Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
We provide this notice to (1) seek public comments on the proposed HCP; (2) seek public comments on the draft EIS; and (3) advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare a final EIS.
We will consider all requests for public meetings. To accommodate scheduling of meetings and allow sufficient time to publicize them, you must contact Laura Hill no later than September 14, 2012 (see
We request that you send comments by only the methods described above. We will post all information received on
We received an application from Beech Ridge Energy for an ITP for the operation, and maintenance of 67 existing turbines in the project area; the construction, operation and maintenance of up to 33 additional turbines and associated infrastructure in the project area; the implementation of the HCP during the life of the permit; and the decomissioning of the entire 100-turbine project and associated infrastructure at the end of its operational life. If approved, the permit would be for a 25-year period and would authorize incidental take of the endangered Indiana bat (
The proposed HCP and draft EIS are available on the West Virginia Field Office's Web site at:
Paper copies of the proposed HCP and draft EIS may also be viewed at the following public libraries: (1) Greenbrier County Public Library, 152 Robert W. McCormick Drive, Lewisburg, WV; (2) Kanawha County Public Library, 123 Capitol Street, Charleston, WV; and (3) Rupert Public Library, 602 Nicholas Street, Rupert, WV. Those who do not have access to the Internet or cannot visit our office or local libraries can request CD-ROM copies of the documents by telephone at 304-636-6586 or by letter to the West Virginia Field Office (see the address under
Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531
Beech Ridge Energy has been working with staff from the West Virginia Field Office since a January 2010 consent decree was signed, following a court order ruling that construction and operation of the project would violate section 9 of the ESA “unless and until [Beech Ridge Energy] obtains an ITP” for the Indiana bat. Beech Ridge Energy is now seeking a permit for the incidental take of the Covered Species for a term of 25 years. Incidental take of these bat species may occur due to injury and mortality from collision with turbine blades and towers and from barotrauma (sudden changes in air pressure near the tips of spinning blades that cause decompression of the bats' lungs). Adverse effects to suitable Indiana bat habitat may occur from forest clearing and fragmentation.
The proposed HCP was developed to address operation of 67 existing turbines, construction and operation of an additional 33 turbines, and decommissioning of all 100 turbines by the end of the permit term (covered activities). The 6,860-acre (2,744- hectare) project planning area in Greenbrier and Nicholas Counties, West Virginia, is located on private land managed primarily for timber production.
The HCP's proposed conservation strategy is designed to avoid, minimize,
The HCP that Beech Ridge Energy included with its application for an ITP includes a series of conservation measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor the effects of project construction and operation on the covered species. These measures include: (1) Constructing fewer turbines; (2) relocating turbines greater distances from bat hibernacula; (3) reducing risk to bats when they are active at low wind speeds by raising turbine cut-in speeds (the wind speed at which turbines begin generating electricity) during bat fall migration; (4) further reducing risk to bats by fully feathering turbine blades so that they barely move at wind speeds below the cut-in speed; (5) implementing turbine feathering and cut-in speed research to determine effectiveness of the changes in operational protocols; (6) monitoring bat mortality for the life of the project to ensure that biological goals are being met and that take limits are not exceeded; and (7) implementing off-site conservation projects designed to benefit the covered species by protecting and managing key habitats in perpetuity.
The proposed action consists of the issuance of an ITP and implementation of the proposed HCP. Beech Ridge Energy considered four alternatives to the proposed action in its HCP: No action (no ITP); alternate project locations; alternate technologies (such as coal and natural gas) to generate electricity; and reduced conservation measures.
Beech Ridge Energy has developed an implementation agreement (IA) that ensures proper implementation of each of the terms and conditions of the HCP and describes the applicable remedies and recourse should any party fail to perform its obligations, responsibilities, and tasks, as set forth in the agreement. The IA is being included as an appendix to the proposed HCP for public review.
We formally initiated an environmental review of the project through publication of a notice of intent to prepare an EIS in the
Based on public scoping comments, we have prepared a draft EIS for the proposed action and have made it available for public inspection (see
Alternative 1: No action; do not issue a permit; status quo;
Alternative 2: The proposed Federal action of issuance of the associated ITP and implementation of the proposed HCP for 100 turbines and two covered species;
Alternative 3: Issuance of an ITP and implementation of an HCP for 100 turbines and 5 covered species; and
Alternative 4: Issuance of an ITP and implementation of an HCP for 67 turbines and 2 covered species.
We are seeking public input on the draft EIS to determine whether we reviewed an appropriate list of reasonable alternatives, whether there are additional alternatives that we should consider, there is additional information that could better inform the EIS, and whether we appropriately anticipated the environmental effects of the various alternatives.
We will consider all requests for public meetings. To accommodate scheduling of meetings and allow sufficient time to publicize them, all requests for meetings must be received within 21 days after publication of this notice (see
We will evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and public comments in reaching a final decision on whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531
The Service invites the public to comment on the proposed HCP and draft EIS during a 60-day public comment period (see
We will post all public comments and information received electronically or via hardcopy on
This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531