- Do not use discretionary authority just because project controversial
Discretionary authority is a tool (33 CFR 330.8) used to assert a more rigorous review of projects eligible for a GP (NWP or RGP) due to perceived adverse impacts to the aquatic environment. Generally speaking, evaluators should carefully consider the need for asserting discretionary authority over a project that would otherwise qualify for a GP. It is inappropriate to assert discretionary authority over a project, merely because it is controversial. A RGP or NWP can be issued quickly and provide maximum environmental protection, through effective permit conditioning. It is also critical that when a NWP is moved into an SP review, the administrative record supports the Corps action, including all notification time constraints associated with the NWP program. If a project meets the requirements of a NWP or other GPs, the Corps should carefully examine the facts and options available, commence the processing of the application in the manner that is the most efficient and the one that provides adequate protection of the aquatic environment. Of course, the SP process is appropriate for proposed projects that do not meet applicable GPs criteria.
- Corps arranges
- Not for minor impact projects
- Be candid with applicants
Pre-application meetings, whether arranged by the Corps or requested by permit applicants, are encouraged to facilitate the review of potentially complex or controversial projects, or projects which could have significant impacts on the human environment (see 33 CFR Part 325.9(b)). Pre-application meetings can help streamline the permitting process by alerting the applicant to potentially time-consuming concerns that are likely to arise during the evaluation of their project. Examples include historic properties issues, endangered species impacts, dredging contaminated sediments, 404(b)(1) compliance statements, mitigation requirements, etc. Pre-application meetings are not recommended for projects that will result in only minor adverse impacts to the aquatic environment. Each Corps district is responsible for determining if a pre-application meeting is necessary (not the applicant or another agency) and if so, who will host/facilitate the meeting. Applicants usually appreciate a candid dialogue on their project, even if the discussion means substantial modifi-