May 11, 2020

There's Still Time to Comment on the 2020 Multi-Sector General Permit

Holland & Knight Energy and Natural Resources Blog
Dianne R. Phillips | Deborah E. Barnard
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In response to multiple requests from stakeholders, as noted on its website, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the public comment period for its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) 2020 Issuance of the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity to June 1, 2020. In addition, the EPA has posted additional resources for understanding the proposal, described in our March 12 article, including a video presentation and accompanying slides. Stakeholders should also review the helpful summary memo, Comparison of EPA's 2015 MSGP and State-Issued Industrial Stormwater Permits, and the Excel summary, Comparison of State vs. 2015 MSGP, for an overview of how the proposed 2020 MSGP stacks up against the prior version and similar permits issued by delegated states.

To date, fewer than 60 comments have been posted. Many early comments requested an extension of time in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous commentators wrote about the impact of the proposal, which would preclude users of coal-tar sealcoat from obtaining coverage under the MSGP and require those users to seek individual permits. Several argued this would amount to an effective ban on the product, thereby adversely impacting the sealcoat industry. Given the comment deadline extension, we can expect many more stakeholders to comment, with the vast majority of comments typically arriving right before the deadline. Comments can be submitted electronically at for Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0372.

Another deadline of importance is the deadline by which new facilities (or those without prior permit coverage) must certify and submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) in order to obtain permit coverage. That deadline is June 3, 2020, at 11:59 pm. The 2015 MSGP expires on June 4, 2020, and while existing permittees will have their permits administratively continued, no new facilities are eligible to be permitted until the EPA finalizes and issues the 2020 MSGP. That means if you need permit coverage and do not timely submit your NOI, you will not be able to get coverage and will be out of compliance subject to enforcement, including through citizen suits. While the EPA says it will endeavor to work expeditiously, given that the comment deadline is only days before permit expiration, there will be weeks or months when new permit coverage will not be available. Now is the time to double-check your permit status.

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