Jun 152015

Press Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2015


Bill Sapp, Southern Environmental Law Center, 404-521-9900, bsapp@selcga.org
Chris Manganiello, Georgia River Network, 706-549-4508, chris@garivers.org
Jenny Hoffner, American Rivers, 404-373-3602, jhoffner@americanrivers.org

GA Supreme Court Defers to EPD;
Buffer Protection for Freshwater Wetlands Not Required

Atlanta, GA—The Georgia Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) after the agency appealed a state court of appeals' decision that the Georgia Erosion & Sedimentation Act’s 25-foot water quality buffer provision applies to all state waters.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Georgia River Network and American Rivers, was successful in overruling EPD’s policy that only some state waters are protected by buffers through a favorable decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals in July 2014. The decision also invalidated EPD Director Judson Turner’s April 2014 memorandum that stripped the protective buffer from the Georgia Coast.

After Director Turner ordered local issuing authorities to disregard the Georgia Court of Appeals’ decision, EPD appealed the appellate court’s decision and prevailed in state Supreme Court.

“A small strip of trees and plants may seem inconsequential, but that buffer provides a critical filter to prevent sediment and pollution from clogging our waters,” said Bill Sapp from the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We are disappointed with the decision, but regardless of today’s outcome, we will continue our work to restore protective measures and ensure that Georgia’s waterways are more swimmable and drinkable for the communities and industries that rely on clean water statewide.”

“It is fortunate that the 25-foot protective buffer has been restored along Georgia’s coastal marshes through the bill passed in the recent legislative session, which successfully closed large statutory loopholes that would have left our coast at risk,” said Chris Manganiello from Georgia River Network. “We will continue to work toward restoring the same protections for freshwater wetlands, and for all other waters across the state that are not currently protected.”

“Adopting consistent measures in order to keep invaluable rivers, streams, and marshlands clean and safe is in the best interest of all Georgians,” said Jenny Hoffner from American Rivers. “We remain hopeful that EPD will end its haphazard approach to how it applies buffers and instead implement a uniform method for protecting Georgia’s waters.”


Jun 152015

For more Federal Register notices on the ESA and National Environmental Policy Act, go to http://www.eswr.com/fr-today

The Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a "scoping period" on an Environmental Impact Statement that will examine a plan to issue Incidental Take Permits under a Midwest Wind Energy MultiSpecies Habitat Conservation Plan that is being prepared. The Federal Register notice was published Friday, June 12.

FWS and planning partners are preparing the MSHCP. The partners include the conservation agencies for seven of eight Midwestern states within the Plan Area, the American Wind Energy Association (a consortium of wind energy companies), and The Conservation Fund.

"The MSHCP Plan Area encompasses all lands within the political boundary of Region 3 of the service, which includes eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin."

http://www.midwestwindenergyhcpeis.org   More information here

"The MSHCP would cover eight species that are subject to injury or mortality at wind turbine facilities, including six federally listed species and two unlisted species. The six federally listed species covered under the MSHCP include: Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), Kirtland’s warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), piping plover (Charadrius melodius) (Great Lakes population and northern Great Plains population, which are two distinct population segments), and interior least tern (Sternula antillarum athalassos). The unlisted species included in the MSHCP are little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Species may be added or deleted as the MSHCP is developed based on further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and public comment."

Public meetings, as well as a webinar, are scheduled in July.

More Federal Register notices are below

Public Inspection

FWS will prepare an EA or EIS on an application from Praxair Inc. for a right-of-way (ROW) permit to build, operate, and maintain two pipelines within an existing maintained pipeline corridor crossing the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Brazoria County, Texas. Scoping process begins.

EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 issue final 2015 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for stormwater discharges from industrial activity, also referred to as the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). | March 12 final rule

Forest Service will prepare an EIS for a project called Ringo, centered around Ringo Butte south of Wickiup Reservoir on the Crescent Ranger District in Oregon. Proposed action includes about 6,688 acres of thinning. "In order to continue to provide these values and services on the landscape into the future, there is a need to reduce tree density and surface fuels in order to restore and maintain a resilient, fire-adapted ecosystem."

The Commander of the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers solicits applications to fill vacant stakeholder representative member positions on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC). Members are sought to fill vacancies on a committee to represent various categories of interests within the Missouri River basin. | MRRIC

NMFS issues Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to BLM to take marine mammals, by harassment incidental to conducting a one-day field-based land survey of cultural sites located on a small island within the eastern Aleutian Islands archipelago, Alaska, June through July, 2015.

NMFS issues Incidental Harassment Authorization to Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska.

NMFS: Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), Division of Wildlife Conservation, Juneau, AK (Principal Investigator: Lori Quakenbush) has been issued a minor amendment to Scientific Research Permit No. 14610-03

FERC will prepare an EA on impacts of the Susquehanna West Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (TGP) in Tioga and Bradford
Counties, Pennsylvania

Dates link to FR Tables of Contents

Monday, June 15, 2015

Low-effect HCPs, Florida (sand skink, Florida scrub-jay): FWS receives three applications for incidental take permits (ITPs) associated with low-effect HCPs. DCS Capital Investments I, LLC requests a 15-year ITP; Preferred Materials, Inc., doing business as Conrad Yelvington Distributors, requests a 3-year ITP; and Wickham Summerbrook, LLC requests a 5-year ITP

FWS releases Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Butte Sink, Willow Creek-Lurline, and North Central Valley Wildlife Management Areas

NOAA says March 12, 2015, final rule, which expanded Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary from approximately 1,282 square miles (968 square nautical miles) to approximately 3,295 square miles (2,488 square nautical miles), became effective on June 9, 2015. NOAA has also changed the name of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

BuRec and the California Department of Water Resources will prepare a partially Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIR/SDEIS) on the Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan. "The RDEIR/SDEIS will describe and analyze refinement of the resource area analyses, alternatives, and actions, including additional alternatives that describe conveyance alternatives that do not contain all the elements of a Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Communities Conservation Plan that are described in the previously circulated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS)."

Friday, June 12, 2015

EPA receives agency EIS's for review

NMFS issues revised Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to The Narragansett Electric Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC), to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to construction of the Block Island Transmission System (BITS).

Wind energy: FWS receives application from Na Pua Makani Power Partners, LLC for an incidental take permit  authorizing take of one threatened and six endangered species | Documents should be here

FWS receives permit applications to import endangered species, marine mammals (zoos, trophies)

Forest Service to prepare an EA to establish management direction for the land and resources within San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, designated by Presidential Proclamation on Oct. 10, 2014

Enbridge spill: DOI, acting through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS); the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribe; and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of the Pottawatomi Indians has written a Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment, which describes proposed alternatives for restoring injured natural resources and compensating for losses resulting from the discharges of oil from Enbridge’s Line 6B oil pipeline near Marshall, Michigan, in July 2010.

Enforcement: Oil Pollution Act consent decree (Enbridge spill)

BLM Salt Lake Field Office begins scoping process for Resource Management Plan (RMP)
Amendment with an associated Environmental Assessment (EA) for target shooting in
the Eastern Lake Mountains area.

BLM issues Record of Decision (ROD) for the Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) for
the John Day Basin planning area located in northern central Oregon  ::   More here

Commodity Credit Corporation will prepare a PEIS for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program

FERC releases DEIS, announces public hearings for the proposed New England Clean Power Link
(NECPL) Transmission Line   ::  New England Clean Power Link page

FAA will prepare EIS for proposed improvements to the Norfolk International Airport