[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 177 (Thursday, September 14, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 43224-43225]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-19482]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XF362


Endangered and Threatened Species; File No. 21316

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application from Barney M. Davis L.P. for 
an incidental take permit, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 
of 1973, as amended, for Barney M. Davis Power Station in Corpus 
Christi, TX. The facility monitors the intake canal in an effort to 
intercept sea turtles prior to their contact with the facility's 
cooling water intake structure. The facility is requesting the permit 
be issued for a duration of 10 years.
    Although the facility has been in operation since 1974, the 
presence of sea turtles in the intake canal has only occurred during 
the past 10 years, and is associated with cold-stunning events. Under 
the proposed action, when a sea turtle is located in the intake canal 
of the facility, the sea turtle will be collected by Texas Parks and 
Wildlife Department and held at their nearby facility until the United 
States Fish and Wildlife Service collects the sea turtles for tagging 
and rehabilitation at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep prior to release 
back into the Gulf of Mexico. Although every effort will be made to 
intercept sea turtles prior to the cooling water intake structure, it 
is possible that a stunned sea turtle may become impinged on the 
automatic rake prior to entering the structure. Although unlikely, due 
to the physical characteristics and operations of the structure, any 
impingement of turtles would be lethal.
    NMFS is furnishing this notice in order to allow other agencies and 
the public an opportunity to review and comment on this document. All 
comments received will become part of the public record and will be 
available for review.

DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or 
fax number (see ADDRESSES) on or before October 16, 2017.

ADDRESSES: The application is available for download and review at 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/esa_review.htm under the section 
heading ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) Permits and Applications. The 
application is also available upon written request or by appointment in 
the following office: Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office 
of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13752, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8403; fax (301) 713-4060.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0104, by any 
of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0104 click the ``Comment Now'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Fax: (301) 713-4060; Attn: Ron Dean.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Endangered Species 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-
West Highway, Room 13535, Silver Spring, MD 20910; Attn: Ron Dean.
    Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods 
to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent 
by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received 
after the end

[[Page 43225]]

of the comment period may not be considered. All comments received are 
a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public 
viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal 
identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) confidential 
business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted 
voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron Dean, (301) 427-8445.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations 
prohibit the `taking' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. 
The ESA defines ``take'' to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. NMFS may issue permits, under limited circumstances to 
take listed species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise 
lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides for 
authorizing incidental take of listed species. NMFS regulations 
governing permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated 
at 50 CFR 222.307.

Background

    Pursuant to the ESA, NMFS reviewed in Barney Davis' December 23, 
2015 application, including the conservation plan and analytical 
methods for estimating potential takes. After discussions with NMFS, 
Barney Davis submitted an updated application on November 4, 2016. NMFS 
and the applicant continued discussions, and Barney Davis submitted all 
additional information on August 25, 2017 and the application was 
considered complete at that time. The duration of the proposed permit 
is 10 years.
    Barney M. Davis, LP owns Barney M. Davis Power Station (the 
facility), a natural gas-fired electric power generating facility. The 
facility is located at 4301 Waldron Road, Corpus Christi, Nueces 
County, TX. The facility has approximately 1,992 acres of land between 
the Laguna Madre and Oso Creek and is comprised of two natural gas 
fired combustion turbines.
    The facility has a 0.75-mile intake canal into the Laguna Madre 
leading to the facility's Cooling Water Intake Structure. The 
phenomenon of ``cold-stunning'' occurs to sea turtles in the waters 
around the facility's intake structure. During cooler months, sea 
turtles in the Laguna Madre cross the entrance of the facility's intake 
canal to where water is cooler, and become ``cold-stunned'' and 
therefore unable to swim. Once the sea turtles are cold-stunned, they 
float into the facility's intake canal, toward the facility. The 
facility has experienced an increased occurrence in the number of sea 
turtles in the intake canal during the winter months (December-March). 
The facility currently coordinates with Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department in the Coastal Conservation Association Marine Development 
Center to collect and relocate sea turtles that have migrated into the 
intake canal. The facility is applying for an Incidental Take Permit in 
accordance with rules established under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973.
    The permit application is for the incidental take of the North 
Atlantic Distinct Population Segment DPS of the ESA-listed threatened 
green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the endangered Kemp's ridley sea 
turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). Based on data from the facility from 
2012-2016, the proposed takes for any three-year period for the ten-
year duration of the permit is 210 live and 39 dead green sea turtles, 
and 3 live Kemp's ridley sea turtles.

Conservation Plan

    Section 10 of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless 
an applicant submits an adequate habitat conservation plan. The 
conservation plan prepared by Barney Davis describes measures designed 
to minimize and mitigate the impacts of any incidental takes of ESA-
listed green and Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
    The facility has experienced an increased occurrence in the number 
of cold-stunned sea turtles in the intake canal during the winter 
months and currently coordinates with Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department in the Coastal Conservation Association Marine Development 
Center to collect and relocate sea turtles that have migrated into the 
intake canal.
    The facility utilizes a 0.75-mile cooling water intake canal 
leading to the Cooling Water Intake Structure (CWIS) from the Laguna 
Madre. To avoid and minimize take of sea turtles, Barney Davis proposes 
to have staff visually monitor the area a minimum of four times per 
every 12-hour shift. These visual assessments provide staff the 
opportunity to identify turtles in the canal prior to them reaching the 
intake structure. Facility staff responsible for monitoring the intake 
canal will be trained upon hiring, and again annually, on the proper 
procedures required for the collection of turtles. Photos of 
potentially affected species are available to staff to assist them with 
species identification. Staff will be required to measure the length of 
the turtles collected to assist in estimating their age.
    Barney M. Davis Power Station is an existing facility and there are 
no construction activities planned, nor additional funding. Continued 
monitoring related to the take of sea turtles will be ongoing and 
funding provided through the facility's annual operating budget.

National Environmental Policy Act

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and 
the National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). NMFS 
will evaluate the application, associated documents, and submitted 
comments to determine whether the application meets the requirements of 
the ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) permitting process. If it is determined 
that the requirements are met, a permit will be issued for incidental 
takes of ESA-listed threatened Northwest Atlantic Distinct Population 
Segment of green turtles and Kemp's ridley sea turtles under the 
jurisdiction of NMFS.
    Barney Davis evaluated three alternatives to the proposed action: 
(1) Seasonal outages of the facility during winter months when the 
incidence of take is higher; (2) additional monitoring equipment 
located prior to the intake structure; and (3) a ``no action'' 
alternative. The alternatives considered were determined to either be 
unfeasible, or to have no significant impact, or would result in an 
increase in adverse effects to sea turtles compared to the activity as 
proposed.
    The final permit determinations will not be completed until after 
the end of the 30-day comment period and will fully consider all public 
comments received during the comment period. NMFS will publish a record 
of its final action in the Federal Register.

    Dated: September 8, 2017.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-19482 Filed 9-13-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P