GPA Midstream calls for withdrawal of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting proposal

GPA Midstream Association is requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withdraw its proposal to change the permitting process related to historic properties until the details of those modifications are made clear.

The Corps, which shares permit authority with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on water issues, proposed to amend the affected areas for historic properties when it comes to granting permits for nearby activity.

The immediate problem with the proposal, first introduced in early February, is that the Army Corps still hasn’t released a draft of the guidance it is developing with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Also missing are the environmental assessment and any other documents that would provide GPA Midstream with the ability to determine the potential impacts of the proposal on the industry.

In a public meeting Feb. 22, the Army Corps said that while it was developing guidance, it would not be released until after the final rule was published. We urged the agency to reconsider this approach because it leaves the public with no way to discern or comment on the proposed rule.

Still unknown is the scope of the historic preservation review for the area covered under a permit request. The National Historic Preservation Act calls for a review of the “permit area” near certain waters under the Army Corps’ jurisdiction. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, however, designates the scope of the permit review as the “area of potential effects.” That includes examination of any direct and indirect effects of any undertaking that could alter the character or use of historic properties.

The practical difference between those two methods of review is not well understood or explained in the proposed rule. The Army Corps also doesn’t disclose the extent the proposed regulation will expand its regulatory jurisdiction over areas beyond regulated waters.

While we called for a withdrawal of the proposal this month, at minimum the Army Corps should extend the comment period deadline to allow it time to provide the information to the public to make fully informed comments.

Don't miss the latest GPA Midstream and GPSA Midstream Suppliers news. Click here to sign up for a free account in our database and be automatically subscribed to the Midstream News newsletter.