Affinis Co-Worker Shares Insight into Environmental Permitting

Posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 by
In Federal Services, tagged in Tags: , ,
environmental permitting affinis

Securing permits for projects can often be a challenge. In this interview Linda Rottinghaus, PE, ENV SP, Principal at Affinis, discusses environmental permitting. She shares her keys to success, a tested approach, and how requirements have changed.

When it comes to permitting what are some common roadblocks clients encounter?
Over the years, I have found that working with different agencies on getting environmental permits approved can be challenging. Multiple agencies need to be contacted in order to secure all the environmental permitting required for federally funded projects.

What do you think are the keys to success when it comes to securing permits?
An important key to success is starting early in the project. We recommend beginning in the preliminary/conceptual stage. Most agencies require at least 30 days to respond. However, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) requires a minimum of 3 months. It’s important to understand those parameters before you begin.

What do you think is the most effective approach to navigating regulations from design to construction?
I think the most effective approach is to make a list of all the permits needed, as well as the timeframe they are required. Keeping track of this information is important, because it can vary greatly. For example, the Section 106 approval from the State Historic Preservation Office is needed before any right-of-way can be acquired, but the Land Disturbance Permit and the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan are not needed until construction.

Have permitting requirements changed much in the last several years? If so, how?
Permitting has definitely changed. More documentation is required when submitting a permit. One difference is that, after receiving a list of the threatened and endangered species from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife portal, Determination Keys have been added asking applicants to answer more questions on a specific species. It specifically asks how the project will impact that species. Photographs should also be provided with these submittals showing the trees that will be removed, along with any historical structures within the site. The pictures of the trees should have closeups of the bark and/or any damage or cavities on the trees. They use this information to determine if the trees are suitable habitats for threatened/endangered species.

Please list a few great permitting or regulatory resources.
For environmental permitting needed on federally funded projects, The Missouri Department of Transportation’s website has a Local Public Agency (LPA) Manual. It has a section for Environmental and Cultural Requirements that lists all the permits and agencies that need be acquired and contacted. It is a great resource.

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