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Update: NWP 12 Vacated Only for New O&G Pipelines

by Transect Team, on May 12, 2020 3:17:57 PM

Earlier this spring, a District of Montana judge shook the linear infrastructure world by vacating Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) - a streamlined permit that is used by almost every utility and pipeline project in America to permit impacts to waters of the U.S. under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Yesterday, following much speculation and confusion on the effects of the ruling, the judge narrowed the scope of the ruling to NEW oil and gas pipeline construction only. Non-pipeline construction activities and routine maintenance, inspection, and repair activities on existing oil and gas pipelines are still allowed under NWP 12.

So while new oil and gas pipelines will still have to find an alternative nationwide permit option (NWP 33?) or proceed under an individual permit for now (appeals are imminent), a collective sigh of relief can be heard across the land from electric, water, and other utility industries that build and maintain linear infrastructure.

Per yesterday's order:

NWP 12 is vacated as it relates to the construction of new oil and gas pipelines pending completion of the consultation process and compliance with all environmental statutes and regulations. NWP 12 remains in place during remand insofar as it authorizes non-pipeline construction activities and routine maintenance, inspection, and repair activities on existing NWP 12 projects.

The Corps is enjoined from authoring any dredge or fill activities for the construction of new oil and gas pipelines under NWP 12 pending completion of the consultation process and compliance with all environmental statutes and regulations. The Corps remains able to authorize dredge or fill activities for non-pipeline construction activities and routine maintenance, inspection, and repair activities on existing NWP 12 projects.

Download the May 11 order here.

Topics:PermittingCWAClean WaterClean Water ActWOTUSwetlands

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