Updated HUD Part 58 and IHDA Environmental Guidance

Posted: February 11th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Phase I ESA | Comments Off on Updated HUD Part 58 and IHDA Environmental Guidance

Recent changes on the HUD Environmental Assessment data form have made their way to the Illinois Housing Development Authority Environmental Requirements for Multifamily Affordable Housing.  The IHDA guidance was just updated January 2016.

The new HUD/IHDA Part 58 form is essentially a minor reorganization of the same content with the elimination of some redundancy.  The new form requires more information about project funding.  It also combines related environmental assessment factors into categorical elements.  For example, “Police”, “Fire”, and “Emergency Medical” previously existed as 3 separate factors.  On the new form, they are 1 combined factor.

Some new sections of the form (not new to NEPA Environmental Assessment, just new to the HUD/IHDA form) include sections regarding:

  • Permits Obtained
  • Public Outreach, and
  • Cumulative Impact Analysis.

“The Phase I MUST include the HUD Environmental Assessment form.”

Another recent, and significantly more meaningful, change is the requirement that all IHDA Phase I Environmental Site Assessments include a Part 58 Environmental Assessment.  In the past, the Part 58 has only been required when HUD funding was proposed as part of the project.  Within the last year, however, IHDA began requiring the Part 58 regardless of HUD funding.  When scoping a Phase I for IHDA, be sure to specify that a Part 58 Environmental Assessment be included.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Special Rule to Focus Protections for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

Posted: January 19th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Special Rule to Focus Protections for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
Myotis_septentrionalis

northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

The US Fish & Wildlife Service proposed to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered under the ESA in October 2013 and is due to make a final decision by April 2, 2015.  The Service’s options include listing the species as endangered; listing as threatened; listing as threatened with a 4(d) rule; and withdrawing the proposal to list.

The latest proposal is to list the species as threatened under the ESA 4(d) rule.  For species listed as threatened, the Service may issue a 4(d) rule to provide necessary species conservation protections without unduly burdening private landowners and citizens with regulations that do not further the conservation of the species.

In the case of the northern long-eared bat, the proposed 4(d) rule would mean that in areas of the country affected by white-nose syndrome, activities such as forest management practices, maintenance and limited expansion of transportation and utility rights-of-way, removal of trees and brush to maintain prairie habitat, and limited tree removal projects would be exempt from being considered a “take” (harming, harassing and killing) provided these activities protect known maternity roosts and hibernacula.  The proposed 4(d) rule also exempts take as a result of removal of hazardous trees, removal of northern long-eared bats from human dwellings, and research-related activities. These measures are designed to protect northern long-eared bats when they are most vulnerable, including when they occupy hibernacula and during the two-month pup-rearing season from June through July. The greatest potential restrictions would be during these months, with reduced restrictions at all other times.

In parts of the country not affected by white-nose syndrome, the proposed rule recognizes activities that result in incidental take of bats are not imperiling the species, and all will be exempt from the act’s protections.

The Service is seeking public comment on the proposed 4(d) rule and is accepting comments on its October 2013 proposal to list the northern long-eared bat under the ESA. Comments are accepted through March 17, 2015. Specifically, the Service is seeking comment on whether it may be appropriate to exempt incidental take as a result of other categories of activities beyond those covered in the proposed rule and if so, under what conditions and with what conservation measures.

You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

  1. Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R5–ES–2011–0024. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!” Please ensure you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.

Link to USFWS News Release

USFWS extends comment period for northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

Posted: August 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on USFWS extends comment period for northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

After their October 2013 proposal to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened their public comment period for 60 days, through August 29, 2014.  USFWS has also extended the agency’s deadline to April 2, 2015, to make its final decision on whether to list the species.

Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Photo by Steven Thomas/NPS.

The USFWS is specifically seeking information regarding the interpretation of scientific studies cited in the proposed rule, along with any additional scientific information not already considered in the proposal.  They also request information on northern long-eared bat population trends, information on white-nose syndrome and current or planned efforts to conserve the species.

Read the full News Bulletin

USEPA proposes removal of ASTM 1527-05

Posted: August 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Phase I ESA, Uncategorized | Comments Off on USEPA proposes removal of ASTM 1527-05

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend the standards and practices for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to remove the reference to ASTM International’s E1527-05 standard practice. This 2005 standard practice recently was replaced with updated standard E1527-13 by ASTM International, a widely recognized standards development organization. Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend the “All Appropriate Inquiries o remove the reference to ASTM International’s E1527-05 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.”

Link to Federal Register

When the new ASTM standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (E1527-13) came out, EPA’s initial response was to allow either ASTM Standard E1527-05 or E1527-13 to achieve All Appropriate Inquiry.   EPA received negative comments on its approach to allow reliance on either standard.  Specifically, many of the public comments predicted confusion regarding the applicability of the dual standards and predicted widespread reliance on the older and less stringent (but somewhat less expensive) standard.

In response to the public comments, EPA issued this latest proposed rule to clarify that Phase I Environmental Site Assessments going forward must rely on the newer, more stringent ASTM Standard E1527-13 which requires soil vapor mitigation analysis and new regulatory file review requirements.  Once the new rule is adopted, reliance on ASTM Standard E1527-05 will no longer be acceptable under the All Appropriate Inquiries standard.

Requiring exclusive use of ASTM 1527-13 will result in consistent due diligence requirements and expectations.

HUD Officially Adopts ASTM 1527-13

Posted: April 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Phase I ESA | Comments Off on HUD Officially Adopts ASTM 1527-13

Yesterday’s Federal Register included an announcement by HUD that the latest ASTM standard for environmental site assessment has been adopted by HUD and is expected for HUD-funded projects.

See the announcement:
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/04/16/2014-08629/adoption-of-updated-standard-astm-e-1527-13-standard-practice-for-environmental-assessments-phase-i

HUD releases Fact Sheet regarding ASTM 1527-13

Posted: February 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Phase I ESA | Comments Off on HUD releases Fact Sheet regarding ASTM 1527-13

We are in the middle of working through a couple Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit projects.  These ESA’s are not typical; they involve several non-scope investigations.  For us, this makes these projects all the more interesting.  While looking over the website for anything new in the 2014 requirements, I noticed a link to the HUD resource exchange where they have a very concise comparison of the old ASTM standard for environmental site assessment (ASTM 1527-05) and the current standard (ASTM 1527-13).

If you are interested, link to the fact sheet here:  Fact Sheet: Applicability of ASTM E 1527-13 Phase I ESA Standard for HUD Environmental Reviews .

USFWS Releases Northern Long-Eared Bat Guidance

Posted: February 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on USFWS Releases Northern Long-Eared Bat Guidance

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed  that the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) be listed as endangered.  On October 2, 2013, their recommendation for listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered throughout its range under the Endangered Species Act was published in the Federal Register.   More recently, the USFWS published a planning document,  Northern Long-Eared Bat Interim Conference and Planning Guidance (January 6, 2014).  The guidance document addresses immediate information needs for section 7 conferences and conservation planning.  It includes a comparison of the northern long-eared and Indian bats; as well as interim presence/absence survey technique.

Myotis_septentrionalis

Northern long-eared bat, Myotis Septentrionalis

northern_long_eared_bat

Northern long-eared bat range.

New Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Survey Guide from USFWS

Posted: February 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on New Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Survey Guide from USFWS

In May of 2013, the FWS released the 2013 Revised Range-wide Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines. The updated 2014 Rangewide Indiana Bat Summer Survery Guidelines are now available.  Obviously, if you do Indiana bat surveys, you’ll want to compare the documents for yourself, but just in case you want a quick synopsis, I reviewed the new Guidelines and made a list.

Apart from a simplified (but consistent) “Objectives” statement, substantive changes to the Guidelines include:

  • Mist-netting surveys for non-linear projects in the Northeast and Appalachian Recovery Units now require a minimum of 42 (previously, 24) net nights per 0.5 km² of suitable summer habitat (See “Step 4,” page 5 of the Guidelines.).
  • Instructions for mist-netting surveys in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest USFWS Regions no longer contain language that allows survey results following previous Indiana Bat Mist Netting Guidelines (from the 2007 Indiana Bat Draft Recovery Plan) (See “Step 4,” page 5 of the Guidelines.).
  • Mist-netting surveys for non-linear projects in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest USFWS Regions now require a minimum of 9 (previously, 4) net nights per 0.5 km² of suitable summer habitat (See “Step 4,” page 5 of the Guidelines.).
  • The 2014 Guidelines also specify that the sampling period for netting in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest USFWS Regions will begin at sunset and continue for at least 5 hours.  A maximum of 3 consecutive netting nights at any given location is set (see “Step 4”, page 6 of the Guidelines.).
  • The number of detector nights for acoustic surveys in non linear projects has been reduced from 6 detector nights per 0.5 km² to 4 detector nights per 0.5 km² (“Step 5”, page 6).  The number of detector locations per 0.5 km² has been changed from 3 locations to 2 locations to mirror the change in number of detection nights required.
  • A minor clarification that results of acoustic ID programs should be reviewed “by site by night” (previously “by night and site”) (“Step 6”, page 7).
  • There is a new statement describing the minimum review of files from acoustic ID programs at the beginning of “Step 7,” page 7.  This basically stipulates that when the acoustic ID program tags a sight/night as having likely Indiana bat presence, all files from that sight/night must be reviewed

Specialized Ecological is an IHDA Approved Environmental Firm

Posted: January 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Phase I ESA | Comments Off on Specialized Ecological is an IHDA Approved Environmental Firm

For the past several years, January has begun a season of Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments for Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) projects throughout the state. IHDA Environmental Site Assessments are not the typical Phase 1; there are several non-scope items that must be addressed. The process is meant to satisfy the needs of both National Environmental Policies Act (NEPA) compliance and CERCLA innocent landowner defense.  The IHDA Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment requires much more than just a cursory knowledge of ASTM Standard 1527 and All-Appropriate Inquiry.  Therefore, it’s more important than ever that the company performing your IHDA Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment be experienced and approved. Specialized Ecological Services is both. We have been on the list of IHDA Approved Environmental Firms since IHDA has had a list!

If you’re working toward IHDA funding for your project, get us involved early and we can help keep your initial project planning costs low and help make certain that your Environmental Review is everything IHDA is expecting.

 

How E1527-13 Differs from E1527-05

Posted: January 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Phase I ESA | Comments Off on How E1527-13 Differs from E1527-05

The USEPA has published a helpful document which summarizes the differences between the old ASTM standard for environmental site assessment and the new.  Here’s a direct link to the Regulations.gov page where you can download the pdf summary.  Alternatively, click here, for the same document stored on our server (may be faster than Regulations.gov).