[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 199 (Friday, October 14, 2011)]
[Page 63950]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-26561]

[[Page 63950]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2011-N203; 30120-1112-0000-F2]

Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Multi-Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan; Receipt of Application for Incidental Take Permit; 
NiSource, Inc.

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; extension of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are 
extending the public comment period on all documents related to 
NiSource, Inc.'s application for an incidental take permit under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). We announced receipt of the 
application and availability of documents in our July 13, 2011, Federal 
Register notice, which also opened a 90-day public comment period. If 
you have previously submitted comments, please do not resubmit them, 
because we have already incorporated them in the public record and will 
fully consider them in our final decision.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments on or 
before December 13, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments via U.S. mail to the Regional 
Director, Midwest Region, Attn: Lisa Mandell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, 
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458, or by electronic mail to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Mandell, (612) 713-5343.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a July 13, 2011, Federal Register notice 
(76 FR 41288), we provided a list of 10 species for which NiSource, 
Inc. (the applicant) has requested incidental take authority, and 33 
species for which they have determined that implementation of certain 
measures will avoid incidental take. The application includes a MSHCP 
pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.; ESA). If approved as proposed by the applicant, the 
permit would be for a 50-year period.
    The applicant's MSHCP covers a suite of activities associated with 
operation of a natural gas pipeline system in the States of Delaware, 
Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New 
York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West 
Virginia. In its MSHCP, the applicant describes activities to maintain 
their existing pipeline and complete certain construction projects 
within a distinct area. This area included in the MSHCP is referred to 
as the ``covered lands.'' The covered lands include a 1-mile-wide 
corridor along the existing pipeline, with the existing pipeline right-
of-way in the center (approximately), and 9 counties that include 
natural gas storage fields. However, the exact locations of those 
fields have not been disclosed due to proprietary business information 
and Homeland Security concerns. A total of 9,783,200 acres is included 
in the covered lands footprint. However, the impact area for proposed 
activities will be a fraction of that acreage. NiSource anticipates 
that, on an annual basis, 18,500 acres will be disturbed within the 
existing right-of-way and less than 1,000 acres of land will be 
disturbed due to new construction. The total acreage anticipated to be 
disturbed annually is 0.2 percent of the total covered lands footprint. 
This is fully described in the chapter 2 of the MSHCP, available on our 
Web site.
    Our July 13 Federal Register notice also announced the availability 
of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) prepared pursuant to 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). 
The DEIS is also posted on the Service's Web site, along with the 
applicant's documents. The DEIS evaluates the impacts of permit 
issuance and implementation of the MSHCP, a no action alternative, and 
an alternative for permit issuance with a 10-year duration. The DEIS 
presents discussion of the development of these alternatives, as well 
as an evaluation of the impacts of these alternatives in a broad 
(``programmatic'') fashion. Tiering of future NEPA analyses is integral 
to the analysis presented in the DEIS. Additional background 
information, a description of the proposed action, and other 
alternatives evaluated in the DEIS are presented in the July 13, 2011 
(76 FR 41288), Federal Register notice.

Reviewing Documents and Submitting Comments

    If you have previously submitted comments, please do not resubmit 
them, because we have already incorporated them in the public record 
and will fully consider them in our final decision.
    Please refer to TE02636A when submitting comments. The permit 
application and supporting documents (ITP application, draft MSHCP, 
DEIS, Implementing Agreement, and summary documents) may be obtained on 
the Internet at the following address: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/r3hcps.html.
    Please make it clear when commenting whether your comments address 
the HCP, the DEIS, both the HCP and DEIS, or other supporting 
    Persons without access to the Internet may obtain copies of the 
documents (application, draft MSHCP, and DEIS) by contacting the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. W., 
Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458 (612) 713-5350, voice; (612) 713-
5292, fax. The documents will also be available for public inspection, 
by appointment, during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at the 
following Regional Offices:
    Midwest Region Office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological 
Services, 10th Floor--5600 American Blvd. W., Bloomington, MN 55437 
(612) 713-5350, voice; (612) 713-5292, fax;
    Southeast Region: 1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30345-
3319 (404) 679-7140, voice; (404) 679-7081, fax;
    Northeast Region: 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035-9589 
(413) 253-8304, voice; (413) 253-8293, fax.

Written comments will be accepted as described under ADDRESSES, above.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, phone 
number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that the entire comment, including 
your personal identifying information, may be made available at any 
time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so.

    Authority: We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 
17.22), and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 46).

    Dated: September 26, 2011.
Charlie Wooley,
Acting Regional Director, Midwest Region, Fort Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. 2011-26561 Filed 10-12-11; 11:15 am]