[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 58 (Monday, March 29, 2021)]
[Pages 16382-16383]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-06421]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2020-N148; FXES11140200000-212-FF02ENEH00]

Draft Environmental Assessment and Habitat Conservation Plan; CPS 
Energy Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan, Bexar County, Texas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for public comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce that CPS 
Energy has applied for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would authorize incidental take of 
one endangered songbird, the golden-cheeked warbler, and eight 
endangered karst invertebrates. We make available a draft environmental 
assessment (dEA) under the National Environmental Policy Act and a 
habitat conservation plan (HCP) for CPS Energy's covered activities in 
and around San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The dEA evaluates the 
impacts of, and alternatives to, implementation of the proposed HCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or 
postmarked on or before 11:59 p.m. eastern time on April 28, 2021. We 
may not consider any comments we receive after the closing date in the 
final decision on this action.

ADDRESSES: Accessing Documents:
    Internet: The dEA and HCP: You may obtain electronic copies of 
these documents on the Service's website at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/.
    U.S. Mail: You may obtain the documents by writing to the following 
addresses. In your request for documents, please reference CPS Energy 
     DEA and HCP: A limited number of CD-ROM and printed copies 
of the dEA and HCP are available, by request, from Mr. Adam Zerrenner, 
Austin Ecological Services Field Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, 
Austin, Texas 78758; telephone 512-490-0057; fax 512-490-0974.
     ITP Application: The ITP application is available by mail 
from the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 
1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103; Attention: Environmental Review 
    Submitting Comments: Regarding any of the documents available for 
review, you may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods. In your comments, please reference CPS Energy HCP.
     Email: FW2_AUES_Consult@fws.gov.
     Hard Copy: Field Supervisor, Austin Ecological Services 
Field Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78758; 
telephone 512-490-0057; fax 512-490-0974.
    We request that you submit comments by only one of the methods 
described above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, by 
mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, 
Austin, Texas 78758; via phone at 512-490-0057; or via the Federal 
Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 such take of endangered and threatened 
species, respectively, are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 
50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.


    CPS Energy has applied to the Service for an ITP under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The requested ITP, which would be in effect for 
a period of 30 years, if granted, would authorize incidental take of 
nine endangered species: Golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga [=Dendroica] 
chrysoparia), Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla), Government Canyon 
Bat Cave spider (Tayshaneta [=Neoleptoneta] microps), Government Canyon 
Bat Cave meshweaver (C. vespera), Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes 
venyivi), two ground beetles with no common names (Rhadine exilis and 
Rhadine infernalis), Robber Baron Cave meshweaver (C. baronia), and 
Cokendolpher cave harvestman (Texella cokendolpheri) (collectively the 
covered species). The proposed incidental take would result from 
activities associated with otherwise lawful activities, including 
electric transmission and distribution lines; natural gas transmission 
and distribution lines; electric or natural gas substations, switching 
stations, metering stations, and similar site-based facilities; and 
lighting on public roadways (covered activities).


Proposed Action

    The proposed action involves the issuance of an ITP by the Service 
for the covered activities in the permit area, under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The ITP would cover ``take'' of the covered 
species for covered activities within the permit area. An application 
for an ITP must include an HCP that describes the conservation measures 
the applicant has agreed to undertake to minimize and mitigate for the 
impacts of the proposed taking of covered species to the maximum extent 
practicable. The applicant will fully implement the HCP if approved by 
the Service. The terms of the HCP and ITP will also ensure that 
incidental take will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild.

No Action Alternative

    We have considered one alternative to the proposed action as part 
of this process: No Action. Under a No Action alternative, the Service 
would not issue the requested ITP and the applicant would either 
consult under the ESA on a project-by-project basis, rather than 
programmatically, or conduct those activities in a manner that avoids 
incidental take. Additionally, the applicant would not implement the 
conservation measures as described in the CPS Energy HCP.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the dEA, HCP, and comments we receive to determine 
whether the ITP application meets the

[[Page 16383]]

requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. 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 all necessary requirements are met, we will issue the ITP to the 

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. 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 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. 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 


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA and its 
implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Amy L. Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2021-06421 Filed 3-26-21; 8:45 am]