07/30/21: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) have announced plans for upcoming community engagements to inform their efforts to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). EPA and Army have stated a commitment to developing a reasonable, effective, and durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries.
EPA and Army are announcing a series of engagement opportunities, including an opportunity for stakeholders and the public to provide written recommendations and a series of public meetings in August to hear perspectives on the rulemaking. In addition, the agencies are initiating Federalism and Tribal consultations for the foundational rule. The agencies also intend to host a series of dialogues with state and Tribal co-regulators this fall to discuss both rulemakings.
The full announcement can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-and-army-announce-next-steps-crafting-enduring-definition-waters-united-states.
For more information on submitting written recommendations or to register for the public meetings, see www.epa.gov/wotus.
03/25/21: On March 24, 2021, Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, finalized two approved jurisdictional determinations for lands associated with the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine, located south of Tucson, Arizona.
An approved jurisdictional determination states the presence or absence of waters of the U.S. or provides the limits of waters of the U.S. The determinations were made pursuant to federal regulations, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, (NWPR) (33 CFR 328.3), which sets forth the definition for what is or is not geographically jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act.
After an extensive review of data from federal, state and local sources, Col. Balten concluded there are no waters of the U.S. present within the review areas.
A copy of the approved jurisdictional determinations and associated information can be viewed at: https://www.spl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Projects-Programs/Rosemont.
03/24/21: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), 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 draft changes to the 2020 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) and its web address to solicit public comments. The public now has the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes to wetland indicator status ratings for five plant species in select regions and the addition of 22 new plant species to the NWPL. The Federal Register Notice (FRN) for the 2020 NWPL update can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-24/pdf/2021-05989.pdf. The public comment period ends on 24 May 2021.
The 27 species and their draft 2020 wetland ratings by region, as well as the FRN, can be viewed at the NWPL homepage, http://wetland-plants.usace.army.mil/, under “2020 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. Providing ratings without supporting documentation or information is not recommended. All submitted comments and information will be compiled and sent to the National Panel for their consideration.
USACE is also seeking comments regarding the administrative change to the South Pacific Islands subregion and 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
USACE administers the NWPL for the United States and its territories. 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. Additions or deletions to the NWPL represent new records, range extensions, nomenclatural and taxonomic changes, and newly proposed species. The latest review process began in 2020 and included review by Regional Panels and the National Panel.
03/08/21: On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published the notice in the Federal Register announcing the reissuance of 12 existing nationwide permits (NWPs) as well as 4 new NWPs, general conditions, and definitions with some modifications. These 16 NWPs will go into effect on March 15, 2021, and will expire on March 14, 2026. The remaining 40 NWPs and one additional new NWP that were included in the proposed rule published on September 15, 2020 are not being reissued at this time. The terms and conditions of those 40 NWPs continue to be in effect under the January 6, 2017 final rule. It is anticipated these remaining NWPs will be reissued prior to their March 18, 2022 expiration date. Further information is provided in the Los Angeles District's Special Public Notice for NWPs Reissuance and Final Regional Conditions for the State of California. Additional information, including the final rule, applicable regional conditions and water quality certifications is available at: https://www.spl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/NWP-Reissuance/.