Regulatory Pipeline Permitting

Rock Island District
Published Oct. 1, 2021
USACE logo

USACE logo


District wide


Regulatory permitting of pipelines and utility lines for electricity, oil, gas, water, and other substances is critical to building, growing, and maintaining our nation’s infrastructure. Pipelines and utility lines of any significant length require the crossing of streams, rivers, wetlands, and other jurisdictional waterbodies. As a result, they require Department of the Army authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.  


Most pipeline projects within the District are authorized through the use of Nationwide Permit #12, including large multi-state pipelines such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), authorized in 2016, which traversed Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, crossing Omaha, Rock Island, and St. Louis Districts.

In April, 2020, as a result of a decision by the Federal District Court for the District of Montana, vacating Nationwide Permit 12, the Corps of Engineers, nationwide stopped all verifications of NWP 12. The loss of the use of NWP 12, severely hindered the authorization of utility lines and pipelines across the nation. On May 11, 2020, NWP12 was made available for use in a limited capacity, for non-oil & gas pipelines (i.e. for water lines, utility lines etc.).  As of July 6, 2020, NWP 12 became fully available, except as it applies to the Keystone XL pipeline.


On January 13, 2021, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced the publication in the Federal Register of sixteen 2021 Nationwide Permits (NWPs). There were 12 reissued and four new 2021 NWPs. These NWPs became effective on March 15, 2021.

In the 2021 NWPs, which became effective on March 15, 2021, the Corps modified NWP 12 to limit it to oil or natural gas pipeline activities, and issued two new NWPs: NWP 57, to authorize electric utility line and telecommunication activities; and NWP 58, to authorize utility lines/pipelines for water and other substances.

In addition to these three nationwide permits, the Rock Island District developed two Regional General Permits (RGPs) to authorize the full range of utility line/pipeline activities in Iowa and Illinois; RGP 43 in Iowa, and RGP 44 in Illinois. At this time, RGP 44 in Illinois has been finalized and available for use. RGP 43 in Iowa should be available for use by the end of September, or first half of October. These RGPs will likely be used more often than the available NWPs, as they allow a greater range of impacts. At this time, the RGP will not be developed for use in Missouri, as the Corp Districts want to observe the effectiveness of using the new NWPs.


Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899