U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, this week cosponsored legislation introduced by Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, to reaffirm the Army Corps of Engineers’ (Army Corps) Nationwide Permitting (NWP) program, including Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP-12). NWPs provide for expedited review of projects with minimal environmental impact but are threatened by a recent court ruling that could have significant economic consequences if left unaddressed.
“The Army Corps has long used nationwide permits to authorize dredge and fill activities for infrastructure projects across our country, including many in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Our legislation will provide certainty for project developers who might suddenly face litigation that leads to delays, increased costs, and lost jobs right at a time when we can least afford it.”
NWP are general permits that allow approximately 40,000 authorizations to be expeditiously processed each year, subject to additional regional stipulations. The permits cover activities such as mooring buoy installation, residential construction, utility line maintenance, road construction, stream restoration, and commercial aquaculture.
In April 2020, the U.S. District Court for Montana vacated NWP-12 pending new consultation between the Army Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service related to the Endangered Species Act. The Supreme Court has provided emergency relief on a temporary basis by limiting the scope of the District Court’s ruling while the case is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The bill introduced this week would authorize NWPs through 2026 subject to existing requirements that protect endangered species, critical habitat, and the nation’s waterways.