The federal Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) looked at the request from four wind farms on three Hawaiian islands to drastically increase the number of opeʻapeʻa (Hawaiian Hoary Bats) “taken” during their project lifetimes. It considered three options:
- No changes to the existing Habitat Conservation Plans. The wind farm operators would have to live within their committed limits on “take”. Auwahi is already past its estimated 25-year “take” and Kahewawa II is getting close.
- The wind farm operators proposed sharply higher “takes” – e.g. 140 bats at Auwahi compared to the initial commitment of at most 21 – to be traded for investment in habitat restoration.
- Sharply curtailed night-time operation to get the “take” number down.
Which alternative is most in line with the charter of the Fish and Wildlife Service? The final report says:
“Pursuant to NEPA implementing regulations found at 40 CFR 15.2(b), the Service identified Alternative 3—Increased Curtailment as the environmentally preferred alternative in the RODs.”
And which alternative did they choose? Alternative 2.