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Endangered Species Permits
NiSource Habitat Conservation Plan
“The habitat conservation plan developed by NiSource represents the new model for endangered species conservation and corporate wildlife stewardship,” said Tom Melius, the Service’s Midwest Regional Director. “This plan is an efficient and effective mechanism to address the conservation needs of listed species on a landscape scale, and it gives NiSource the ability to plan its activities in the long term.”
NiSource, a natural gas distribution company, applied for an Incidental Take Permit, under the Endangered Species Act. The permit would allow "take" of threatened and endangered species that may result from the company's routine operation and maintenance activities. Endangered Species Act regulations for issuing incidental take permits required NiSource to prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan that identified measures they would use to avoid, minimize and mitigate all incidental take. Based on that Habitat Conservation Plan and our analysis of impacts as documented in the Environmental Impact Statement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued NiSource the requested Incidental Take Permit.
USFWS issues Record of Decision on Incidental Take Permit request from NiSource, Inc. (Nov. 14, 2013)
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are advising the public of the availability of the Record of Decision on an Incidental Take Permit issued under the Endangered Species Act. The Incidental Take Permit authorizes NiSource, Inc., to take 10 federally listed species over a 50-year period.
Federal Register Notice of Availability (Nov. 14, 2013): NiSource, Inc.; Record of Decision, Habitat Conservation Plan, Environmental Impact Statement, and Permit Issuance (2-page PDF)
Biological Opinion: Consultation Document for the NiSource HCP (362-page PDF; 2.6MB)
Biological Opinion Appendices (188-page PDF; 2.7MB)
Final Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (June 2013)
June 7, 2013 Federal Register Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, Habitat Conservation Plan (2-page PDF )
NiSource Incidental Take Permit Application (12-page PDF )
Strategic Conservation Planning Using a Green Infrastructure Approach - The NiSource Approach to Mitigation Planning
View written public comments received in response to the Notice of Availability of the NiSource Draft HCP and EIS.
NiSource is a natural gas distribution company that applied for an Incidental Take Permit for the take of threatened and endangered species that may result from their routine operation and maintenance activities. The company operates a 15,562-mile network of interstate natural gas pipelines across 14 states. Routine operation and maintenance includes repairing, upgrading, replacing and expanding pipelines and associated infrastructure. These activities are sometimes in or near endangered or threatened species habitat, and thus could result in taking a listed species. NiSource developed an HCP in conjunction with its application for an Incidental Take Permit. The HCP identifies how impacts to listed species from NiSource maintenance activities will be avoided and minimized and how any resulting “take” will be mitigated. The permit would cover all pipeline work within a one mile-wide corridor (in effect, one-half mile on either side of the centerline of the pipe) that might result in take of a listed species. An Incidental Take Permit does not authorize the pipeline work itself, only the take of listed species.
Role of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the NiSource HCP Process
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency that provides the Incidental Take Permit. Our role is to evaluate the HCP and decide whether to issue an Incidental Take Permit. We worked with NiSource, as we do with other Incidental Take Permit applicants, to provide technical guidance as NiSource prepared their HCP. In addition, it is our responsibility to evaluate the federal action of issuing the Incidental Take Permit under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Also, it is our responsibility to evaluate the environmental impacts that will result if the permit is issued and the HCP implemented, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Therefore, we prepared an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate those impacts. We will complete our biological opinion and incidental take permit following the notice of the availability of the Final EIS and HCP.
NiSource's HCP is unusual because it covers a wide geographic area and multiple species. However, the process that we used to evaluate the HCP, review the environmental impacts, and consider NiSource's application for an Incidental Take Permit is the same as it is for other permit applications.
General Information about HCPs and the NEPA process:
Last updated: December 16, 2013