The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District authorizes work in waters of the United States under four types of permits: State Programmatic General Permits, Nationwide Permits, Letters of Permission, and Individual Permits.
All permit decisions made by the Corps follow an evaluation process that involves avoiding, minimizing and compensating for unavoidable losses of aquatic functions and values. Impacts to the aquatic environment are first avoided to the maximum extent practicable by evaluating alternative sites and alternative project configurations onsite. Once avoidance has been maximized, direct and indirect impacts on the aquatic environment are minimized to the extent practicable by actions such as seeding new fill with vegetation, providing vegetative buffers and minimizing shading impacts to aquatic resources. Finally, unavoidable adverse effects on the aquatic environment are fully offset by compensatory mitigation on a functional basis. The Corps evaluates and mitigates direct, indirect and cumulative impacts through its decision process. This evaluation process that is involved in every permit decision is a result of implementation of the Corps public interest review and compliance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) necessary to take a Federal action using an environmental assessment followed by a finding of no significant impact, rather than an Environmental Impact Statement.
Many of the permits issued by the Corps are subject to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The Corps evaluation, in addition to that described above involves a determination by the Corps that the proposed discharge of dredged or fill material complies with the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines.