[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 136 (Friday, July 15, 2011)]
[Pages 41808-41810]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-17811]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2011-N084; 20124-1112-0000-F2]

Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Habitat 
Conservation Plan for Oncor Electric Delivery Facilities in 100 Texas 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of documents and announcement of public 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the draft environmental impact statement and the draft 
Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC habitat conservation plan, under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Oncor has applied for an 
incidental take permit (TE-40918A-0) under the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended, to authorize incidental take of 11 Federally 
listed species (covered species) in 100 Texas counties.

DATES: Comment period: To ensure consideration, we must receive written 
comments on or before close of business (4:30 p.m. CDT) October 13, 
    Public meetings: Nine public meetings, located throughout Oncor's 
proposed 100-county permit area, will be held between August 1, 2011, 
and September 28, 2011. Exact meeting locations and times will be 
announced in local newspapers, on the Austin Ecological Services Office 
Web site (http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/

[[Page 41809]]

AustinTexas/), and on Oncor's Web site (www.oncor-eis-hcp.com) at least 
2 weeks prior to each meeting.

ADDRESSES: To find out how to obtain documents for review and where to 
submit comments, see Reviewing Documents and Submitting Comments in 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, 
by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, 
Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758, or by phone at (512) 490-0057.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969 (NEPA), this notice advises the public that:
    (1) We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have gathered 
the information necessary to determine impacts and formulate 
alternatives for the draft environmental impact statement (dEIS) 
related to the potential issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) to 
Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC (Applicant; Oncor), and
    (2) That the Applicant has developed a draft habitat conservation 
plan (dHCP) which describes the measures Oncor has agreed to undertake 
to minimize and mitigate the effects of incidental take of Federally 
listed species to the maximum extent practicable, pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act).
    Oncor has applied for an ITP (TE-40918A-0) under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The requested ITP, which would be in effect for 
a period of 30 years if granted, would authorize incidental take of the 
following 11 Federally listed species (covered species): Large-fruited 
sand-verbena (Abronia macrocarpa), Texas poppy-mallow (Callirhoe 
scabriuscula), Navasota ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes parksii), Pecos 
sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus), American burying beetle (Nicrophorus 
americanus), Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis), whooping crane (Grus 
americana), golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia), black-
capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides 
borealis), and Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus). The 
proposed incidental take would occur in 100 Texas counties that 
comprise the Applicant's service area, excluding Williamson and Travis 
counties, and with the addition of Runnels County, and would result 
from activities associated with maintenance and repair of existing 
electric facilities and installation and operation of new facilities.


    Our initial notice of intent to prepare an EIS and hold public 
scoping meetings published in the Federal Register on September 22, 
2009 (74 FR 48285). A summary of comments provided during the 2009 
scoping period, which included meetings held at nine locations 
throughout the proposed 100-county permit area, is available at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/.
    The dHCP for maintenance and construction activities for Oncor and 
the conservation program described in the dHCP were developed through a 
collaborative effort between the Service, the Applicant, and the 
Applicant's consultants, and also through outreach to potential 
interest groups, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders.
    The Austin Ecological Services Office Web site (http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/) contains information on meetings, documents, 
and the status of the process.


    We are considering three alternatives as part of this process: The 
no action alternative, the applicant's preferred alternative, and a 
project-by-project alternative:
    1. No Action--No ITP would be issued. This alternative would 
require the Applicant to avoid activities within the proposed permit 
area that would, or potentially would, result in incidental take of any 
Federally listed species. The Applicant would continue to perform those 
activities that would not, or would not be expected to, result in 
violation of the Act.
    2. Preferred Alternative--Issuance of an ITP by the Service for 
covered activities in the 100-county permit area, pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. This is the Applicant's preferred alternative. 
The activities that would be covered by the ITP are general activities 
associated with new construction, maintenance, and emergency response 
and restoration, including stormwater discharges from construction 
sites, equipment access, and surveying. Construction activities covered 
for new facilities include new overhead transmission and distribution 
lines, new support facilities such as substations and switching 
stations, underground electric installation, and second-circuit 
addition on existing structures. Maintenance activities would include 
vegetation management within rights of way, expansion of existing 
support facilities, line upgrades, insulator replacement, and 
maintenance of underground electric facilities. The requested ITP will 
cover the 100-county permit area. The requested term of the permit is 
30 years.
    To meet the requirements of a section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP, the 
Applicant has developed and will implement the dHCP, which describes 
the conservation measures the Applicant has agreed to undertake to 
minimize and mitigate for incidental take of the covered species to the 
maximum extent practicable. As described in the HCP, the Applicant 
anticipates that incidental take would not appreciably reduce the 
likelihood of the survival and recovery of these species in the wild.
    3. Project-Based Consultation--Project-by-project consultations or 
ITPs. This alternative would require Oncor to seek authorization on a 
project-by-project basis to address incidental take resulting from 
their actions, as needed, through section 7 or under section 
    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations prohibit the 
``taking'' of threatened and endangered species. However, under limited 
circumstances, we may issue permits to take listed wildlife species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities.

Reviewing Documents and Submitting Comments

    You may obtain copies of the dEIS and dHCP by going to http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/. Alternatively, you may obtain 
compact disks with electronic copies of these documents by writing to 
Mr. Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; calling (512) 490-0057; 
or faxing (512) 490-0974. A limited number of printed copies of the 
dEIS and dHCP are also available, by request, from Mr. Zerrenner. 
Copies of the dEIS and dHCP are also available for public inspection 
and review at the following locations (by appointment only at 
government offices):

--Department of the Interior, Natural Resources Library, 1849 C. St., 
NW., Washington, DC 20240.
--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Avenue, SW., Room 6034, 
Albuquerque, NM 87102.
--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, 
TX 78758.
    Persons wishing to review the application may obtain a copy by 
writing to the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. 
Box 1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103.

[[Page 41810]]

    Written comments may be submitted to Mr. Adam Zerrenner (see 
above). We will also accept written and oral comments at any of the 
nine public meetings (see DATES).

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 your entire comment--including 
your personal identifying information--may be made publicly available 
at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold 
your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will not consider anonymous 
comments. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from 
individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of 
organizations or businesses, will be made available for public 
disclosure in their entirety.

    Authority: We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 
17.22) and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Joy E. Nicholopoulos,
Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 2011-17811 Filed 7-14-11; 8:45 am]