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The U.S. Corps of Engineers (Corps) is seeking comments about its proposal to renew and revise nationwide permits for work conducted in wetlands and other waters that are regulated by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

The nationwide permits authorize activities that are similar in nature and cause only minimal adverse environmental impacts separately or on a cumulative basis. Activities range from work associated with aids to navigation and utility lines to Coast Guard-approved bridges and cleanup of hazardous and toxic wastes. Many of the nationwide permits remain unchanged from 2002.

The Corps’ division engineers may add, after public review and consultation, regional conditions to protect local aquatic ecosystems such as fens or bottomland hardwoods or to minimize adverse effects on fish or shellfish spawning, wildlife nesting, or other ecologically critical events.

"We shall improve the environmental protection provided by the nationwide permits while providing timely authorizations for work in water and wetlands," said John Paul Woodley Jr., assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works). "We have also simplified the text in the permits to clarify them and improve compliance."

The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 26. The Corps will accept comments through Nov. 24. The current set of nationwide permits expires in March 2007, and these proposed permits are to replace them.

"Our goal is to develop nationwide permits that provide clarity and certainty, saving time and cost to the government and the regulated public," Woodley said. "We want to encourage innovation and creativity in meeting the challenges of protecting America’s wetlands and aquatic resources."

Additional information about the Corps’ regulatory program is available online at www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwo/reg .

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