The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization to permit certain activities necessary to address the impacts of Hurricane Ida that would normally require a Coastal Use Permit to be issued before the work. This applies only within the Louisiana Coastal Zone. It is intended to complement the emergency use provisions of LAC 43:I.723.B.3. Keep in mind that a Coastal Use Permit is not required for “normal maintenance or repair of existing [previously permitted] structures including emergency repairs of damage caused by accident, fire, or the elements,” pursuant to LAC 43:I.723.B.1.a.iii. However, if the repair goes beyond the normal repair of an existing structure, such as dredge or fill activities or construction of a new or expanded structure, then a permit may be required. This emergency authorization, however, allows the work to proceed immediately to be followed later by an after-the-fact permit. The authorization for emergency work applies ONLY to those activities needed to restore infrastructure. Infrastructure is defined in LAC 43:VII.701 as “those systems which provide needed support for human social institutions and developments, including transportation systems, public utilities, water and sewerage systems, communications, educational facilities, health services, law enforcement, and emergency preparedness.” This would include dredge or fill activities or other similar activities needed to address damages to docks, power lines, pipelines, drainage systems, and the like.
The LDNR authorization “reminds all emergency users to avoid and minimize impacts resulting from the activities authorized by this notice to coastal resources where possible, since compensatory mitigation for these impacts will most likely be required [if an after-the-fact permit is required].” LDNR requires the person responsible for the work to provide the department with notification via letter, email, or fax as soon as possible (preferably before or as soon as the work commences). The notification should include: the name of the entity undertaking the activity, a description of the work performed, a vicinity map showing the location of the emergency work, and project coordinates (latitude/longitude) if available.
The LDNR Coastal Use Emergency Authorization is currently effective only through September 3, 2021; but LDNR may extend it. See the authorization and fax, email, and other information at: http://www.dnr.louisiana.gov/assets/OCM/PublicNotices/PN_2021/ida.pdf.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has also announced special emergency permitting procedures for permits required by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to expedite authorization for activities for response and recovery associated with Hurricane Ida damages. The emergency permitting procedures are authorized by 33 C.F.R. 325.2(e)(4). The USACE directs an applicant for an emergency permit to “provide basic plans/ drawings summarizing the emergency situation, briefly describing the proposed work and location, and an estimate of the acreage of waters and/or wetlands to be impacted, preferably via email. For work in the Louisiana Coastal Zone (LCZ), applicants must also submit this information to the LDNR, Office of Coastal Management (OCM). The USACE will make a decision on the permit within 24-48 hours of the request. Approvals will be granted via Programmatic General Permit if the project is located in the LCZ or USACE New Orleans District MVN General Permit No. 20 if the project is located outside the LCZ. A link showing the terms of the Programmatic General Permit and the MVN General Permit No. 20 is available at: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permits/General-Permits/.
Because emergency authorizations under either the Programmatic General Permit or MVN General Permit No. 20 are temporary, the permittee will be required to submit a site restoration plan or an after-the-fact permit application to maintain the work, within 30 days after the emergency permit approval. For more information and USACE contacts, see: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/