Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Assessment on the Effects of Issuing an Incidental Take Permit No. 21316, 51116-51118 [2019-20975]

Download as PDF jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES 51116 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices in this region, but were previously able to avoid encounters to limit cowcod catch below the annual vessel limit. However, as the cowcod stock rebuilds, vessels are encountering cowcod more often and in higher numbers. The draft 2019 cowcod stock assessment, which will be reviewed at the September Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) meeting, indicates that the stock has improved compared to the previous assessment, which projected that the stock would rebuild by 2020. If the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee determines the draft 2019 cowcod stock assessment is the best scientific information available, the resulting biomass estimates may be used to support adjustments in future catch limits or changes to cowcod’s stock status. At the June 2018, April 2019, and June 2019 Council meetings, the CGC made public comments that annual vessel limits for cowcod have been constraining fishing operations in CGC ports. The CGC reported that in 2017– 2019, its participating vessels experienced significant catch increases for cowcod early in the fishing season, and that, if this continues through the 2019 and 2020 fishing years, vessels may attain their cowcod annual vessel limit and be forced to depart fishing grounds early despite not having attained quotas for healthy target stocks. This would reduce economic opportunity for CGC vessels and likely adversely impact other components of the fishing industry (e.g., processors). On June 18, 2019, the CGC submitted an application for an EFP project to exempt CGC vessels from the Federal regulations at 50 CFR 660.140(b)(1)(iii) through (v), which include requirements applicable to individual vessels with any species deficit in their IFQ account. If NMFS approves this EFP project, CGC vessels fishing on an EFP trip would be permitted to exceed the current annual vessel limit for cowcod (i.e., 858 pounds or 17.7 percent of the 4,850-pound cowcod Shorebased IFQ allocation), however collectively, the CGC vessels’ catch would not be permitted to exceed the amount specified for the pool (i.e., 858 pounds x total number of CGC participant vessels). The goals of this EFP project are to: • Test and evaluate the merits of permitting a regional collective of vessels operating under a Collective Enforcement Agreement, similar to a regional fishery association, to pool constraining species quota pounds, allocate those pounds among members as needed (potentially exceeding annual vessel limits), and stay within a pool limit; VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 • identify if managing annual vessel limits using a risk pool model can allow additional attainment of target species while mitigating the impact of catching constraining species to the point of ending fishing seasons early; • establish and share best practices for collectively managing and allocating constraining species quota pounds using a Collective Enforcement Agreement; • gather and share information that may inform an impact analysis should the Council scope potential changes to the groundfish IFQ vessel limit regulations; and • gather and share information that may inform an exploration into the types of provisions to include in regional fishery associations as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as well as community fishing groups that are already allowed within the current fishery management system. Currently, there are five CGC vessels. If this EFP project is approved, NMFS would provide EFPs to these five vessels in 2019, and any additional vessels that join the CGC in 2019 or 2020. NMFS is proposing to approve the 2019–2020 EFP project covering the exemptions stated above, following the conclusion of the public comment period and review of public comment. Pending approval, NMFS would issue the permits for the EFP project to the vessel owner or designated representative as the ‘‘EFP holder.’’ NMFS intends to use an adaptive management approach in which NMFS may revise requirements and protocols to improve the program without issuing another Federal Register Notice, provided that the modifications fall within the scope of the original EFP project. In addition, the applicants may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP project throughout the course of research. NMFS may grant EFP modifications and extensions without further public notice if the changes are essential to facilitate completing the proposed research and result in only a minimal change in the scope or impacts of the initially approved EFP request. All CGC vessels participate in NMFS’ electronic monitoring (EM) EFP project, which exempts certain vessels from the requirement to carry a human observer on all IFQ fishing trips. While NMFS has primary jurisdiction over EM EFP management, the Nature Conservancy is an EFP holder that manages CGC vessels operating under the EM EFP pursuant to a Collective Enforcement Agreement, which outlines rules that CGC vessels must follow, including catch requirements and EM system PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 specifications. If NMFS approves this EFP application, the specific terms and conditions of the EFP would be partially managed by the Nature Conservancy via an extended version of the EM EFP Collective Enforcement Agreement. NMFS may adjust these specifics in cooperation with the EFP applicant and following the public comment period. After publication of this document in the Federal Register, NMFS may approve and issue permits for the EFP project after the close of the public comment period. NMFS will consider comments submitted, as well as any discussion that may occur at the September 2019 Council meeting, in deciding whether to approve the application as requested. NMFS may approve the application in its entirety or may make any alterations needed to achieve the goals of the EFP project. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq. Dated: September 24, 2019. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–21029 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF362 Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Assessment on the Effects of Issuing an Incidental Take Permit No. 21316 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment and receipt of revised application; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces the availability of the revised application and Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the effects of issuing an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) (No. 21316) to Barney M. Davis L.P., pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended, for the incidental take of green (Chelonia mydas, North Atlantic Distinct Population Segment) and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles associated with the otherwise lawful operation of the Barney M. Davis Power Station in Corpus Christi, TX. The facility is requesting the permit be issued for a duration of 10 years. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) on or before October 28, 2019. ADDRESSES: The revised application and EA are available for download and review at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ incidental-take-permit-barney-davis-lp under the section heading Supporting Materials. The application is also available upon written request or by appointment in the following office: Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 EastWest Highway, Room 13752, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427– 8402; fax (301) 713–4060. You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2017–0104, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170104 click the ‘‘Comment Now’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Fax: (301) 713–4060; Attn: Sara Wissmann. • Mail: Submit written comments to Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 EastWest Highway, Room 13661, Silver Spring, MD 20910; Attn: Sara Wissmann. Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sara Wissmann, (301) 427–8402 or sara.wissmann@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Publication of this notice begins the official public comment period for this draft EA. Per the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the purpose of the draft EA is to evaluate jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts caused by the issuance of Permit No. 21316 to Barney M. Davis L.P. for the incidental take of green (Chelonia mydas North Atlantic Distinct Population Segment) and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles associated with the otherwise lawful activity of operating the Barney M. Davis Power Station. In addition, NMFS is furnishing this notice in order to allow other agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on the revised application. All comments received will become part of the public record and will be available for review. Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the ‘taking’ of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The ESA defines ‘‘take’’ to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. NMFS may issue permits, under limited circumstances to take listed species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides a mechanism for authorizing incidental take of listed species. NMFS regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307. Background Barney M. Davis, L.P. owns Barney M. Davis Power Station (the facility), a natural gas-fired electric power generating facility. The facility is located at 4301 Waldron Road, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas. The facility has approximately 1,992 acres of land between the Laguna Madre and Oso Creek and is comprised of two natural gas-fired combustion turbines. The facility utilizes a 0.75-mile cooling water intake canal leading to the Cooling Water Intake Structure (CWIS) from the Laguna Madre. Although the facility has been in operation since 1974, the presence of sea turtles in the intake canal has only been documented during the past 10 years and is typically associated with cold-stunning events. During cooler months, sea turtles in the Laguna Madre become ‘‘cold-stunned’’ and, therefore, become unable to swim normally. Once the sea turtles are coldstunned, they float into the facility’s intake canal, toward the facility. The facility has experienced an increased occurrence in the number of sea turtles in the intake canal during the winter months (December—March), which coincides with documented cold stunning events in this region of Texas. The facility currently coordinates with the Texas Sea Turtle Stranding and PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51117 Salvage Network (STSSN) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the Coastal Conservation Association Marine Development Center to collect and relocate sea turtles that have migrated into the intake canal. Under the proposed action and conservation plan, facility staff will implement consistent monitoring of the intake canal, and will continue to work with the Texas STSSN on proper animal identification and handling. Although every effort will be made to intercept sea turtles prior to the cooling water intake structure, it is possible that a cold stunned sea turtle may become impinged on the automatic rake prior to entering the structure. Due to the physical characteristics and operations of the structure, any impingement of turtles could be lethal. The facility is applying for an ITP in accordance with rules established under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The permit application requests authorization for the incidental take of the North Atlantic Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the ESA-listed threatened green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). Based on data from the facility from 2012–2016, the proposed takes for any three year period for the ten-year duration of the permit is 210 live and 39 dead green sea turtles, and 3 live Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. On September 14, 2017 (82 FR 43224) NMFS announced the availably of the Barney M. Davis Power Station ITP application. At that time, the application was determined to be complete and therefore was provided to the public for review. Based on public comments received and additional discussions between NMFS and Barney M. Davis, L.P., it was decided that Barney M. Davis, L.P. would further revise their application and re-submit to NMFS. The updated and final application was received by NMFS on October 19, 2018. This revised application provides additional necessary details on the protocols and procedures for locating and handling sea turtles during the facility operation, and provides additional information on the historic takes that have been observed at the facility as justification for the requested take necessary for the development of the draft EA and the issuance of the ITP. Conservation Plan Section 10 of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless an applicant submits an adequate habitat conservation plan. The conservation plan prepared by Barney M. Davis L.P. E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1 51118 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 188 / Friday, September 27, 2019 / Notices describes measures to minimize and mitigate the impacts of any incidental takes of ESA-listed green and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. The facility has experienced increased numbers of cold-stunned sea turtles in the intake canal during the winter months over the past several years. The facility currently coordinates with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Coastal Conservation Association Marine Development Center to collect and relocate sea turtles that have migrated into the intake canal. To avoid and minimize take of sea turtles, facility personnel will visually monitor the area immediately surrounding the cribhouse, which includes the bulkhead, trash racks, and intake canal on a seasonal schedule. From December 1st through March 31st, monitoring will be conducted a minimum of four times per twelve hour shift, spaced at approximately threehour intervals. From April 1st through November 30th, monitoring will be conducted one time per shift, or once approximately every twelve hours. Visual monitoring will last for approximately fifteen minutes during each monitoring event. Facility staff responsible for monitoring the intake canal will be trained upon hiring, and again annually, on the proper procedures required for the collection of turtles. Photos of potentially affected species are available to staff to assist them with species identification. Staff will be required to measure the length of the turtles collected. Barney M. Davis Power Station is an existing facility. Continued monitoring related to the take of sea turtles will be ongoing and funding provided through the facility’s annual operating budget. jbell on DSK3GLQ082PROD with NOTICES National Environmental Policy Act This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). The draft EA was prepared in accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.), 40 CFR 1500–1508 and NOAA policy and procedures (NAO 216–6A and the Companion Manual for the NAO 216–6A). Alternatives Considered In preparing the Draft EA, NMFS considered the following 2 alternatives for the action. Alternative 1: No Action. In accordance with the NOAA Companion Manual for NAO 216–6A, Section 6.B.i, NMFS is defining the No Action alternative as not authorizing the incidental take of green (Chelonia mydas North Atlantic DPS) and Kemp’s VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Sep 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles associated with the otherwise lawful operation of the Barney M. Davis Power Station. This is consistent with our statutory obligation under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA to either: (1) Deny the requested permit or (2) grant the requested permit and prescribe mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements. Under the No Action Alternative, NMFS would not issue the ITP, in which case we assume this applicant would proceed with their Power Station activities as described in the application without implementing the full suite of specific mitigation measures and monitoring and reporting included in the Conservation Plan and in the ITP as requirements. Alternative 2: Issue Permit as Requested in Application (Proposed Action): Under Alternative 2, an ITP would be issued to exempt Barney M. Davis, L.P. from the ESA prohibition on taking of green (Chelonia mydas North Atlantic DPS) and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles during the otherwise lawful operation of the Barney M. Davis Power Station. As required under Section 10(a)(1)(B), the ITP would require the Barney M. Davis Power Station to operate as described in the proposed conservation plan to avoid and minimize take of sea turtles. The Draft EA presents a comparison of the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the alternatives. Regulations for implementing NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4331 et seq.) require considerations of both the context and intensity of a proposed action (40 CFR 1508.27). The issuance of the Permit as Requested in the Application (Alternative 2, Proposed Action) would allow Barney M. Davis, L.P. to continue to operate the Barney M. Davis Power Station and would require conservation measures to minimize risk to sea turtles. This would result in less socio-economic costs than the No Action alternative (Alternative 1). The final permit determinations will not be completed until after the end of the 30-day comment period and will fully consider all public comments received during the comment period. NMFS will publish a record of its final action in the Federal Register. Dated: September 23, 2019. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–20975 Filed 9–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XR032 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Marine Site Characterization Surveys Off of Delaware and Maryland National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from Skipjack Offshore Energy, LLC (Skipjack) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to marine site characterization surveys offshore of Delaware in the area of the Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS–A 0519) and along potential submarine cable routes to a landfall location in Delaware or Maryland. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NMFS is also requesting comments on a possible one-year renewal that could be issued under certain circumstances and if all requirements are met, as described in Request for Public Comments at the end of this notice. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorizations and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than October 28, 2019. SUMMARY: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to ITP.carduner@noaa.gov. Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25- ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\27SEN1.SGM 27SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 188 (Friday, September 27, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51116-51118]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-20975]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF362


Notice of Availability of Draft Environmental Assessment on the 
Effects of Issuing an Incidental Take Permit No. 21316

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment and 
receipt of revised application; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the availability of the revised application and 
Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the effects of issuing an 
Incidental Take Permit (ITP) (No. 21316) to Barney M. Davis L.P., 
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended, for 
the incidental take of green (Chelonia mydas, North Atlantic Distinct 
Population Segment) and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles 
associated with the otherwise lawful operation of the Barney M. Davis 
Power Station in Corpus Christi, TX. The facility is requesting the 
permit be issued for a duration of 10 years.

[[Page 51117]]


DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or 
fax number (see ADDRESSES) on or before October 28, 2019.

ADDRESSES: The revised application and EA are available for download 
and review at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-permit-barney-davis-lp under the section heading Supporting Materials. 
The application is also available upon written request or by 
appointment in the following office: Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-
West Highway, Room 13752, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-
8402; fax (301) 713-4060.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0104, by any 
of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0104 click the ``Comment Now'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Fax: (301) 713-4060; Attn: Sara Wissmann.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Marine Mammal and Sea 
Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 
East-West Highway, Room 13661, Silver Spring, MD 20910; Attn: Sara 
Wissmann.
    Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods 
to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent 
by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received 
after the end of the comment period may not be considered. All comments 
received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted 
for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All 
personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) 
confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information 
submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We 
will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if 
you wish to remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Sara Wissmann, (301) 427-8402 or 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Publication of this notice begins the 
official public comment period for this draft EA. Per the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the purpose of the draft EA is to 
evaluate the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts caused 
by the issuance of Permit No. 21316 to Barney M. Davis L.P. for the 
incidental take of green (Chelonia mydas North Atlantic Distinct 
Population Segment) and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles 
associated with the otherwise lawful activity of operating the Barney 
M. Davis Power Station. In addition, NMFS is furnishing this notice in 
order to allow other agencies and the public an opportunity to review 
and comment on the revised application. All comments received will 
become part of the public record and will be available for review.
    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the `taking' 
of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The ESA defines 
``take'' to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. NMFS 
may issue permits, under limited circumstances to take listed species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides a mechanism for authorizing 
incidental take of listed species. NMFS regulations governing permits 
for threatened and endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 
222.307.

Background

    Barney M. Davis, L.P. owns Barney M. Davis Power Station (the 
facility), a natural gas-fired electric power generating facility. The 
facility is located at 4301 Waldron Road, Corpus Christi, Nueces 
County, Texas. The facility has approximately 1,992 acres of land 
between the Laguna Madre and Oso Creek and is comprised of two natural 
gas-fired combustion turbines.
    The facility utilizes a 0.75-mile cooling water intake canal 
leading to the Cooling Water Intake Structure (CWIS) from the Laguna 
Madre. Although the facility has been in operation since 1974, the 
presence of sea turtles in the intake canal has only been documented 
during the past 10 years and is typically associated with cold-stunning 
events. During cooler months, sea turtles in the Laguna Madre become 
``cold-stunned'' and, therefore, become unable to swim normally. Once 
the sea turtles are cold-stunned, they float into the facility's intake 
canal, toward the facility. The facility has experienced an increased 
occurrence in the number of sea turtles in the intake canal during the 
winter months (December--March), which coincides with documented cold 
stunning events in this region of Texas.
    The facility currently coordinates with the Texas Sea Turtle 
Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department in the Coastal Conservation Association Marine Development 
Center to collect and relocate sea turtles that have migrated into the 
intake canal. Under the proposed action and conservation plan, facility 
staff will implement consistent monitoring of the intake canal, and 
will continue to work with the Texas STSSN on proper animal 
identification and handling. Although every effort will be made to 
intercept sea turtles prior to the cooling water intake structure, it 
is possible that a cold stunned sea turtle may become impinged on the 
automatic rake prior to entering the structure. Due to the physical 
characteristics and operations of the structure, any impingement of 
turtles could be lethal.
    The facility is applying for an ITP in accordance with rules 
established under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The permit 
application requests authorization for the incidental take of the North 
Atlantic Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the ESA-listed threatened 
green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the endangered Kemp's ridley sea 
turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). Based on data from the facility from 
2012-2016, the proposed takes for any three year period for the ten-
year duration of the permit is 210 live and 39 dead green sea turtles, 
and 3 live Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
    On September 14, 2017 (82 FR 43224) NMFS announced the availably of 
the Barney M. Davis Power Station ITP application. At that time, the 
application was determined to be complete and therefore was provided to 
the public for review. Based on public comments received and additional 
discussions between NMFS and Barney M. Davis, L.P., it was decided that 
Barney M. Davis, L.P. would further revise their application and re-
submit to NMFS. The updated and final application was received by NMFS 
on October 19, 2018. This revised application provides additional 
necessary details on the protocols and procedures for locating and 
handling sea turtles during the facility operation, and provides 
additional information on the historic takes that have been observed at 
the facility as justification for the requested take necessary for the 
development of the draft EA and the issuance of the ITP.

Conservation Plan

    Section 10 of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless 
an applicant submits an adequate habitat conservation plan. The 
conservation plan prepared by Barney M. Davis L.P.

[[Page 51118]]

describes measures to minimize and mitigate the impacts of any 
incidental takes of ESA-listed green and Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
    The facility has experienced increased numbers of cold-stunned sea 
turtles in the intake canal during the winter months over the past 
several years. The facility currently coordinates with Texas Parks and 
Wildlife Department's Coastal Conservation Association Marine 
Development Center to collect and relocate sea turtles that have 
migrated into the intake canal.
    To avoid and minimize take of sea turtles, facility personnel will 
visually monitor the area immediately surrounding the cribhouse, which 
includes the bulkhead, trash racks, and intake canal on a seasonal 
schedule. From December 1st through March 31st, monitoring will be 
conducted a minimum of four times per twelve hour shift, spaced at 
approximately three-hour intervals. From April 1st through November 
30th, monitoring will be conducted one time per shift, or once 
approximately every twelve hours. Visual monitoring will last for 
approximately fifteen minutes during each monitoring event. Facility 
staff responsible for monitoring the intake canal will be trained upon 
hiring, and again annually, on the proper procedures required for the 
collection of turtles. Photos of potentially affected species are 
available to staff to assist them with species identification. Staff 
will be required to measure the length of the turtles collected.
    Barney M. Davis Power Station is an existing facility. Continued 
monitoring related to the take of sea turtles will be ongoing and 
funding provided through the facility's annual operating budget.

National Environmental Policy Act

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6). The draft EA was prepared in accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 
4321, et seq.), 40 CFR 1500-1508 and NOAA policy and procedures (NAO 
216-6A and the Companion Manual for the NAO 216-6A).

Alternatives Considered

    In preparing the Draft EA, NMFS considered the following 2 
alternatives for the action.
    Alternative 1: No Action. In accordance with the NOAA Companion 
Manual for NAO 216-6A, Section 6.B.i, NMFS is defining the No Action 
alternative as not authorizing the incidental take of green (Chelonia 
mydas North Atlantic DPS) and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea 
turtles associated with the otherwise lawful operation of the Barney M. 
Davis Power Station. This is consistent with our statutory obligation 
under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA to either: (1) Deny the requested 
permit or (2) grant the requested permit and prescribe mitigation, 
monitoring, and reporting requirements. Under the No Action 
Alternative, NMFS would not issue the ITP, in which case we assume this 
applicant would proceed with their Power Station activities as 
described in the application without implementing the full suite of 
specific mitigation measures and monitoring and reporting included in 
the Conservation Plan and in the ITP as requirements.
    Alternative 2: Issue Permit as Requested in Application (Proposed 
Action): Under Alternative 2, an ITP would be issued to exempt Barney 
M. Davis, L.P. from the ESA prohibition on taking of green (Chelonia 
mydas North Atlantic DPS) and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea 
turtles during the otherwise lawful operation of the Barney M. Davis 
Power Station. As required under Section 10(a)(1)(B), the ITP would 
require the Barney M. Davis Power Station to operate as described in 
the proposed conservation plan to avoid and minimize take of sea 
turtles.
    The Draft EA presents a comparison of the direct, indirect, and 
cumulative effects of the alternatives. Regulations for implementing 
NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4331 et seq.) require considerations of both the 
context and intensity of a proposed action (40 CFR 1508.27). The 
issuance of the Permit as Requested in the Application (Alternative 2, 
Proposed Action) would allow Barney M. Davis, L.P. to continue to 
operate the Barney M. Davis Power Station and would require 
conservation measures to minimize risk to sea turtles. This would 
result in less socio-economic costs than the No Action alternative 
(Alternative 1). The final permit determinations will not be completed 
until after the end of the 30-day comment period and will fully 
consider all public comments received during the comment period. NMFS 
will publish a record of its final action in the Federal Register.

    Dated: September 23, 2019.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-20975 Filed 9-26-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P