Endangered Species; File No. 21516, 36563-36565 [2020-13041]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 117 / Wednesday, June 17, 2020 / Notices U.S. Stakeholder conference call to discuss IATTC tropical tuna management in the eastern Pacific Ocean scheduled for May 22, 2020, was cancelled, and the content of that call would be included in the SAS and GAC webinars (85 FR 29931). However, due to the unexpected and recent postponement of the IATTC Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Virtual Discussion scheduled for June 16, 2020, and the resulting delay of the release of information and recommendations, there will be limited information available to hold a standalone SAS meeting. Therefore, NMFS is consolidating the SAS and GAC meetings into one webinar on June 18, 2020. This consolidated meeting also includes the content of the cancelled U.S. Stakeholder conference call to discuss tropical tuna management in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In accordance with the Tuna Conventions Act (16 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), the U.S. Department of Commerce, in consultation with the Department of State (the State Department), appoints a GAC to the U.S. Section to the IATTC, and a SAS that advises the GAC. The U.S. Section consists of the four U.S. Commissioners to the IATTC and representatives of the State Department, NOAA, Department of Commerce, other U.S. Government agencies, and stakeholders. The GAC advises the U.S. Section with respect to U.S. participation in the work of the IATTC, focusing on the development of U.S. policies, positions, and negotiating tactics. The purpose of the SAS is to advise the GAC on scientific matters. NMFS West Coast Region staff provide administrative support for the GAC and SAS. The meetings of the GAC and SAS are open to the public, unless in executive session. The time and manner of public comment will be at the discretion of the Chairs for the GAC and SAS. Currently, the 95th meeting of the IATTC, the 41st Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP), and IATTC and AIDCP working group meetings are scheduled to be held, in whatever format, from October 26 to November 6, 2020. However, these dates are subject to change. For more information and updates on these meetings, please visit the IATTC’s website: https://www.iattc.org/ MeetingsENG.htm. SAS and GAC Meeting Topics In a memorandum from the IATTC Director to the IATTC Commissioners and Heads of Delegation on June 9, 2020 (Ref. No. 0287–410), the IATTC Director VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Jun 16, 2020 Jkt 250001 announced that the pre-recorded SAC presentations and the live SAC virtual discussion that were scheduled to occur on June 12 and June 16, 2020, respectively, would be postponed until after the dates scheduled for the meetings of the SAS and GAC. As such, the consolidated SAS and GAC meeting will have a streamlined agenda. The meeting agenda will include, but is not limited to, the following topics: (1) Overview of the 2020 IATTC Meetings; (2) Outcomes of the 2020 stock assessments and stock status updates for tuna, tuna-like species, and other species caught in association with those fisheries in the eastern Pacific Ocean; (3) Evaluation of the IATTC Staff’s Recommendations to the Commission for 2020; (4) Issues related to non-target species, such as sharks, seabirds, sea turtles; (5) Evaluation of U.S. priorities for the 95th meeting of the IATTC and priorities from other IATTC members; (6) Recommendations and evaluations by the SAS and GAC; and (7) Other issues as they arise. Special Accommodations Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to William Stahnke (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authority: 16 U.S.C. 951 et seq. Dated: June 12, 2020. He´le`ne M.N. Scalliet, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–13073 Filed 6–12–20; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA183] Endangered Species; File No. 21516 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for public comments. AGENCY: NMFS has received a revised application from Virginia Electric and Power Company, D.B.A. Dominion Virginia Power for an incidental take permit, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act for activities associated with the otherwise lawful continued operation and maintenance of the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36563 Dominion Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield, VA. We are publishing this notice to inform the public that we are considering issuing a 5-year permit to the applicant that would authorize take of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) from the Chesapeake Bay. DATES: To allow for timely processing of the permit application, we must receive your comments no later than July 17, 2020. ADDRESSES: The application is available for download and review at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/esa_ review.htm under the section heading ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) Permits and Applications and at http:// www.regulations.gov. The application is also available upon request by emailing nmfs.gar.dominionitp@noaa.gov. Submit your comments by including NOAA–NMFS–2017–0051–0001, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/ document?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-00510001. 2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields. 3. Enter or attach your comments. • Email: Submit information to nmfs.gar.dominionitp@noaa.gov. Instructions: We may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the specified period. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information submitted voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie Crocker, (978) 282–8480. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, NMFS, published notice in the Federal Register on August 14, 2017 (82 FR 37849), of an application from Virginia Electric and Power Company, D.B.A. Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion) for an incidental take permit (ITP) to take federally listed Atlantic sturgeon belonging to the Chesapeake Bay Distinct Population Segment (Chesapeake Bay DPS) over a 10-year period as a result of impingement and entrainment in the Chesterfield Power Station (CPS) cooling water intake E:\FR\FM\17JNN1.SGM 17JNN1 36564 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 117 / Wednesday, June 17, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES system and collection during sampling required by section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Dominion provided a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that described the conservation program they would implement to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the incidental take. We received 37 comments during the public comment period. In addition, new information became available regarding dispersal of Atlantic sturgeon offspring in the James River, the risk of impingement for adult Atlantic sturgeon at CPS, and operation of the generating units at CPS. Dominion has revised and resubmitted their application and draft HCP to us in response to the public comments received and this new information. To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), we prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) that describes our proposed action and possible alternatives and analyzes the effects of the proposed action and alternatives on the human environment. We will evaluate whether the EA’s analysis is adequate to support a Finding of No Significant Impact. Background Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Federal regulations prohibit the ‘‘take’’ of Atlantic sturgeon belonging to the Chesapeake Bay DPS. 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. However, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize incidental take. ‘‘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)(2)(A) of the ESA requires an ITP applicant to submit an HCP that specifies the steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the taking. Regulations governing ITPs for threatened and endangered species are found at 50 CFR 222.307. The CPS is a coal-fueled power station in Chesterfield, Virginia in the upper tidal portion of the James River. It operates pursuant to a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality under section 402 of the CWA (the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program). CPS is subject to the CWA section 316(b) existing facility rule (79 FR 48300, August 15, 2014). The revisions to Dominion’s ITP application are: A permit for a term of 5-years instead of 10-years; new estimates for take of Atlantic sturgeon VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Jun 16, 2020 Jkt 250001 larvae by entrainment; and, removing anticipated take by impingement. Based on Dominion’s revised approach for estimating take, Dominion anticipates an average annual take of 10,949 (range 1,820–33,789) Atlantic sturgeon larvae from the Chesapeake Bay DPS due to entrainment in the Dominion CPS cooling water intakes. Dominion anticipates the take of no more than one Atlantic sturgeon larvae in water samples needed to complete their required CWA 316(b) studies. Dominion no longer anticipates take by impingement. Modifications and repairs were made to the intake guards following impingement of four adult Atlantic sturgeon in October 2018. Dominion subsequently determined that through-rack water velocities for the intake guards, trash racks, and traveling screens were less than 2 feet per second (fps) and concluded that healthy adult Atlantic sturgeon are capable of maneuvering against the intake velocity. Juvenile and subadult Atlantic sturgeon are not expected to occur in the vicinity of CPS given their life history attributes. Therefore, Dominion does not anticipate that take by impingement will occur and is not requesting such take in their ITP application. Dominion does not anticipate and is not requesting take of Atlantic sturgeon at CPS as a result of dredging, constituent discharge, thermal discharge, vessel movements, and shoreline and structure maintenance associated with operation of CPS. Dominion included consideration of the potential effects of CPS operation to shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in the ITP application but are not requesting take of shortnose sturgeon. Conservation Plan Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless an applicant submits an adequate HCP. Dominion has revised its proposed HCP which describes measures designed to minimize, monitor, and mitigate the incidental take of Atlantic sturgeon. Following the impingement of four adult Atlantic sturgeon in September 2018, Dominion completed a survey of the intake guards, repaired those that were degraded, and replaced a missing guard. Grid openings of the guards were reduced to prevent the smallest adult Atlantic sturgeon in the James River from entering the intake structure. In addition, the intake opening for each of two of the intake units was expanded to reduce water velocity. Based on these changes, Dominion anticipates the risk of impingement for adult Atlantic sturgeon PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 has been minimized to the extent that take is not likely to occur. Dominion will monitor for impingement at the trash racks and at the traveling screens to confirm that take is not occurring. Dominion proposes to partner with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) which will provide Dominion access to VCU’s tracking data for acoustically-tagged sturgeon that move upriver of CPS to spawn. In addition, Dominion will contract with VCU to deploy and maintain additional, new, receivers downstream of CPS to better inform when spawning Atlantic sturgeon are in the vicinity of CPS. The information acquired is expected to help inform when sturgeon larvae may be present in the vicinity of CPS. The information can be used by Dominion for timing its remaining sampling to complete the required CWA 316(b) studies. Knowing when spawning adults move past CPS or how long they are present in the vicinity of CPS will provide information necessary to better assess the risk of CPS operations (e.g., intake flows), and to develop sitespecific management actions to minimize take (e.g., planning and implementing routine maintenance outages, when practicable, to coincide with peak spawning movements). Dominion is also proposing to implement a pilot study that tests a new approach for identifying and counting Atlantic sturgeon larvae at CPS. If effective, this approach would provide information to inform minimization measures for Atlantic sturgeon larvae. The proposed action is the issuance of an ITP and implementation of the proposed HCP. Dominion considered two alternatives to the proposed action in its HCP: (1) No change to existing operations, studies and maintenance at CPS; and, (2) avoiding and minimizing permitted activities (e.g., modifying water withdrawals; modifying the cooling water intake structure; not conducting or not continuing the planned CWA 316(b) studies; not dredging and/or dredging less frequently; not using barges or vessels for the shipment or delivery of bulk materials; not performing or reducing shoreline and structure maintenance activities at CPS). National Environmental Policy Act In compliance with NEPA, we analyzed the impacts of the proposed issuance of an ITP and implementation of the HCP, and alternatives. Based on this analysis and any new information resulting from public comment, we will determine if there are any significant impacts caused by the proposed action. We previously prepared a draft EA and E:\FR\FM\17JNN1.SGM 17JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 117 / Wednesday, June 17, 2020 / Notices have revised it based on the new information provided by Dominion in their revised ITP application and HCP. We have made the draft, revised, EA available for public inspection online (see ADDRESSES). This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and to the NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). We will evaluate the application, associated documents, and submitted comments received to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We will also evaluate whether issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether to issue a permit. If the requirements are met, we will issue the permit to the applicant. We will publish a record of our final action in the Federal Register. Authority: This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Dated: June 12, 2020. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–13041 Filed 6–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA204] Schedules for Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops AGENCY: Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops Free Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held in July, August, and September of 2020. Certain fishermen and shark dealers are required to attend a workshop to meet regulatory requirements and to maintain valid permits. Specifically, the Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop is mandatory for all federally permitted Atlantic shark dealers. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Since January 1, 2008, Atlantic shark dealers have been prohibited from receiving, purchasing, trading, or bartering for Atlantic sharks unless a valid Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop certificate is on the premises of each business listed under the shark dealer permit that first receives Atlantic sharks (71 FR 58057; October 2, 2006). Dealers who attend and successfully complete a workshop are issued a certificate for each place of business that is permitted to receive sharks. These certificate(s) are valid for 3 years. Thus, certificates that were initially issued in 2017 will be expiring in 2020. Approximately 170 free Atlantic Shark National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public workshops. SUMMARY: khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Workshop is mandatory for vessel owners and operators who use bottom longline, pelagic longline, or gillnet gear, and who have also been issued shark or swordfish limited access permits. Additional free workshops will be conducted during 2020 and will be announced in a future notice. DATES: The Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops will be held on July 9, July 23, and August 6, 2020. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held on July 1, July 17, August 7, August 12, September 9, and September 17, 2020. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details. ADDRESSES: The Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Rosenberg, TX; and Panama City Beach, FL. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held in Panama City, FL; Ronkonkoma, NY; Largo, FL; Wilmington, NC; Galveston, TX; and Warwick, RI. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details on workshop locations. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Pearson by phone: (727) 824–5399. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The workshop schedules, registration information, and a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Atlantic Shark Identification and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification workshops are posted on the internet at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highlymigratory-species/atlantic-sharkidentification-workshops and https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highlymigratory-species/safe-handling-releaseand-identification-workshops. The workshops announced in this notice are in addition to the rescheduled workshops announced in a previous notice (85 FR 33631, June 2, 2020). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Jun 16, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36565 Identification Workshops have been conducted since July 2008. Currently, permitted dealers may send a proxy to an Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop. However, if a dealer opts to send a proxy, the dealer must designate a proxy for each place of business covered by the dealer’s permit that first receives Atlantic sharks. Only one certificate will be issued to each proxy. A proxy must be a person who is currently employed by a place of business covered by the dealer’s permit; is a primary participant in the identification, weighing, and/or first receipt of fish as they are offloaded from a vessel; and who fills out dealer reports. Atlantic shark dealers are prohibited from renewing a Federal shark dealer permit unless a valid Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop certificate for each business location that first receives Atlantic sharks has been submitted with the permit renewal application. Additionally, trucks or other conveyances that are extensions of a dealer’s place of business must possess a copy of a valid dealer or proxy Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop certificate. Workshop Dates, Times, and Locations 1. July 9, 2020, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., Hampton Inn, 720 East Cypress Creek Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334. 2. July 23, 2020, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., Hampton Inn, 3312 Vista Drive, Rosenberg, TX 77471. 3. August 6, 2020, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., Country Inn and Suites, 10241 Clarence Street, Panama City Beach, FL 32407. Registration To register for a scheduled Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop, please contact Eric Sander at ericssharkguide@ yahoo.com or at (386) 852–8588. Preregistration is highly recommended, but not required. Registration Materials To ensure that workshop certificates are linked to the correct permits, participants will need to bring the following specific items to the workshop: • Atlantic shark dealer permit holders must bring proof that the attendee is an owner or agent of the business (such as articles of incorporation), a copy of the applicable permit, and proof of identification. • Atlantic shark dealer proxies must bring documentation from the permitted dealer acknowledging that the proxy is attending the workshop on behalf of the permitted Atlantic shark dealer for a specific business location, a copy of the E:\FR\FM\17JNN1.SGM 17JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 117 (Wednesday, June 17, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 36563-36565]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-13041]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA183]


Endangered Species; File No. 21516

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

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for public comments.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a revised application from Virginia Electric 
and Power Company, D.B.A. Dominion Virginia Power for an incidental 
take permit, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act for activities 
associated with the otherwise lawful continued operation and 
maintenance of the Dominion Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield, 
VA. We are publishing this notice to inform the public that we are 
considering issuing a 5-year permit to the applicant that would 
authorize take of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) 
from the Chesapeake Bay.

DATES: To allow for timely processing of the permit application, we 
must receive your comments no later than July 17, 2020.

ADDRESSES: The application is available for download and review at 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/esa_review.htm under the section 
heading ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) Permits and Applications and at http://www.regulations.gov. The application is also available upon request by 
emailing [email protected].
    Submit your comments by including NOAA-NMFS-2017-0051-0001, by 
either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/document?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0051-0001.
    2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields.
    3. Enter or attach your comments.
     Email: Submit information to 
[email protected].
    Instructions: We may not consider comments if they are sent by any 
other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the 
end of the specified period. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information submitted 
voluntarily by the sender is publicly accessible. We will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie Crocker, (978) 282-8480.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, NMFS, published notice in the Federal 
Register on August 14, 2017 (82 FR 37849), of an application from 
Virginia Electric and Power Company, D.B.A. Dominion Virginia Power 
(Dominion) for an incidental take permit (ITP) to take federally listed 
Atlantic sturgeon belonging to the Chesapeake Bay Distinct Population 
Segment (Chesapeake Bay DPS) over a 10-year period as a result of 
impingement and entrainment in the Chesterfield Power Station (CPS) 
cooling water intake

[[Page 36564]]

system and collection during sampling required by section 316(b) of the 
Clean Water Act (CWA). Dominion provided a draft Habitat Conservation 
Plan (HCP) that described the conservation program they would implement 
to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the incidental take. We 
received 37 comments during the public comment period. In addition, new 
information became available regarding dispersal of Atlantic sturgeon 
offspring in the James River, the risk of impingement for adult 
Atlantic sturgeon at CPS, and operation of the generating units at CPS. 
Dominion has revised and resubmitted their application and draft HCP to 
us in response to the public comments received and this new 
information.
    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), we prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) that 
describes our proposed action and possible alternatives and analyzes 
the effects of the proposed action and alternatives on the human 
environment. We will evaluate whether the EA's analysis is adequate to 
support a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Background

    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of Atlantic sturgeon belonging to the 
Chesapeake Bay DPS. 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. However, under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize incidental 
take. ``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)(2)(A) of the ESA requires an ITP applicant to 
submit an HCP that specifies the steps the applicant will take to 
minimize and mitigate the impacts of the taking. Regulations governing 
ITPs for threatened and endangered species are found at 50 CFR 222.307.
    The CPS is a coal-fueled power station in Chesterfield, Virginia in 
the upper tidal portion of the James River. It operates pursuant to a 
permit issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality under 
section 402 of the CWA (the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
System program). CPS is subject to the CWA section 316(b) existing 
facility rule (79 FR 48300, August 15, 2014).
    The revisions to Dominion's ITP application are: A permit for a 
term of 5-years instead of 10-years; new estimates for take of Atlantic 
sturgeon larvae by entrainment; and, removing anticipated take by 
impingement. Based on Dominion's revised approach for estimating take, 
Dominion anticipates an average annual take of 10,949 (range 1,820-
33,789) Atlantic sturgeon larvae from the Chesapeake Bay DPS due to 
entrainment in the Dominion CPS cooling water intakes. Dominion 
anticipates the take of no more than one Atlantic sturgeon larvae in 
water samples needed to complete their required CWA 316(b) studies.
    Dominion no longer anticipates take by impingement. Modifications 
and repairs were made to the intake guards following impingement of 
four adult Atlantic sturgeon in October 2018. Dominion subsequently 
determined that through-rack water velocities for the intake guards, 
trash racks, and traveling screens were less than 2 feet per second 
(fps) and concluded that healthy adult Atlantic sturgeon are capable of 
maneuvering against the intake velocity. Juvenile and subadult Atlantic 
sturgeon are not expected to occur in the vicinity of CPS given their 
life history attributes. Therefore, Dominion does not anticipate that 
take by impingement will occur and is not requesting such take in their 
ITP application.
    Dominion does not anticipate and is not requesting take of Atlantic 
sturgeon at CPS as a result of dredging, constituent discharge, thermal 
discharge, vessel movements, and shoreline and structure maintenance 
associated with operation of CPS. Dominion included consideration of 
the potential effects of CPS operation to shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser 
brevirostrum) in the ITP application but are not requesting take of 
shortnose sturgeon.

Conservation Plan

    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA specifies that no permit may be 
issued unless an applicant submits an adequate HCP. Dominion has 
revised its proposed HCP which describes measures designed to minimize, 
monitor, and mitigate the incidental take of Atlantic sturgeon. 
Following the impingement of four adult Atlantic sturgeon in September 
2018, Dominion completed a survey of the intake guards, repaired those 
that were degraded, and replaced a missing guard. Grid openings of the 
guards were reduced to prevent the smallest adult Atlantic sturgeon in 
the James River from entering the intake structure. In addition, the 
intake opening for each of two of the intake units was expanded to 
reduce water velocity. Based on these changes, Dominion anticipates the 
risk of impingement for adult Atlantic sturgeon has been minimized to 
the extent that take is not likely to occur. Dominion will monitor for 
impingement at the trash racks and at the traveling screens to confirm 
that take is not occurring.
    Dominion proposes to partner with Virginia Commonwealth University 
(VCU) which will provide Dominion access to VCU's tracking data for 
acoustically-tagged sturgeon that move upriver of CPS to spawn. In 
addition, Dominion will contract with VCU to deploy and maintain 
additional, new, receivers downstream of CPS to better inform when 
spawning Atlantic sturgeon are in the vicinity of CPS. The information 
acquired is expected to help inform when sturgeon larvae may be present 
in the vicinity of CPS. The information can be used by Dominion for 
timing its remaining sampling to complete the required CWA 316(b) 
studies. Knowing when spawning adults move past CPS or how long they 
are present in the vicinity of CPS will provide information necessary 
to better assess the risk of CPS operations (e.g., intake flows), and 
to develop site-specific management actions to minimize take (e.g., 
planning and implementing routine maintenance outages, when 
practicable, to coincide with peak spawning movements).
    Dominion is also proposing to implement a pilot study that tests a 
new approach for identifying and counting Atlantic sturgeon larvae at 
CPS. If effective, this approach would provide information to inform 
minimization measures for Atlantic sturgeon larvae.
    The proposed action is the issuance of an ITP and implementation of 
the proposed HCP. Dominion considered two alternatives to the proposed 
action in its HCP: (1) No change to existing operations, studies and 
maintenance at CPS; and, (2) avoiding and minimizing permitted 
activities (e.g., modifying water withdrawals; modifying the cooling 
water intake structure; not conducting or not continuing the planned 
CWA 316(b) studies; not dredging and/or dredging less frequently; not 
using barges or vessels for the shipment or delivery of bulk materials; 
not performing or reducing shoreline and structure maintenance 
activities at CPS).

National Environmental Policy Act

    In compliance with NEPA, we analyzed the impacts of the proposed 
issuance of an ITP and implementation of the HCP, and alternatives. 
Based on this analysis and any new information resulting from public 
comment, we will determine if there are any significant impacts caused 
by the proposed action. We previously prepared a draft EA and

[[Page 36565]]

have revised it based on the new information provided by Dominion in 
their revised ITP application and HCP. We have made the draft, revised, 
EA available for public inspection online (see ADDRESSES).
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and to 
the NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). We will evaluate the application, 
associated documents, and submitted comments received to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of section 10 of the ESA 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We will also evaluate whether issuance of a 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit would comply with section 7 of the ESA by 
conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We will use the 
results of this consultation, in combination with the above findings, 
in our final analysis to determine whether to issue a permit. If the 
requirements are met, we will issue the permit to the applicant.
    We will publish a record of our final action in the Federal 
Register.

    Authority: This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of 
the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6).

    Dated: June 12, 2020.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-13041 Filed 6-16-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P