Final Environmental Impact Statement on MidAmerican Energy Company's Habitat Conservation Plan for Midwestern Bat and Bird Species in Iowa, 53461-53462 [2019-21547]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 194 / Monday, October 7, 2019 / Notices NAME OFFICIAL TITLE DEFELICE, JOSEPH J ................... DEMARZO, BENJAMIN E .............. GORMLEY, JOSEPH M ................. GRASSI III, JOSEPH J ................... HUFF, DANIEL ............................... HUGHES, ANDREW D ................... KASPER, MAREN M ...................... KELLEY, MICHAEL J ..................... PATTON, LYNNE M ....................... PETTY, TIMOTHY J ....................... ROGET, GISELE G ........................ SEATS, CHRISTOPHER L ............. TURNER, ERIC S ........................... WOLL JR, DAVID C ....................... REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR (PHILADELPHIA). ASST DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR FPM. CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE DEPUTY SECRETARY. PRINCIPAL DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL. GDAS FOR FHEO. CHIEF OF STAFF. EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT (POLICY). GDAS FOR CONG & INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS. REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR (NEW YORK). DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL FOR ENFORCEMENT. DAS FOR SINGLE-FAMILY. DAS FOR MULTIFAMILY HOUSING. SENIOR ADVISOR. PRINCIPAL DAS, FOR CPD. SES LIMITED ALLEN, MICHAEL T ....................... GARVIN, JOHN L ........................... OPPENHEIMER, DROR ................. SENIOR ADVISOR FOR TRANSFORMATION. SR ADVISOR FOR ORGANIZATION, TRANSFORMATION AND MODERNIZATION. SR ADVISOR FOR RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Dated: October 1, 2019. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., Secretary. than 30 days after the publication of this notice of availability in the Federal Register. [FR Doc. 2019–21838 Filed 10–4–19; 8:45 am] ADDRESSES: BILLING CODE 4210–67–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2018–0037; FXES11130300000–189–FF03E00000] Final Environmental Impact Statement on MidAmerican Energy Company’s Habitat Conservation Plan for Midwestern Bat and Bird Species in Iowa Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: In accordance with the Endangered Species Act, as amended, and the National Environmental Policy Act, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of the final environmental impact statement and draft record of decision analyzing the impacts of issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) for implementation of the MidAmerican Energy Company’s Final Habitat Conservation Plan MidAmerican Energy Company Iowa Wind Energy Project Portfolio (HCP). Our decision is to issue a 30-year ITP for implementation of the HCP, which authorizes incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat, federally threatened northern long-eared bat, federally protected bald eagle, the little brown bat, and tricolored bat under the Endangered Species Act. DATES: We will finalize the record of decision and issue a permit no sooner SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Oct 04, 2019 53461 Jkt 250001 Electronic copies of the documents this notice announces will be available online in Docket No. FWS– R3–ES–2018–0037 at http:// www.regulations.gov. Paper copies will be available at 22 county libraries in Iowa. Additional electronic copies of the documents as well as the list of libraries with paper copies will be available at https:// www.fws.gov/midwest/rockisland/te/ MidAmericanHCP.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Schorg, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, or Kraig McPeek, Illinois-Iowa Ecological Services Office Project Leader, Illinois-Iowa Field Office, by U.S. mail at 1511 47th Ave., Moline, IL 61265, or by phone at 309–757–5800. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of several documents related to an incidental take permit application under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The final environmental impact statement (EIS) and draft record of decision (ROD) were developed in compliance with the agency decisionmaking requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and are based on the habitat conservation plan as submitted by MidAmerican Energy Company (applicant). We described, fully evaluated, and analyzed all seven alternatives in detail in our 2019 final EIS. The draft ROD documents the rationale for our decision. The final ROD will be available on the Service website no sooner than 31 days after this notice. In addition to this notice, PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a notice announcing the EIS, as required under the Clean Air Act, section 309 (42 U.S.C. 7609; see EPA’s Role in the EIS Process below). Proposed Action Our proposed action is to issue an ITP to the applicant under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, (16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(1)(B)), that authorizes incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat, federally threatened northern longeared bat, and federally protected bald eagle, as well as the little brown bat and tricolored bat, from the applicant’s maintenance and operation of its wind power generation facilities in Iowa. Little brown bat and tricolored bat are not federally protected, but they are currently being evaluated for protection. Additionally, 50 CFR 22.11 provides for the permitting of eagles under ESA permits. The applicant has chosen to include these as covered species and treated them as if they were ESA listed. MidAmerican Energy Company is one of the largest electric utilities in Iowa, and operates over 22 projects with more than 4,040 MW of installed energy generation capacity. MidAmerican Energy Company’s ability to serve its customers depends on the predictable operation and maintenance of its wind power facilities. The plan area for the HCP includes areas where authorized incidental take would occur and conservation measures would take place, covering all of Iowa. The applicant requested a term of 30 years from the date of ITP issuance to include the operational life of the covered projects. The applicant will implement minimization and mitigation measures to offset impacts to the covered species according to the HCP. E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 53462 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 194 / Monday, October 7, 2019 / Notices The applicant has agreed to include the following minimization measures: • Feathering turbine blades at all projects below manufacturer’s cut-in speeds at night for the entire active season for bats. Feathering below cut-in speeds is a way of minimizing the rotational speed of turbine blades when not producing energy. • Minimizing the rotational speed of turbine blades until wind speeds reach 5.0 meters per second when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit from mid-July through September at four facilities with the highest risk to covered bat species. • Removing carrion and increasing landowner education efforts to reduce attractants to bald eagles. • Carrying out a fatality monitoring and adaptive management program to adjust conservation measures if needed to ensure compliance with the ITP and HCP. The mitigation measures include the following commitments: • Protecting and restoring a minimum of 1,309 acres of bat habitat and 42 artificial structures for bat use. • Protecting and restoring additional bat habitat up to a total of 3,200 acres, and 50 artificial structures, if needed, to compensate for projected future take based on the monitoring program results. • Providing funding to manage and monitor all mitigation lands. • Providing funding for conservation activities to immediately benefit bald eagles to mitigate for take of bald eagles. • Providing mitigation funding in advance of take so that mitigation implementation stays ahead of impacts to covered species. Background The applicant has applied for an ITP under the ESA that would authorize incidental take of four bat species and bald eagles and would be in effect for a period of 30 years. The proposed incidental take of bats and eagles would occur from lawful, non-Federal activities from the applicant’s operation of existing wind energy generation facilities within the permit area. The HCP permit area includes lands used for operations of 22 projects in Iowa where the applicant has existing wind power facilities. The plan area includes the permit area, and also the rest of Iowa, to include all areas that may be influenced by the HCP, including mitigation activities. The final EIS considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of implementing the HCP, including measures to minimize and mitigate such impacts to the maximum extent practicable. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:29 Oct 04, 2019 Jkt 250001 Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing regulations prohibit the ‘‘take’’ of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. (16 U.S.C. 1538) 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. 1532(19)). Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. Incidental take is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the incidental take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: (a) The taking will be incidental; (b) the applicant will minimize and mitigate, to the maximum extent practicable, the impact of such taking; (c) the applicant will develop an HCP and ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (d) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (e) the applicant will carry out any other measures that the Secretary of the Interior may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. An applicant may choose to cover non-listed species in the HCP, and these species will be treated as ESA-listed species. On August 31, 2018, we published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability for public review of a draft EIS and requested public comment on our evaluation of the potential impacts associated with issuance of an ITP for implementation of the HCP and to evaluate alternatives (83 FR 44652). In September and October 2018, we held two public hearings on the draft document, one in Ankeny, Iowa, and one via online web conference. The public comment period closed on October 15, 2018. We received 93 comments in total: 87 through regulations.gov, 5 comments via email, 2 comments during the in-person public hearing, and 1 through the U.S. mail. The final EIS provides responses to those comments in Appendix E. Decision We intend to issue a final ROD with respect to whether we issue an ITP allowing the applicants to implement the Iowa Wind Energy Project Portfolio Habitat Conservation Plan. Our decision will be based on a thorough review of the alternatives and their environmental consequences. A decision to issue an PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 ITP would be based on the commitment by MidAmerican Energy Company to fully implement the HCP, including minimization and mitigation measures, monitoring and adaptive management, and to fully comply with all terms and conditions in the ITP. A final ITP decision will be made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of this notice of availability and completion of the record of decision. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process In addition to this notice, EPA is publishing a notice in the Federal Register announcing final EIS for MidAmerican Energy Company’s Iowa Wind Energy Project Portfolio Habitat Conservation Plan, as required under the Clean Air Act, section 309. The EPA is charged with reviewing all Federal agencies’ EISs and commenting on the adequacy and acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in EISs. The EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs that Federal agencies prepare. All EISs must be filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. For more information, see https://www.epa.gov/nepa. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https:// cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/ action/eis/search. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C.1539(c)) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22) and the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 46). Lori Nordstrom, Acting Regional Director. [FR Doc. 2019–21547 Filed 10–3–19; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–ES–2019–N136; FXES11130800000–178–FF08E00000] Endangered and Threatened Species; Receipt of Recovery Permit Applications Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of receipt of permit applications; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received applications for permits to conduct SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 194 (Monday, October 7, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 53461-53462]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-21547]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2018-0037; FXES11130300000-189-FF03E00000]


Final Environmental Impact Statement on MidAmerican Energy 
Company's Habitat Conservation Plan for Midwestern Bat and Bird Species 
in Iowa

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Endangered Species Act, as amended, and 
the National Environmental Policy Act, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, announce the availability of the final environmental impact 
statement and draft record of decision analyzing the impacts of 
issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) for implementation of the 
MidAmerican Energy Company's Final Habitat Conservation Plan 
MidAmerican Energy Company Iowa Wind Energy Project Portfolio (HCP). 
Our decision is to issue a 30-year ITP for implementation of the HCP, 
which authorizes incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana 
bat, federally threatened northern long-eared bat, federally protected 
bald eagle, the little brown bat, and tricolored bat under the 
Endangered Species Act.

DATES: We will finalize the record of decision and issue a permit no 
sooner than 30 days after the publication of this notice of 
availability in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the documents this notice announces 
will be available online in Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2018-0037 at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Paper copies will be available at 22 county libraries in Iowa. 
Additional electronic copies of the documents as well as the list of 
libraries with paper copies will be available at https://www.fws.gov/midwest/rockisland/te/MidAmericanHCP.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Schorg, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, or Kraig McPeek, Illinois-Iowa Ecological Services Office 
Project Leader, Illinois-Iowa Field Office, by U.S. mail at 1511 47th 
Ave., Moline, IL 61265, or by phone at 309-757-5800.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of several documents related to an 
incidental take permit application under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The final environmental 
impact statement (EIS) and draft record of decision (ROD) were 
developed in compliance with the agency decision-making requirements of 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
and are based on the habitat conservation plan as submitted by 
MidAmerican Energy Company (applicant). We described, fully evaluated, 
and analyzed all seven alternatives in detail in our 2019 final EIS. 
The draft ROD documents the rationale for our decision. The final ROD 
will be available on the Service website no sooner than 31 days after 
this notice. In addition to this notice, the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) is publishing a notice announcing the EIS, as required 
under the Clean Air Act, section 309 (42 U.S.C. 7609; see EPA's Role in 
the EIS Process below).

Proposed Action

    Our proposed action is to issue an ITP to the applicant under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, (16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(1)(B)), that 
authorizes incidental take of the federally endangered Indiana bat, 
federally threatened northern long-eared bat, and federally protected 
bald eagle, as well as the little brown bat and tricolored bat, from 
the applicant's maintenance and operation of its wind power generation 
facilities in Iowa. Little brown bat and tricolored bat are not 
federally protected, but they are currently being evaluated for 
protection. Additionally, 50 CFR 22.11 provides for the permitting of 
eagles under ESA permits. The applicant has chosen to include these as 
covered species and treated them as if they were ESA listed.
    MidAmerican Energy Company is one of the largest electric utilities 
in Iowa, and operates over 22 projects with more than 4,040 MW of 
installed energy generation capacity. MidAmerican Energy Company's 
ability to serve its customers depends on the predictable operation and 
maintenance of its wind power facilities. The plan area for the HCP 
includes areas where authorized incidental take would occur and 
conservation measures would take place, covering all of Iowa. The 
applicant requested a term of 30 years from the date of ITP issuance to 
include the operational life of the covered projects. The applicant 
will implement minimization and mitigation measures to offset impacts 
to the covered species according to the HCP.

[[Page 53462]]

    The applicant has agreed to include the following minimization 
measures:
     Feathering turbine blades at all projects below 
manufacturer's cut-in speeds at night for the entire active season for 
bats. Feathering below cut-in speeds is a way of minimizing the 
rotational speed of turbine blades when not producing energy.
     Minimizing the rotational speed of turbine blades until 
wind speeds reach 5.0 meters per second when temperatures are above 50 
degrees Fahrenheit from mid-July through September at four facilities 
with the highest risk to covered bat species.
     Removing carrion and increasing landowner education 
efforts to reduce attractants to bald eagles.
     Carrying out a fatality monitoring and adaptive management 
program to adjust conservation measures if needed to ensure compliance 
with the ITP and HCP.
    The mitigation measures include the following commitments:
     Protecting and restoring a minimum of 1,309 acres of bat 
habitat and 42 artificial structures for bat use.
     Protecting and restoring additional bat habitat up to a 
total of 3,200 acres, and 50 artificial structures, if needed, to 
compensate for projected future take based on the monitoring program 
results.
     Providing funding to manage and monitor all mitigation 
lands.
     Providing funding for conservation activities to 
immediately benefit bald eagles to mitigate for take of bald eagles.
     Providing mitigation funding in advance of take so that 
mitigation implementation stays ahead of impacts to covered species.

Background

    The applicant has applied for an ITP under the ESA that would 
authorize incidental take of four bat species and bald eagles and would 
be in effect for a period of 30 years. The proposed incidental take of 
bats and eagles would occur from lawful, non-Federal activities from 
the applicant's operation of existing wind energy generation facilities 
within the permit area. The HCP permit area includes lands used for 
operations of 22 projects in Iowa where the applicant has existing wind 
power facilities. The plan area includes the permit area, and also the 
rest of Iowa, to include all areas that may be influenced by the HCP, 
including mitigation activities. The final EIS considers the direct, 
indirect, and cumulative effects of implementing the HCP, including 
measures to minimize and mitigate such impacts to the maximum extent 
practicable.
    Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing regulations prohibit the 
``take'' of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. (16 
U.S.C. 1538) 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. 
1532(19)). Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Service may issue 
permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. Incidental take 
is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the 
purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing 
incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the incidental take 
of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria 
are met: (a) The taking will be incidental; (b) the applicant will 
minimize and mitigate, to the maximum extent practicable, the impact of 
such taking; (c) the applicant will develop an HCP and ensure that 
adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (d) the taking will not 
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the 
species in the wild; and (e) the applicant will carry out any other 
measures that the Secretary of the Interior may require as being 
necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. An applicant may 
choose to cover non-listed species in the HCP, and these species will 
be treated as ESA-listed species.
    On August 31, 2018, we published a Federal Register notice 
announcing the availability for public review of a draft EIS and 
requested public comment on our evaluation of the potential impacts 
associated with issuance of an ITP for implementation of the HCP and to 
evaluate alternatives (83 FR 44652). In September and October 2018, we 
held two public hearings on the draft document, one in Ankeny, Iowa, 
and one via online web conference. The public comment period closed on 
October 15, 2018. We received 93 comments in total: 87 through 
regulations.gov, 5 comments via email, 2 comments during the in-person 
public hearing, and 1 through the U.S. mail. The final EIS provides 
responses to those comments in Appendix E.

Decision

    We intend to issue a final ROD with respect to whether we issue an 
ITP allowing the applicants to implement the Iowa Wind Energy Project 
Portfolio Habitat Conservation Plan. Our decision will be based on a 
thorough review of the alternatives and their environmental 
consequences. A decision to issue an ITP would be based on the 
commitment by MidAmerican Energy Company to fully implement the HCP, 
including minimization and mitigation measures, monitoring and adaptive 
management, and to fully comply with all terms and conditions in the 
ITP.
    A final ITP decision will be made no sooner than 30 days after the 
publication of this notice of availability and completion of the record 
of decision.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

    In addition to this notice, EPA is publishing a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing final EIS for MidAmerican Energy Company's 
Iowa Wind Energy Project Portfolio Habitat Conservation Plan, as 
required under the Clean Air Act, section 309. The EPA is charged with 
reviewing all Federal agencies' EISs and commenting on the adequacy and 
acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in EISs.
    The EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs that 
Federal agencies prepare. All EISs must be filed with EPA, which 
publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. 
For more information, see https://www.epa.gov/nepa. You may search for 
EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 
U.S.C.1539(c)) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22) and the 
NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6; 43 CFR part 46).

Lori Nordstrom,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2019-21547 Filed 10-3-19; 11:15 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P