U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reissues Several Nationwide Permits

By Myla Ablog, WRA Aquatic Resources Permitting Specialist

On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the reissuance of 12 existing nationwide permits (NWPs) and the addition of four new NWPs. In addition, NWP general conditions and modified definitions were reissued for those 12 NWPs. The 12 reissued and four new NWPs are now in effect as of March 15, 2021, and they will expire March 14, 2026. The remaining 40 NWPs issued in 2017 are not changed and remain in effect until March 18, 2022.

The major driver for the early reissuance of these NWPs is the splitting of the previous NWP 12 into three separate permits for utilities to address concerns related to the Keystone XL pipeline and the litigation surrounding it. The previous NWP 12 will now only be for oil or natural gas pipeline activities. New NWP 57 will be specifically for electric utility and telecommunications activities. Also split off from NWP 12 is the new NWP 58, which will be used for utility line activities for water and other substances.

Construction efforts at York Creek that required permitting through the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Another major change to these twelve existing NWPs is the removal of a 300 linear foot limit for losses to stream bed. The 300-foot limit is being replaced with a 0.5-acre limit for losses to stream bed. In addition, impacts to waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) greater than 0.1 acre would require mitigation. The rule does not affect the 40 existing NWPs reissued in 2017and the general conditions and definitions for those NPWs will also remain the same.

There are two new NWPs that have been added to address mariculture activities. New NWP 55 will be used for seaweed mariculture activities, and NWP 56 will be for finfish mariculture activities. The new mariculture NWPs will smooth the permitting pathway for these types of activities.

Permitting was a key part of the ecological enhancement project at York Creek in St. Helena.

With the reissue of the 12 NWPs and addition of four new NWPs, WRA regulatory specialists are available to help applicants review the acreage limits of the NWPs for which they are applying. In addition to general conditions, regional conditions for these 16 NWPs were updated on March 5, 2021 for the State of California and are likely to also have local conditions added. WRA will be tracking the release of updated regional conditions from local USACE district offices to help applicants through the permit process. Lastly, it is important that applicants ensure they are applying for the correct NWP due to the split of NWP 12 and addition of new NWPs. Our regulatory specialists can answer questions on how these updated may affect your existing or future project and assist in selecting the right permit for your project.

Contact WRA’s Aquatic Resources Permitting Specialist Myla Ablog with questions about new NWPs at myla.ablog@wra-ca.com.