Micron mega-fab mildly endangered by definitely endangered American bats

Like a bat out of hell they'll be gone when November comes

Updated Micron is reportedly facing a new hitch 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," claiming it will be the largest in the history of the United States, to be sited near the town of Clay in Onondaga County.

In April, Micron secured $6.1 billion in federal funding - thank you, CHIPS and Science Act - to help towards its fab expansion plans, which include its R&D facility in Boise, Idaho, and the New York state project.

In March, it was revealed the NY project was being scrutinized by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Micron wants to bulldoze the county's White Pine Commerce Park and fill in its federally regulated wetlands and streams to make way for the mega-fab. As such, the biz needs a permit from army engineers to transform that regulated land and go ahead with its CHIPS-funded plant as planned.

This week Bloomberg has reported that Micron discovered two endangered North American bat species within the doomed White Pine park.

According to earlier reports by Syracuse.com, Micron intends to cut down nearly 500 acres (more than two square kilometers) of forest over the next 20 years to build four clean-room facilities that are expected to cover an area approximately the size of 40 American football fields.

Before it is able to clear the park and its wetlands, Micron will have to find or create another habitat for the endangered bats displaced by the destruction of their home, and intends to buy or use land elsewhere to set up a new abode for the winged creatures.

Micron will not be able to break ground on the construction site before November, because the trees where the bats roost can only be removed once their residents go into hibernation in nearby caves.

This will reportedly push the start of construction into 2025 – partly because Micron also does not yet have a comprehensive plan detailing for officials exactly how it will mitigate the impact of its construction work on the waterways. The original timeline was for site preparation work to start in 2023 and construction to begin in 2024.

According to the New York Natural Heritage Program, "Tree cutting can impact [the Indiana bat] species when felled trees contain colonies or roosting individuals. There are very few colonies left in New York so loss of summer roosts containing bats is even more devastating to dwindling populations. Habitat loss from development is also a threat which can limit suitable habitat."

At the end of May, the USACE issued a public notice [PDF] requesting feedback on Micron's proposed plans for eradicating the wetlands, stating "no decision has been made as to whether a permit will be issued 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 will cause the permanent loss of 204 acres (826,000 square meters) of federally regulated wetland and over two kilometers of federally regulated streams.

To compensate for the proposed in-fill – which is going to rather suck for wildlife living there – Micron said it is working with The Wetland Trust to develop and implement that aforementioned "off-site wetland mitigation plan."

The USACE said the decision to approve or deny Micron's permit request will be based on an evaluation of the probable 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 working diligently and will begin construction immediately after state and federal environmental reviews and permitting are complete, which are targeted to finish in early 2025. The Indiana bat hibernation window was previously included as part of our groundbreaking timeline."

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