By Hugh Crowell, MS, PWS  |   February 5th, 2016
On January 19, 2016 Ohio EPA closed the comment period for the proposed modification of the Section 401 Water Quality Certification of the Section 404 Nationwide Permits (NWPs) for Ohio, discussed in previous eblast. The proposed 401 modification has profound implications for any industry or regulated entity using NWPs for development in Ohio. Those activities particularly affected would be oil and gas exploration and production, road construction, natural gas pipeline and electrical line construction, other infrastructure and utility projects, and other regulated activities in streams that require any of thirty-one Nationwide Permits currently in effect.

Hull submitted detailed comments on the 401 modification reflecting our views of how the modified 401 certification could affect stream and wetland protection, current stream and wetland assessment practices, practical ramifications including timing and costs, and how the regulated community we serve could be affected.
The proposed 401 modification contains many important clarifications and eliminates certain arbitrary impact limits primarily affecting the shale gas pipeline industry, including the NWP-12 1,500-foot cumulative linear impact limit and the limit on construction of pipelines to a maximum of two HUC-8 watersheds. In addition, the current requirement for mitigation of temporary impacts to PEM wetlands is eliminated. On balance, however, the proposed 401 modification contains new regulatory review requirements and ambiguities concerning coverage that could render the Nationwide Permit process less effective at fulfilling its goal of expedited permitting for small surface water impacts with low potential for adverse effects.
Hugh Crowell, MS, PWS, Ecology & Wetlands Practice Leader
Hugh is the leader of Hull’s Ecology & Wetlands Practice. In his 27-year career, he has managed numerous environmental projects for brownfield, residential, commercial, industrial, county and municipal properties. Hugh is an experienced field plant ecologist and a certified Professional Wetland Scientist. He negotiates Clean Water Act §404 and §401 permits, oversees ecological risk assessments, performs water quality standards compliance analyses, and designs restoration and mitigation plans for streams and wetlands.
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