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Sunday, September 22, 2019
Feds Approve Hawaii Windfarm Plan to Kill 424 Bats, 47 Nene, 27 Petrels
By News Release @ 2:05 AM :: 3966 Views :: Energy, Environment

From Federal Register, September 20, 2019 (excerpts)

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of four separate records of decision (RODs) under the Endangered Species Act—three RODs for the proposed issuance of three permit amendments and one ROD for the proposed issuance of one new permit. We also make available each project's respective habitat conservation plan (HCP) amendment or HCP. The RODs document the Service's decision to issue incidental take permit (ITP) amendments to three applicants—Kawailoa Wind, LLC; Auwahi Wind, LLC; and Kaheawa Wind Power II, LLC—and a new ITP to Tawhiri Power, LLC….

Background

All four wind projects are currently constructed and operating. Three of the Start Printed Page 49548projects (Auwahi Wind, KWP II, and Kawailoa Wind) have existing ITPs and are requesting amendments due to the addition of a new covered species or the exceedance of previously authorized incidental take of the Hawaiian hoary bat. One project, the Pakini Nui Wind Farm, was constructed and operating without a permit because they did not anticipate take of any listed species. Once an unauthorized take was identified, they developed an HCP and applied for an ITP. None of the projects' proposed actions includes additional development of the respective wind facility. The new or amended ITPs would authorize incidental take associated with the continued operation of existing wind turbines at each project.

The PEIS was developed in accordance with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in response to four ITP applications. The Service determined that a programmatic NEPA analysis of the four similar wind energy project-related permit decisions would provide the following benefits: A comprehensive analysis of cumulative impacts across all projects; creation of a single document that the public would be more likely to understand; a reduction in duplicative information that would otherwise appear in four separate EISs; improved consistency in the NEPA analysis; and a more efficient and comprehensive solicitation of public input.

Each HCP or HCP amendment describes how impacts to covered species would be minimized and mitigated. The HCPs also describe the covered species' life history and ecology, the HCP biological goals and objectives, the estimated take and its potential impact on covered species' populations, adaptive management and monitoring procedures, and mitigation measures for each project.

Tawhiri Power, LLC, is requesting incidental take authorization for an estimated 26 Hawaiian hoary bats, 3 Hawaiian petrels, and 3 Hawaiian geese over a 10-year permit term.

Auwahi Wind Energy, LLC, is requesting a permit amendment and incidental take coverage for an additional 119 Hawaiian hoary bats (for a total of 140 bats) over the 25-year permit term, which expires in 2037.

KWP II, LLC, is requesting a permit amendment and incidental take authorization for an additional estimated 27 Hawaiian hoary bats (for a total of 38 bats) and an additional estimated 14 Hawaiian geese (for a total of 44 geese) over the 20-year permit term, which expires in 2032.

Kawailoa Wind Power, LLC, is requesting a permit amendment and incidental take coverage for an additional estimated 160 Hawaiian hoary bats (for a total of 220 bats) and take of 24 Hawaiian petrels over the 20-year permit term, which expires in 2031.

Additional information on each specific project is described in the PEIS and RODs.

read … Full Report

WHT:  Big Island wind farm allowed ‘incidental take’ of 3 endangered species

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