AGA Joins Coalition to Defend Army Corp of Engineers' Nationwide Permit 12 Program
In July 2019, a group of environmental non-governmental organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Montana seeking to stop construction of the TC Energy Keystone XL pipeline and, more broadly, challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ streamlined Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 program. Because AGA members rely extensively on NWP 12 for natural gas transmission and distribution pipeline projects where they must cross streams or wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, AGA joined a coalition of interested stakeholders and intervened in this case, Northern Plains Resource Council, et al v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For more than 40 years, consistent with Congress’ direction, the Army Corps has issued general permits for discharges of dredged or fill material into navigable waters for specific categories of activities with no more than “minimal adverse environmental effects.” AGA and the other members of the Coalition rely heavily on NWP 12 for the timely authorization of minor, temporary discharges associated with construction, maintenance and repair activities, which are critical to the safe, affordable and reliable delivery of energy to consumers across America, including rural customers, schools, hospitals, and businesses. This is not the first time AGA has stepped in to protect the NWP program. In 2011-2012, AGA participated in a similar coalition that helped successfully defend the Corps’ NWP 12 program. In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit rejected Sierra Club’s challenge to the NWP 12 program. See Sierra Club v. Bostick (10th Cir. 2012). Key coalition filings in the current litigation are provided below.