CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing to reissue the statewide Rhode Island General Permit for minimal-impact activities within U.S. waters within the state of Rhode Island. The existing Rhode Island General Permit (GP) will expire on Feb. 13, 2012. The Corps proposes to reissue the Rhode Island General Permit for another five years.
The reissued 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. This notice is being issued in accordance with 33 CFR 325.3(b) to coordinate reissuance of the GP with Federal resource agencies, state agencies and the public.
General Permits are encouraged 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 general permits throughout New England.
Continued use of the successful general permit process in place of the nationwide permits (NWPs) will provide benefits to the public, including simplifying the process and expediting decisions while maintaining environmental protection. This General Permit would authorize activities formerly covered under the NWP program and currently covered under the existing GP.
All GP authorizations would be subject to the applicability requirements, procedures, and conditions contained in the GP documentation. Project eligibility under this GP will fall into two Categories as described in Appendices 1 and 2 of the GP. Individual GP authorizations are not valid until all other required Federal, state and local permits and/or certifications are obtained.
Projects with minimal individual and cumulative effects on the aquatic environment would be approved administratively under this General Permit. Representatives of the Corps, state agencies and the Federal resource agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Marine Fisheries Service) will continue to review Category 2 activities as outlined in the GP. Projects that do not meet the terms and conditions of the GP, including those that have the potential for more than minimal effects, will require an Individual Permit. The Individual Permit review process is detailed at 33 CFR 325, Processing of Department of the Army Permits. The GP reissuance does not alter the Individual Permit review procedures, or Federal exemptions, which are not necessarily the same as the state of Rhode Island’s exemptions.
The proposed Rhode Island General Permit can be viewed at the Corps website at http://www.nae.usace.army.mil. Select “Regulatory/Permitting” and then weekly public notices and search by state. The direct link to the Rhode Island public notice webpage is http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Regulatory/Public%20Notices/pubnot4.asp?mystate=RI.
Public comments on this proposal should be forwarded no later than Jan. 13, 2012 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Michael Elliott), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Michael Elliott at 978-318-8131 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.