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Public comments due by Sept. 15, 2014: Corps proposes general permit for six New England states for minimal impact activities in U.S. waters

Published Aug. 1, 2014
CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing to suspend the existing general permits in each of the six New England states and issue the New England General Permits (NE GPs) to authorize certain activities that require Department of Army permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and Section 103 of the MarineProtection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.

The NE GPs would authorize activities in waters of the U.S. within the boundaries of and/or off the coasts of the six New England states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine), including activities occurring within the boundaries of Indian tribal lands that have no more than minimal adverse effects on the aquatic environment. The NE GPs would be issued in accordance with Corps regulations at 33 CFR 320-332.

Public comments on this proposal can be submitted to the Corps by Sept. 15, 2014.

An initial public notice on this proposal was issued in June 2013. That public notice provided a rationale for replacing the six state general permits in New England with the NE GPs. The Corps in New England does not believe that the proposed NE GPs will result in significant substantive changes to how activities in waters of the U.S. are regulated in the New England states. The NE GPs look quite different from the existing GPs; however, it organizes eligible work into more activity-specific categories. This is 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 will allow the Corps to adequately assess cumulative impacts of permitted activities, as well as fully assess impacts on threatened and endangered species.

General Permits are encouraged under the Clean Water Act 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 GPs in New England. General permits have been in place since 1990 in Connecticut, 1983 in Maine, 1993 in Massachusetts, 1992 in New Hampshire, 1997 in Rhode Island, and 1997 in Vermont.

The public notice with the proposed New England General Permits (NAE 2013-00714) can be reviewed on the Corps website at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx. The direct link is http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/NAE-2013-00714%20.pdf.

Public comments on this proposal should be submitted no later than Sept. 15, 2014 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Greg Penta), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Greg Penta at 978-318-8862 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to gregory.r.penta@usace.army.mil.
Tim Dugan

Release no. 2014-097