08 October 2011

Pipeline Projects Impacting Wetlands Require Permits

Projects of various sorts which occur within jurisdictional wetlands within Nebraska require a permit from the U.S. Corps of Engineers and a state agency.

In the case of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska, any impacts to wetlands - including lakes, marshes and meadows - would be regulated by Section 404 provisions of the Clean Water Act, as well as Title 117 regulations defined by the state.

According to a conversation with a representative of the Corps on October 7, TransCanada has not applied for a permit in Nebraska.

A permit would be required, the agency representative said.

The KXL pipeline corridor would go through numerous wetlands - especially in western and southern Holt County - based upon known details of its route.

A typical permit process includes an application which defines the acres of wetlands being impacted by a project, what mitigation will occur, a monitoring plan to ensure the created wetlands are suitably replaced the "lost" wetlands.

Nationwide permits can be issued. An individual permit process can also be utilized by the regulatory agency. this type of permit normally includes a 15-30 day period where the public can provide pertinent comments regarding many criteria for a thorough evaluation.

A permit would be required for each state through which the pipeline would pass, the Corps' representative indicted during the phone conversation.

In the case of Title 117 regulations in Nebraska, any mitigation efforts for "isolated wetlands" would be voluntary and not legally enforceable as there is no pertinent legal statute, according to a representative of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Legal mandates in other plains states is not known.

The review process for a particular Corps permit review may extend for many months, due to the requirements which must be fulfilled before any work can be done.