Does the idea that the oil and gas industry might get what could amount to a 50-year free-for-all in terms of harming bats drive you bats? If so, comment now! If not, remember human health is tied to the health of the web of life; please do comment. We have posted our comment below; feel free to us that to compose your own comments.
First, some background. As we noted in this blog, Nine O&G Companies Want 50-Year “Incidental Take Permit” for 5 Bat Species: Comment!, a coalition of nine oil and gas companies is requesting a 50-year (!) incidental take permit (ITP) to cover potential harm to five bat species from their fracking-related activities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
As part of the permitting process, the gas companies must develop a habitat conservation plan (HCP) to avoid, minimize and offset their harms to the bats. The FWS must develop an environmental impact statement (EIS) before making a permit issuance decision for the Coalition’s HCP.
Right now, the FWS is the first step in preparing an EIS, which is the scoping phase. The purpose of scoping is to ask for early input from the public, other government agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry and other interested parties. Comment now to tell the agency what resource areas, topics and alternatives you would like evaluated in the EIS. Suggest data or information that should be considered in the EIS analysis. During the scoping period, you can learn about the proposed action and the EIS process, attend a public scoping meeting and talk with representatives of the FWS, participate in an online scoping meeting via webinar, and provide written comments on the scope and approach for completing the EIS. Find detail on the ways to participate here.
The FWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before December 27, 2016. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.
You may submit written comments by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R5-ES-2016-0135, which is the docket number for this notice. Click on the appropriate link to locate this document and submit a comment.
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2016-0135, Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, ABHC-PPM; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
The public will have more chances for involvement in this process:once after the draft EIS is released, and again after the final EIS is released. So stay tuned.