The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced today the publication in the Federal Register of the 2021 Nationwide Permits (NWPs). The 12 reissued and four new 2021 NWPs in the rule are 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 NWPs in this rule take effect March 15, 2021. The 12 reissued NWPs replace the 2017 versions of those permits, which now expire March 14, 2021. All activities authorized by the remaining 40 NWPs from 2017 remain authorized until the March 18, 2022, expiration date of those NWPs.
The 2021 nationwide permits have been published in today’s Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/13/2021-00102/reissuance-and-modification-of-nationwide-permits, and will be posted to the USACE Web site at http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/RegulatoryProgramandPermits/NationwidePermits.aspx.
“Our goals in updating, developing and authorizing these 16 nationwide permits are to enhance regulatory efficiency and provide clarity for the regulated public without decreasing environmental protection,” said Maj. Gen. William “Butch” Graham, USACE Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations. “Our nationwide permits are an important tool in encouraging project proponents to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands, streams, and other aquatic resources.”
The updated permits streamline the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and are informed by extensive feedback from the public and other key stakeholders.
All nationwide permits provide expedited review of projects that have no more than minimal impact on the aquatic environment. Categories of activities that may be covered under these NWPs include residential developments, agricultural activities, stormwater management facilities, land-based renewable energy generation facilities, commercial and industrial developments, and recreational facilities.
The four new nationwide permits are NWPs 55, 56, 57, and 58. NWP 55 provides an appropriate mechanism for an efficient authorization process to authorize structures in navigable waters for seaweed mariculture activities. Similarly, NWP 56 provides the same appropriate efficient authorization process to authorize structures in navigable waters for finfish mariculture activities. Both of these NWPs also enable project proponents to obtain authorization, as appropriate, to grow multiple species on or in the same structure.
NWP 57 covers the discharges of dredged or fill material and structures and work in regulated waters associated with the construction of electric utility lines and telecommunications activities. Finally, NWP 58 provides authorization for activities in waters of the United States associated with the construction of utility lines for water and other substances.
Notification requirements and impact limits have been revised for some permits to provide greater national consistency and foster timely decision-making for the regulated community without reducing environmental protection. All improvements, additions, and revisions to the package are consistent with the USACE commitment to evaluate minor activities efficiently while ensuring appropriate environmental protection for our nation’s aquatic resources.
The nationwide permits announced today have no major changes from 2017, 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.
Additionally, NWP 26 has not been assigned since 2000, and NWP 47 was in effect for only one five-year cycle (2007 to 2012).
Additional information about the USACE Regulatory Program can be found at http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/.