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Stay up to date with findings from our aci team.

spragues_pipit_7C2V9725On April 5, 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) issued a proposed rule (FR vol. 81, p. 19527-19542) announcing a 12-moth findings petition to list the Sprague’s pipit (Anthus spragueii) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. This species was listed as a candidate species on September 15, 2010, and according to the proposed rule, the species does not warrant listing at this time. This species does not warrant listing at this time because the distribution of the species is relatively stable across its range and no concentration of stressors was found that suggest the species may be in danger of extinction in any portion of its range. A link to this proposed rule can be found here, and a link to the Sprague’s pipit USFWS species profile page can be found here.

The Sprague’s pipit inhabits native prairie grasslands and breeds exclusively in the Northern Great Plains. Its breeding grounds include areas in North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Canada. The Sprague’s pipit wintering habitat is located in areas of Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Mexico. A map of its overall range and additional information about the species is located here.

If you have questions regarding the decision or how any state- or federally-listed species may affect your project, please contact aci consulting’s Austin office.

Posted by: In: SEPHCP 22 Dec 2015 0 comments

Header GraphicThe USFWS just posted a Federal Register document today detailing that the Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan (SEP HCP) will be going into effect.  The SEP HCP is a regional endangered species plan for Bexar County.  Similar regional endangered species plans are in place in Travis, Williamson (and recently) Hays Counties, Texas.  The species that are covered in the SEP HCP plan are the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, and 7 listed endangered karst invertebrates.  Projects in San Antonio/Bexar County can participate in the plan, though mitigation habitat can be acquired in Bandera, Blanco, Comal, Kendall, Kerr, and Medina Counties.  If you have a Bexar County project and are interested in participating in the plan for endangered species compliance or if you are interested in selling conservation land to the plan in any of the 7 counties, please contact aci and we will help you out.  Remember – golden-cheeked warbler survey season runs from March 15th through June 1st  and black-capped vireo season runs from April 10th through July 1st, so let aci know ASAP if you want your land surveyed in 2016!  Here is the website for the SEP HCP for more information: SEPHCP

Posted by: In: NPDES 14 Dec 2015 0 comments

6144On September 24, 2015 the EPA signed a final rule which will transition National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) reporting, and the corresponding Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES), from paper to digital submittals. The switch to mandatory digital submissions for NPDES reporting is intended to cut down on reporting errors that take place with paper reporting and will provide permittees authorized to discharge stormwater and wastewater with automated fact-checking and submission confirmation.

The new NPDES reporting rule will be implemented in two phases. Phase I, effective December 21, 2016, will require all Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) to be submitted electronically. Facilities required to submit DMRs in Texas, such as temporary concrete batch plants operating under the TXG110000 Wastewater General Permit, will need to do so using the TCEQ’s NetDMR web-based reporting program. Phase II, effective December 21, 2020, will require all NPDES regulated entities to submit a notice of intent (NOI) and notice of termination (NOT) electronically. For operators authorized by TCEQ’s Industrial Multi-Sector General Permits and Construction Stormwater General Permit, these tasks will be reported by using the web-based State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System (STEERS).

More information can be found here:

Environmental Protection Agency

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

If you have questions regarding how the new reporting requirements may affect your current NPDES permit or need to connect existing permits to the TCEQ’s reporting program accounts, please contact aci consulting’s Austin office.

Posted by: In: IPEC 18 Nov 2015 0 comments

_L4C2460Founder and Chief Executive Officer of aci consulting, Steve Paulson, will be speaking on Thursday, November 19th  at the 22nd International Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC) in Denver, CO.  His presentation on large scale solutions to resolving Endangered Species Act conflicts will take place during the Legal & Regulatory Issues/Environmental Management, Compliance & Auditing technical session.

 

Read his abstract here.

Posted by: In: Lesser Prairie-Chicken 11 Nov 2015 0 comments

Lesser Prairie ChickenOn November 9, 2015, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) re-opened the Range-wide Oil and Gas Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) with approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This re-opening follows the September 1, 2015 decision of the U.S. District Court to vacate the listing of the lesser prairie-chicken (LPC) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The CCAA is now open for new enrollments of oil and gas leases, pipelines, and transfers of properties from the WAFWA Conservation Agreement (WCA) to the CCAA. WAFWA has stated that participation in the CCAA will “result in conservation to support the vacatur and evidence to refute future appeals and listing proposals.” It is uncertain how long the CCAA will be open for new enrollments.

The legal assurances provided to participants of the WCA were derived from Section 4(d) of the ESA and are only applicable to species listed as threatened under the ESA. The CCAA’s legal assurances are based on an ESA Section 10 permit and remain applicable whether a species is listed under the ESA as threatened or endangered. The USFWS filed a motion on September 29, 2015, for reconsideration of the Federal Judge’s decision with oral arguments scheduled for November 12, 2015.

If you have questions regarding the decision or how any state- or federally-listed species may affect your project, please contact aci consulting’s WAFWA-approved LPC Technical Service providers at our Austin office.

IMG_0715-1After failing to repeal the new Clean Water Rule on Tuesday, the Senate voted (53-44) to overturn the Rule on Wednesday under the Congressional Review Act. The White House has indicated legislation blocking the Rule will likely be vetoed.

On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) published the Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States;’’ further defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Numerous lawsuits were brought challenging the controversial Rule by states, business, agricultural, and development groups; and on October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit temporarily suspended the Rule pending judicial review. A copy of the published rule can be found here.

If you have questions regarding the new Rule or how it may affect a current or proposed project, please contact aci consulting’s Austin office.

Posted by: In: TXRAM 14 Oct 2015 0 comments

Beautiful_landscape_of_green_swamp_with_calm_watersOn October 14, 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a public notice announcing the availability of an updated version of the Texas Rapid Assessment Method (TXRAM). TXRAM was developed as a tool to evaluate the integrity and health of wetlands and streams. Since its initial publication in 2011, TXRAM is used within the USACE Fort Worth District to calculate impacts to jurisdictional waters and corresponding mitigation, and as a monitoring tool.

A copy of TXRAM 2.0 can be found here.

A copy of the public notice can be found here.

If you have questions regarding TXRAM or its applicability to a project, please contact aci consulting’s Austin office at (512) 347-9000.