WASHINGTON – The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works announced a formal review of Nationwide Permit 12 for oil or natural gas pipeline activities on March 24. The review includes a series of public and tribal virtual meetings in May to gather input and inform future potential decision-making related to NWP 12, as well as a public docket to gather written comments over a 60-day comment period.
The pre-publication version of the Federal Register can be found at https://www.army.mil/article/254909, and the official notice is expected to be published in the Federal Register soon. The 60-day comment period will commence with official publication in the Federal Register.
Since 1977, the NWPs have authorized 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 for activities that are similar in nature and cause only minimal adverse environmental effects separately or on a cumulative basis. The Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, published a final rule (86 FR 2744) on Jan. 13, 2021, which issued four new NWPs and reissued and modified 12 existing NWPs and the NWP general conditions and definitions. Specifically, NWP 12 was modified and reissued for “Oil or Natural Gas Pipeline Activities.”
President Biden signed Executive Order 13990 on Jan. 20, 2021, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” which directed all agencies to immediately review the promulgation of federal regulations and other actions during the previous four years that conflicted with the policy set forth in the EO. As a result of that direction, the Army is committed to a public engagement process to review NWP 12.
“I recognize that the nationwide permits are environmentally protective of the nation’s aquatic resources by encouraging project proponents to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources while also supporting actions to bolster economic activity and resilient infrastructure investments,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor. “The administration’s commitment to focus on disadvantaged communities, climate change, drinking water sources and community-level engagement is clear. We must embark on a review of Nationwide Permit 12 for oil or natural gas pipeline activities to ensure consistency with these and other administration priorities. Public and tribal input will be key to our review.”
As further specified in the Federal Register notice, the Army seeks input on the appropriate balance between an efficient authorization process, the potential effects of oil and natural gas pipelines, and engagement with and informing the public regarding uses of NWP 12.
For more information, please contact Ms. Stacey Jensen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, at firstname.lastname@example.org.