Conserving the Nature of America
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Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Published for Four Hawai'i Wind Energy Projects

August 2, 2019

Contact(s):

Holly Richards, Public Affairs Specialist
holly_richards@fws.gov
808-282-9442



Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the potential direct, indirect and cumulative effects of operations and maintenance activities on the endangered 'ope'ape'a (Hawaiian hoary bat), nene (Hawaiian goose) and 'ua'u (Hawaiian petrel) at four wind energy projects across Hawai'i.

The four wind energy projects – Pakini Nui Wind Farm on the Island of Hawai’i, Kaheawa Wind Power II and Auwahi Wind projects on Maui, and Kawailoa Wind Power project on O'ahu – each applied to the Service for an incidental take permit or permit amendment under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The four wind energy facilities are already constructed and in operation.  

Following a 30-day evaluation period, the Service will issue separate final decisions on each of the four permit requests. The Service is required to evaluate all permit applications and make decisions based on the best available science and the requirements of the ESA.

An environmental impact statement is a tool that is used to evaluate a range of potential impacts and alternatives whenever a federal agency is making a decision that could have significant environmental or cultural impacts. Due to similarities in the geography, impact, covered species and proposed mitigation measures among these four wind energy projects the Service determined that a combined Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement was the most efficient and comprehensive approach for considering the cumulative impacts of these actions on the human environment. 

One application (Pakini Nui Wind Farm) was for a new permit, and three were for amendments to existing permits.  If approved, the proposed permit and permit amendments would authorize take of the endangered 'ope'ape'a, nene and 'ua'u. As a part of the permit applications, the four wind projects each prepared a Habitat Conservation Plan or an amended Habitat Conservation Plan designed to minimize and mitigate impacts to the covered species.

Under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, Habitat Conservation Plans are voluntary agreements between the Service and a landowner, private company or non-federal agency that ensure harmful effects to threatened and endangered species are avoided, minimized or offset. The Service regularly engages conservation partners, the public, landowners, government agencies and other stakeholders in our ongoing effort to identify innovative strategies for conserving and recovering species while supporting important economic activities.

From June 1 to July 2, 2018, the Service conducted public scoping meetings to help define the issues that would be included in the PEIS evaluation. The public scoping process is the initial public input period that helps answer the question, “What should be included or considered in the PEIS?” The public scoping period included three public meetings, one each on the islands of Hawai'i, Maui and O'ahu.

The draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and associated draft Habitat Conservation Plans were also available for public comment and review from April 26–to June 10, 2019. The public comment period included three public meetings, one each on the islands of Hawai'i, Maui and O'ahu. The results of the public comment period, including the Service’s responses to comments can be found in Appendix K of the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

More information, including copies of the HCPs and the final PEIS, can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/


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