[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 110 (Friday, June 7, 2013)]
[Pages 34402-34403]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-13528]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2013-N102; FXES11120300000F2-134-FF03E15000]

Final Environmental Impact Statement, Habitat Conservation Plan, 
and Implementing Agreement, NiSource Inc.

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are advising 
the public of the availability of the Final Environmental Impact 
Statement (FEIS) associated with an application received from NiSource 
Inc. (hereafter ``NiSource'') for an incidental take permit (hereafter 
``ITP'') pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (ESA). If issued, the ITP would authorize NiSource 
to take 10 federally listed species over a 50-year period. For record 
of decision availability, see DATES. For directions on how to review 
the FEIS and related documents, see ADDRESSES.

DATES: The Record of Decision will be available no sooner than July 8, 

ADDRESSES: Document availability: Documents and other information 
submitted with the application are available for review, subject to the 
requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a.) and Freedom of 
Information Act, by either of the following methods:
     Internet: You may obtain an electronic copy of the FEIS 
and related documents on the Internet at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/r3hcps.html.
     U.S. Mail: You may obtain an electronic copy of the FEIS 
and related documents on compact disk by submitting a request in 
writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 30-days of the 
date of publication of this notice, see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
     In-Person: Printed copies of the documents are available 
for public inspection and review (by appointment only), at the office 

Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5600 American Blvd. West, 
Suite 990, Bloomington, Minnesota 55437-1458; 612-713-5467.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We are advising the public of the 
availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) 
associated with an application received from NiSource ITP pursuant to 
the ESA. If issued, the ITP would authorize NiSource to take 10 
federally listed species over a 50-year period.
    NiSource prepared a multi-species habitat conservation plan (MSHCP) 
to cover a suite of activities associated with operation, maintenance, 
and construction of their existing 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.
    The Service was the lead Federal agency for preparation of the 
FEIS. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
Forest Service (FS) Eastern Region and Southern Region, and the 
National Park Service (NPS) Southeast Region served as cooperating 


    NiSource, Inc., headquartered in Merrillville, Indiana, is engaged 
in natural gas transmission, storage, and distribution, as well as 
electric generation, transmission, and distribution. NiSource, Inc.'s 
wholly owned pipeline subsidiaries, Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC; 
Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC; Crossroads Pipeline Company; Central 
Kentucky Transmission Company; and NiSource Gas Transmission and 
Storage Company (companies referred to collectively as ``NiSource''), 
are interstate natural gas companies whose primary operations are 
subject to the Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. 717) and fall under the 
jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the 
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). NiSource is seeking 
authorization under the ESA to take species in the course of engaging 
in otherwise lawful gas transmission and storage operations.
    On July 16, 2009, NiSource filed an application with the Service 
for a Section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP for 10 ESA listed species known to occur 
within NiSource's operating territory. These species include the 
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), 
Madison Cave isopod (Antrolana lira), clubshell mussel (Pleurobema 
clava), northern riffleshell mussel (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana), 
fanshell mussel (Cyprogenia stegaria), James spinymussel (Pleurobema 
collina), sheepnose mussel (Plethobasus cyphyus), Nashville crayfish 
(Orconectes shoupi), and American burying beetle (Nicrophorus 
americanus). The MSHCP was prepared to cover a 50-year timeframe.
    The Covered Land for the MSHCP and requested ITP includes 12 
counties in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; and a 1-
mile-wide corridor associated with 15,562 miles of existing NiSource 
right-of-way within the 14 aforementioned States.
    The Covered Activities, or those NiSource activities that fall 
under the purview of the MSHCP and requested ITP, include a wide range 
of operation, maintenance, and new construction activities that are 
specific to NiSource Inc.'s wholly owned pipeline subsidiaries and to 
the Covered Land specified in the MSHCP.
    The MSHCP evaluated 42 species that could potentially occur within 
the NiSource Covered Land, and that could potentially be impacted by 
NiSource Covered Activities. However, after analysis of the 42 species 
and the Covered Land, it was concluded that NiSource Covered Activities 
will have no impact on 32 of the 42 species evaluated. Therefore, 
NiSource is requesting incidental take for the remaining 10 species, 
for which take could be minimized, but not avoided.
    In addition to the 42 species evaluated in the MSHCP, 46 additional 
ESA-listed, proposed, or candidate species are either known to occur or 
potentially occur within the NiSource Covered Land. Potential impacts 
to these species are discussed in the FEIS and in the Service's 
Biological Opinion.

NEPA Compliance

    Issuance of an ITP by the Service to NiSource is a Federal action 
that may affect the quality of the human environment and therefore is 
subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
To comply with the NEPA, the Service prepared an FEIS. The FEIS 
analyzes and discloses potential impacts that could result from 
issuance of an ITP to NiSource and through subsequent

[[Page 34403]]

implementation of their MSHCP (Proposed Action). As required by the 
NEPA, the FEIS also evaluates alternatives to the Proposed Action, 
which were developed in response to public, stakeholder, and agency 

Public Involvement

    On October 11, 2007, the Service published a Notice of Intent (NOI) 
to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register (72 FR 57953), to solicit 
participation of Federal, State, and local agencies, Tribes, and the 
public to determine the scope of the EIS and provide input relative to 
issues associated with the proposed MSHCP project. In addition to the 
publication of the NOI, the scoping process included informal 
stakeholder and agency consultations, 13 public scoping meetings, and a 
mailing to approximately 1,300 known interested parties. The letter 
provided project information, information on scoping meetings, and 
contact numbers. Public scoping lasted until December 8, 2007. A 
Scoping Report is appended to the FEIS.
    In accordance with the NEPA, a draft EIS and MSHCP were circulated 
for public review and comment. The public review period was initiated 
with the publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) in the FR on 
July 13, 2011 (76 FR 41288), and the public comment period was extended 
for an additional 90 days (76 FR 63950). Three public meetings were 
announced in the NOA, and were held in Columbus, Ohio, on August 16, 
2011; Lexington, Kentucky, on August 17, 2011; and Charleston, West 
Virginia, on August 18, 2011. The comment period closed on December 13, 
2011. A variety of comments were received on the DEIS and associated 
MSHCP, and are available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/nisource/index.html. Written responses to these public 
comments are appended to the FEIS.


    We provide this notice under Section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531, 1539(c)) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 
17.32), and the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 46). We will evaluate the 
application, associated documents, and comments submitted to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of Section 10(a)(1)(B) 
of the ESA. The Service's decision on whether to issue NiSource an ITP 
will occur no sooner than 30 days after publication of this notice in 
the Federal Register and completion of the Record of Decision. If we 
determine that all requirements are met, we will issue an ITP to 
NiSource for incidental take of 10 species in accordance with their 
MSHCP and associated IA.

    Dated: May 9, 2013.
Lynn Lewis,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2013-13528 Filed 6-6-13; 8:45 am]