The Forest Service issued its travel management rule on "over-snow vehicles," proclaiming that assessment of the impact on endangered species such as the Canada lynx is beyond the rule's scope. The Fish and Wildlife Service said it shouldn't have included Vermejo Park Ranch as a translocation site for the Mexican wolf, in a notice it published Jan. 15. FERC announced plans to prepare Environmental Assessments and EIS's for various projects. NOAA's Science Advisory Board said it would meet in February in Silver Spring, though it neglected to post any such information on its own site, which has April 16-17 as the next meeting (Mistakes happen; we informed them of the oversight, so perhaps by the time you click on that link, it'll be corrected.). Oh, and NMFS gave the thumbs-up to a Resource Management Plan prepared by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife designed to address the health of Puiget Sound chinook and steelhead.
Environmental groups have petitioned FWS to downlist the gray wolf to threatened. The petition does not include the Mexican wolf, which would remain endangered. Some in Congress are working on legislation to delist wolves.
The Interior Department announced its draft strategy for offshore oil and gas leasing from 2017-22. Here's a paragraph from the press release:
Gulf of Mexico:
The draft proposal includes ten sales in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the most productive basins in the world and where oil and gas infrastructure is well established. The draft proposal includes a new approach to lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by proposing two annual lease sales in the Western, Central, and the portion of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico that is not subject to Congressional moratoria. This shifts from the traditional approach of one sale in the Western and a separate sale in the Central Gulf each year.
At the same time, President Obama, "using his authorities under the OCS Lands Act – designated portions of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas as off limits from consideration for future oil and gas leasing in order to protect areas of critical importance to subsistence use by Alaska Natives, as well as for their unique and sensitive environmental resources. In December, President Obama used this same authority to place the waters of Bristol Bay off limits to oil and gas development, protecting an area known for its world-class fisheries and stunning beauty."
DOI, USDA: The secretaries propose to revise the regulations governing the rural determination process for the Federal Subsistence Program in Alaska. Under current regulations, the Federal Subsistence Board defines which community or area of Alaska is rural using guidelines and characteristics defined by the Secretaries. This new process will enable the Board to be more flexible in making decisions and take into account the regional differences found throughout the state.
FERC to prepare EIS on impacts of the Calcasieu Pass Project involving construction and operation of LNG
export facilities by Venture Global Calcasieu Pass, LLC (Venture Global) in Cameron Parish, Louisiana
FERC extends comment period on project described below
- FERC to prepare EIS on PennEast Pipeline Project, involving construction and operation of facilities by PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, a partnership of six member companies including AGL Resources, New Jersey Resources Pipeline Company, South Jersey Industries, Public Service Electric and Gas Company Power LLC, Spectra Energy Partners, and UGI Energy Services (1/13/15)
FERC to prepare EA on impacts of the Silo Pipeline Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Kaiser-Frontier Midstream, LLC (Kaiser-Frontier) in Laramie County, Wyoming, and Weld County, Colorado.
FERC releases EA/FONSI on applications for new licenses for the West Branch Project (FERC Project No. 2618) and the Forest City Project (FERC Project No. 2660). The West Branch Project is located on the West Branch of the St. Croix River in Penobscot, Washington, and Hancock Counties, Maine. The Forest City Project is located on the East Branch of the St. Croix River in Washington and Aroostook Counties, Maine.
Forest Service publishes final Travel Management Rule on Over-Snow Vehicles, says "The impact of OSV use on specific species, including threatened and endangered species, in specific locations is beyond the scope of this final rule."
BIA extends public scoping period for the Aiya Solar Project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation.
BIA extends public scoping period for Snow Mountain Solar Project on the Las Vegas Paiute River Indian Reservation
NMFS finds that joint resource management plan (RMP), represented by five Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs), submitted by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon and Puget Sound steelhead. The plans specify the propagation of five species of salmon and steelhead in the Elwha River of Washington state.