Record of Decision and Floodplain Statement of Findings for the Cushman Hydroelectric Project, Mason County, Washington, Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS-0456), 73059-73062 [2010-29936]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 228 / Monday, November 29, 2010 / Notices Note: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: https://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/ index.html. Dated: November 23, 2010. ´ Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. [FR Doc. 2010–29993 Filed 11–26–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Discretionary Grant Programs Department of Education. Notice announcing additional requirement for applicants and grantees. AGENCY: ACTION: The Department of Education announces an additional requirement affecting applicants and grantees. We are taking this action to conform our requirements with final guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on September 14, 2010 (Financial Assistance Use of Universal Identifier and Central Contractor Registration). The new guidance affects an applicant’s or grantee’s registration of its Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number and its Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Vick, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20202–0170. Telephone: (202) 245– 6147 or by e-mail: gregory.vick@ed.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In each notice inviting applications for grant awards, we include requirements governing an applicant’s DUNS Number and TIN and specify that to do business with the Department, an applicant must register those numbers with the CCR, the Government’s primary registrant database. In its final guidance issued under 2 CFR Part 25 and published in the Federal Register on September 14, 2010 (75 FR 55671), OMB added a requirement that an entity doing business with the Department must maintain an active CCR registration with current information while its application is under review and, if it is awarded a grant, during the project period. The final guidance took effect on October 1, 2010, which made it applicable to every grant competition with an application deadline date on or after October 1, 2010. However, on or mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:57 Nov 26, 2010 Jkt 223001 before the effective date, we had published a number of notices inviting applications that had application deadline dates on or after October 1, 2010, but that did not include the new requirement with regard to maintaining an active CCR registration. This notice serves to inform applicants and potential applicants under those affected competitions that the new requirement applies to them, and each such potential applicant must, therefore, maintain an active CCR registration during the time its application is under review and, if funded, during the project period. However, this requirement does not affect the submission of their applications and does not require any applicant to amend, withdraw, or resubmit its application. The affected competitions and the publication date in the Federal Register of each notice inviting applications are shown below in order of Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number. Questions about the applicability of this notice to any application submitted under these programs should be directed to the program contact identified for each program. CFDA No. 84.019A—Office of Postsecondary Education; Overview Information; Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship Program; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Published October 1, 2010 (75 FR 60740). Program contact: Cynthia Dudzinski, 202–502–7589. CFDA No. 84.021A—Office of Postsecondary Education; Overview Information; Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Published September 24, 2010 (75 FR 59051). Program contact: Michelle Guilfoil, 202–502–7625. CFDA No. 84.022A—Office of Postsecondary Education; Overview Information; Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship Program; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Published September 17, 2010 (75 FR 57000). Program contact: Amy Wilson, 202–502–7689. CFDA No. 84.327J—Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Technology and Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities—Video Description Research and Development Center; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Published August 12, 2010 (75 FR PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73059 48957). Program contact: Jo Ann McCann, 202–245–7434. CFDA No. 84.327W—Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Technology and Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities—The Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Personnel Development Center; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Published September 28, 2010 (75 FR 59699). Program contact: Glinda Hill, 202–245–7376. CFDA No. 84.330B—Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Overview Information; Advanced Placement (AP) Test Fee Program; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Published September 1, 2010 (75 FR 53681). Program contact: Francisco Ramirez, 202–260–1541. Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: https://www.ed.gov/news/ fedregister. To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. Note: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: https://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/ index.html. Dated: November 23, 2010. Thomas P. Skelly, Delegated Authority to Perform the Functions of the Chief Financial Officer. [FR Doc. 2010–29990 Filed 11–26–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Record of Decision and Floodplain Statement of Findings for the Cushman Hydroelectric Project, Mason County, Washington, Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS–0456) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ACTION: Record of Decision (ROD) and Floodplain Statement of Findings. AGENCY: DOE announces its decision to provide approximately $4.6 million appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Public Law 111–5 (Recovery Act), to the City SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\29NON1.SGM 29NON1 73060 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 228 / Monday, November 29, 2010 / Notices of Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma), for the design and construction of certain components of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project in Mason County, Washington. These components include a new 3.6 megawatt (MW) powerhouse on the North Fork of the Skokomish River, an integral fish collection, handling, and sorting facility, and related transmission infrastructure. The environmental impacts from the proposed action were analyzed in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) 1996 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cushman Hydroelectric Project (FERC Project No. 460) (1996 FEIS). In a July 15, 2010, Order 1 (FERC’s 2010 Order), FERC lifted a stay on a 1998 license for the Cushman Hydroelectric Project and amended the license to include inter alia conditions for fish passage facilities and authorization to construct the powerhouse. FERC’s 2010 Order includes the components of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project that DOE proposes to fund. FERC relied on the 1996 FEIS to fulfill its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) obligations for the 1998 license as amended on July 15, 2010. DOE has adopted the 1996 FEIS and 2010 Order, together, as a final DOE EIS (DOE/EIS– 0456). DOE’s final EIS, this ROD, and other project information are available on the DOE NEPA Web site at https://nepa.energy.gov. In addition, copies of this ROD may be requested by contacting Ms. Jane Summerson, NEPA Document Manager, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Department of Energy at jane.summerson@ee.doe.gov. Ms. Summerson can be reached at the U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave, SW., EE–4a, Washington, DC 20585, phone (202) 287–6188 or fax (202) 586–8177. ADDRESSES: For further information about this project, contact Ms. Summerson as indicated in the ADDRESSES section above. For information about DOE’s NEPA process, contact Ms. Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC–54, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, telephone (202) 586–4600, or leave a message at (800) 472–2756. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 1 City of Tacoma, Washington 132 FERC ¶ 61,037, (Order on Remand and an Offer of Settlement, Amending License, Authorizing New Powerhouse, and Lifting Stay). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:57 Nov 26, 2010 Jkt 223001 Background DOE is providing approximately $4.6 million to Tacoma, for the design and construction of certain components of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project in Mason County, Washington. These components include a new 3.6 MW powerhouse on the North Fork of the Skokomish River, an integral fish collection and sorting facility, and related transmission infrastructure.2 Tacoma applied for this funding in response to DOE Solicitation (FOA– 0000120), entitled ‘‘Hydroelectric Facility Modernization,’’ pursuant to the Wind and Water Technologies Program. The goal of the Solicitation is to provide funding for industry members who propose to develop, deploy, and test hydropower projects that would modernize the existing hydropower infrastructure in the U.S. and increase the quantity, value, and environmental performance of hydropower generation. Because the funds are appropriated by the Recovery Act, the projects must stimulate the economy and create and retain jobs. The background on the relicensing of the Cushman Project spans several decades and includes administrative and judicial litigation and multiple stays with interim operating requirements. To fully understand the history of the relicensing process, please refer to FERC’s 2010 Order, the 1998 license,3 and the 1996 FEIS. What follows is a brief summary setting forth those aspects of the Cushman Project and relicensing process relevant to this ROD. In 1924, Tacoma obtained a license from the Federal Power Commission (predecessor to FERC) to flood 8.8 acres of national forest land by damming the North Fork of the Skokomish River at Lake Cushman on the Olympic Peninsula. This license was designated a ‘‘minor part license’’ because it covered only a small part of Tacoma’s much larger hydroelectric project (Cushman Project). At that time, the Federal Power Commission interpreted its licensing authority narrowly, and the 1924 minor part license gave Tacoma the authority it needed to proceed with the Cushman Project. The 131 MW Cushman Project is located on the North Fork of the Skokomish River (North Fork) in Mason County, Washington, and occupies U.S. 2 The ‘‘Cushman Project’’ refers to the entire project that FERC licensed in its 2010 Order. The scope of the Cushman Project is broader than the project that DOE is funding, and is defined in this section of this ROD. 3 City of Tacoma, Washington 84 FERC ¶ 61107 (1998). PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 lands within the Olympic National Forest and the Skokomish Indian Reservation. Tacoma built two dams across the Skokomish River. Dam No. 1, which was completed in 1926, impounds Lake Cushman and supplies water for electricity generation at a powerhouse with a capacity of 50 MW, located downstream of that dam. Dam No. 2, which was completed in 1930, impounds Lake Kokanee, a much smaller reservoir than Lake Cushman. Water leaving Dam No. 2 passes through a tunnel to a second powerhouse with 81 MW capacity and does not return to the North Fork. Historically, the Cushman Project diverted nearly all of the flow of the North Fork out of the river basin, leading to controversy regarding the total amount of flow diverted from the river, its environmental effects, and the appropriate level of minimum flows that should be required to return water to the North Fork. The Cushman Project is currently operated to provide loadfollowing power and to meet peakdemand period needs. In 1963, the Federal Power Commission determined that its hydroelectric licensing jurisdiction extends to whole projects, not just to the parts of those projects that occupy or use Federal land. As required by Title I of the Federal Power Act, Tacoma filed for a ‘‘major project license’’ for the Cushman Project on November 5, 1974. Tacoma continued to operate the Cushman Project under the terms of its 1924 minor part license, and FERC issued annual renewals of Tacoma’s existing license during the application review period. FERC’s 1996 FEIS Subsequent to Tacoma’s application for a major part license, FERC decided to prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze the impacts from the Cushman Project and alternatives to it. FERC issued a Notice of Intent to prepare a Draft EIS for the Cushman Project on November 12, 1992 (57 FR 53727). FERC held two rounds of scoping, in December 1992 and April 1993, and issued a final Scoping Document in February 1994. FERC issued the Draft EIS in November 1995 and held three public meetings in January and February 1996 to receive public comments on the Draft EIS (61 FR 1375). The comment period closed on February 13, 1996. FERC issued the 1996 FEIS on November 15, 1996 (61 FR 59435). After a lengthy relicensing proceeding, FERC issued a new license for the Cushman Project on July 30, E:\FR\FM\29NON1.SGM 29NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 228 / Monday, November 29, 2010 / Notices 1998,4 and issued an order on rehearing on March 30, 1999.5 The license then became the subject of judicial and administrative review, in which the principal plaintiff was the Skokomish Tribe (Tribe), and concerns about endangered and threatened species and minimum flow were at the center of the dispute. The relicensing was stayed in part for most of the following decade, and FERC, at various times, amended the license with conditions for interim operation of the Cushman Project. As required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) filed a biological opinion for protection of listed fish in 2004. On January 21, 2009, the City of Tacoma and other parties to the litigation, including the Tribe, filed a comprehensive offer of settlement that includes conditions for protection of the Skokomish Indian Reservation, fish passage facilities, and measures for fish and wildlife protection. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and FWS filed revised biological opinions in 2010. FERC’s 2010 Order In its July 15, 2010, Order, FERC lifted a stay on a 1998 license for the Cushman Project and amended the license to include conditions for fish passage facilities and authorization to construct the 3.6 MW powerhouse. FERC relied on the 1996 FEIS to fulfill its NEPA obligations for the 1998 license, as amended in FERC’s 2010 Order. The amended license includes license articles consistent with the settlement, extends the license expiration date to June 20, 2048, and authorizes construction of a new 3.6 MW powerhouse that will increase the Cushman Project’s authorized capacity to 134.6 MW. As stated above, FERC’s license authorizes all activities that DOE is funding through this decision. In FERC’s 2010 Order, FERC found that the activities it authorized, including the proposed powerhouse, were within the range of alternatives examined in the 1996 FEIS and that a supplemental EIS would not be needed for the activities. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Alternatives Analyzed in FERC’s 1996 EIS In the 1996 FEIS, FERC analyzed Tacoma’s proposal, which included replacing turbine runners at the second powerhouse; installing a 1.3 MW powerhouse at the base of Dam No. 2; 4 City of Tacoma, Washington 84 FERC ¶ 61107 (1998). 5 City of Tacoma, Washington 86 FERC ¶ 61311 (1999). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:57 Nov 26, 2010 Jkt 223001 implementing major environmental enhancements such as increasing instream flows into the North Fork; removing resident fish passage barriers in project reservoir tributaries; and executing a land exchange to remove lands within Olympic National Forest. FERC also analyzed four other alternatives: (1) No Action Alternative; (2) Alternative adapted from resource agencies’ and Tribe’s recommended alternatives to Tacoma’s proposal. Under this alternative, Tacoma would build a new powerhouse with a generating capacity of 16 MW at the base of Dam No. 2, and the project would operate with full river flows. Tacoma would remove certain dikes, enhance more than 15,000 acres of land for wildlife, and stop diverting water from the North Fork; (3) Alternative intended to achieve, to the extent practicable, important elements of each objective: under this alternative, Tacoma would manage flow levels through an instream flow schedule to balance the competing demands on North Fork water; build a new 3 MW powerhouse near the base of Dam No. 2; and implement a staffformulated wildlife habitat enhancement plan covering 5,981 acres of land for wildlife; and (4) Decommissioning Alternative. Environmentally Preferred Alternative FERC identified Alternative (2) as the environmentally preferred alternative in the 1996 FEIS because, among other things, it maximizes river flows and enhances the greatest area of land for wildlife in comparison to the other alternatives. Alternatives Available to DOE DOE’s two alternatives are to (1) provide funding for certain components of the Cushman Project as defined and conditioned in FERC’s 2010 Order and which were analyzed in substantive part in Alternative 2 of the 1996 EIS, or (2) not provide funding (No Action Alternative). Under either alternative, Tacoma would construct and operate the Cushman Project consistent with FERC’s 2010 Order and related settlement agreements. Consultation FERC is the lead Federal agency for complying with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and Tribal Consultation for all components of the Cushman Project. The Tribe and others originally opposed Tacoma’s Cultural Resource Summary Report, and cultural resource protection became a contested issue. On May 13, PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 73061 2010, however, FERC entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and the Tribe, and other interested parties concurred in the MOA. The MOA includes a Treatment Plan that Tacoma must follow to protect cultural resources during the construction of the new powerhouse. On June 8, 2010, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) acknowledged receipt of the MOA and stated that FERC had completed its requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA. DOE hereby concurs with the May 13, 2010, MOA and, in so doing, completes its own consultation requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA. DOE’s proposed action is to fund elements of the Cushman Project that were already the subject of extensive Section 106 consultations. FERC is also the lead Federal agency for complying with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1536) (ESA). FERC consulted extensively with both NMFS and FWS regarding impacts from the Cushman Project on listed species and critical habitat. These agencies concluded consultation when NMFS and FWS issued Biological Opinions finding that the Cushman Project is not likely to result in jeopardy to listed species or destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. FERC and Tacoma agreed to implement certain mitigation measures (2010 Order at 148). DOE finds that, either with or without DOE funding, Tacoma will manage the Cushman Project in compliance with the terms of FERC’s relicense and the settlement agreement, which include terms that mitigate impacts to listed species. Thus, DOE’s proposed action will have no effect on listed species or critical habitat and DOE has fulfilled its obligations under Section 7 of the ESA. EIS Adoption DOE has independently reviewed the 1996 FEIS and FERC’s 2010 Order and has concluded that, together, the 1996 FEIS and FERC’s 2010 Order meet the standards for an adequate environmental impact statement under the Council on Environmental Quality’s and DOE’s NEPA regulations, which can be found at 40 CFR Parts 1500–1508 and 10 CFR Part 1021, respectively. In addition, DOE has determined that the Cushman Project is within the range of alternatives analyzed in the 1996 FEIS. The only difference between the project that DOE is funding and the actions analyzed under the 1996 FEIS is the placement of a transmission line. In the 1996 FEIS, FERC analyzed an E:\FR\FM\29NON1.SGM 29NON1 73062 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 228 / Monday, November 29, 2010 / Notices mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES aboveground transmission line. Tacoma is now planning to bury the line underground to mitigate environmental impacts. This mitigation measure is not a substantial change in the proposed action relevant to environmental concerns, within the meaning of 40 CFR 1502.9(c), warranting a supplement to the FEIS. Accordingly, DOE adopted FERC’s 1996 FEIS and 2010 Order as a final DOE EIS (DOE/EIS–0456). Because DOE did not participate as a cooperating agency in preparation of FERC’s 1996 FEIS, DOE recirculated the adopted document as a DOE final EIS and filed it with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA published a notice of availability in the Federal Register on October 8, 2010 (75 FR 62386). DOE did not receive any comments on the final EIS. consultation with NMFS, FWS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and including the comments of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, EPA, and Mason County; and, under certain conditions, providing funds for a Channel Restoration Account. In addition, under Articles 406 and 407 of FERC’s 2010 Order, Tacoma must prepare and implement an Operational and Flow Monitoring Plan to improve fish habitat, address lake water use changes, improve sediment transport and stream flow, and improve flood control and forecasting. This plan must be submitted to and approved by NMFS, FWS, and BIA. Under certain conditions, Tacoma would be required to develop a Flood Damage and Mitigation Plan and provide funding to implement the plan. Floodplain Statement of Findings In accordance with DOE regulations at 10 CFR Part 1022 (Compliance with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements), DOE considered the potential impacts of the Cushman Project on floodplains. These findings are based on the assessment of environmental impacts in the final EIS. The location of the Cushman Project and the alternatives considered are discussed in detail in the final EIS. The differences among the alternatives, including the original proposal from Tacoma, are summarized above. DOE finds that no practicable alternative to locating the Cushman Project in a floodplain is available. The nature of the existing Cushman Dam site and the process of generating electricity from water pressure require that the proposed powerhouse be constructed downstream of the dam; therefore the proposed construction will necessarily be within a floodplain. FERC’s 2010 Order establishes numerous requirements that Tacoma must follow in constructing and operating the proposed new facilities to minimize potential harm to or within the floodplain, including measures to reduce flooding hazards while protecting water quality and fish habitat. For example, Article 403 of FERC’s 2010 Order requires Tacoma to implement measures to enhance the channel conveyance capacity of the mainstem Skokomish River for the reduction of risks to human health and welfare from flooding, including, among other things, providing funds to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Skokomish River Basin Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Damage Reduction General Investigation; the preparation, under certain conditions, of a Mainstem Channel Restoration Plan in Mitigation In addition to adopting the measures addressing floodplain impacts, described above, DOE adopts and incorporates by reference all other mitigation measures documented in FERC’s 2010 Order. These other measures include but are not limited to: • Monitoring water use, which provides a feedback mechanism to help ensure that adequate flows will be available to meet the needs of anadromous fish at different times of the year, support aquatic habitats, maintain improvements to the channel capacity of the river, and provide some assurances that the flows released will benefit these resources. • A variety of fish habitat protection, mitigation and enhancement measures such as habitat enhancement and restoration work that benefits anadromous fish by improving channel habitat and removing instream barriers. • The use of a floating surface collector for downstream fish passage. Tacoma will use a trap and haul system for upstream fish passage. • Implementation of a resident fishery, which will include anadromous fish hatcheries. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:57 Nov 26, 2010 Jkt 223001 Decision DOE has decided to provide funding, appropriated by the Recovery Act, to Tacoma for the design and construction of certain components of the Cushman Project in Mason County, Washington. These components include a new 3.6 MW powerhouse on the North Fork of the Skokomish River, an integral fish collection and sorting facility, and related transmission infrastructure. DOE incorporates by reference all mitigation measures and other conditions identified in FERC’s 2010 Order. DOE expects that Tacoma will PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 execute the Cushman Project in compliance with FERC’s 2010 Order. Thus, all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have been adopted. Basis for Decision DOE’s decision enables it to meet the objectives set forth in the Solicitation, namely, to provide financial assistance for industry members and industry-led partnerships who propose to develop, deploy, and test hydropower projects to modernize the existing hydropower infrastructure in the U.S. and increase the quantity, value, and environmental performance of hydropower generation. DOE did not select the No Action alternative because it would not meet DOE’s objectives, as set forth in the Solicitation. DOE decided not to fund alternatives, or alternative components, that were analyzed in the 1996 FEIS but were not authorized under FERC’s 2010 Order. Without a FERC license, Tacoma would not be able to implement such alternatives. Issued in Washington, DC, on this 18th day of November 2010. Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. [FR Doc. 2010–29936 Filed 11–26–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 13848–000] Qualified Hydro 27, LLC; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications November 19, 2010. On September 30, 2010, Qualified Hydro 27, LLC filed an application for a preliminary permit, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), proposing to study the feasibility of the Howard A. Hanson Dam Hydroelectric Project (Howard A. Hanson project) to be located in King County, Washington, near the town of Palmer. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners’ express permission. E:\FR\FM\29NON1.SGM 29NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 228 (Monday, November 29, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 73059-73062]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-29936]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy


Record of Decision and Floodplain Statement of Findings for the 
Cushman Hydroelectric Project, Mason County, Washington, Environmental 
Impact Statement (DOE/EIS-0456)

AGENCY: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. 
Department of Energy (DOE).

ACTION: Record of Decision (ROD) and Floodplain Statement of Findings.

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SUMMARY: DOE announces its decision to provide approximately $4.6 
million appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 
Public Law 111-5 (Recovery Act), to the City

[[Page 73060]]

of Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma), for the design and construction of 
certain components of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project in Mason 
County, Washington. These components include a new 3.6 megawatt (MW) 
powerhouse on the North Fork of the Skokomish River, an integral fish 
collection, handling, and sorting facility, and related transmission 
infrastructure.
    The environmental impacts from the proposed action were analyzed in 
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC's) 1996 Final 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Cushman Hydroelectric Project 
(FERC Project No. 460) (1996 FEIS). In a July 15, 2010, Order \1\ 
(FERC's 2010 Order), FERC lifted a stay on a 1998 license for the 
Cushman Hydroelectric Project and amended the license to include inter 
alia conditions for fish passage facilities and authorization to 
construct the powerhouse. FERC's 2010 Order includes the components of 
the Cushman Hydroelectric Project that DOE proposes to fund. FERC 
relied on the 1996 FEIS to fulfill its National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) obligations for the 1998 license as amended on July 15, 
2010. DOE has adopted the 1996 FEIS and 2010 Order, together, as a 
final DOE EIS (DOE/EIS-0456).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ City of Tacoma, Washington 132 FERC ] 61,037, (Order on 
Remand and an Offer of Settlement, Amending License, Authorizing New 
Powerhouse, and Lifting Stay).

ADDRESSES: DOE's final EIS, this ROD, and other project information are 
available on the DOE NEPA Web site at https://nepa.energy.gov. In 
addition, copies of this ROD may be requested by contacting Ms. Jane 
Summerson, NEPA Document Manager, Office of Energy Efficiency and 
Renewable Energy Department of Energy at jane.summerson@ee.doe.gov. Ms. 
Summerson can be reached at the U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 
Independence Ave, SW., EE-4a, Washington, DC 20585, phone (202) 287-
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6188 or fax (202) 586-8177.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information about this 
project, contact Ms. Summerson as indicated in the ADDRESSES section 
above. For information about DOE's NEPA process, contact Ms. Carol M. 
Borgstrom, Director, NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC-54, U.S. Department 
of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, 
telephone (202) 586-4600, or leave a message at (800) 472-2756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    DOE is providing approximately $4.6 million to Tacoma, for the 
design and construction of certain components of the Cushman 
Hydroelectric Project in Mason County, Washington. These components 
include a new 3.6 MW powerhouse on the North Fork of the Skokomish 
River, an integral fish collection and sorting facility, and related 
transmission infrastructure.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ The ``Cushman Project'' refers to the entire project that 
FERC licensed in its 2010 Order. The scope of the Cushman Project is 
broader than the project that DOE is funding, and is defined in this 
section of this ROD.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tacoma applied for this funding in response to DOE Solicitation 
(FOA-0000120), entitled ``Hydroelectric Facility Modernization,'' 
pursuant to the Wind and Water Technologies Program. The goal of the 
Solicitation is to provide funding for industry members who propose to 
develop, deploy, and test hydropower projects that would modernize the 
existing hydropower infrastructure in the U.S. and increase the 
quantity, value, and environmental performance of hydropower 
generation. Because the funds are appropriated by the Recovery Act, the 
projects must stimulate the economy and create and retain jobs.
    The background on the relicensing of the Cushman Project spans 
several decades and includes administrative and judicial litigation and 
multiple stays with interim operating requirements. To fully understand 
the history of the relicensing process, please refer to FERC's 2010 
Order, the 1998 license,\3\ and the 1996 FEIS. What follows is a brief 
summary setting forth those aspects of the Cushman Project and 
relicensing process relevant to this ROD.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ City of Tacoma, Washington 84 FERC ] 61107 (1998).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 1924, Tacoma obtained a license from the Federal Power 
Commission (predecessor to FERC) to flood 8.8 acres of national forest 
land by damming the North Fork of the Skokomish River at Lake Cushman 
on the Olympic Peninsula. This license was designated a ``minor part 
license'' because it covered only a small part of Tacoma's much larger 
hydroelectric project (Cushman Project). At that time, the Federal 
Power Commission interpreted its licensing authority narrowly, and the 
1924 minor part license gave Tacoma the authority it needed to proceed 
with the Cushman Project.
    The 131 MW Cushman Project is located on the North Fork of the 
Skokomish River (North Fork) in Mason County, Washington, and occupies 
U.S. lands within the Olympic National Forest and the Skokomish Indian 
Reservation. Tacoma built two dams across the Skokomish River. Dam No. 
1, which was completed in 1926, impounds Lake Cushman and supplies 
water for electricity generation at a powerhouse with a capacity of 50 
MW, located downstream of that dam. Dam No. 2, which was completed in 
1930, impounds Lake Kokanee, a much smaller reservoir than Lake 
Cushman. Water leaving Dam No. 2 passes through a tunnel to a second 
powerhouse with 81 MW capacity and does not return to the North Fork. 
Historically, the Cushman Project diverted nearly all of the flow of 
the North Fork out of the river basin, leading to controversy regarding 
the total amount of flow diverted from the river, its environmental 
effects, and the appropriate level of minimum flows that should be 
required to return water to the North Fork. The Cushman Project is 
currently operated to provide load-following power and to meet peak-
demand period needs.
    In 1963, the Federal Power Commission determined that its 
hydroelectric licensing jurisdiction extends to whole projects, not 
just to the parts of those projects that occupy or use Federal land. As 
required by Title I of the Federal Power Act, Tacoma filed for a 
``major project license'' for the Cushman Project on November 5, 1974. 
Tacoma continued to operate the Cushman Project under the terms of its 
1924 minor part license, and FERC issued annual renewals of Tacoma's 
existing license during the application review period.

FERC's 1996 FEIS

    Subsequent to Tacoma's application for a major part license, FERC 
decided to prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze the 
impacts from the Cushman Project and alternatives to it. FERC issued a 
Notice of Intent to prepare a Draft EIS for the Cushman Project on 
November 12, 1992 (57 FR 53727). FERC held two rounds of scoping, in 
December 1992 and April 1993, and issued a final Scoping Document in 
February 1994. FERC issued the Draft EIS in November 1995 and held 
three public meetings in January and February 1996 to receive public 
comments on the Draft EIS (61 FR 1375). The comment period closed on 
February 13, 1996. FERC issued the 1996 FEIS on November 15, 1996 (61 
FR 59435).
    After a lengthy relicensing proceeding, FERC issued a new license 
for the Cushman Project on July 30,

[[Page 73061]]

1998,\4\ and issued an order on rehearing on March 30, 1999.\5\ The 
license then became the subject of judicial and administrative review, 
in which the principal plaintiff was the Skokomish Tribe (Tribe), and 
concerns about endangered and threatened species and minimum flow were 
at the center of the dispute. The relicensing was stayed in part for 
most of the following decade, and FERC, at various times, amended the 
license with conditions for interim operation of the Cushman Project.
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    \4\ City of Tacoma, Washington 84 FERC ] 61107 (1998).
    \5\ City of Tacoma, Washington 86 FERC ] 61311 (1999).
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    As required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the Fish 
and Wildlife Service (FWS) filed a biological opinion for protection of 
listed fish in 2004. On January 21, 2009, the City of Tacoma and other 
parties to the litigation, including the Tribe, filed a comprehensive 
offer of settlement that includes conditions for protection of the 
Skokomish Indian Reservation, fish passage facilities, and measures for 
fish and wildlife protection. The National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS) and FWS filed revised biological opinions in 2010.

FERC's 2010 Order

    In its July 15, 2010, Order, FERC lifted a stay on a 1998 license 
for the Cushman Project and amended the license to include conditions 
for fish passage facilities and authorization to construct the 3.6 MW 
powerhouse. FERC relied on the 1996 FEIS to fulfill its NEPA 
obligations for the 1998 license, as amended in FERC's 2010 Order. The 
amended license includes license articles consistent with the 
settlement, extends the license expiration date to June 20, 2048, and 
authorizes construction of a new 3.6 MW powerhouse that will increase 
the Cushman Project's authorized capacity to 134.6 MW.
    As stated above, FERC's license authorizes all activities that DOE 
is funding through this decision. In FERC's 2010 Order, FERC found that 
the activities it authorized, including the proposed powerhouse, were 
within the range of alternatives examined in the 1996 FEIS and that a 
supplemental EIS would not be needed for the activities.

Alternatives Analyzed in FERC's 1996 EIS

    In the 1996 FEIS, FERC analyzed Tacoma's proposal, which included 
replacing turbine runners at the second powerhouse; installing a 1.3 MW 
powerhouse at the base of Dam No. 2; implementing major environmental 
enhancements such as increasing instream flows into the North Fork; 
removing resident fish passage barriers in project reservoir 
tributaries; and executing a land exchange to remove lands within 
Olympic National Forest. FERC also analyzed four other alternatives:
    (1) No Action Alternative;
    (2) Alternative adapted from resource agencies' and Tribe's 
recommended alternatives to Tacoma's proposal. Under this alternative, 
Tacoma would build a new powerhouse with a generating capacity of 16 MW 
at the base of Dam No. 2, and the project would operate with full river 
flows. Tacoma would remove certain dikes, enhance more than 15,000 
acres of land for wildlife, and stop diverting water from the North 
Fork;
    (3) Alternative intended to achieve, to the extent practicable, 
important elements of each objective: under this alternative, Tacoma 
would manage flow levels through an instream flow schedule to balance 
the competing demands on North Fork water; build a new 3 MW powerhouse 
near the base of Dam No. 2; and implement a staff-formulated wildlife 
habitat enhancement plan covering 5,981 acres of land for wildlife; and
    (4) Decommissioning Alternative.

Environmentally Preferred Alternative

    FERC identified Alternative (2) as the environmentally preferred 
alternative in the 1996 FEIS because, among other things, it maximizes 
river flows and enhances the greatest area of land for wildlife in 
comparison to the other alternatives.

Alternatives Available to DOE

    DOE's two alternatives are to (1) provide funding for certain 
components of the Cushman Project as defined and conditioned in FERC's 
2010 Order and which were analyzed in substantive part in Alternative 2 
of the 1996 EIS, or (2) not provide funding (No Action Alternative). 
Under either alternative, Tacoma would construct and operate the 
Cushman Project consistent with FERC's 2010 Order and related 
settlement agreements.

Consultation

    FERC is the lead Federal agency for complying with Section 106 of 
the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and Tribal Consultation 
for all components of the Cushman Project. The Tribe and others 
originally opposed Tacoma's Cultural Resource Summary Report, and 
cultural resource protection became a contested issue. On May 13, 2010, 
however, FERC entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the 
Washington State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and the Tribe, 
and other interested parties concurred in the MOA. The MOA includes a 
Treatment Plan that Tacoma must follow to protect cultural resources 
during the construction of the new powerhouse. On June 8, 2010, the 
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) acknowledged receipt 
of the MOA and stated that FERC had completed its requirements under 
Section 106 of the NHPA.
    DOE hereby concurs with the May 13, 2010, MOA and, in so doing, 
completes its own consultation requirements under Section 106 of the 
NHPA. DOE's proposed action is to fund elements of the Cushman Project 
that were already the subject of extensive Section 106 consultations.
    FERC is also the lead Federal agency for complying with Section 7 
of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1536) (ESA). FERC consulted 
extensively with both NMFS and FWS regarding impacts from the Cushman 
Project on listed species and critical habitat. These agencies 
concluded consultation when NMFS and FWS issued Biological Opinions 
finding that the Cushman Project is not likely to result in jeopardy to 
listed species or destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat. FERC and Tacoma agreed to implement certain mitigation 
measures (2010 Order at 148).
    DOE finds that, either with or without DOE funding, Tacoma will 
manage the Cushman Project in compliance with the terms of FERC's 
relicense and the settlement agreement, which include terms that 
mitigate impacts to listed species. Thus, DOE's proposed action will 
have no effect on listed species or critical habitat and DOE has 
fulfilled its obligations under Section 7 of the ESA.

EIS Adoption

    DOE has independently reviewed the 1996 FEIS and FERC's 2010 Order 
and has concluded that, together, the 1996 FEIS and FERC's 2010 Order 
meet the standards for an adequate environmental impact statement under 
the Council on Environmental Quality's and DOE's NEPA regulations, 
which can be found at 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508 and 10 CFR Part 1021, 
respectively. In addition, DOE has determined that the Cushman Project 
is within the range of alternatives analyzed in the 1996 FEIS.
    The only difference between the project that DOE is funding and the 
actions analyzed under the 1996 FEIS is the placement of a transmission 
line. In the 1996 FEIS, FERC analyzed an

[[Page 73062]]

aboveground transmission line. Tacoma is now planning to bury the line 
underground to mitigate environmental impacts. This mitigation measure 
is not a substantial change in the proposed action relevant to 
environmental concerns, within the meaning of 40 CFR 1502.9(c), 
warranting a supplement to the FEIS. Accordingly, DOE adopted FERC's 
1996 FEIS and 2010 Order as a final DOE EIS (DOE/EIS-0456).
    Because DOE did not participate as a cooperating agency in 
preparation of FERC's 1996 FEIS, DOE recirculated the adopted document 
as a DOE final EIS and filed it with the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA). EPA published a notice of availability in the Federal 
Register on October 8, 2010 (75 FR 62386). DOE did not receive any 
comments on the final EIS.

Floodplain Statement of Findings

    In accordance with DOE regulations at 10 CFR Part 1022 (Compliance 
with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements), DOE 
considered the potential impacts of the Cushman Project on floodplains. 
These findings are based on the assessment of environmental impacts in 
the final EIS. The location of the Cushman Project and the alternatives 
considered are discussed in detail in the final EIS. The differences 
among the alternatives, including the original proposal from Tacoma, 
are summarized above.
    DOE finds that no practicable alternative to locating the Cushman 
Project in a floodplain is available. The nature of the existing 
Cushman Dam site and the process of generating electricity from water 
pressure require that the proposed powerhouse be constructed downstream 
of the dam; therefore the proposed construction will necessarily be 
within a floodplain.
    FERC's 2010 Order establishes numerous requirements that Tacoma 
must follow in constructing and operating the proposed new facilities 
to minimize potential harm to or within the floodplain, including 
measures to reduce flooding hazards while protecting water quality and 
fish habitat. For example, Article 403 of FERC's 2010 Order requires 
Tacoma to implement measures to enhance the channel conveyance capacity 
of the mainstem Skokomish River for the reduction of risks to human 
health and welfare from flooding, including, among other things, 
providing funds to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Skokomish 
River Basin Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Damage Reduction General 
Investigation; the preparation, under certain conditions, of a Mainstem 
Channel Restoration Plan in consultation with NMFS, FWS, the Bureau of 
Indian Affairs (BIA) and including the comments of the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency, EPA, and Mason County; and, under certain 
conditions, providing funds for a Channel Restoration Account.
    In addition, under Articles 406 and 407 of FERC's 2010 Order, 
Tacoma must prepare and implement an Operational and Flow Monitoring 
Plan to improve fish habitat, address lake water use changes, improve 
sediment transport and stream flow, and improve flood control and 
forecasting. This plan must be submitted to and approved by NMFS, FWS, 
and BIA. Under certain conditions, Tacoma would be required to develop 
a Flood Damage and Mitigation Plan and provide funding to implement the 
plan.

Mitigation

    In addition to adopting the measures addressing floodplain impacts, 
described above, DOE adopts and incorporates by reference all other 
mitigation measures documented in FERC's 2010 Order. These other 
measures include but are not limited to:
     Monitoring water use, which provides a feedback mechanism 
to help ensure that adequate flows will be available to meet the needs 
of anadromous fish at different times of the year, support aquatic 
habitats, maintain improvements to the channel capacity of the river, 
and provide some assurances that the flows released will benefit these 
resources.
     A variety of fish habitat protection, mitigation and 
enhancement measures such as habitat enhancement and restoration work 
that benefits anadromous fish by improving channel habitat and removing 
instream barriers.
     The use of a floating surface collector for downstream 
fish passage. Tacoma will use a trap and haul system for upstream fish 
passage.
     Implementation of a resident fishery, which will include 
anadromous fish hatcheries.

Decision

    DOE has decided to provide funding, appropriated by the Recovery 
Act, to Tacoma for the design and construction of certain components of 
the Cushman Project in Mason County, Washington. These components 
include a new 3.6 MW powerhouse on the North Fork of the Skokomish 
River, an integral fish collection and sorting facility, and related 
transmission infrastructure.
    DOE incorporates by reference all mitigation measures and other 
conditions identified in FERC's 2010 Order. DOE expects that Tacoma 
will execute the Cushman Project in compliance with FERC's 2010 Order. 
Thus, all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm 
have been adopted.

Basis for Decision

    DOE's decision enables it to meet the objectives set forth in the 
Solicitation, namely, to provide financial assistance for industry 
members and industry-led partnerships who propose to develop, deploy, 
and test hydropower projects to modernize the existing hydropower 
infrastructure in the U.S. and increase the quantity, value, and 
environmental performance of hydropower generation.
    DOE did not select the No Action alternative because it would not 
meet DOE's objectives, as set forth in the Solicitation.
    DOE decided not to fund alternatives, or alternative components, 
that were analyzed in the 1996 FEIS but were not authorized under 
FERC's 2010 Order. Without a FERC license, Tacoma would not be able to 
implement such alternatives.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on this 18th day of November 2010.
Cathy Zoi,
Assistant Secretary, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
[FR Doc. 2010-29936 Filed 11-26-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P