The Regulatory Program is committed to protecting the Nation's aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions. The Corps evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in the Nation's waters, including wetlands. Corps permits are also necessary for any work, including construction and dredging, in the Nation's navigable waters. The Corps balances the reasonably foreseeable benefits and detriments of proposed projects, and makes permit decisions that recognize the essential values of the Nation's aquatic ecosystems to the general public, as well as the property rights of private citizens who want to use their land. During the permit process, the Corps considers the views of other Federal, state and local agencies, interest groups, and the general public. The results of this careful public interest review are fair and equitable decisions that allow reasonable use of private property, infrastructure development, and growth of the economy, while offsetting the authorized impacts to the waters of the US. The adverse impacts to the aquatic environment are offset by mitigation requirements, which may include restoring, enhancing, creating and preserving aquatic functions and values. The Corps strives to make its permit decisions in a timely manner that minimizes impacts to the regulated public.
There are three basic types of permits:
- Standard Permits are a type of individual permit issued for projects that are likely to have more than a minimal individual or cumulative impact on aquatic resources and require a 30-day Public Notice period and review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
- General permits are a type of permit issued on a Regional or Nationwide basis for a category or categories of activities when: (1) those activities are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual and cumulative environmental impacts; or (2) the general permit would result in avoiding unnecessary duplication of the regulatory control exercised by another Federal, state, or local agency provided it has been determined that the environmental consequences of the action are individually and cumulatively minor.
- Letters of Permission are a type of individual permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure which includes coordination with Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice.