By TONI ELLINGTON
On October 10, 2014, three environmental groups filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, Case No. 14-1701, against the Army Corps of Engineers (“ACE”), alleging that ACE violated the Clean Water Act when it issued a permit to allow the construction of seawalls, bulkheads, and other hardened structures in coastal areas. The lawsuit was filed by the National Wildlife Federation, Ogeechee Riverkeeper and Savannah Riverkeeper over a nationwide permit issued by ACE.
Nationwide Permit 13 allows the construction of a bank stabilizing structures along shorelines without public notice and a public comment period. The permit allows structures up to approximately 200 yards in length to be built without going through the approval process with ACE.
The plaintiffs allege that the nationwide permit violates the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA, and the Administrative Procedures Act. The groups claim these structures cause damage to the shoreline, and that ACE issued the nationwide permit without conducting an environmental assessment under NEPA. The plaintiffs claim the stabilizing structures threaten important fish and wildlife habitats.
The use of bank stabilizing structures has increased as sea levels rise.
According to the permit language, bank stabilizing structures are “necessary for erosion prevention.” ACE’s assessment is that if the specific requirements of the permit are met, the structures have minimal adverse effects on the aquatic environment.
The permit can be found at http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/civilworks/nwp/2012/NWP_13_2012.pdf.
For more information, contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.