[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 229 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70987-70988]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28811]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0075; 4500030114]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Status Review for 
a Petition To List the Ashy Storm-Petrel as Endangered or Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; initiation of status review and solicitation of new 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
opening of an information collection period regarding the status of the 
ashy storm-petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa) throughout its range in the 
United States. The status review will include analysis of whether the 
ashy storm-petrel may be an endangered or threatened species due to 
threats in any significant portion of the range of the ashy storm-
petrel. Through this action, we encourage all interested parties to 
provide us information regarding the status of, and any potential 
threats to, the ashy storm-petrel throughout its range, or any 
significant portion of its range.

DATES: To be fully considered for the status review, comments must be 
submitted on or before December 28, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0075, which 
is the docket number for this rulemaking.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0075; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Public Comments section below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Chotkowski, Bay-Delta Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 650 Capitol Mall, Eighth Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814; 
by telephone at 916-930-5603; or facsimile at 916-930- 5654.


Public Comments

    To ensure that the status review is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting 
information concerning the status of the ashy storm-petrel. We request 
any additional information and suggestions from the public, other 
concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested parties. We are opening a 
30-day information collection period to allow all interested parties an 
opportunity to provide information on the status of the ashy storm-
petrel throughout its range, including:
    (1) Information regarding the species' historical and current 
population status, distribution, and trends; its biology and ecology; 
and habitat selection.
    (2) Information on the effects of potential threat factors that are 
the basis for a species' listing determination under section 4(a) of 
the Endangered Species Act (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of the species' habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) Inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    (3) Timing within year, type, and amount of human activities (for 
example, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism) and their 
impacts on ashy storm-petrels at locations where ashy storm-petrels are 
known or suspected to breed, including but not limited to: Van Damme 
Rock (Mendocino County); Bird, Chimney, and Double Point Rocks (Marin 
County); the Farallon Islands (San Francisco County); Castle and 
Hurricane Point Rocks (Monterey County); San Miguel Island, Castle 
Rock, Prince Island, mainland locations and offshore islets at 
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara Island, 
Sutil Island, and Shag Rock (Santa Barbara County); Anacapa Island 
(Ventura County); Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Island (Los 
Angeles County); and Islas Los Coronados and Islas Todos Santos, 
    (4) Projected changes in sea level along the coast of California 
during the 21st century, specifically at the locations listed in (3) 
above and its impact on ashy storm-petrels.
    (5) Elevations of known and suitable breeding habitat at the 
locations listed in (3) above.
    (6) Projected acidification of oceanic waters of the California 
Current during the 21st century and its impact on ashy storm-petrels.
    (7) Locations of oil tanker routes, and timing and frequency of oil 
tanker traffic along the coast of California and Northern Baja 
California, Mexico, and their impact on ashy storm-petrels.
    (8) Nighttime observations of ashy storm-petrels, other storm-
petrels, other nocturnal seabirds (for example, Xantus's murrelets 
(Synthliboramphus hypoleucus)), and other seabirds (for example, gulls 
(Larus sp.)) on or near boats (commercial or recreational) off of 
central and southern California and Baja California, Mexico.
    (9) Measured and observed nighttime lighting, and timing within 
year of nighttime lighting, by boats (commercial and recreational) at 
locations listed in (3) above, and their impacts on ashy storm-petrels.
    (10) Daily and seasonal activity patterns of ashy storm-petrels and 
avian predators of ashy storm-petrels (for example, western gull (Larus 
occidentalis), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia)) at breeding 
locations in general and, specifically, in relation to light intensity 
at night, and their impacts on ashy storm-petrels.
    (11) Abundance and distribution of predators of ashy storm-petrels 
at ashy storm-petrel breeding locations.
    (12) Observations of ashy storm-petrels or other storm-petrels at 
night on offshore oil platforms, or additional evidence that ashy 
storm-petrels are attracted to or have collided with offshore oil 
    (13) Locations of proposed offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) 
facilities along the coast of California and Northern Baja California, 
Mexico, and their impacts on ashy storm-petrels.
    (14) Evidence of organochlorine contamination of ashy storm-petrel 
eggs and birds.
    (15) Ingestion of plastics by ashy storm-petrels, distribution and

[[Page 70988]]

abundance of plastics in the California Current, and their impact on 
ashy storm-petrels.
    (16) Military activities at sea and on islands off the coast of 
California and northern Baja California, Mexico, and their impacts on 
ashy storm-petrels.
    (17) Factors that pose a threat to ashy storm-petrels (those listed 
above, and otherwise) and the potential cumulative effects of these 
factors and their impacts on ashy storm-petrels.
    Please note that comments merely stating support for or opposition 
to the action under consideration without providing supporting 
information, although noted, will not be considered in making a 
determination, because section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is a threatened or endangered 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.'' At the conclusion of the status review, we 
will issue a new 12-month finding on the petition, as provided in 
section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.
    You may submit your information and materials concerning this 
finding by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your information, you should 
be aware that we will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Information and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this finding, will be available for 
public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, 
during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Bay Delta Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 


    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on 
information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted 
with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To 
the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 
days of our receipt of the petition and publish our notice of the 
finding promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day 
petition finding is ``that amount of information that would lead a 
reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition 
may be warranted'' (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial 
scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to 
promptly initiate a species status review, which we subsequently 
summarize in our 12-month finding. This notice initiates our status 
    On October 16, 2007, we received a petition from the Center for 
Biological Diversity, requesting that we list the ashy storm-petrel as 
a threatened or endangered species throughout its range and that we 
concurrently designate critical habitat. In response to the petition, 
we sent a letter to the petitioner dated January 11, 2008, stating that 
we had secured funding and that we anticipated making an initial 
finding as to whether the petition contained substantial information 
indicating that listing the ashy storm-petrel may be warranted in 
Fiscal Year 2008. On May 15, 2008, we published a 90-day petition 
finding (73 FR 28080) in which we concluded that the petition provided 
substantial information indicating that listing of the ashy storm-
petrel may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. On August 
19, 2009, we announced our 12-month finding (74 FR 41832) in which we 
found that, after reviewing the best available scientific and 
commercial information, listing the ashy storm-petrel was not 
warranted. The Center for Biological Diversity challenged this decision 
in the District Court of the Northern District of California on October 
25, 2010 (Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, et al., No. 4:10-
CV-4861-DMR (N. D. CA). This challenge was resolved by a September 16, 
2011, Stipulation of Dismissal, based on the September 9, 2011, 
approval of two settlements in In re Endangered Species Act Section 4 
Deadline Litig., Misc. Action No. 10-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D. 
D.C.), in which the Service agreed to submit a warranted 12-month 
finding with a concurrent proposed rule to list the ashy storm-petrel 
or a not-warranted finding regarding the ashy storm-petrel to the 
Federal Register by the end of Fiscal Year 2013.
    At this time, we are soliciting new information on the status of 
and potential threats to the ashy storm-petrel. Information submitted 
in response to our 2009 12-month finding will be considered and need 
not be resubmitted. We will base our 12-month finding on a review of 
the best scientific and commercial information available, including all 
information received as a result of this notice. For more information 
on the biology, habitat, and range of the ashy storm-petrel, please 
refer to our previous 12-month finding published in the Federal 
Register on August 19, 2009 (74 FR 41832).


    The primary authors of this document are staff of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Bay-Delta Field Office.


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: September 5, 2012.
Rowan W. Gould,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-28811 Filed 11-27-12; 8:45 am]