Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Marine Site Characterization Surveys Offshore of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, 42357-42359 [2020-15105]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 135 / Tuesday, July 14, 2020 / Notices Commerce’s Final Results of Redetermination.7 Timken Notice In its decision in Timken,8 as clarified by Diamond Sawblades,9 the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) held that, pursuant to section 516A of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), Commerce must publish a notice of a court decision that is not ‘‘in harmony’’ with a Commerce determination and must suspend liquidation of entries pending a ‘‘conclusive’’ court decision. The CIT’s June 25, 2020, judgment sustaining the Final Results of Redetermination constitutes a final decision of the CIT that is not in harmony with Commerce’s Final Determination, as modified by the Amended Final Determination and Order. This notice is published in fulfillment of the publication requirements of Timken. Amended Final Determination Because there is now a final court decision, Commerce is amending its Final Determination with respect to the countervailing duty rate calculated for Habas and the companies covered by the all-others rate. The revised rates are as follows: Subsidy rate Exporter or producer Habas and all other producers and exporters of the subject merchandise, effective July 5, 2020. Notification to Interested Parties This notice is issued and published in accordance with sections 516A(c)(1) and (e), and 777(i)(1) of the Act. Dated: July 7, 2020. Jeffrey I. Kessler, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2020–15061 Filed 7–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA238] Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Marine Site Characterization Surveys Offshore of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: NMFS has received a request from Vineyard Wind, LLC (Vineyard 6.09 Wind) for the re-issuance of a 3.81 previously issued incidental harassment 4.95 authorization (IHA) with the only change being effective dates. The initial IHA authorized take of 14 species of Cash Deposit Requirements marine mammals, by Level B Because Habas does not have a harassment, incidental to incidental to superseding cash deposit rate, i.e., there marine site characterization survey have been no final results published in activities off the coast of Massachusetts a subsequent administrative review for in the areas of the Commercial Lease of the Habas, Commerce will issue revised Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy cash deposit instructions to CBP. Development on the Outer Continental Commerce will instruct CBP to collect a Shelf (OCS–A 0501 and OCS–A 0522) cash deposit for estimated and along potential submarine cable countervailing duties at ad valorem routes to a landfall location in rates equal to the estimated weightedMassachusetts, Rhode Island, average subsidy rates listed above for Connecticut, and New York. The project has been delayed and none of the work 7 See Habas Sinai ve Tibbi Gazlar Istihsal covered in the initial IHA has been Endustrisi AS, et al. v. United States, Court No. 18– conducted. The initial IHA was effective 00144, Slip Op. 20–87 (CIT June 25, 2020). 8 See Timken Co. v. United States, 893 F.2d 337, from June 1, 2020 through May 31, 341 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (Timken). 2021. Due to delays, Vineyard Wind has 9 See Diamond Sawblades Mfrs. Coalition v. requested re-issuance with new effective United States, 626 F.3d 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2010) dates of June 21, 2020 through June 20, (Diamond Sawblades). 2021. The scope of the activities and 10 See Final Results of Redetermination. anticipated effects remain the same, 11 The rate for Icdas did not change as a result of litigation. See Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod authorized take numbers are not From the Republic of Turkey: Final Affirmative changed, and the required mitigation, Countervailing Duty Determination and Final monitoring, and reporting remains the Affirmative Critical Circumstances Determination, same as included in the initial IHA. in Part, 83 FR 13239 (March 28, 2018); see also Order, 83 FR at 23421. NMFS is, therefore, issuing a second Habas Sinai ve Tibbi Gazlar Istihsal Endustrisi A.S 10 ......... Icdas Celik Enerji Tersane ve Ulasim Sanayi A.S 11 .............. All Others .................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:58 Jul 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 42357 identical IHA to cover the incidental take analyzed and authorized in the initial IHA. DATES: This authorization is effective from June 21, 2020, through June 2020, 2021. ADDRESSES: An electronic copy of the final 2020 IHA previously issued to Vineyard Wind, Vineyard Wind’s application, and the Federal Register notices proposing and issuing the initial IHA may be obtained by visiting https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ incidental-take-authorization-vineyardwind-llc-marine-site-characterizationsurveys. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rob Pauline, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. The MMPA states that the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine E:\FR\FM\14JYN1.SGM 14JYN1 42358 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 135 / Tuesday, July 14, 2020 / Notices mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment). Summary of Request On May 6, 2020 NMFS published final notice of our issuance of an IHA for the take of small numbers of marine mammals incidental to site characterization surveys with effective dates of June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021 (85 FR26962). On May 27, 2020 Vineyard Wind requested that the effective dates of the IHA be revised to June 21, 2020 through June 20, 2021 due to operational delays. With up to 365 vessel days planned for survey activities, Vineyard Wind wants to be most efficient with the one-year duration of the IHA. The re-issued IHA would be identical to the previously issued IHA. Therefore, re-issuance of the IHA is appropriate Summary of Specified Activity and Anticipated Impacts The planned activities (including mitigation, monitoring, and reporting), authorized incidental take, and anticipated impacts on the affected stocks are the same as those analyzed and authorized through the previously issued IHA. The purpose of Vineyard Wind’s marine site characterization surveys is to obtain a baseline assessment of seabed/sub-surface soil conditions in the Lease Area and cable route corridors to support the siting of potential future offshore wind projects. Underwater sound resulting from Vineyard Wind’s proposed site characterization surveys, including the use of high-resolution geophysical (HRG) equipment, are expected to produce sound in the marine environment that may result in the behavioral harassment of marine mammals. The location, timing, and nature of the activities, including the types of equipment planned for use, are within scope of those described in the initial IHA. The mitigation and monitoring are also as prescribed in the initial IHA. Fourteen marine mammal species are expected to be taken by Level B harassment. A description of the methods and inputs used to estimate take anticipated to occur and, ultimately, the take that was authorized is found in the previous documents referenced above. The data inputs and methods of estimating take are identical VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:58 Jul 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 to those used in the initial IHA. NMFS has reviewed recent Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and recent scientific literature, and determined that no new information affects our original analysis of impacts or take estimate under the initial IHA. We refer to the documents related to the previously issued IHA, which include the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the initial 2020 IHA for Vineyard Wind’s site characterization survey work (85 FR 26962), Vineyard Wind’s application, the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (85 FR 7952), and all associated references and documents. Determinations Vineyard Wind will conduct activities as analyzed in the initial 2020 IHA. As described above, the number of authorized takes of the same species and stocks of marine mammals are identical to the numbers that were found to meet the negligible impact and small numbers standards and authorized under the initial IHA and no new information has emerged that would change those findings. The re-issued 2020 IHA includes identical required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures as the initial IHA, and there is no new information suggesting that our analysis or findings should change. Based on the information contained here and in the referenced documents, NMFS has determined the following: (1) The required mitigation measures will effect the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat; (2) the authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers of marine mammals relative to the affected stock abundances; and (4) Vineyard Wind’s activities will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action. National Environmental Policy Act To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS must review our proposed action with respect to environmental consequences on the human environment. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. The NMFS Office of Protected Resources Permits and Conservation Division is authorizing the incidental take of four species of marine mammals which are listed under the ESA: The North Atlantic right, fin, sei and sperm whale. We requested initiation of consultation under Section 7 of the ESA with NMFS GARFO on February 12, 2020, for the issuance of this IHA. BOEM consulted with NMFS GARFO under section 7 of the ESA on commercial wind lease issuance and site assessment activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey Wind Energy Areas. The NMFS GARFO issued a Biological Opinion concluding that these activities may adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the North Atlantic right, fin, sei and sperm whale. Upon request from the NMFS Office of Protected Resources, NMFS GARFO issued an amended incidental take statement associated with this Biological Opinion to include the take of the ESA-listed marine mammal species authorized through this IHA in April, 2020. Authorization NMFS has issued an IHA to Vineyard Wind for marine site characterization surveys associated with the specified activity from June 21, 2020, through June 20, 2021. All previously described mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements from the initial 2020 IHA are incorporated. E:\FR\FM\14JYN1.SGM 14JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 135 / Tuesday, July 14, 2020 / Notices Dated: July 8, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–15105 Filed 7–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA276] Endangered Species; File No. 23148 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of permit. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that NMFS has issued an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) (No. 23148) to Exelon Generating Company, LLC, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended, for the incidental take of shortnose (Acipenser brevirostrum) and Atlantic (Acipenser oxyrinchus) sturgeon associated with the otherwise lawful operation of the Eddystone Generating Station in Eddystone, PA. The permit is issued for a duration of 10 years. ADDRESSES: The incidental take permit, final environmental assessment, and other related documents are available on the NMFS Office of Protected Resources website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ incidental-take-permit-eddystonegenerating-station. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Celeste Stout, phone: (301) 427–8436; email: Celeste.Stout@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibits 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 when the takes are incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides for authorizing incidental take of listed species. The regulations for issuing incidental take permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307. SUMMARY: Background Exelon Generating Company, LLC, owns Eddystone Generating Station (the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:58 Jul 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 facility), a natural gas/fuel oil-fired electric power generating facility that operates as a peaking plant, (i.e., typically running at higher levels of generation capacity during the summer and winter periods). The facility is located at 1 Industrial Highway Eddystone, PA 19022. The facility presently consists of two natural gas/ fuel oil-fired electric generating units that are steam-electric generators. Cooling water for each unit is withdrawn from the Delaware River through a cooling water intake structure (CWIS), which is located along the west shore of the River, directly in front of the facility. Exelon conducted entrainment sampling at the facility in 2005–2006, 2016, and 2017. One Atlantic sturgeon yolk-sac larva was collected in May 2017. Thus, Exelon determined it was necessary to apply for an ITP in accordance with the requirements under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. NMFS received a draft permit application from Exelon on June 28, 2018. Based on our review of the draft application, we requested further information and clarification. On December 21, 2018, Exelon submitted an application. Based on review of the updated application, NMFS and Exelon held further discussions regarding what needed to be incorporated in the Conservation Plan. On June 21, 2019, Exelon submitted a revised application and Conservation Plan. This application was considered complete and on July 16, 2019, NMFS published a notice of receipt of the Exelon application for the Eddystone facility in the Federal Register (84 FR 33924). The comment period ended on August 15, 2019. No comments were received. An additional notice was published in the Federal Register (84 FR 65970) and was published on December 2, 2019 to allow other agencies and the public the opportunity to review and comment on the draft Environmental Assessment (EA). The comment period closed on January 2, 2020. Two comments were received on the EA. One commenter was opposed to the killing of any sturgeon. This is not consistent with the ESA, which allows for the incidental take of listed species if certain criteria are met and a permit is issued by NMFS. The other commenter seemed confused regarding the requirements of the ITP and advised the Agency to select the no action alternative in the draft EA, so that Eddystone could continue to monitor interactions with sturgeon. However, it is the issuance of the ITP that will require Eddystone to monitor PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 42359 interactions with sturgeon, not the no action alternative. Conservation Plan Section 10 of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless an applicant submits an adequate conservation plan. The conservation plan prepared by Exelon Generation Company, LLC, describes measures to monitor, minimize and mitigate the impacts of incidental takes of ESA-listed shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon. To avoid and minimize take of sturgeon, Exelon will only operate Eddystone’s circulating water pumps (CWPs): When the station is generating electricity; for incidental maintenance or testing (generally once per month) (referred to collectively as ‘‘Essential Station Operations’’); or as required by a governmental agency or other entity with jurisdiction to require operations. Depending on station generation and ambient water temperatures, Exelon will also limit operations to one CWP per unit when possible. In addition, Exelon will rely on the river water pumps (RWPs), which intakes less water than Eddystone’s other CWP, to provide cooling water for other critical station operations outside of Essential Station Operations. These measures will avoid and minimize the incidental take of sturgeon due to entrainment or impingement by eliminating or reducing water withdrawals at times when such withdrawals are not specifically required for Essential Station Operations or for governmental agencymandated use. Additionally, Exelon will make all reasonable efforts to schedule fuel oil deliveries outside March 15– July 15. Continued monitoring related to the take of shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon will be ongoing and funding will be provided through the facility’s annual operating budget. Permit 23148 NMFS authorizes the following lethal incidental takes: New York Bight DPS Atlantic Sturgeon Vessel Strike: 1 sub-adult/adult over 10 years. Entrainment: 27,000 larvae per year, which is equivalent to 2 age-1 equivalents per year. Impingement: 5 young of the year (YOY)/sub-adults per year. Total: 1 sub-adult/adult, 270,000 larvae, and 50 YOY/sub-adults over 10 years. Shortnose Sturgeon Impingement: 5 YOY/sub-adults per year. E:\FR\FM\14JYN1.SGM 14JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 135 (Tuesday, July 14, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 42357-42359]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-15105]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA238]


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Marine Site Characterization 
Surveys Offshore of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New 
York

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of incidental harassment authorization.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from Vineyard Wind, LLC (Vineyard 
Wind) for the re-issuance of a previously issued incidental harassment 
authorization (IHA) with the only change being effective dates. The 
initial IHA authorized take of 14 species of marine mammals, by Level B 
harassment, incidental to incidental to marine site characterization 
survey activities off the coast of Massachusetts in the areas of the 
Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on 
the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS-A 0501 and OCS-A 0522) and along 
potential submarine cable routes to a landfall location in 
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. The project has 
been delayed and none of the work covered in the initial IHA has been 
conducted. The initial IHA was effective from June 1, 2020 through May 
31, 2021. Due to delays, Vineyard Wind has requested re-issuance with 
new effective dates of June 21, 2020 through June 20, 2021. The scope 
of the activities and anticipated effects remain the same, authorized 
take numbers are not changed, and the required mitigation, monitoring, 
and reporting remains the same as included in the initial IHA. NMFS is, 
therefore, issuing a second identical IHA to cover the incidental take 
analyzed and authorized in the initial IHA.

DATES: This authorization is effective from June 21, 2020, through June 
2020, 2021.

ADDRESSES: An electronic copy of the final 2020 IHA previously issued 
to Vineyard Wind, Vineyard Wind's application, and the Federal Register 
notices proposing and issuing the initial IHA may be obtained by 
visiting https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-authorization-vineyard-wind-llc-marine-site-characterization-surveys. 
In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact 
listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rob Pauline, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act 
(MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as 
delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not 
intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens 
who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) 
within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and 
either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to 
harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the 
public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as an 
impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably 
expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the 
species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.
    The MMPA states that the term ``take'' means to harass, hunt, 
capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine 
mammal.
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
MMPA defines ``harassment'' as any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine

[[Page 42358]]

mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) 
has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in 
the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but 
not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (Level B harassment).

Summary of Request

    On May 6, 2020 NMFS published final notice of our issuance of an 
IHA for the take of small numbers of marine mammals incidental to site 
characterization surveys with effective dates of June 1, 2020 through 
May 31, 2021 (85 FR26962). On May 27, 2020 Vineyard Wind requested that 
the effective dates of the IHA be revised to June 21, 2020 through June 
20, 2021 due to operational delays. With up to 365 vessel days planned 
for survey activities, Vineyard Wind wants to be most efficient with 
the one-year duration of the IHA. The re-issued IHA would be identical 
to the previously issued IHA. Therefore, re-issuance of the IHA is 
appropriate

Summary of Specified Activity and Anticipated Impacts

    The planned activities (including mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting), authorized incidental take, and anticipated impacts on the 
affected stocks are the same as those analyzed and authorized through 
the previously issued IHA.
    The purpose of Vineyard Wind's marine site characterization surveys 
is to obtain a baseline assessment of seabed/sub-surface soil 
conditions in the Lease Area and cable route corridors to support the 
siting of potential future offshore wind projects. Underwater sound 
resulting from Vineyard Wind's proposed site characterization surveys, 
including the use of high-resolution geophysical (HRG) equipment, are 
expected to produce sound in the marine environment that may result in 
the behavioral harassment of marine mammals. The location, timing, and 
nature of the activities, including the types of equipment planned for 
use, are within scope of those described in the initial IHA. The 
mitigation and monitoring are also as prescribed in the initial IHA.
    Fourteen marine mammal species are expected to be taken by Level B 
harassment. A description of the methods and inputs used to estimate 
take anticipated to occur and, ultimately, the take that was authorized 
is found in the previous documents referenced above. The data inputs 
and methods of estimating take are identical to those used in the 
initial IHA. NMFS has reviewed recent Stock Assessment Reports, 
information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and recent scientific 
literature, and determined that no new information affects our original 
analysis of impacts or take estimate under the initial IHA.
    We refer to the documents related to the previously issued IHA, 
which include the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 
initial 2020 IHA for Vineyard Wind's site characterization survey work 
(85 FR 26962), Vineyard Wind's application, the Federal Register notice 
of the proposed IHA (85 FR 7952), and all associated references and 
documents.

Determinations

    Vineyard Wind will conduct activities as analyzed in the initial 
2020 IHA. As described above, the number of authorized takes of the 
same species and stocks of marine mammals are identical to the numbers 
that were found to meet the negligible impact and small numbers 
standards and authorized under the initial IHA and no new information 
has emerged that would change those findings. The re-issued 2020 IHA 
includes identical required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
measures as the initial IHA, and there is no new information suggesting 
that our analysis or findings should change.
    Based on the information contained here and in the referenced 
documents, NMFS has determined the following: (1) The required 
mitigation measures will effect the least practicable impact on marine 
mammal species or stocks and their habitat; (2) the authorized takes 
will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or 
stocks; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers of marine 
mammals relative to the affected stock abundances; and (4) Vineyard 
Wind's activities will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on taking 
for subsistence purposes as no relevant subsistence uses of marine 
mammals are implicated by this action.

National Environmental Policy Act

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 
42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, 
NMFS must review our proposed action with respect to environmental 
consequences on the human environment.
    Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the issuance of the IHA 
qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. This 
action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 
of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, which do 
not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant 
impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have 
not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this 
categorical exclusion.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action 
it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result 
in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical 
habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS 
consults internally, in this case with the NMFS Greater Atlantic 
Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), whenever we propose to authorize 
take for endangered or threatened species.
    The NMFS Office of Protected Resources Permits and Conservation 
Division is authorizing the incidental take of four species of marine 
mammals which are listed under the ESA: The North Atlantic right, fin, 
sei and sperm whale. We requested initiation of consultation under 
Section 7 of the ESA with NMFS GARFO on February 12, 2020, for the 
issuance of this IHA. BOEM consulted with NMFS GARFO under section 7 of 
the ESA on commercial wind lease issuance and site assessment 
activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf in Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey Wind Energy Areas. The NMFS GARFO 
issued a Biological Opinion concluding that these activities may 
adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of the North Atlantic right, fin, sei and sperm whale. Upon 
request from the NMFS Office of Protected Resources, NMFS GARFO issued 
an amended incidental take statement associated with this Biological 
Opinion to include the take of the ESA-listed marine mammal species 
authorized through this IHA in April, 2020.

Authorization

    NMFS has issued an IHA to Vineyard Wind for marine site 
characterization surveys associated with the specified activity from 
June 21, 2020, through June 20, 2021. All previously described 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements from the initial 
2020 IHA are incorporated.


[[Page 42359]]


    Dated: July 8, 2020.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-15105 Filed 7-13-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P