Block 12 Development Project, Kern County, California; Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan, 12322-12323 [2020-04173]

Download as PDF 12322 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 41 / Monday, March 2, 2020 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2018–0116; FF08ESMF00–FXES11140800000–189] Block 12 Development Project, Kern County, California; Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. Notice of availability of permit application; request for comment. ACTION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. We also announce receipt of an application for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and receipt of a draft habitat conservation plan. Aera Energy, LLC has applied for an incidental take permit under the ESA for the Block 12 Development Project in Kern County, California. The permit would authorize the take of four species incidental to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project. We invite the public and local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on these applications. Before issuing the requested permit, we will take into consideration any information that we receive during the public comment period. DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before April 1, 2020. ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: • Electronic: The incidental take permit (ITP) application, draft environmental assessment (draft EA), draft habitat conservation plan (HCP), and any comments and other materials that we receive are available for public inspection at http:// www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS–HQ–IA–201X–0116. • Hardcopy: Hardcopies of the ITP application, draft EA, and draft HCP are also available for public inspection, by appointment, during regular business hours at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W–2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Submitting Comments: To send written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information requests or comments are in reference to the draft EA, draft HCP, or both. • Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2018–0116. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:10 Feb 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 • U.S. Mail or Hand-Delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2018–0116; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: PERMA; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. For more information, see Public Comments under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Justin Sloan, Senior Wildlife Biologist, or Patricia Cole, Chief, San Joaquin Valley Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at 916–414– 6600 or via the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment (EA), prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. This notice also announces the receipt of an application from Aera Energy, LLC (applicant), for a 35-year incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Application for the permit requires the preparation of an HCP with measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of incidental take to the maximum extent practicable. The applicant prepared the draft Block 12 Development Project Habitat Conservation Plan (draft HCP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The purpose of the EA is to assess the effects of issuing the permit and implementing the draft HCP on the natural and human environment. Background Information Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531– 1544 et seq.) and Federal regulations (50 CFR 17) prohibit the taking of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. For more about the Federal habitat conservation plan (HCP) program, go to http:// www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/ pdf/hcp.pdf. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The draft EA was prepared to analyze the impacts of issuing an ITP based on the draft HCP and to inform PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the public of the proposed action, any alternatives, and associated impacts, and to disclose any irreversible commitments of resources. Proposed Action Alternative Under the Proposed Action Alternative, the Service would issue an ITP to the applicants for a period of 35 years for certain covered activities (described below). The applicant has requested an ITP for four covered species (described below), three of which are listed as endangered under the Act. Habitat Conservation Plan Area The geographic scope of the draft HCP encompasses 503 acres, including the development area and conservation lands. The project would result in the expansion of oil production facilities into approximately 55 acres of the HCP area, located within the Belridge Producing Complex on privately owned land in the unincorporated portion of western Kern County, California. Covered Activities The proposed section 10 ITP would allow take of four covered species from covered activities in the proposed HCP area. The applicant is requesting incidental take authorization for covered activities including construction, drilling, operations and maintenance, and plugging and abandonment of oil wells in the project area. The applicant is proposing to implement a number of project design features, including best management practices, as well as general and speciesspecific avoidance and minimization measures to minimize the impacts of the take from the covered activities. Covered Species The following four federally listed endangered species are proposed to be included as covered species in the proposed HCP: Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila) Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) Kern mallow (Eremalche kernensis) The non-listed San Joaquin antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni) is also proposed to be included as a covered species. No-Action Alternative Under the No-Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP to the applicant, and the draft HCP would not be implemented. Under this alternative, the applicant may choose not to expand the oil field, or would do so in a manner presumed not to result in the take of ESA listed species. E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 12323 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 41 / Monday, March 2, 2020 / Notices Public Comments We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this notice, the draft EA, and the draft HCP. We particularly seek comments on the following: 1. Biological information concerning the species; 2. Relevant data concerning the species; 3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, population size, and population trends of the species; 4. Current or planned activities in the area and their possible impacts on the species; 5. The presence of archeological sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and 6. Any other environmental issues that should be considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action. Public Availability of Comments Before including your address, phone number, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—might be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Next Steps Issuance of an incidental take permit is a Federal proposed action subject to compliance with NEPA and section 7 of the ESA. We will evaluate the application, associated documents, and any public comments we receive as part of our NEPA compliance process to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If we determine that those requirements are met, we will conduct an intra-Service consultation under section 7 of the ESA for the Federal action for the potential issuance of an ITP. If the intra-Service consultation confirms that issuance of the ITP will not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened Application No. TE65584D ... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Applicant species, or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we will issue a permit to the applicant for the incidental take of the covered species. Authority We publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321–4347 et seq.), and its implementing regulations at 40 CFR 1500–1508, as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531–1544 et seq.) and its implementing regulations at 40 CFR 17.22. Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California. [FR Doc. 2020–04173 Filed 2–28–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P [FWS–R3–ES–2020–N022; FXES11130300000–201–FF03E00000] 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 activities intended to enhance the propagation or survival of endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We invite the public and local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on these applications. Before issuing any of the requested permits, we will take into consideration any information that we receive during the public comment period. DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before April 1, 2020. ADDRESSES: Document availability and comment submission: Submit requests for copies of the applications and related documents, as well as any Location Ian S. Pearse, Rusty patched bumble bee Fort Collins, CO. (Bombus affinis). 18:10 Feb 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), prohibits certain activities with endangered and threatened species unless authorized by a Federal permit. The ESA and our implementing regulations in part 17 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provide for the issuance of such permits and require that we invite public comment before issuing permits for activities involving endangered species. A recovery permit issued by us under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA authorizes the permittee to conduct activities with endangered species for scientific purposes that promote recovery or for enhancement of propagation or survival of the species. Our regulations implementing section 10(a)(1)(A) for these permits are found at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered wildlife species, 50 CFR 17.32 for threatened wildlife species, 50 CFR 17.62 for endangered plant species, and 50 CFR 17.72 for threatened plant species. Permit Applications Available for Review and Comment We invite local, State, and Federal agencies; Tribes; and the public to comment on the following applications. Activity IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, OH, VA, WI Frm 00074 Nathan Rathbun, 612–713–5343 (phone); permitsR3ES@fws.gov (email). Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. Background Fish and Wildlife Service Species FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR SUMMARY: comments, by one of the following methods. All requests and comments should specify the applicant name(s) and application number(s) (e.g., TEXXXXXX): • Email: permitsR3ES@fws.gov. Please refer to the respective application number (e.g., Application No. TEXXXXXX) in the subject line of your email message. • U.S. Mail: Regional Director, Attn: Nathan Rathbun, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd., West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437–1458. Type of take Conduct presence/absence surveys, document habitat use, conduct population monitoring, evaluate impacts. E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 Capture; handle; temporarily hold; tag; collect fecal and tarsal samples; release. Permit action New.

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 41 (Monday, March 2, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12322-12323]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-04173]



[[Page 12322]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2018-0116; FF08ESMF00-FXES11140800000-189]


Block 12 Development Project, Kern County, California; Draft 
Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of permit application; request for 
comment.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of a draft environmental assessment under the National 
Environmental Policy Act. We also announce receipt of an application 
for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 
and receipt of a draft habitat conservation plan. Aera Energy, LLC has 
applied for an incidental take permit under the ESA for the Block 12 
Development Project in Kern County, California. The permit would 
authorize the take of four species incidental to the construction, 
operation, and maintenance of the project. We invite the public and 
local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on these 
applications. Before issuing the requested permit, we will take into 
consideration any information that we receive during the public comment 
period.

DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before April 1, 
2020.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents:
     Electronic: The incidental take permit (ITP) application, 
draft environmental assessment (draft EA), draft habitat conservation 
plan (HCP), and any comments and other materials that we receive are 
available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket 
No. FWS-HQ-IA-201X-0116.
     Hardcopy: Hardcopies of the ITP application, draft EA, and 
draft HCP are also available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during regular business hours at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Submitting Comments: To send written comments, please use one of 
the following methods, and note that your information requests or 
comments are in reference to the draft EA, draft HCP, or both.
     Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov 
under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2018-0116.
     U.S. Mail or Hand-Delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2018-0116; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
Headquarters, MS: PERMA; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041-
3803.
    For more information, see Public Comments under SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Justin Sloan, Senior Wildlife 
Biologist, or Patricia Cole, Chief, San Joaquin Valley Division, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at 916-414-6600 or via 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of a draft environmental 
assessment (EA), prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and its 
implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 
CFR 1506.6. This notice also announces the receipt of an application 
from Aera Energy, LLC (applicant), for a 35-year incidental take permit 
(ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Application for the permit requires the 
preparation of an HCP with measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate 
the impacts of incidental take to the maximum extent practicable. The 
applicant prepared the draft Block 12 Development Project Habitat 
Conservation Plan (draft HCP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA. The purpose of the EA is to assess the effects of issuing the 
permit and implementing the draft HCP on the natural and human 
environment.

Background Information

    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations (50 CFR 17) prohibit the taking of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. 
Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are 
at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. For more about the Federal habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/hcp.pdf.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The draft EA was prepared to analyze the impacts 
of issuing an ITP based on the draft HCP and to inform the public of 
the proposed action, any alternatives, and associated impacts, and to 
disclose any irreversible commitments of resources.

Proposed Action Alternative

    Under the Proposed Action Alternative, the Service would issue an 
ITP to the applicants for a period of 35 years for certain covered 
activities (described below). The applicant has requested an ITP for 
four covered species (described below), three of which are listed as 
endangered under the Act.
Habitat Conservation Plan Area
    The geographic scope of the draft HCP encompasses 503 acres, 
including the development area and conservation lands. The project 
would result in the expansion of oil production facilities into 
approximately 55 acres of the HCP area, located within the Belridge 
Producing Complex on privately owned land in the unincorporated portion 
of western Kern County, California.
Covered Activities
    The proposed section 10 ITP would allow take of four covered 
species from covered activities in the proposed HCP area. The applicant 
is requesting incidental take authorization for covered activities 
including construction, drilling, operations and maintenance, and 
plugging and abandonment of oil wells in the project area. The 
applicant is proposing to implement a number of project design 
features, including best management practices, as well as general and 
species-specific avoidance and minimization measures to minimize the 
impacts of the take from the covered activities.
Covered Species
    The following four federally listed endangered species are proposed 
to be included as covered species in the proposed HCP:

Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila)
Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens)
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)
Kern mallow (Eremalche kernensis)

    The non-listed San Joaquin antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus 
nelsoni) is also proposed to be included as a covered species.

No-Action Alternative

    Under the No-Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP 
to the applicant, and the draft HCP would not be implemented. Under 
this alternative, the applicant may choose not to expand the oil field, 
or would do so in a manner presumed not to result in the take of ESA 
listed species.

[[Page 12323]]

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this 
notice, the draft EA, and the draft HCP. We particularly seek comments 
on the following:

    1. Biological information concerning the species;
    2. Relevant data concerning the species;
    3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the species;
    4. Current or planned activities in the area and their possible 
impacts on the species;
    5. The presence of archeological sites, buildings and 
structures, historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other 
historic preservation concerns, which are required to be considered 
in project planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    6. Any other environmental issues that should be considered with 
regard to the proposed development and permit action.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, or other personal 
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--might 
be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public 
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Next Steps

    Issuance of an incidental take permit is a Federal proposed action 
subject to compliance with NEPA and section 7 of the ESA. We will 
evaluate the application, associated documents, and any public comments 
we receive as part of our NEPA compliance process to determine whether 
the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If 
we determine that those requirements are met, we will conduct an intra-
Service consultation under section 7 of the ESA for the Federal action 
for the potential issuance of an ITP. If the intra-Service consultation 
confirms that issuance of the ITP will not jeopardize the continued 
existence of any endangered or threatened species, or destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat, we will issue a permit to the 
applicant for the incidental take of the covered species.

Authority

    We publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347 et seq.), and its implementing 
regulations at 40 CFR 1500-1508, as well as in compliance with section 
10(c) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544 et seq.) and 
its implementing regulations at 40 CFR 17.22.

Jennifer Norris,
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2020-04173 Filed 2-28-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P