Gov. Kevin Stitt

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a 1996 graduate of Oklahoma State University, will speak at undergraduate commencement ceremonies for fall graduates on Saturday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

WASHINGTON — Gov. Kevin Stitt told a Senate committee that some states are blocking energy projects due to personal environmental politics of state leaders.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, on Tuesday said states like Washington and New York have denied so-called 401 certificates to natural gas pipelines, which he said could generate jobs, increase exports and boost the U.S. economy.

Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, any person seeking a federal license to construct an object that may pollute navigable waters must receive a license from the state it is constructed in.

“It prevents Oklahoma from achieving all it can be because a loophole within Section 401 is allowing a small handful of coastal states to dictate the future for all 40-plus states,” said Stitt.

Barrasso said: “The lack of natural gas is causing more homes and businesses to rely on fuel oil — a fuel that emits 38% more CO2 than natural gas.”

Stitt said Oklahoma is the pipeline capital of the world and is currently enjoying some of the cleanest drinking water in the state’s history. He also said the state has reduced its CO2 emissions by 37% since 2011.

“A lot of our colleagues often claim that Republicans don’t care about the environment, and it couldn’t be further from the truth,” said senior committee member Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who introduced Stitt during the hearing.

But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., pushed back on Stitt’s claims, saying Oklahoma’s water quality is “challenged.”

“I’m grateful that you have made progress in eliminating some contaminates — and that’s a good thing — but it may be because you are starting from a worse off place,” Gillibrand said.

Stitt said he believes regulations should be left to the states as often as possible, but demands such as this require larger action.

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