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Posted 12/23/2014

Release no. 2014-151


Contact
Tim Dugan
978-318-8264
cenae-pa@usace.army.mil

CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing to revise and replace the statewide Maine General Permit (GP) for minimal impact activities within waters of the U.S. in the state of Maine and is accepting public comments on the proposal. The revised GP would continue to authorize activities in waters of the state of Maine, including activities occuring within the boundaries of Indian tribal lands, that have no more than minimal adverse effects on the aquatic environment.

 

The existing GP will expire on Oct. 12, 2015. The Corps proposes to revise and replace the GP for five years beginning no later than this date. The revised GP would continue the expedited review process for activities in Corps jurisdiction under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act. A public notice, available on the Corps website, is being issued in accordance with 33 CFR 325.3(b) to begin the coordination process  with Federal resource agencies, state agencies and the public for the replacement of the GP.

 

General Permits are used as a way to streamline state and Federal regulatory programs. The New England District has already had success with streamlining these programs with the use of statewide GPs throughout New England. A GP has been in place in Maine since 1983 and was the first of its kind in New England.

 

In 2013, the New England District proposed replacing all of the statewide GPs with a more comprehensive New England GP. The NE GP looked quite different from the existing statewide GPs in that it organized eligible work into activity-specific categories. This was intended to satisfy the requirements of Section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act, which allows the Corps to issue general permits for activities that are similar in nature and will cause only minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. On Oct. 9, the District Engineer decided to discontinue this regional approach and instead elected to pursue replacement general permits on a state-by-state basis.The proposed replacement for the Maine GP will incorporate similar activity-specific categories but also is expected to retain the function, utility, and general appearance of the existing Maine GP.   

 

Projects with minimal individual and cumulative effects on the aquatic environment will continue to be approved administratively under the replacement GP. Projects with the potential for more than minimal effects will be subjected to Individual Permit review as detailed in 33 CFR 325. All GP authorizations will be subject to the applicability requirements, procedures, and conditions contained in pending GP documentation.

Representatives of the Corps, state agencies, and the Federal resource agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Marine Fisheries Service) will continue to review activities as outlined within the Maine GP.

 

Projects that do not meet the terms and conditions of the GP will require an Individual Permit. The pending replacement of the GP does not alter the Individual Permit review procedures. The reissuance also does not alter the federal exemptions (33 CFR Part 323.4) which are not necessarily the same as the state of Maine’s exemptions. In addition, GP authorizations are not valid until all other required federal and state permits and/or certifications, as listed in the GP, are obtained. Through interagency screening, the Corps will determine if the individual and cumulative adverse environmental impacts are minimal and whether a project may proceed under GP authorization.

 

The current Maine GP is available for review and download at the Corps website:

http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/StateGeneralPermits/MaineGeneralPermit.aspx.

 

To assist in properly evaluating this proposal to revise and replace the existing Maine GP, the Corps is seeking public comments.  Written statements should be forwarded no later than Jan. 23, 2015 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Maine Project Office (ATTN: Jay Clement), 675 Western Ave., #3, Manchester, Maine 04351. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Jay Clement at 207-623-8367 or by email to jay.l.clement@usace.army.mil.