From Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a series of public scoping meetings in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma as part of the agency’s efforts to evaluate the impacts of, and alternatives to, the proposed issuance of an Endangered Species Act permit that would authorize specified levels of take of certain species. A group of wind energy companies have requested this Incidental Take Permit and are developing the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan to meet permit issuance requirements. This effort will facilitate environmentally responsible wind energy development across a 200-mile wide corridor stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico on the Texas coast.
As part of the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act for issuance of the permit, the Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the companies’ application for the Permit. The potential Permit would cover regional-level construction, operation, and maintenance associated with multiple commercial wind energy facilities. It may include species protected by the ESA—as well as ESA candidate species—within portions of nine states (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas). As part of the EIS process, public scoping meetings will be held in all nine states.
Scoping meetings in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma will be held: from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 30 at Kearney, Neb., Holiday Inn, Stateroom C, 110 Second Avenue; from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 31 in Great Bend, at the Highland Hotel and Convention Center, South Heritage Room,
3017 West 10th Street; from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 1 in Woodward, Okla., City of Woodward Pioneer Room, 1220 9th Street
The Permit is being voluntarily sought by a group of wind energy industry companies formed in 2009: the Wind Energy Whooping Crane Action Group (WEWAG). Member companies include Acciona North America; Allete; Alternity Wind Power; BP Wind Energy; Clipper Wind Energy; Competitive Power Ventures, Inc.; Duke Energy Renewables; EDP Renewables North America ; Element Power; enXco; Iberdrola Renewables; Infinity Wind Power; MAP Royalty; NEXTEra Energy Resources; Own Energy; RES Americas; Terra-Gen Power, LLC; Trade Wind Energy; and Wind Capital Group.
The service is hosting this series of public scoping meetings to obtain suggestions and information on the range of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the EIS. The scoping meetings will be held in an open house format. The public is welcome to arrive at any time during the hours listed above for each meeting. The Service invites all interested parties to attend to learn about the NEPA process and proposed application, as well as provide comments and suggestions.
A 90-day public comment period began on July 14. All comments must be received by Oct. 12. Information on how and where to submit comments is contained in the Federal Register notice and can be found on the Service’s website at www.fws.gov/southwest.
Written comments are will also be accepted via: U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attention: Laila Lienesch, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1306, fax: 505-248-6922 (Attention: Laila Lienesch), or e-mail: WindEnergyHCPComments@fws.gov
A toll-free information number has been established to assist in participating in the process: 1-800-815-8927.