2020 July 02 - CEMVN Issues Notice of Intent in Federal Register for Development of Environmental Impact Statement on proposed Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion Project
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA) has requested permits and permissions from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District (CEMVN) to construct, maintain, and operate the proposed Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion Project (proposed Project) on the east bank of the Mississippi River at River Mile 68.6 above “Head of Passes” near Wills Point in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. To inform these decisions, CEMVN will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and has issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register on July 2, 2020 (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-07-02/pdf/2020-14031.pdf). As part of the preparation of the EIS, NEPA requires an early and open public process for determining the scope of issues, resources, impacts, and alternatives to be addressed by the EIS; commonly referred to as “scoping”. CEMVN invites all interested parties to provide input on the proposed Project, alternatives that need to be considered, and potential environmental issues that need to be evaluated in the development of the EIS. The scoping time-frame to provide comments will extend from July 2, 2020 through August 16, 2020.
21 May 2020 - Final 2018 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) is now available
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), as part of an interagency effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is announcing the availability of the final 2018 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL). The Federal Register Notice for the 2018 NWPL update can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-05-18/pdf/2020-10630.pdf.
The NWPL provides plant species indicator status ratings, which are used in determining whether the hydrophytic vegetation factor is met when conducting wetland delineations under the Clean Water Act and wetland determinations under the Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Food Security Act. Other applications of the NWPL include wetland restoration, establishment, and enhancement projects. The list is effective as of May 18, 2020 and will be used in any wetland delineations performed after this date. Completed wetland delineation/determination forms should reference the version of the NWPL used to complete the form. The final NWPL is available at http://wetland-plants.usace.army.mil/. State, regional, and national lists can also be downloaded from this site.
21 April 2020 - Navigable Waters Protection Rule published today and becomes effective June 22, 2020.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army are publishing a final rule defining the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is the second step in a comprehensive, two-step process intended to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with the Executive Order signed on February 28, 2017, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the `Waters of the United States' Rule.” Once effective, it replaces the rule published on October 22, 2019. This rule becomes effective on June 22, 2020. Here is a link to the federal register notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/21/2020-02500/the-navigable-waters-protection-rule-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states
19 March 2020 - Special Public Notice on Revised Mail Processing Instructions for the New Orleans District
Due to Coronavirus precautions, effective the date of this Public Notice, the New Orleans District Regulatory Branch is requesting all incoming correspondence be submitted electronically. Please contact your assigned project manager (PM) directly via phone or email with any additional project information. All information will need to be provided via email. If you need to send oversized attachments, notify your PM that you have an oversized attachment to send. They will provide you with a Drop-off Request code for use on the SAFE website. Once you receive the Drop-off Request code, you will have 14 days to upload your documents. All new permit application for projects located within the coastal zone, will need to be submitted using the Louisiana Department of Natural Resource (LDNR) electronic joint permit application process. More information about this process is located at the following website: http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/93
All new permit application for projects located outside the coastal zone, will need to be submitted using the MVN electronic permit application process. More information about this process is located at the following website: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permits/Electronic-Permits/
All new jurisdictional determination request will need to be submitted using the MVN electronic JD request process. More information about this process is located at the following website: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Jurisdiction-Wetlands/
If electronic submission is not possible, hard copy submissions through postal mail will continue to be accepted but will result in delayed processing times. Hard copy submissions should only be provided when electronic submissions are not possible. Precautionary internal mail handling procedures may be instituted to protect our workforce, which may result in longer than normal processing times.
17 February 2020 - Special Public Notice on Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act; Section 5014 - Environmental Bank Gudelines.
On 29 January 2020, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Task Force approved Guidelines for Environmental Banking in Coastal Louisiana. This Task Force action was in accordance with Section 5014 of the WIIN Act, which requires the CWPPRA Task Force to issue guidelines for the use, maintenance, and oversight of environmental banks in Louisiana. Prior to the Task Force approval, public comments received between 16 September and 16 October 2019 resulted in the addition of clarifying language regarding the terms “enhancement” and “rehabilitation.” The approved Guidelines further define an environmental bank as a project, project increment, or projects considered for purposes of restoring, establishing (i.e., creating), enhancing, or preserving natural resources at a designated site to establish credits designed to offset certain environmental impacts. Credits generated by approved environmental banks may be used to address environmental requirements of multiple federal and state environmental programs subject to approval by the appropriate federal or state agencies responsible for implementing these programs. The Guidelines are based on existing federal and state regulations and guidance applicable to banks that provide credits for various purposes and are designed to facilitate the development of environmental banks consistent with the existing regulations and guidance for these credit types. Relevant existing regulations and guidance for banking are referenced in the Guidelines. The approved Guidelines are enclosed and available for public use on the New Orleans District CWPPRA webpage at:
12 September 2019 - EPA and Army sign final rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule
EPA and Army announced today the signing of a final rule (Step 1 Final Rule) to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule and restore the regulatory regime that existed prior to the 2015 Rule. Today's Step 1 Final Rule is in keeping with President Trump’s Executive Order 13778, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” Prior to today's rule, a patchwork of regulations existed across the country as a result of various judicial decisions enjoining the 2015 Clean Water Rule. Today's final rule reestablishes national consistency across the country by returning all jurisdictions to the longstanding regulatory framework that existed prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which many regulatory agencies, States, Tribes, local governments, regulated entities, and the public are familiar with. This final rule also provides regulatory certainty, while the agencies engage in the second step of rulemaking (Step 2 Proposed Rule) to revise the definition of "waters of the U.S." The Step 2 Proposed Rule was published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2019, and public comments were received through April 15, 2019. EPA and Army are currently reviewing more than 600,000 comments received before taking final action. For more information on the "Waters of the U.S" rulemaking, please visit http://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule. For questions about a pending jurisdictional determination or permit, we ask that you contact your local U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Office. Office information can be found at http://regulatory-ops.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/.
10 June 2019 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as part of an interagency effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service, announces the draft biennial update to the National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) for 2018 in the Federal Register. The Corps encourages public input in the form of data, comments, literature references, or field experiences, to help clarify the status of the species reviewed for this update, as well as public input on the NWPL process. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed update or addition of wetland indicator status ratings for 20 plant species in select Corps wetland regions. These 20 reviewed species and their draft 2018 wetland ratings by region, as well as the FR notice, can be viewed at the NWPL homepage, http://wetland-plants.usace.army.mil/ under “2018 NWPL Update Information.” A link to provide general or species-specific comments is also available at this location. Users are encouraged to submit literature citations, herbaria records, experiential references, monitoring data, and other relevant information. Specific knowledge of, or studies related to, individual species are particularly helpful. Commenters should use their regional botanical and ecological expertise, field observations, reviews of the most recent indicator status information, appropriate botanical literature, floras, herbarium specimens with notation of habitat and associated species, habit data, relevant studies, and historic list information. Guessing ratings is inappropriate. All submitted comments and information will be compiled and sent to the National Panel for their consideration.
The Corps is also seeking comments on the NWPL update process. Detailed information on the update process, protocol, and technical issues can be found in the following documents (available on the NWPL Publications web page referenced above):
1) Lichvar, Robert W. and Minkin, Paul. Concepts and Procedures for Updating the National Wetland Plant List. Sept 2008. ERDC/CRREL TN-08-3
2) Lichvar, Robert W. and Gillrich, Jennifer J. Final Protocol for Assigning Wetland Indicator Status Ratings during National Wetland Plant List Update. Sept 2011. ERDC/CRREL TN-11-1
14 February 2019 - EPA and Army publish proposed revised "waters of the United States" definition. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced today the publishing in the Federal Register of the proposed new definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. The notice is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/14/2019-00791/revised-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states. The agencies' proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of "waters of the United States" consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The publishing of the proposal and outreach efforts were delayed due to the lapse in appropriations for EPA. Today's notice begins a 60-day public comment period that will close on April 15, 2019. EPA and the Army will hold an informational webcast on February 14, 2019, and will host a listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, KS, on February 27-28, 2019. Information, including supporting analyses and fact sheets, are available at: https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/step-two-revise and https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule.
7 January 2019 - EPA and Army Postpone Public Hearing on Proposed New "Waters of the United States" Definition. Due to the lapse in appropriations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA and the Department of the Army (Army) have postponed the planned January 23 public hearing on the proposed new "Waters of the United States" definition until after appropriations have passed to fund the EPA. Publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register is also postponed. Information on the status of the public hearing will be posted on the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/epa-and-army-postpone-public-hearing-proposed-new-waters-united-states-definition.
11 December 2018 - EPA and Army Propose New "Waters of the United States" Definition The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army have proposed a new definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. The agencies' proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of "waters of the United States" consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The agencies will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA and the Army will also hold an informational webcast on January 10, 2019, and will host a listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, KS, on January 23, 2019. More information including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice, the supporting analyses and fact sheets are available at: WOTUS Rule.