Micron mega-fab delayed by endangered American bats

Updated Micron is reportedly facing a new obstacle to starting work on its proposed fabrication center in New York state: endangered bats.

In 2022, the memory maker announced plans to spend $100 billion over the next 20 years to build the “mega fab,” which it claims will be the largest in U.S. history, to be located near the city. Clay in Onondaga County.

In April, Micron secured $6.1 billion in federal funds — thank you, CHIPS and the Science Act — to help with its factory expansion plans, which include its research and development facility in Boise, Idaho, and the state project of New York.

In March, it was revealed that the NY project was being reviewed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Micron wants to tear down the county’s White Pine Commercial Park and fill in its federally regulated wetlands and streams to make way for big manufacturing. As such, the business needs a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to transform that regulated land and proceed with its CHIPS-funded plant as planned.

This week Bloomberg reported that Micron discovered two species of endangered North American bats inside the condemned White Pine park.

According to previous reports by Syracuse.com, Micron intends to clear about 500 hectares (more than two square kilometers) of forest over the next 20 years to build four cleanroom facilities that are expected to cover an area roughly the size of 40. American football fields.

Before it can clean up the park and its wetlands, Micron will need to find or create another habitat for the endangered bats displaced by the destruction of their home, and it intends to buy or use land elsewhere to created a new residence for the wings. the creatures.

Micron won’t be able to break ground on the construction site before November, because the trees where the bats roost can only be removed after their inhabitants hibernate in nearby caves.

That will reportedly push the start of construction to 2025 — in part because Micron also doesn’t yet have a comprehensive plan that details for officials exactly how it will mitigate the impact of its construction work on waterways. The original timeline was for site preparation work to begin in 2023 and construction to begin in 2024.

According to the New York Natural Heritage Program, “Cutting down trees can affect [the Indiana bat] species when felled trees contain colonies or living individuals. There are very few colonies left in New York, so the loss of summer homes that contain bats is even more devastating to the dwindling population. Habitat loss from development is also a threat that can limit suitable habitat.”

In late May, the USACE issued a public notice [PDF] seeking feedback on Micron’s proposed plans to dewater the wetlands, saying “no decision has been made whether to grant a permit at this time.” No permit, no construction.

The public notice noted that Micron proposes to discharge material into wetlands and streams for the construction of its semiconductor manufacturing facilities, which would cause the permanent loss of 204 acres (826,000 square meters) of federally regulated wetlands and over two kilometers of federally regulated streams.

To offset the proposed infill — which will be more for the wildlife that lives there — Micron said it is working with The Wetland Trust to develop and implement that aforementioned “off-site wetlands mitigation plan.”

USACE said the decision to approve or deny Micron’s permit application will be based on an assessment of the potential impact, and responses to the public notice will be fully considered during the review. The deadline for responses is July 1. ®

Updated to add:

Micron has been in touch to say it is “hard at work and will begin construction immediately after state and federal environmental reviews and permits are completed, which are expected to be completed in early 2025. The bat hibernation window in Indiana was previously included as part of our groundbreaking timeline.”

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Image Source : www.theregister.com

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