Notice of Availability of a Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment for the Lalamilo Wind Farm Repowering Project, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii, 56987-56990 [2017-25875]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Notices Dated: November 24, 2017. Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (This is not a toll-free number; comments are not accepted via telephone message.). Please note contact information provided here is solely for questions regarding this notice. It is not for individual case status inquiries. Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check Case Status Online, available at the USCIS Web site at http:// www.uscis.gov, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375–5283; TTY (800) 767–1833. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: [OMB Control Number 1615–0131] Comments [FR Doc. 2017–25890 Filed 11–30–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Agency Information Collection Activities; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection: USCIS Electronic Payment Processing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. ACTION: 30-Day notice. AGENCY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be submitting the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The purpose of this notice is to allow an additional 30 days for public comments. DATES: The purpose of this notice is to allow an additional 30 days for public comments. Comments are encouraged and will be accepted until January 2, 2018. This process is conducted in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10. ADDRESSES: Written comments and/or suggestions regarding the item(s) contained in this notice, especially regarding the estimated public burden and associated response time, must be directed to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer via email at dhsdeskofficer@ omb.eop.gov. All submissions received must include the agency name and the OMB Control Number 1615–0131 in the subject line. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary submission you make. For additional information please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Regulatory Coordination Division, Samantha Deshommes, Chief, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529–2140, Telephone number (202) 272–8377 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 The information collection notice was previously published in the Federal Register on September 14, 2017 at 82 FR 43248, allowing for a 60-day public comment period. USCIS did not receive any comment in connection with the 60day notice. You may access the information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal site at: http://www.regulations.gov and enter USCIS–2014–0005 in the search box. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. Overview of This Information Collection Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or households. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), as amended, provides for the collection of fees at a level that will ensure recovery of the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services, including services provided without charge to asylum applicants and certain other immigrant applicants (see INA section 286(m), 8 U.S.C. 1356(m)) and USCIS will accept certain fee payments electronically. (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: The estimated total number of respondents for the information collection is 3,288,753 and the estimated hour burden per response is .12 hours. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: The total estimated annual hour burden associated with this collection is 394,652 hours. (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in cost) associated with the collection: There is no cost associated with this collection of information. Any cost burden associated with this collection of information is captured as a part of the form which requires a payment to be processed. Dated: November 24, 2017. Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2017–25887 Filed 11–30–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2017–N123; FXES11140100000–178–FF01E00000] Notice of Availability of a Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment for the Lalamilo Wind Farm Repowering Project, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: (1) Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: USCIS Electronic Payment Processing. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the DHS sponsoring the collection: Form G–1450; USCIS. PO 00000 56987 We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from the Lalamilo Wind Company, LLC (applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 56988 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Notices Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The applicant is requesting an ITP to authorize take of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat and the endangered Hawaiian petrel. If issued, the ITP would authorize incidental take of these two species that may occur as a result of the operation of the Lalamilo Wind Farm Repowering Project (project). The ITP application includes a draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) describing the actions and the measures the applicant will implement to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of the two species. The Service also announces the availability of a draft environmental assessment (EA) that has been prepared in response to the ITP application in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We are making the ITP application, including the draft HCP and the draft EA, available for public review and comment. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by January 16, 2018. ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comments are in reference to the Lalamilo Wind Farm HCP, draft EA, and the proposed issuance of the ITP: • Internet: Documents may be viewed on the internet at http://www.fws.gov/ pacificislands/. • Email: lalamilohcp_ea@fws.gov. Include ‘‘Draft Lalamilo HCP and EA’’ in the subject line of the message. • 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, HI 96850. • Fax: 808–792–9581, Attn: Field Supervisor. Include ‘‘Draft Lalamilo HCP and EA’’ in the subject line of the message. • In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Comments and materials received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (address above). Written comments can be dropped off during regular business hours on or before the closing date of the public comment period (see DATES). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Bogardus (Maui Nui and Hawaii Geographic Team Manager), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by mail at the address in ADDRESSES; by telephone at 808–792–9400; or by email at lalamilohcp_ea@fws.gov. If you use a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service has received an ITP application from the Lalamilo Wind Company, LLC in accordance with the requirements of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The applicant is requesting an ITP to authorize take of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) and the endangered Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis). Collectively, these two species are hereafter referred to as the covered species. If issued, the ITP would authorize incidental take of the covered species that may occur as a result of the operation of the project. The ITP application includes a draft HCP describing the actions and the measures the applicant will implement to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of the covered species. The Service also announces the availability of a draft EA that has been prepared in response to the ITP application in accordance with requirements of NEPA. We are making the ITP application, including the draft HCP and the draft EA, available for public review and comment. Background Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the take of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. Under the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm,’’ as defined in our regulations, includes significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue permits that authorize take of federally listed species, provided the take is incidental to, but not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing such incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: (1) The taking will be incidental; (2) The applicant will prepare a conservation plan that, to the maximum extent practicable, identifies the steps PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; (3) The applicant will ensure 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 that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. Proposed Action The applicant proposes to operate the project to provide electricity to eight existing water wells in the LalamiloParker well system, which is located near the town of Kamuela, South Kohala District, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii. The Lalamilo Wind Farm was originally constructed in the mid-1980s with 120 wind turbines, with an installed generating capacity of 2.7 megawatts (MW). It was decommissioned in 2010 in anticipation of repowering the site. In 2013, the County of Hawaii Department of Water Supply (DWS) awarded the applicant a contract to design, build, and operate the wind farm and associated facilities for the project. Construction was completed in 2016, and the applicant is currently curtailing the wind turbine generators so that only two turbines are operational at a time. The wind farm is located on approximately 126 acres of State-owned land leased by the DWS from the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) in South Kohala. The project area is zoned ‘‘agriculture’’ and is surrounded on all sides by agricultural pastoral lands principally used for cattle (Bos taurus) grazing. The topography of the project area consists of a relatively flat plateau falling off to the west and north. Elevations range from 1,401 feet to 1,145 feet above mean sea level, with an average slope of 5 percent. Several small, dry gulches occur around the west and north portions of the project site. The project consists of five Vestas 660-kilowatt V47 wind turbines with a combined generating capacity of up to approximately 3.3 MW and an updated monitoring and control system to optimize the operations of the water well pumping system. Power is provided to Parker Wells 1 through 4 and Lalamilo Wells A through D. The maximum blade tip height of the five turbines is 198.5 feet above ground level. Associated infrastructure includes a 197-foot-tall meteorological guyed tower, two 88-foot-tall free-standing lattice radio towers, 1.3 miles of roads E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Notices to access the turbines, an electrical collection system, an operations and maintenance building, a new 1.3-milelong, 13-kilovolt overhead electrical transmission line adjacent to the existing road, and updated switchgear and electrical interconnection equipment. The project is located on the island of Hawaii, where Hawaiian hoary bats are known to collide with wind turbine structures at the existing Pakini Nui 21– MW wind energy facility. The Hawaiian petrel and the Hawaiian hoary bat are also known to collide with wind turbine structures at the existing 30–MW Kaheawa Wind Power, the 21–MW Kaheawa Wind Power II, and the 21– MW Auwahi wind energy facilities on Maui. Acoustic monitoring indicates that the Hawaii hoary bat flies in the area occupied by the project’s wind turbines. Hawaiian petrels may transgress over the project and may be affected by the applicant’s activities associated with operation and maintenance of the project. The applicant has developed a draft HCP that addresses the incidental take of the two covered species that may occur as a result of the operation of the project over a period of 20 years. The draft HCP includes proposed measures the applicant will implement to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of the covered species. It is expected that only up to three of the five turbines will be in operation at any one time. All turbines blades will be curtailed (not rotating or rotating extremely slowly) from sunset to dusk, until wind speeds of 5.5 meters per second (m/s) are sustained for 10 minutes, at which time the blades would be pitched into the wind and begin rotating to generate power when needed for the water pumps. The applicant has also applied for a State of Hawaii incidental take license under Hawaii State law. To offset anticipated take impacts, the applicant is proposing mitigation measures on the island of Hawaii that include: (1) A combination of native forest restoration and management in the Kahuku section of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to increase and improve Hawaiian hoary bat habitat; (2) acoustic surveys to document the occupancy of the Hawaiian hoary bat; and (3) funding of fence maintenance and predator control to protect the Hawaiian petrel in a vulnerable area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The HCP incorporates adaptive management provisions to allow for modifications to the mitigation and monitoring measures as knowledge is gained during implementation of the HCP. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 The Service proposes to approve the HCP and to issue an ITP with a term of 20 years to the applicant for incidental take of the covered species caused by activities associated with the operation of the project, if permit issuance criteria are met. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The development of the draft HCP and the proposed issuance of an ITP under this plan is a Federal action that triggers the need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We have prepared a draft EA to analyze the environmental impacts of four alternatives related to the issuance of the ITP and implementation of the conservation program under the proposed HCP. The four alternatives include a no-action alternative, the proposed action, a no curtailment alternative, and an increased cut-in speed alternative. Under the no-action alternative, the Service would not authorize incidental take of the covered species. All facility turbines would be non-operational from sunset to sunrise—i.e., completely curtailed at night. This alternative would result in complete loss of renewable electricity production from approximately one hour before dusk to one hour after dawn. This alternative would reduce the risk of take of the two covered species. Incidental take of the covered species could occur during daytime operations, though the risk is negligible. Under this alternative the applicant would not have the regulatory assurance to avoid a potential violation of the ESA. The proposed action alternative is operation of the project, implementation of the HCP, and issuance of the ITP, as proposed. Under this alternative, all facility turbines would be nonoperational (curtailed) from sunset to sunrise until winds of 5.5 m/s were sustained for 10 minutes, at which time the turbine blades would be pitched into the wind and begin rotating to generate power. It is expected that no more than three turbines would be operating simultaneously. The applicant would provide compensatory mitigation to offset the impacts of the taking on the covered species. Under the no curtailment alternative, the applicant would not implement curtailment from sunset to sunrise. This alternative would produce the most renewable energy. This alternative would result in an increase in the time during which the turbine blades would be rotational, particularly at lower wind speeds, and would present a greater risk of collision-related mortality to the PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 56989 covered species. The applicant would provide compensatory mitigation to offset the higher take of the covered species. Under the increased cut-in speed alternative, all facility turbines would be non-operational from sunset to sunrise until winds of 6.5 m/s were sustained for 10 minutes, at which time the turbine blades would be pitched into the wind and begin rotating to generate power. This alternative would produce less renewable energy than the proposed alternative. There is no certainty that incidental take of covered species would be reduced with the higher cut-in speed. The applicant would provide compensatory mitigation to offset the impacts of the taking on the covered species. Public Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the public on our proposed Federal action, including identification of any other aspects of the human environment not already identified in the draft EA pursuant to NEPA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. Further, we specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of the HCP for the project pursuant to the requirements for ITPs at 50 CFR parts 13 and 17. Public Availability of Comments All comments and materials we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personally identifiable information— may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the EA, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Pacific Islands Field Office (see ADDRESSES). E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 56990 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 230 / Friday, December 1, 2017 / Notices Next Steps We will evaluate the ITP application, associated documents, and public comments in reaching a final decision on whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The HCP and EA may change in response to public comments. After completion of the EA, we will determine whether the proposed action warrants a finding of no significant impact or whether an environmental impact statement should be prepared. We will also evaluate whether the proposed ITP action would comply with the requirements of section 7 of the ESA by conducting a formal consultation on the proposed ITP action. We will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to issue an ITP. If the requirements are met, we will issue the ITP to the applicant. We will not make our final decision until after the end of the 45-day public comment period, and we will fully consider all comments and information we receive during the public comment period. Authority We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of section 10(c) of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Dated: September 14, 2017. Theresa E. Rabot, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. [FR Doc. 2017–25875 Filed 11–30–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–ES–2017–N107; FXES11140800000–178–FF08ECAR00] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Incidental Take Permit Application; Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Coastal California Gnatcatcher and Associated Documents; Brea, California Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an application from Orange County Waste & Recycling for a 5-year incidental take SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Nov 30, 2017 Jkt 244001 permit for the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. We are requesting comments on the permit application and on our preliminary determination that the applicant’s accompanying proposed habitat conservation plan qualifies as low effect, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act. The basis for this determination is discussed in our environmental action statement and associated low-effect screening form, which are also available for public review. DATES: Written comments should be received on or before January 2, 2018. ADDRESSES: Submitting Comments: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: • U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 2177 Salk Avenue, Suite 250, Carlsbad, CA 92008. • Fax: Field Supervisor, 760–431– 9624. • Email: fw8cfwocomments@fws.gov; please include ‘‘Olinda Alpha Landfill HCP’’ in the subject line. Obtaining Documents: You may obtain copies of the proposed HCP and EAS on the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife’s HCP Web site at https://www.fws.gov/ carlsbad/HCPs/HCP_Docs.html. To request copies of the application, proposed HCP, and EAS, contact the Service immediately, by telephone at 760–431–9440 or by letter to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Copies of the proposed HCP and EAS also are available for public inspection during regular business hours at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Karen Goebel, Assistant Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: 760– 431–9440. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from Orange County Waste & Recycling (applicant) for a 5-year incidental take permit for one covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA). The application addresses the potential ‘‘take’’ of the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica; gnatcatcher) in the course of activities associated with the construction, operation, and PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 maintenance of the Olinda Alpha Landfill projects, in the City of Brea, Orange County, California. A conservation program to avoid, minimize, and mitigate for project activities would be implemented as described in the applicant’s proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP). We are requesting comments on the permit application and on our preliminary determination that the proposed HCP qualifies as a low-effect HCP, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA). The basis for this determination is discussed in our environmental action statement (EAS) and associated low-effect screening form, which are also available for public review. Background Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing Federal regulations prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. ‘‘Take’’ is defined under the ESA as to ‘‘harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed animal species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct’’ (16 U.S.C. 1538). ‘‘Harm’’ includes significant habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or injures listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns such as breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). However, under section 10(a) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. ‘‘Incidental taking’’ is defined by the ESA implementing regulations as taking that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity (50 CFR 17.3). Regulations governing incidental take permits for endangered and threatened species, respectively, are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32. Applicant’s Proposed Project The applicant requests a 5-year permit under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. If we approve the permit, the applicant anticipates taking gnatcatcher as a result of permanent impacts to 5.78 acres (ac) of coastal sage scrub habitat that the species uses for breeding, feeding, and sheltering, as well as 2.85 ac of nonnative grassland habitat that may support gnatcatcher foraging and/or dispersal. The take would be incidental to the applicant’s activities associated with the construction of the Olinda Alpha Landfill projects in the City of Brea, California, and includes restoration and in-perpetuity E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 230 (Friday, December 1, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 56987-56990]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-25875]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2017-N123; FXES11140100000-178-FF01E00000]


Notice of Availability of a Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and 
Draft Environmental Assessment for the Lalamilo Wind Farm Repowering 
Project, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from the Lalamilo Wind Company, LLC 
(applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the

[[Page 56988]]

Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The applicant is 
requesting an ITP to authorize take of the endangered Hawaiian hoary 
bat and the endangered Hawaiian petrel. If issued, the ITP would 
authorize incidental take of these two species that may occur as a 
result of the operation of the Lalamilo Wind Farm Repowering Project 
(project). The ITP application includes a draft habitat conservation 
plan (HCP) describing the actions and the measures the applicant will 
implement to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of 
the two species. The Service also announces the availability of a draft 
environmental assessment (EA) that has been prepared in response to the 
ITP application in accordance with the requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We are making the ITP application, 
including the draft HCP and the draft EA, available for public review 
and comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
January 16, 2018.

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods, and note that your information 
request or comments are in reference to the Lalamilo Wind Farm HCP, 
draft EA, and the proposed issuance of the ITP:
     Internet: Documents may be viewed on the internet at 
http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.
     Email: lalamilohcp_ea@fws.gov. Include ``Draft Lalamilo 
HCP and EA'' in the subject line of the message.
     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, HI 96850.
     Fax: 808-792-9581, Attn: Field Supervisor. Include ``Draft 
Lalamilo HCP and EA'' in the subject line of the message.
     In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Comments and 
materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the Pacific Islands Fish 
and Wildlife Office (address above). Written comments can be dropped 
off during regular business hours on or before the closing date of the 
public comment period (see DATES).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Bogardus (Maui Nui and Hawaii 
Geographic Team Manager), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by mail at the 
address in ADDRESSES; by telephone at 808-792-9400; or by email at 
lalamilohcp_ea@fws.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf, please call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service has received an ITP application 
from the Lalamilo Wind Company, LLC in accordance with the requirements 
of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The applicant is requesting an ITP 
to authorize take of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus 
cinereus semotus) and the endangered Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma 
sandwichensis). Collectively, these two species are hereafter referred 
to as the covered species. If issued, the ITP would authorize 
incidental take of the covered species that may occur as a result of 
the operation of the project. The ITP application includes a draft HCP 
describing the actions and the measures the applicant will implement to 
avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of the covered 
species. The Service also announces the availability of a draft EA that 
has been prepared in response to the ITP application in accordance with 
requirements of NEPA. We are making the ITP application, including the 
draft HCP and the draft EA, available for public review and comment.

Background

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the take of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. 
Under the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm,'' as defined 
in our regulations, includes significant habitat modification or 
degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue 
permits that authorize take of federally listed species, provided the 
take is incidental to, but not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened 
species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing such incidental 
take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and 
threatened species, provided the following criteria are met:
    (1) The taking will be incidental;
    (2) The applicant will prepare a conservation plan that, to the 
maximum extent practicable, identifies the steps the applicant will 
take to minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking;
    (3) The applicant will ensure 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 that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the plan.

Proposed Action

    The applicant proposes to operate the project to provide 
electricity to eight existing water wells in the Lalamilo-Parker well 
system, which is located near the town of Kamuela, South Kohala 
District, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii. The Lalamilo Wind Farm was 
originally constructed in the mid-1980s with 120 wind turbines, with an 
installed generating capacity of 2.7 megawatts (MW). It was 
decommissioned in 2010 in anticipation of repowering the site. In 2013, 
the County of Hawaii Department of Water Supply (DWS) awarded the 
applicant a contract to design, build, and operate the wind farm and 
associated facilities for the project. Construction was completed in 
2016, and the applicant is currently curtailing the wind turbine 
generators so that only two turbines are operational at a time. The 
wind farm is located on approximately 126 acres of State-owned land 
leased by the DWS from the State of Hawaii's Department of Land and 
Natural Resources (DLNR) in South Kohala. The project area is zoned 
``agriculture'' and is surrounded on all sides by agricultural pastoral 
lands principally used for cattle (Bos taurus) grazing. The topography 
of the project area consists of a relatively flat plateau falling off 
to the west and north. Elevations range from 1,401 feet to 1,145 feet 
above mean sea level, with an average slope of 5 percent. Several 
small, dry gulches occur around the west and north portions of the 
project site.
    The project consists of five Vestas 660-kilowatt V47 wind turbines 
with a combined generating capacity of up to approximately 3.3 MW and 
an updated monitoring and control system to optimize the operations of 
the water well pumping system. Power is provided to Parker Wells 1 
through 4 and Lalamilo Wells A through D. The maximum blade tip height 
of the five turbines is 198.5 feet above ground level. Associated 
infrastructure includes a 197-foot-tall meteorological guyed tower, two 
88-foot-tall free-standing lattice radio towers, 1.3 miles of roads

[[Page 56989]]

to access the turbines, an electrical collection system, an operations 
and maintenance building, a new 1.3-mile-long, 13-kilovolt overhead 
electrical transmission line adjacent to the existing road, and updated 
switchgear and electrical interconnection equipment.
    The project is located on the island of Hawaii, where Hawaiian 
hoary bats are known to collide with wind turbine structures at the 
existing Pakini Nui 21-MW wind energy facility. The Hawaiian petrel and 
the Hawaiian hoary bat are also known to collide with wind turbine 
structures at the existing 30-MW Kaheawa Wind Power, the 21-MW Kaheawa 
Wind Power II, and the 21-MW Auwahi wind energy facilities on Maui. 
Acoustic monitoring indicates that the Hawaii hoary bat flies in the 
area occupied by the project's wind turbines. Hawaiian petrels may 
transgress over the project and may be affected by the applicant's 
activities associated with operation and maintenance of the project.
    The applicant has developed a draft HCP that addresses the 
incidental take of the two covered species that may occur as a result 
of the operation of the project over a period of 20 years. The draft 
HCP includes proposed measures the applicant will implement to avoid, 
minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of the covered species. 
It is expected that only up to three of the five turbines will be in 
operation at any one time. All turbines blades will be curtailed (not 
rotating or rotating extremely slowly) from sunset to dusk, until wind 
speeds of 5.5 meters per second (m/s) are sustained for 10 minutes, at 
which time the blades would be pitched into the wind and begin rotating 
to generate power when needed for the water pumps. The applicant has 
also applied for a State of Hawaii incidental take license under Hawaii 
State law.
    To offset anticipated take impacts, the applicant is proposing 
mitigation measures on the island of Hawaii that include: (1) A 
combination of native forest restoration and management in the Kahuku 
section of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to increase and improve 
Hawaiian hoary bat habitat; (2) acoustic surveys to document the 
occupancy of the Hawaiian hoary bat; and (3) funding of fence 
maintenance and predator control to protect the Hawaiian petrel in a 
vulnerable area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The HCP incorporates 
adaptive management provisions to allow for modifications to the 
mitigation and monitoring measures as knowledge is gained during 
implementation of the HCP.
    The Service proposes to approve the HCP and to issue an ITP with a 
term of 20 years to the applicant for incidental take of the covered 
species caused by activities associated with the operation of the 
project, if permit issuance criteria are met.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The development of the draft HCP and the proposed issuance of an 
ITP under this plan is a Federal action that triggers the need for 
compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We have prepared a draft 
EA to analyze the environmental impacts of four alternatives related to 
the issuance of the ITP and implementation of the conservation program 
under the proposed HCP. The four alternatives include a no-action 
alternative, the proposed action, a no curtailment alternative, and an 
increased cut-in speed alternative.
    Under the no-action alternative, the Service would not authorize 
incidental take of the covered species. All facility turbines would be 
non-operational from sunset to sunrise--i.e., completely curtailed at 
night. This alternative would result in complete loss of renewable 
electricity production from approximately one hour before dusk to one 
hour after dawn. This alternative would reduce the risk of take of the 
two covered species. Incidental take of the covered species could occur 
during daytime operations, though the risk is negligible. Under this 
alternative the applicant would not have the regulatory assurance to 
avoid a potential violation of the ESA.
    The proposed action alternative is operation of the project, 
implementation of the HCP, and issuance of the ITP, as proposed. Under 
this alternative, all facility turbines would be non-operational 
(curtailed) from sunset to sunrise until winds of 5.5 m/s were 
sustained for 10 minutes, at which time the turbine blades would be 
pitched into the wind and begin rotating to generate power. It is 
expected that no more than three turbines would be operating 
simultaneously. The applicant would provide compensatory mitigation to 
offset the impacts of the taking on the covered species.
    Under the no curtailment alternative, the applicant would not 
implement curtailment from sunset to sunrise. This alternative would 
produce the most renewable energy. This alternative would result in an 
increase in the time during which the turbine blades would be 
rotational, particularly at lower wind speeds, and would present a 
greater risk of collision-related mortality to the covered species. The 
applicant would provide compensatory mitigation to offset the higher 
take of the covered species.
    Under the increased cut-in speed alternative, all facility turbines 
would be non-operational from sunset to sunrise until winds of 6.5 m/s 
were sustained for 10 minutes, at which time the turbine blades would 
be pitched into the wind and begin rotating to generate power. This 
alternative would produce less renewable energy than the proposed 
alternative. There is no certainty that incidental take of covered 
species would be reduced with the higher cut-in speed. The applicant 
would provide compensatory mitigation to offset the impacts of the 
taking on the covered species.

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, 
views, and opinions from the public on our proposed Federal action, 
including identification of any other aspects of the human environment 
not already identified in the draft EA pursuant to NEPA regulations in 
the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. Further, we 
specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of the HCP for 
the project pursuant to the requirements for ITPs at 50 CFR parts 13 
and 17.

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments and materials we receive become part of the public 
record associated with this action. Before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable 
information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire 
comment--including your personally identifiable information--may be 
made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from 
public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their 
entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the EA, will be available for public 
inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Pacific 
Islands Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

[[Page 56990]]

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the ITP application, associated documents, and 
public comments in reaching a final decision on whether the application 
meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). The HCP and EA may change in response to public comments. After 
completion of the EA, we will determine whether the proposed action 
warrants a finding of no significant impact or whether an environmental 
impact statement should be prepared. We will also evaluate whether the 
proposed ITP action would comply with the requirements of section 7 of 
the ESA by conducting a formal consultation on the proposed ITP action. 
We will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the 
above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to 
issue an ITP. If the requirements are met, we will issue the ITP to the 
applicant. We will not make our final decision until after the end of 
the 45-day public comment period, and we will fully consider all 
comments and information we receive during the public comment period.

Authority

    We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of 
section 10(c) of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 
and 17.32) and NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: September 14, 2017.
Theresa E. Rabot,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2017-25875 Filed 11-30-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P