Friday November 12, 2021

Coastal Review

The Army Corps of Engineers, citing a recent court decision in California throwing out Trump-era regulatory changes affecting water quality certifications under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, has put a hold on permitting decisions under its nationwide permit program.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Oct. 21 remanded and vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 401 Water Quality Certification rule that became effective Sept. 11, 2020. Judge William Alsup’s decision applies nationwide.

The Corps has not formally announced the suspension of its nationwide permit program that provides more expedited Clean Water Act Section 401 approval for a wide range of projects including stormwater management projects, renewable energy, pipelines and other infrastructure as well as residential and commercial development and agriculture projects.  But while it doesn’t appear that the Corps has issued a formal public notice, a blurb under the “Latest News” heading on the Corps’ Sacramento District’s website noted Nov. 4 that final permit decisions that rely on a Section 401 water quality certification or waiver under the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 rule would not be made “at this time.”


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