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Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Wind Farms Request Permission to Kill More Bats, Petrels, and Nene
By News Release @ 2:38 PM :: 248 Views :: Energy, Environment

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Addressing the Issuance of Incidental Take Permits for Four Wind Energy Projects in Hawai`i

A Notice by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on 06/01/2018

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft programmatic environmental impact statement addressing the potential impacts on the human environment caused by alternatives described in habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for four similar wind energy projects. The HCPs were submitted to the Service in support of requests for incidental take permits (ITPs) under the Endangered Species Act authorizing the take of endangered species. The proposed permit actions involve a new HCP for the Pakini Nui Wind Farm on the Island of Hawai`i and major amendments to three existing HCPs addressing the Auwahi Wind and Kaheawa Wind Power II projects, both located on Maui, and the Kawailoa Wind Power project, located on O`ahu. All four wind energy facilities are already constructed and in operation. The proposed ITP and proposed ITP amendments would address take of three endangered species: The Hawaiian hoary bat, the Hawaiian goose, and the Hawaiian petrel.

DATES:

The public scoping period begins with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register and will continue through July 2, 2018. The Service will consider all written comments on the scope of the analysis that are received or postmarked by this date.

Public meetings: The Service will hold three public scoping meetings, one each on the islands of Hawai`i, Maui, and O`ahu, at the following times during the scoping period:

Hawai`i: June 18, 2018, 6 to 8 p.m.
Maui: June 20, 2018, 6 to 8 p.m.
O`ahu: June 21, 2018 6 to 8 p.m.

ADDRESSES:

To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods. Please include “Wind Energy HCPs and PEIS Scoping” in the subject line of your request, message, or comment.

U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96850.
Email:
HIwindPEIS@fws.gov.
Fax: 808-792-9580, Attn: Field Supervisor.
Internet: You may obtain copies of this notice from the Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office in Honolulu, Hawai`i, or on the internet at
https://www.fws.gov/​pacificislands/​.

Public meetings: The three public scoping meetings will be held at the following locations:

  • Hawai`i: Na`alehu Community Center, 95-5635 Mamalahoa Hwy., Na`alehu, Hawai`i, HI 96772.
  • Maui: Malcolm Center, 1305 North Holopono Street, Suite 5, Kīhei, Maui, HI 96753
  • O`ahu: Sunset Beach Recreation Center, 59-540 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa, O`ahu, HI 96712

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Darren LeBlanc, at 808-792-9403, or Michelle Bogardus at 808-792-9473. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 during normal business hours. Also, FRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are initiating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance process related to four incidental take permit (ITP) applications under section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The applications are for four wind energy projects in Hawai`i. The proposed ITPs (involving one new and three amended ITPs) would authorize take of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (ōpe`ape`a in Hawaiian; Lasiurus cinereus semotus), the endangered Hawaiian goose (nēnē in Hawaiian; Branta sandvicensis), and the endangered Hawaiian petrel (`ua`u in Hawaiian; Pterodroma sandwichensis).

The Service provides this notice to (1) advise other Federal and State agencies, local governments, and the general public of our intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS); (2) announce the initiation of a 30-day scoping period; and (3) request information and recommendations on the scope of the issues to be included in the PEIS, including input on the appropriateness of our intent to develop a single PEIS addressing project-specific alternatives and cumulative impacts of the four separate permit decisions, instead of preparing an individual EIS for each of the proposed permit actions. The four wind energy facilities are already constructed and in operation. Therefore, the PEIS will address only effects associated with the operation of the four wind energy projects.

The PEIS will serve as the Service's documentation of compliance with NEPA. The Service believes a programmatic NEPA analysis of similar wind energy project-related permit decisions provides the following benefits: A comprehensive analysis of cumulative impacts across all projects; a reduction in duplicative efforts between projects; improved consistency in the analysis; and a more efficient and comprehensive solicitation of public input.

Background

Section 9 of the ESA prohibits “take” of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. Under section 3 of the ESA, the term “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term “harm” is further defined by regulation in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as an act that actually kills or injures wildlife. Such act may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term Start Printed Page 25476“harass” is also further defined in the regulations as an intentional or negligent act or omission that creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).

Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Service may authorize take of federally listed species, if such take occurs incidental to otherwise legal activities and a habitat conservation plan (HCP) has been developed under section 10(a)(2)(A) that describes: (1) The impact that will likely result from such taking; (2) the steps an applicant will take to minimize and mitigate that take to the maximum extent practicable and the funding that will be available to implement such steps; (3) alternative actions to such taking that an applicant considered and the reasons why such alternatives are not being used; and (4) other measures the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan.

Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing ITPs to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: (1) The taking will be incidental to otherwise lawful activities; (2) an applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3) an applicant has ensured that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the applicant will carry out any other measures we require as necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. The Service's general permitting regulations, found at 50 CFR 13.1-13.29, also apply to these actions.

Proposed Action

The Service intends to prepare a PEIS to evaluate the project-specific alternatives and cumulative impacts of four ITP decisions addressing a newly proposed HCP for the Pakini Nui Wind Farm and major amendments for three existing HCPs for the Auwahi Wind, Kawailoa Wind Power, and KWP II wind energy projects. If these proposed HCPs meet permit issuance criteria, the Service would issue separate ITPs to each of the four permit applicants. The existing projects, the amount of take authorized in their original ITP, and the estimated levels of take in the proposed new or amended HCPs (See Tables 1-3) are briefly described below. The ITPs, if issued, would authorize the incidental take of listed species caused by the operation of existing land-based wind energy facilities.

Tables 1-3—Estimated Change in Authorized Take Requested for the Hawaiian Hoary Bat, the Hawaiian Petrel, and the Hawaiian Goose per Project Applicant

Project Take currently authorized 1 2 Change Total 3
Table 1—Hawaiian Hoary Bat
Auwahi 21 +176 197
Kawailoa 60 +162 222
KWPII 11 +27 38
Pakini Nui NA +26 26
Total 92 +391 483
Table 2—Hawaiian Petrel4
Auwahi 87 0 87
Kawailoa 0 +7 7
KWPII 43 0 43
Pakini Nui NA +3 3
Total 130 +10 140
Table 3—Hawaiian Goose4
Auwahi 5 0 5
Kawailoa 0 0 0
KWPII 30 +14 44
Pakini Nui NA +3 3
Total 35 +17 52

1 Take for the Hawaiian hoary bat was originally authorized for adults and juveniles separately.

2 A clarification issued in 2014 simplified the way in which indirect take (e.g.,loss of dependent juveniles) associated with the mortality of a breeding adult was accounted for and tracked. Juveniles were converted to adult equivalencies using calculations based on life-history information included in the respective original HCPs, resulting in authorized take represented as a whole number as opposed to listing adults and juveniles separately.

3 Represents the currently authorized take plus the new requested take.

4 Take amounts for these species are summed or combined for adults, subadults, nestlings, or eggs.

read … Full Announcement

IM:  Hawai`i Wind Farms: Five-Fold Increase in Legal Killing of Hawaiian Hoary Bats

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