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Status of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Efforts to Implement GAO's 2007 Recommendations Regarding Its Section 214 Authority

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When cities, counties, or other nonfederal public entities propose public works projects that could degrade or damage federally regulated waters and wetlands, such as road construction and sewer line construction or maintenance, they must obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Corps before proceeding. Under authorities delegated to the Corps from Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the agency is responsible for regulating activities that may impact wetlands, streams, and other waters throughout much of the United States and it decides whether to allow such activities to occur. To obtain the Corps approval, the nonfederal public entity, like any other property owner, must submit a permit application that contains a description of the proposed project, including its purpose and location, and other information the Corps needs to evaluate how the project will affect wetlands and other federally regulated waters. Once the Corps receives all of the required information from the applicant, the permit review process begins. Some policymakers and others have expressed concerns that the Corps permit process takes too long and has significantly delayed some public works projects. In 2000, the Congress included a provision in the Water Resources and Development Act WRDA to expedite permit processing for nonfederal public entities. Specifically, section 214 of the act authorizes the Secretary of the Army, after providing public notice, to accept and expend funds from nonfederal public entities--known as funding entities--to expedite the evaluation of permit applications that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army. As we reported in May 2007, these funds primarily go toward supporting the salaries of Corps program managers who will dedicate their efforts to reviewing the permit applications from funding entities.

Subject Categories:

  • Ecology
  • Water Pollution and Control

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