into waters of the United States; the USACE regulations are available at 33 CFR 323.

Regulations Applicable to Energy Development

Portions of the CWA regulations that are potentially applicable to energy development activities include the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Program (SPCCP), National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), and Section 404 regarding the discharge of material into U.S. waters.

  • SPCCP Regulations (40 CFR 112)
    Regulations issued by the EPA amending the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations establishing requirements for oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response to prevent oil discharges to navigable waters and adjoining shorelines.
  • NPDES Regulations (40 CFR 122-136 and 401-471)
    Regulations issued by the EPA under the authority of the CWA regulating the discharge of pollutants from point sources into navigable waters. Effluent guidelines and standards that may be applicable to energy development activities have been established as part of the NPDES Program, including standards for petroleum refining (40 CFR 419), coal mining (40 CFR 434), oil and gas extraction (40 CFR 435), and mineral mining and processing (40 CFR 436).
  • EPA Section 404 Wetlands Protection Regulations (40 CFR 230-233)
    Regulations issued by the EPA under Section 404 of the CWA regulating the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands, in conjunction with USACE requirements.
  • USACE Section 404 Wetlands Protection Regulations (33 CFR 323)
    Regulations issued by the USACE under Section 404 of the CWA establishing permit requirements for the discharge of dredged or fill material into water of the United States, including wetlands, in conjunction with the EPA requirements.

Relevant Web Site(s)

  • Clean Water Act
    The EPA's Web page providing access to basic information on the CWA, the legislation, and regulations

Specific Tribal Program(s)


This statute may apply to the following energy resources:
Biomass, Carbon Sequestration, Coal, Geothermal, Hydrokinetic, Low-Head Hydropower, Oil & Gas, Solar, Transmission, Wind
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