Permits Types and Processes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District authorizes work in waters of the United States under three types of permits: General Permits, Letters of Permission, and Individual Permits. Below is a general overview of the various type of permits, and additional specific information pertaining to applicable states and jurisdictions within the Baltimore District area of responsibility can be found at the following links:

Pennsylvania
Maryland
District of Columbia
Virginia military installations (i.e., Fort Belvoir, Fort Myers, and the Pentagon)

General Permits

General Permits are used to authorize particular categories of activities in waters of the United States that have been determined to result in no more than minimal adverse environmental effects and provide for a streamlined Department of the Army review process.  In the Baltimore District, we use three types of General Permits: State Programmatic General Permits, Regional General Permits, and Nationwide Permits.

The majority of activities are authorized by one of these General Permits. For projects or activities that don’t meet the specific terms and conditions of a General Permit, or that have the potential for more than minimal environmental impacts, authorization under a Letter of Permission or an Individual Permit is required.

The level of review increases substantially from a General Permit review to an Individual Permit Review. Project managers will work with applicants to minimize impacts to waters or wetlands and identify the most expeditious review process available.

State Programmatic General Permits

State Programmatic General Permits (SPGPs) are a type of General Permit issued by the Corps when the state has a permitting program that is similar to the Corps. The SPGP is issued to reduce the need for a duplicative review by the Corps and state permitting program and allows the state to issue verification of federal authorization for many activities without the need for a Corps review when that state regulatory program provides similar protection to aquatic resources. Within Baltimore District, two SPGPs have been issued; one for activities in Maryland and one for activities in Pennsylvania.

Regional General Permits

Regional General Permits (RGP) are a type of General Permit issued by the Corps for certain activities within a limited geographic area. Baltimore District has issued an RGP for activities associated with meeting Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals within Maryland; the District of Columbia; and Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, and the Pentagon in Virginia.

Nationwide Permits

Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are General Permits issued on a nationwide basis for specific activities that have no more than minimal impacts to the aquatic environment.  Most NWPs have been suspended in Maryland and the Baltimore and Philadelphia District’s area of responsibility within Pennsylvania since the issued SPGPs provide for a more streamlined review process.

Letter of Permission
 

A Letter of Permission (LOP), as described in 33 CFR 325.2(e)(1), is a type of standard permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure that includes coordination with federal and state resource agencies and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice. LOP will not be used to authorize the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of placing it in ocean waters. 

For projects subject to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899,  LOPs may be used when the District Engineer has concluded that the proposed work would be: 1) minor; 2) would not have significant individual or cumulative impacts on environmental values; and 3) should encounter no appreciable opposition. 

For projects subject to section 404 of the Clean Water Act, LOPs may be used after the District Engineer: 1) consults with federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, the Regional Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, the state water quality certifying agency and, if appropriate, the state Coastal Zone Management Agency, to develop a list of categories of activities proposed for authorization under LOP procedures; 2) issues a public notice advertising the proposed list and LOP procedures, requesting comments and offering an opportunity for public hearing; and 3) the 401 certification has been issued or waived and, if appropriate, CZM consistency concurrence obtained or presumed either on a generic or individual basis.

Individual Permits

Individual permits (IPs - also known as a standard permits - SPs) are generally reserved for projects with potential for substantial environmental impacts. An IP requires a full public interest review, including public notices and coordination with involved agencies, interested parties and the general public.

SUBMITTAL AND REVIEW PROCESSES:

In Maryland and Pennsylvania, applications are submitted to the state. Under the SPGPs in those states, the state forwards the application to the Corps if a Corps review is required. If a Corps review is not required, verification of the SPGP is issued along with the state’s authorization.  Applications for work in DC, and the Virginia military installations within the Baltimore District area of responsibility (i.e., Fort Belvoir, Fort Myers, and the Pentagon) are submitted directly to the Corps for review and authorization.

For Nationwide Permit #27, this checklist includes a list of information that will assist the district in evaluating proposed nationwide permit #27 activities and may help to reduce permitting delays associated with incomplete application submittals.

When the Corps office receives the application, it will be assigned an identification number. Based on an initial review of the application, a determination will be made regarding the type of permit required. Depending on the type of permit process required, a public notice or other types of agency coordination will be completed to ensure compliance with applicable federal regulations, including Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Section 404 (b)(1) Guidelines, Essential Fish Habitat, and Tribal consultation and public interest review requirements. A determination may be made during the review process that compensatory mitigation is necessary to replace aquatic resource functions and/or services as a result of the project.  When required, compensation mitigation needs to comply with the Mitigation Rule. For information on the Mitigation Rule and compensatory mitigation, click here.

After completing the permit process, the Corps will make a permit decision to either issue or deny the authorization.  Such decisions will be provided to the applicant in writing. In the case of issuance of an authorization, such authorization may be subject to Special Conditions. If a permit is denied, the reason for the denial will be provided in writing. Information on the ability to appeal a permit decision can be found below. When Corps review is required, the applicant would receive project-specific final authorization or permit verification directly from the Corps.   

The following flow chart provides an overview of the Corps review process:

View the Step-by-Step Application Review Process.

Appeals

The Corps of Engineers has an administrative appeal process whereby applicants and landowners may appeal denied permits, issued permits that contain requirements that are unacceptable to the applicant, or approved jurisdictional determinations. Although these decisions are made by Corps District offices, requests for appeals of such decisions are appealed to the Corps Division offices. Requests for appeal must be furnished to the Division office within 60 days of the date of the appealable decision. A site visit or an appeal conference or meeting may be conducted during the appeal process. A decision on the merits of the appeal based on the administrative record is normally made in 90 days. The Division will either uphold the District decision or send the case back to the District, with direction to make a new decision.

Procedures for appealing Corps permitting decisions are found at 33 CFR Part 331.