Army Corps Set To Issue Newhall Ranch Permit
A years-long process aimed at establishing permits under the Clean Water Act for Newhall Ranch from the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) is nearing a major milestone: the issuance of the Corps' Record of Decision for the project permit. (CDFG will also act later this year or early in 2011 regarding its Stream Alteration Agreement.) This Record of Decision, expected during October, will establish what the Corps believes to be the "Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative" (LEDPA) that has been developed through the Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report process which analyzed several permit alternatives. FSCR and other groups have been quite active in this process, providing extensive comments on the alternatives and interacting with the various agencies involved.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has certain authority to revise or even block Corps decisions on Clean Water Act permits. A number of environmental organizations, including Heal the Bay, Ventura Coastkeeper, Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and American Rivers, participated in a "net" meeting with Region 9 EPA personnel on July 16, 2010. Numerous concerns related to the Newhall Ranch permit were communicated to EPA and we asked for their continued efforts in a process which could force the Corps to adopt a more favorable alternative for the permit. The EPA subsequently sent the Corps a very strong letter recommending additional avoidance of sensitive habitats and floodplain areas.