USA: Army Corps Revises and Renews Nationwide Permits
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced yesterday revised and renewed nationwide permits necessary for work in streams, wetlands and other waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The permits are necessary to replace existing permits, which expire on March 18, 2012. The new NWPs will take effect March 19, 2012.
“Our goal in developing and authorizing nationwide permits every 5 years is to update them, and provide clarity and certainty for the regulated public while protecting the aquatic environment. Our Nationwide Permit procedures will save the regulated community and the government time and cost on proposals with no more than minimal environmental effects,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations. “We believe the set of nationwide permits being announced today encourages innovation and ensures consistency and predictability in meeting the challenges of protecting America’s wetlands and aquatic resources.”
The updated permits being announced today streamline the requirements of the Clean Water Act, and are informed by extensive feedback from the public and key stakeholders. The Corps is reissuing 48 permits and adding two new ones. These permits provide expedited review of projects that have minimal impact on the aquatic environment. Categories of activities that may be covered under these NWPs include linear transportation projects, bank stabilization activities, residential development, commercial and industrial developments, aids to navigation and certain maintenance activities.
The two new nationwide permits provide an appropriate mechanism for quickly evaluating land- based and water-based renewable energy proposals in support of the Administration’s clean energy initiatives. Notification requirements and impact limits have been revised for some permits to provide greater national consistency and foster making timely decisions for the regulated community. Effective decisions will be enhanced by interagency coordination on certain activities while continuing to maintain an expeditious process for all permit evaluations. All improvements, additions, and revisions to the package are consistent with our commitment to evaluate minor activities efficiently, while ensuring appropriate environmental protection for our nation’s aquatic resources.
Most of the nationwide permits being announced today have no major changes from 2007, the last time the nationwide permits were authorized in accordance with the law.
USACE division commanders may add, after public review and consultation, regional conditions to nationwide permits in order to protect local aquatic ecosystems such as fens or bottomland hardwoods, or to minimize adverse effects on fish or shellfish spawning, wildlife nesting or other ecologically critical areas. Division and district commanders are also charged with ensuring appropriate coordination and consultation occurs with federally-recognized American Indian and Alaska Native governments.
Dredging Today Staff, February 16, 2012