Development Activities Requiring
a Federal Permit or License
To Protect the overall public interest, including the natural environment, Congress has mandated that certain public and private development activities require formal authorization and approval by the Federal Government or state agencies with delegated regulatory authority.
Specific regulatory procedures and requirements are identified in various Federal statutes and associated regulations. The general intent of Congress remains to ensure that the development and operation of structures and facilities do not result in unnecessary or unacceptable adverse impacts to important public trust resources.
The majority of regulated activities are specific to the manipulations of aquatic resources, including wetlands, and are addressed pursuant to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, as amended, or the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state water pollution control agencies administer the most pertinent sections of the Water Pollution Control Act with oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency. Other regulated activities involve primarily upland habitats, and are addressed pursuant to development-specific statutes such as the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, the Federal Power Act, as amended, and other statutes and their implementing regulations.
Although the Fish and Wildlife Service administers none of the Federal regulatory programs, Congress has mandated an important role for both the Service and its partner state fish and wildlife agencies within the permitting processes. Pursuant to the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958, the administrators of Federal regulatory programs delegated to state agencies are required to consult with the Service and appropriate state fish and wildlife agency whenever a development project may affect aquatic resources.