July 31, 2012
Meagan Racey, 413-253-8558
Julie Slacum, 410-573-4595
Maryland energy company requests Endangered Species Act permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released the first draft habitat conservation plan for a wind project in the Northeast. Criterion Power Partners developed the plan for its permit application addressing impacts to the endangered Indiana bat at its project in Garrett County, Maryland.
The Service invites comment on its draft environmental assessment of the project, Criterion’s permit application and the company’s draft habitat conservation plan, a requirement for the permit. The plan would cover 21 years of operation, maintenance and decommissioning of 28 turbines.
“The development of renewable energy sources is key to our nation’s future,” said Genevieve LaRouche, supervisor for the Service’s Chesapeake Bay office. “As it progresses, the Service is responsible and committed to making sure our nation’s wildlife is protected.”
The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to “take,” meaning harm or kill, threatened or endangered wildlife, such as the Indiana bat. Some otherwise legal activities, such as wind turbine operation, have the risk of incidentally taking protected species. An incidental take permit allows for those activities to continue, as long as the applicant undertakes reasonable and practical measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate take of protected species.
Habitat conservation plans provide frameworks for partnerships between the public and private sectors in endangered species conservation. These plans identify the impacts to wildlife from a project or program, the steps the applicant will take to reduce or compensate for such impacts, what alternative actions were considered, and how conservation efforts will be funded.
The Service will accept written comments on the draft documents through September 28, 2012. After the comment period ends, the Service will determine if the application meets the permit issuance requirements.
Comments may be submitted through the following methods:
- Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting information on docket number FWS–R5–ES–2012–0032.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery:
- Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R5–ES–2012–0032; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, Virginia 22203.
Learn more at www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/Criterion_documents.html. Please note that the documents will be available there starting July 31st, 2012 and on the Federal Rulemaking Portal on the official publication date, August 1st, 2012