[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 162 (Monday, August 22, 2011)]
[Pages 52344-52345]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-21425]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2011-N164; 50120-1112-0000-F2]

Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Madison Cave 
Isopod From Dominion Virginia Power; Low-Effect Habitat Conservation 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of receipt of application.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service or ``we'') announces the availability of an application for an 
Incidental Take Permit (ITP) and a proposed Low-Effect Habitat 
Conservation Plan (LEHCP) from Dominion Virginia Power for public 
review and comment. We received the permit application from Dominion 
Virginia Power for incidental take of the Madison Cave isopod during 
construction of a new natural gas-fired combined-cycle power station in 
Warren County, Virginia, extending over the next 9 years, until 2020. 
Our preliminary determination is that the Habitat Conservation Plan 
(HCP) qualifies as a low-effect plan under NEPA. To make this 
determination, we used our LEHCP Screening Form/Environmental Action 
Statement (EAS), which is also available for review.
    We provide this notice to (1) seek public comments on the proposed 
HCP and application; (2) seek public comments on our preliminary 
determination that the HCP qualifies as a low-effect plan and is 
therefore eligible for a categorical exclusion under NEPA; and (3) 
advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and the 
public of our intent to issue an ITP.

DATES: The draft HCP and preliminary EAS are being made available 
during a 30-day public review period. To ensure consideration, we must 
receive your written comments by September 21, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send comments by U.S. mail to Sumalee Hoskin, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester, 
VA 23061; by fax at (804) 693-9032; or by electronic mail at sumalee_hoskin@fws.gov. In the subject line of your letter, fax, or electronic 
mail, include the document identifier ``Warren County Power Station 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sumalee Hoskin, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Virginia Field Office (VAFO) (see ADDRESSES); telephone 
(804) 693-6694; electronic mail: sumalee_hoskin@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We received a permit application from 
Dominion Virginia Power for incidental take of the federally listed 
Madison Cave isopod over the next 9 years during construction of a new 
natural gas-fired combined-cycle power station in Warren County, 
Virginia. A conservation program to minimize and mitigate for the 
incidental take would be implemented by Dominion Virginia Power as 
described in the proposed Dominion Virginia Power LEHCP.
    We prepared a preliminary EAS to comply with NEPA. The Service will 
evaluate whether the proposed action and issuance of an ITP to Dominion 
Virginia Power are adequate to support a categorical exclusion. This 
notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and NEPA 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    We are requesting comments on the proposed HCP and our preliminary 
determination that the HCP qualifies as low-effect under NEPA.

Availability of Documents

    The proposed LEHCP and preliminary EAS are available on the VAFO's 
Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/virginiafield/. Copies of the 
proposed LEHCP and preliminary EAS will be available for public review 
during regular business hours at the VAFO (see ADDRESSES). Those who do 
not have access to the Web site or cannot visit our office can request 
copies by

[[Page 52345]]

telephone at (804) 693-6694 or by letter to the VAFO (see ADDRESSES).


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of animal species listed as 
endangered or threatened. Take is defined under the ESA as to ``harass, 
harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect 
listed animal species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct'' (16 
U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue 
permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. ``Incidental 
take'' is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the 
purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations 
governing ITPs for threatened and endangered species are found in the 
Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32, 
    Dominion Virginia Power is seeking a permit for the incidental take 
of the federally listed threatened Madison Cave isopod during 
construction activities and post-construction monitoring period 
extending for a total term of 9 years, until 2020. Permit coverage does 
not include plant operational activities, as these are not anticipated 
to cause take of the Madison Cave isopod. Dominion Virginia Power 
proposes to construct a natural gas-fired combined-cycle power station 
that is anticipated to be one of the most efficient power plants in the 
nation once operational. Incidental take of the Madison Cave isopod may 
occur from disturbance of the subterranean karst, which is habitat the 
species occupies, during construction. Additional information can be 
found in the proposed LEHCP and on our Web site.
    The LEHCP's proposed conservation strategy is designed to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate the impacts of covered activities on the covered 
species. The biological goals and objectives are to protect high-
quality habitat for a known Madison Cave isopod population.
    The Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an ITP and 
implementation of the proposed LEHCP. Three alternatives to the 
proposed action were considered in the LEHCP: A no-project alternative, 
alternative sites, and alternative construction procedures. These three 
alternatives were deemed impracticable by Dominion Virginia Power 
because of logical, law enforcement, and wildlife management reasons.
    The plant will be fueled by natural gas delivered to the site 
through gas pipelines regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission. These pipelines are undergoing independent analysis under 
the ESA, NEPA, and other environmental regulations.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have made a preliminary determination that the Dominion Virginia 
Power's proposed LEHCP, including the proposed avoidance, minimization, 
and mitigation measures, will have a minor or negligible effect on the 
species covered in the HCP, and that the HCP qualifies as a ``low-
effect'' HCP as described in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996).
    As further explained in our preliminary EAS, included for public 
review, we preliminarily determine that the HCP qualifies as a LEHCP 
based on the following three reasons:
    1. Implementation of the HCP would result in minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
    2. Implementation of the plan would result in minor or negligible 
effects on other environmental values or resources; and
    3. Impacts of the plan, considered together with the impacts of 
other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated 
projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to 
environmental values or resources that would be considered significant.
    Based on these reasons, the incidental take permit also, therefore, 
qualifies for a categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by the 
Department of the Interior's NEPA implementing regulations (43 CFR 
46.205, 46.210 and 46.215) and the Departmental Manual (516 DM 2 
Appendix 1 and 516 DM 8). Based on our review of public comments that 
we may receive in response to this notice, we may revise this 
preliminary determination.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the draft HCP and preliminary LEHCP Screening 
Form/EAS and comments we receive to determine whether the permit 
application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' HCP and for a categorical exclusion under 
NEPA. We will also evaluate whether issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) 
permit would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-
Service section 7 consultation. We will use the results of this 
consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final 
analysis to determine whether to issue an ITP. If the requirements are 
met, we will issue the ITP to the applicant.

Public Comments

    The Service invites the public to comment on the proposed HCP and 
preliminary EAS during a 30-day public review period (see DATES). 
Comments can be submitted to VAFO (see ADDRESSES). All comments 
received, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
administrative record and may be made available to the public. Before 
including your address, phone number, email 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 may request at the top 
of your document that we withhold your personal identifying information 
from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: August 10, 2011.
Kenneth D. Elowe,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2011-21425 Filed 8-19-11; 8:45 am]