• Slider Image

Nationwide Indiscretion
by Lan R. Richart, Co-Director, Eco-Justice Collaborative
Send a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today!

In its new video entitled “Nationwide Indiscretion”, Eco-Justice Collaborative documents the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit review process for the Navigator CO2 Ventures Heartland Greenway pipeline. The Corps’ treatment of Navigator sets an ominous precedent for future projects and the damage they will have on our nation’s surface waters.

Under the authority of the Clean Water Act, the Army Corps must protect our nation’s surface waters by regulating the deposition of fill or dredged material into rivers, streams, and wetlands. This will include permitting oversight for the construction of large scale CO2 pipelines that will require open trenching across thousands of streams and wetlands.

As incredible as it may seem, instead of considering large-scale CO2 pipelines as one comprehensive project, the Corps of Engineers is expediting their approval via what is called a Nationwide Permit. This allows each water or wetland crossing to be called a separate and distinct project, thus minimizing agency oversight and circumventing the need for a full environmental review and public involvement.

NWP 58 Applicability
Nationwide Permit 58 is applicable to utility lines carrying water and other substances.

The Corps of Engineers contends that the approval process establishing NWP 58, considered its potential environmental effects and that a public comment period was included. However, the Decision Document never considered the unique and potentially dangerous impacts of leaking CO2pipelines. It also failed to consider the number and scale of pipelines now being envisioned by pipeline proponents. Approval of NWP58 also was based on an assumption that the permit would be used only 1400 times annually across the entire  country, not many thousands.

Discretionary Authority
Nationwide permit 58 can only be authorized for use on a project if the District Engineer determines that the action will result in no more than minimal individual or cumulative adverse environmental effects. If this is not the case, then the DE must use discretionary authority to require a project to undergo a more thorough review under an Individual Permit.  In the case of Navigator, the Corps could not or would not provide the documentation underpinning their decision to apply a series of nationwide permits to a 1,342 mile pipeline. This, despite multiple request under the Freedom of Information Act.

CEQ guidelines
In February of 2022, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued “Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration Guidance” to support the efficient, orderly and responsible deployment of CCS. CEQ guidance calls for regulatory transparency, meaningful public engagement and the use of the existing regulatory framework to safeguard the environment, public health and public safety.  All of this belies the fact that tens of thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines will be approved with no planning, no public engagement and no comprehensive environmental reviews.

Navigator CO2 Ventures’ 1,342 mile project was cancelled, in part, due to EJC and the work of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. However, before Navigator dropped the project and returned to its oil business in Texas, its application to the Corps of Engineers gave a revealing glimpse into what can be expected as the carbon capture and storage industry attempts to construct tens of thousands of miles of new pipelines across the U.S.

Send Our Letter
Send this letter to help us amplify our message to the District Engineers of the Corps. Tell them to stop treating large scale CO2 pipelines as if they are a multitude of small projects with no environmental impact. Tell them to process them as the Individual Permit projects that they are and incorporate the associated impact analysis and public engagement required by existing regulations.

Leave a Reply