AG Coalition Opposes Re-Review of Pipeline Projects Regulation

  • A bipartisan group of 21 AGs, led by Montana AG Austin Knudsen, sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Michael Connor expressing opposition to the possible review of Nationwide Permit 12 (“NWP 12”), which governs pipeline and other energy infrastructure projects. Despite that NPW’s term does not expire until 2026, on March 28, 2022, the Army Corps of Engineers requested public comment on a series of nine questions concerning the possible review of NWP for the second time in two years.
  • The AGs’ letter argues that further review of NWP 12 would “inject unnecessary, duplicative, and inequitable red tape into an already bureaucratically laden process.” It also provided responses to each of the Corps’ nine questions, in each instance arguing that existing controls were adequate to address such issues as whether “verification process ensure that environmental justice and climate change factors are adequately considered” and whether the Corps should “consider further limits on the NWP 12 . . . to “further ensure that the NWP 12 causes no more than minimal cumulative adverse environmental effects at the national, regional, and site scales.”
  • The letter further points out, among other things, that the potential environmental effects of an NWP are ensured both by its basis in the Clean Water Act, and by state and local agency review of NWP 12-authorized projects, which provides additional environmental safeguards. The letter went on to characterize potential environmental justice concerns arising from NWP 12 in impacted communities as already addressed by the existing framework for comments, and observed that at a time when American energy prices are at record levels, changes to NWP 12 will, “threaten the delivery of reliable energy, existing pipeline safety, and the ability to comply with other federal laws and regulations.”