Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and its implementing regulations prohibit take of species listed as endangered or threatened. The definition of take under the ESA includes to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species or to attempt to engage in such conduct” (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). Section 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539) establishes a program whereby persons seeking to pursue activities that are otherwise legal, but could result in take of federally protected species, may receive an incidental take permit (ITP).
The planning area encompasses the Midwest Region of the Service and includes all or portions of the following eight States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The specific land that the MSHCP will cover (“covered land or permit area”) have yet to be determined and could be all or portions of the eight States. Once identified, the “covered land” will be the general locations where future ITPs could be issued under the MSHCP. Land not identified as “covered land” will not be eligible for an ITP under this planning effort; however, individual take authorizations could be developed for those areas outside of this planning effort.
The activities proposed to be covered (“covered activities”) under the MSHCP include the siting, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of wind energy facilities within all or portions of the eight-State planning area. Activities associated with the management of mitigation land would also be covered. We anticipate that this MSHCP will include new and existing small-scale wind energy facilities, such as single-turbine demonstration projects, as well as large, multi-turbine commercial wind facilities.
The planning partners are currently considering, for inclusion in the MSHCP, certain species that are federally listed or likely to become listed, and have the potential to be taken by wind energy facilities within the planning area. Those “covered species” include the endangered Indiana bat (
The eight State conservation agencies participating in the development of this MSHCP are the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
AWEA is a national trade association for the wind industry and is representing the interests of a group of wind energy companies in the development of this MSHCP. This consortium of companies is known as the Wind Energy Bat Action Team (WEBAT). Member companies at this time include Acciona Wind Energy; Akuo Energy USA; Apex Wind Energy; BP Wind Energy; Clipper Windpower Development Company, LLC; Duke Energy Renewables; EDP Renewables; Element Power; enXco; E.ON Climate & Renewables; EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc.; Iberdrola Renewables; Invenergy LLC; NextEra Energy Resources; Nordex USA; Tradewind Energy LLC; US Mainstream Renewable Power; and Wind Capital Group.
The Conservation Fund is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, with offices throughout the United States. The Conservation Fund would serve as the administrative agent on behalf of the States overseeing the development of the MSHCP and the accompanying environmental impact statement (EIS). Moreover, The Conservation Fund would develop a regional framework of conservation lands to be used as a decision support tool for the selection of appropriate mitigation options required for offsetting incidental take of the “covered species”.
In 2009, the eight States that make up the planning area submitted an application for and were awarded a grant under Section 6 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1535) to develop the MSHCP and an incidental take permitting program. The States' grant application envisioned that the MSHCP would be developed as a template/umbrella MSHCP or as a programmatic MSHCP. Under the template approach, the Service would issue individual ITPs to applicants that agree to implement the MSHCP, whereas under the programmatic approach, each State agency would apply for and receive an ITP and would issue certificates of inclusion to wind energy companies that agreed to implement the MSHCP at their facility. At this time it is anticipated that the issuance of individual ITPs would be the permitting approach under this MSHCP. Currently there are additional permit structure options being considered; however, under any permit structure, the MSHCP would meet all ITP issuance criteria found at 50 CFR 13.21, 17.22(b), and 17.32(b), and would be evaluated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 7 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1536). The partners envision that under any permit approach, no additional NEPA or Section 7 analysis would occur, and “No Surprises” assurances would apply to the MSHCP. Evaluation of the MSHCP and permitting program would include public review by all interested parties. In the event that the MSHCP might need to be amended in the future (e.g., to add a species or consider an activity not previously evaluated), further public review would occur.
The Service is requesting information and comment from interested government agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or other interested parties concerning the planning process, our permitting approach, biological aspects of the interaction of wind facilities and species, scientific data that may help inform the MSHCP or monitoring of impacts, and any other information that interested parties would like to offer.
Please note that comments merely stating support for, or opposition to, the MSHCP under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not provide information useful in determining relevant issues and impacts. The public will receive additional opportunity to provide comments on the draft EIS and draft MSHCP when they are completed. The Service will solicit comments by publishing notice in the
You may submit your comments and supporting documentation by any of the methods described in
The Service is responsible for ensuring NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321