By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs & assistant general counsel, ARTBA

ARTBA, as part of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to exempt their latest round of proposed nationwide permits from the controversial “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

Nationwide permits allow regulated industries to save time by not having to obtain individual permits for projects that “cause only minimal adverse environmental effects.” Permission to operate under a nationwide permit is usually obtained in an average of 10 months, while individual permits can take over two years.  Thus, an effective nationwide permit program is essential in reducing regulatory delay.

The WOTUS rule would drastically expand the jurisdiction of the Corps and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to include virtually any wet area, including roadside ditches. If implemented, it would decrease the amount of activities that qualify for nationwide permits and increase the need for time-consuming individual permits.

A federal appeals court has stayed the WOTUS rule as part of ongoing litigation initiated by ARTBA and a number of other trade associations and states. Since the rule has not yet been implemented, the coalition of nearly 50 industry associations wants the Corps to explicitly state that the nationwide permit program will not be subject to the regulation.  Such an acknowledgement would ensure the program can continue unabated while the WOTUS rule is stuck in court.

Read the coalition’s Aug. 1 comments.