WASHINGTON – The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works published a Federal Register notice yesterday, along with additional guidance that will further U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program efforts to better support underserved and marginalized communities across the nation.
These actions are taken to fulfill direction provided by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (PL 116-260), as amended, and align with interim guidance to the Corps on environmental justice that was issued last year by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor.
“As we work to further incorporate environmental justice into our program, the actions we are taking are crucial to deliver innovative, climate-resilient infrastructure that supports marginalized communities,” Connor said. “I want the Corps to be a leader in environmental justice across the government, using our resources and authorities to the maximum extent possible as we work with communities on comprehensive, equitable and innovative solutions to their water resource needs.”
Three actions were released: 1) guidance on Section 160 [PDF - 732.7 KB]; 2) guidance on Section 117 [PDF - 1.3 MB]; and 3) Federal Register notice for a 30-day public comment of the Section 165 environmental assessment.
Implementation guidance for Section 160 of WRDA 2020 defines the term “economically disadvantaged community.” This initial step will facilitate launching pilot programs and other efforts that are founded on this definition and are intended to better support underserved communities.
Guidance issued on Section 117 allows for economically disadvantaged communities to request a federal interest determination for a potential study at any time, and clarifies that this FID will be paid for 100% by the Corps. This can reduce a barrier that many underserved communities face due to a lack of resources to meet the cost share needed to explore or initiate discussions on how to solve their water resource problems.
The Federal Register notice issued yesterday solicits comments on a draft environmental assessment for implementation of Section 165, an initial step in the establishment of the pilot program allowed under this provision. This pilot program authorizes the Corps to construct up to 20 Continuing Authority Program projects across the nation at 100% federal cost for economically disadvantaged communities as defined in Section 160. A copy of the draft environmental assessment can be found at: https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Water-Resources-Development-Act/.
Comments – identified by docket number COE-2023-0003 – can be submitted by using any of these methods:
1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
2. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and include the docket number, COE-2023-0003, in the subject line of the message.
3. Mail: HQ, U.S. Army Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, ATTN: Mr. Gib Owen, U.S. Army, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108.
The 30-day comment period will close on April 19, 2023.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works establishes policy direction and provides supervision of the Department of the Army functions relating to all aspects of the Civil Works Program of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. For more information, please contact Mr. Gib Owen at email@example.com or 571-274-1929.