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Posted 4/15/2015

Release no. 2015-036


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 replace and revise the statewide Maine General Permit. The revised GP would continue to authorize activities in waters of the U.S. in 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 General Permit will expire on Oct. 12, 2015. On Dec. 23, 2014, the Corps issued an initial public notice announcing its intent to replace and revise the GP for five years beginning no later than this date. The public notice with the draft Maine GP is available for review at:

http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/MEGPPN-15Apr2015.pdf.

 

The revised GP will 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, was issued in accordance with 33 CFR 325.3(b) to continue 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 statewide general permit has been in place in Maine since 1983 and was the first of its kind in New England.

 

The revised Maine GP organizes 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. Identifying specific activities also allows the Corps to adequately assess cumulative impacts of permitted activities, as well as fully assess impacts on threatened and endangered species.

 

The proposed GP retains the function, utility, and general appearance of the existing Maine GP and is not expected to result in significant substantive changes to how activities in waters of the U.S. are regulated in the state of Maine.

 

Project eligibility under this GP continues to fall into two categories: Category 1 (notification form required) and Category 2 (application required). The Corps will continue to review Category 2 activities along with state and Federal resource agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Marine Fisheries Service) as applicable. Through project review, the Corps will determine if the individual and cumulative adverse environmental impacts for Category 2 projects are minimal and whether the project may proceed under the 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 public notice is available at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices.aspx.

 

To assist in properly evaluating this proposal to replace and revise the Maine GP, the Corps is seeking public comments. Public comments should be forwarded no later than June 1, 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.