Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines, 78465-78468 [2014-30481]

Download as PDF 78465 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 249 / Tuesday, December 30, 2014 / Notices provide in any voluntary submission you make. For additional information please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you need a copy of the information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information, please visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal site at: http://www.regulations.gov. We may also be contacted at: USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Regulatory Coordination Division, Laura Dawkins, Chief, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529–2140, Telephone number 202–272–8377. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Note: The address listed in this notice should only be used to submit comments concerning this information collection. Please do not submit requests for individual case status inquiries to this address. If you are seeking information about the status of your individual case, please check ‘‘My Case Status’’ online at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/ Dashboard.do, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1–800–375–5283. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Activity (reporting and recordkeeping) Overview of This Information Collection (1) Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the DHS sponsoring the collection: I–881; USCIS. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or Households. The information collected on this form is used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to determine whether the applicant is eligible for a waiver of excludability under section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: 20,625 responses (paperformat) at 1.75 hours per response; 100 responses (biometrics) at 1.17 hours. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: 36,211 burden hours. Dated: December 22, 2014. Laura Dawkins, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2014–30508 Filed 12–29–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 21:42 Dec 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 You must submit comments on or before January 29, 2015. DATES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at OMB– OIRA at (202) 395–5806 (fax) or OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov (email). Please provide a copy of your comments to the Service Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803 (mail), or hope_grey@fws.gov (email). Please include ‘‘1018–0148’’ in the subject line of your comments. ADDRESSES: To request additional information about this ICR, contact Hope Grey at hope_ grey@fws.gov (email) or 703–358–2482 (telephone). You may review the ICR online at http://www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the Interior collections under review by OMB. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Fish and Wildlife Service Information Collection Request [FWS–HQ–ES–2014–N257; FXHC1122 0900000–145–FF09E33000] OMB Control Number: 1018–0148. Title: Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. Service Form Number: None. Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection. Description of Respondents: Developers and operators of wind energy facilities. Respondent’s Obligation: Voluntary. Frequency of Collection: On occasion. Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: We (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have sent an Information SUMMARY: Number of respondents Tier 1 (Desktop Analysis) ........................ Tier 2 (Site Characterization) ................... Tier 3 (Pre-construction studies) ............. Tier 4 (Post-construction fatality monitoring and habitat studies) .................... Tier 5 (Other post-construction studies) .. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Collection Request (ICR) to OMB for review and approval. We summarize the ICR below and describe the nature of the collection and the estimated burden and cost. This information collection is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2014. We may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. However, under OMB regulations, we may continue to conduct or sponsor this information collection while it is pending at OMB. Completion time per response (hours) Number of responses Total annual burden hours Nonhour burden cost per response Total annual nonhour burden cost 40 35 30 81 369 14,695 3,240 12,915 440,850 $825 3,750 149,288 $33,000 131,250 4,478,640 45 10 PO 00000 40 35 30 45 10 4,023 6,939 181,035 69,390 40,875 70,500 1,839,375 705,000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 78466 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 249 / Tuesday, December 30, 2014 / Notices Activity (reporting and recordkeeping) Number of respondents mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Totals ................................................ 160 Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $7,187,265. Costs will depend on the size and complexity of issues associated with each project. These expenses may include, but are not limited to: Travel expenses for site visits, studies conducted, and meetings with the Service and other Federal and State agencies; training in survey methodologies; data management; special transportation, such as allterrain vehicle or helicopter; equipment needed for acoustic, telemetry, or radar monitoring, and carcass storage. The Tier 3 estimate is very high because it includes every type of pre-construction monitoring study that could potentially be conducted. It is more likely that a selection of these studies will be performed at any given site, depending on the species of concern identified and other site-specific conditions. Abstract: As wind energy production increased, both developers and wildlife agencies recognized the need for a system to evaluate and address the potential negative impacts of wind energy projects on species of concern. We issued voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (http://www.fws.gov/ windenergy) in March 2012 to provide a structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy development. The Guidelines also promote effective communication among wind energy developers and Federal, State, tribal, and local conservation agencies. When used in concert with appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines are the best practical approach for conserving species of concern. We are asking OMB to renew approval for the information collection requirements in the Guidelines. We are not making any changes to the requirements. The Guidelines discuss various risks to species of concern from wind energy projects, including collisions with wind turbines and associated infrastructure; loss and degradation of habitat from turbines and infrastructure; fragmentation of large habitat blocks into smaller segments that may not support sensitive species; displacement and behavioral changes; and indirect effects, such as increased predator populations or introduction of invasive plants. The Guidelines assist developers in identifying species of concern that VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:42 Dec 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 Completion time per response (hours) Number of responses 160 ........................ may potentially be affected by proposed projects, including, but not limited to: • Migratory birds; • Bats; • Bald and golden eagles and other birds of prey; • Prairie chickens and sage grouse; and • Listed, proposed, or candidate endangered and threatened species. The Guidelines follow a tiered approach. The wind energy developer begins at Tier 1 or Tier 2, which entails gathering existing data to help identify any potential risks to wildlife and their habitats at proposed wind energy project sites. The developer then proceeds through subsequent tiers, as appropriate, to collect information in increasing detail until the level of risk is adequately ascertained and a decision on whether or not to develop the site can be made. Many projects may not proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2, when developers become aware of potential barriers, including high risks to wildlife. Developers would only have an interest in adhering to the Guidelines for those projects that proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2. At each tier, wind energy developers and operators should retain documentation to provide to the Service. Such documentation may include copies of correspondence with the Service, results of pre- and postconstruction studies conducted at project sites, bird and bat conservation strategies, or any other record that supports a developer’s adherence to the Guidelines. The extent of the documentation will depend on the conditions of the site being developed. Sites with greater risk of impacts to wildlife and habitats will likely involve more extensive communication with the Service and longer durations of pre- and post-construction studies than sites with little risk. Distributed or community-scale wind energy projects are unlikely to have significant adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats. The Guidelines recommend that developers of these small-scale projects do the desktop analysis described in Tier 1 or Tier 2 using publicly available information to determine whether they should communicate with the Service. Since such project designs usually include a single turbine associated with existing PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Total annual burden hours 707,430 Nonhour burden cost per response ........................ Total annual nonhour burden cost 7,187,265 development, conducting a Tier 1 or Tier 2 analysis for distributed or community-scale wind energy projects should incur limited nonhour burden costs. For such projects, if there is no potential risk identified, a developer will have no need to communicate with the Service regarding the project or to conduct studies described in Tiers 3, 4, and 5. Adherence to the Guidelines is voluntary. Following the Guidelines does not relieve any individual, company, or agency of the responsibility to comply with applicable laws and regulations. Developers of wind energy projects have a responsibility to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Comments Received and Our Responses Comments: On July 3, 2014, we published in the Federal Register (79 FR 38055) a notice of our intent to request that OMB renew approval for this information collection. In that notice, we solicited comments for 60 days, ending on September 2, 2014. We received comments from the wind energy industry, a State agency, an environmental consulting firm, an environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO), and an independent consultant to the environmental NGO community. The comments are sorted below by relevance to the questions posed in the July 3, 2014, notice, followed by our responses. We invited comments concerning this information collection on: Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, including whether or not the information will have practical utility. Commenters felt that the collection of information was necessary and that the information has practical utility. We did not receive any comments to the contrary. It was noted that the necessity and utility of information collected are dependent upon whether information has previously been collected in the study area. We agree that existing information should be used, where available. The Guidelines encourage use of credible, publicly available information including published studies, technical reports, databases, and information from agencies, local E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 249 / Tuesday, December 30, 2014 / Notices conservation organizations, and/or local experts. Another commenter noted that any proposal to conduct a study should define the questions that are expected to be answered, because studies are sometimes proposed without regard for whether the information learned will contribute to useful project evaluation. We agree that information should not be collected for the sake of collecting information. To accomplish this, the Guidelines pose questions within each Tier to help developers and Service staff identify data needs and any necessary surveys or studies. The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection of information. One commenter noted that the estimate of 50 responses and respondents annually submitting information related to Tier 4 seems low considering that the Guidelines are intended to apply not only to projects initiated after publication of the Guidelines, but also to projects that were already in development and already operating. Another commenter provided a revised estimated burden calculated by members of the wind energy industry community. We used the industry’s figures in revising the estimate of the burden, and also agreed with the comment that the number of respondents in Tier 4 should be higher to reflect ongoing fatality studies at existing facilities. In addition, we revised the total number of respondents and responses based on the number of wind energy projects the Service reviewed in fiscal year 2013. These changes are reflected in the table above. We have decreased our estimates for the total number of respondents. Although Tier 4 responses have increased in proportion to the total number of respondents, the number reflected in the table above is less than what we provided in our previous request to OMB. A third commenter noted that the burden estimates are dependent upon the size of the project, complexity of the issues, and experience and equipment needs of the consultant, as well as previous information available for the site. We agree that the factors listed all affect estimates of project costs. Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected. Regarding the quality of the data, several commenters felt that there should be a standardized methodology for collection of pre- and postconstruction data. We agree that standardized methodologies are ideal. The Guidelines encourage the use of common methods and metrics. Such VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:42 Dec 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 standardization allows for comparisons among projects and provides some certainty regarding what will be asked of a developer for specific projects. However, because of the need for flexibility in application, the Guidelines do not make specific recommendations on protocol elements for pre- and postconstruction studies. The Service’s wind energy Web site and the Guidelines direct developers to tools and resources that have been developed and compiled through collaborative efforts and partnerships between Federal, State, and tribal agencies; wind energy developers; and NGOs interested in wind energy-wildlife interactions. We received comments on specific survey methodologies and study design considerations, which detailed the manner in which studies should be designed, executed, and evaluated, and provided analysis of the usefulness and efficacy of certain pre- and postconstruction survey methods. As noted, the Guidelines do not recommend certain methods over others, and instead point users to methods generally accepted by the wind-wildlife community as scientifically valid with an aim towards greater consistency. One commenter suggested that in addition to standardized data collection, post-construction fatality monitoring should also be automated using new and emerging technologies, and that these automated systems should be required as conditions of receiving incidental take permits under the Endangered Species Act or Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This suggestion extends beyond the purview of the Guidelines in terms of permitting requirements. In addition, we do not have sufficient information about these systems at this time to evaluate their efficacy. If such technologies become a reality, their use, along with a suite of other existing tools, could potentially improve estimates of strike-related fatalities at wind energy facilities. Regarding the utility of the data, one commenter questioned whether the use of voluntary guidelines is effective due to a lack of use by public and private entities. The commenter referenced a map that shows that wind energy facilities have been, and continue to be, developed in areas of high risk to migratory birds, contrary to the purpose of the Guidelines to guide development away from areas of highest risk to more suitable areas. We are currently in the process of evaluating the efficacy and use of the Guidelines, and the Service is considering regulatory options. Based on feedback from the wind energy industry, and from Service staff, the Guidelines are often successful in PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78467 improving communication and lead to development of wind projects that are safer for wildlife, but in other cases are not successful in preventing wind energy facilities from being constructed in areas of high risk to wildlife. Regarding clarity, several commenters indicated the need for greater transparency in pre- and postconstruction monitoring results, study design and protocol, and adaptive management plans. Several reasons were given regarding the need for greater transparency, including facilitating study replication and consistency, allowing public evaluation of the effectiveness of the Guidelines, improved quality of information collected, and the need for greater public oversight generally. It was noted that often these data are treated as proprietary information, or are considered as ‘‘confidential business information’’ and are withheld from requests made via the Freedom of Information Act. While we agree that the public availability of data would facilitate greater oversight, improved consistency and comparability in study design and results, and improved landscape-level and cumulative effects analyses, we do not have the authority to require companies to share data that they own. Often, we receive reports that contain an analysis of data collected, and not the raw data itself. The information that is provided to us will continue to be evaluated on a case-bycase basis when it is requested via the Freedom of Information Act. We are developing tools that would allow companies to transmit fatality monitoring data via an online system that would provide anonymity, but still make the data available. We will continue to pursue other means of increasing the transparency of information related to study methodology and fatality data. Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents. One commenter felt that the burden of adhering to the Guidelines is adequately compensated for by the discretion that will be exercised by the Office of Law Enforcement should violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) or Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) occur. This comment has been noted, although it does not provide suggestions for ways to further minimize the burden of the information collection. We also received a comment suggesting burdens could be minimized through use of ‘‘desktop tools’’ or existing publicly available information online in Tiers 1 and 2, and by siting projects in areas with minimal risk to E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1 78468 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 249 / Tuesday, December 30, 2014 / Notices rare, threatened, and endangered species. We agree with the commenter that use of existing information reduces the burden on respondents. The Guidelines encourage use of credible, publicly available information, including published studies, technical reports, databases, and information from agencies, local conservation organizations, and/or local experts. We also agree that burdens are reduced by siting projects in areas with least risk to wildlife and their habitats, and note that this is exactly what we hope to accomplish by working with developers to implement the Guidelines. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Other Comments Several other comments were provided that were not pertinent to the questions asked in the notice. These comments addressed regulatory tools for migratory bird conservation, BGEPA programmatic permits for incidental take of eagles, suggestions for what types of mitigation methods should be acceptable as compensation for loss of protected species, enforcement actions by the Office of Law Enforcement against wind facilities compared with other energy technologies, splitting environmental study responsibilities among separate consultants, and stakeholder involvement in the development of adaptive management plans. One commenter also noted that the Service did not estimate the burden on the public to access the information collected via Freedom of Information Act requests, administrative appeals, and lawsuits. The Paperwork Reduction Act requires that we analyze the burden placed on those who submit information to us, not on the burden of others attempting to access that information. Request for Public Comments We again invite comments concerning this information collection on: • Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, including whether or not the information will have practical utility; • The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection of information; • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents. Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of public record. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:42 Dec 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask OMB in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that it will be done. Dated: December 23, 2014. Tina A. Campbell, Chief, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2014–30481 Filed 12–29–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–HQ–NCTC–2014–N258; FF09X32000– FXGO16610900400–145] Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Application for Training, National Conservation Training Center Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: We (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have sent an Information Collection Request (ICR) to OMB for review and approval. We summarize the ICR below and describe the nature of the collection and the estimated burden and cost. This information collection is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2014. We may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. However, under OMB regulations, we may continue to conduct or sponsor this information collection while it is pending at OMB. DATES: You must submit comments on or before January 29, 2015. ADDRESSES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at OMB– OIRA at (202) 395–5806 (fax) or OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov (email). Please provide a copy of your comments to the Service Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803 (mail), or hope_grey@fws.gov (email). Please include ‘‘1018–0115’’ in the subject line of your comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information about this ICR, contact Hope Grey at hope_ grey@fws.gov (email) or 703–358–2482 (telephone). You may review the ICR SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 online at http://www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the Interior collections under review by OMB. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Information Collection Request OMB Control Number: 1018–0115. Title: Application for Training, National Conservation Training Center. Service Form Number: 3–2193. Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection. Description of Respondents: Individuals, businesses, organizations, and State, local, and tribal governments. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to obtain or retain a benefit. Frequency of Collection: On occasion. Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 500. Estimated Total Annual Responses: 500. Estimated Time per Response: 10 minutes. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 84. Abstract: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, provides natural resource and other professional training for Service employees, employees of other Federal agencies, and other affiliations, including State agencies, private individuals, not-for-profit organizations, and university personnel. FWS Form 3– 2193 (Training Application) is a quick and easy method for prospective students who are not from the Department of the Interior to request training. We encourage applicants to use FWS Form 3–2193 and to submit their requests electronically. However, we do not require applicants to complete both a training form required by their agency and FWS Form 3–2193. NCTC will accept a training request in any format as long as it identifies the name, address, and phone number of the applicant; sponsoring agency; class name; start date; and all required financial payment information. NCTC uses data from FWS Form 3– 2193 to generate class rosters, class transcripts, and statistics, and as a budgeting tool for projecting training requirements. It is also used to track attendance, mandatory requirements, tuition, and invoicing for all NCTCsponsored courses both onsite and offsite. Comments Received and Our Responses Comments: On July 3, 2014, we published in the Federal Register (79 FR 38055) a notice of our intent to request that OMB renew approval for this information collection. In that E:\FR\FM\30DEN1.SGM 30DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 249 (Tuesday, December 30, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 78465-78468]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-30481]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-HQ-ES-2014-N257; FXHC11220900000-145-FF09E33000]


Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have sent an Information 
Collection Request (ICR) to OMB for review and approval. We summarize 
the ICR below and describe the nature of the collection and the 
estimated burden and cost. This information collection is scheduled to 
expire on December 31, 2014. We may not conduct or sponsor and a person 
is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it 
displays a currently valid OMB control number. However, under OMB 
regulations, we may continue to conduct or sponsor this information 
collection while it is pending at OMB.

DATES: You must submit comments on or before January 29, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information 
collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at 
OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-5806 (fax) or OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov 
(email). Please provide a copy of your comments to the Service 
Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, MS BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803 
(mail), or hope_grey@fws.gov (email). Please include ``1018-0148'' in 
the subject line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information 
about this ICR, contact Hope Grey at hope_grey@fws.gov (email) or 703-
358-2482 (telephone). You may review the ICR online at http://www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the 
Interior collections under review by OMB.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Information Collection Request

    OMB Control Number: 1018-0148.
    Title: Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines.
    Service Form Number: None.
    Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection.
    Description of Respondents: Developers and operators of wind energy 
facilities.
    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                            Completion
                                                             Number of       Number of       time per      Total annual   Nonhour burden   Total annual
         Activity (reporting and recordkeeping)             respondents      responses       response      burden hours      cost per     nonhour burden
                                                                                              (hours)                        response          cost
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tier 1 (Desktop Analysis)...............................              40              40              81           3,240            $825         $33,000
Tier 2 (Site Characterization)..........................              35              35             369          12,915           3,750         131,250
Tier 3 (Pre-construction studies).......................              30              30          14,695         440,850         149,288       4,478,640
Tier 4 (Post-construction fatality monitoring and                     45              45           4,023         181,035          40,875       1,839,375
 habitat studies).......................................
Tier 5 (Other post-construction studies)................              10              10           6,939          69,390          70,500         705,000
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 78466]]

 
    Totals..............................................             160             160  ..............         707,430  ..............       7,187,265
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $7,187,265. Costs will depend 
on the size and complexity of issues associated with each project. 
These expenses may include, but are not limited to: Travel expenses for 
site visits, studies conducted, and meetings with the Service and other 
Federal and State agencies; training in survey methodologies; data 
management; special transportation, such as all-terrain vehicle or 
helicopter; equipment needed for acoustic, telemetry, or radar 
monitoring, and carcass storage. The Tier 3 estimate is very high 
because it includes every type of pre-construction monitoring study 
that could potentially be conducted. It is more likely that a selection 
of these studies will be performed at any given site, depending on the 
species of concern identified and other site-specific conditions.
    Abstract: As wind energy production increased, both developers and 
wildlife agencies recognized the need for a system to evaluate and 
address the potential negative impacts of wind energy projects on 
species of concern. We issued voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy 
Guidelines (http://www.fws.gov/windenergy) in March 2012 to provide a 
structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife conservation 
concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy development. The 
Guidelines also promote effective communication among wind energy 
developers and Federal, State, tribal, and local conservation agencies. 
When used in concert with appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines 
are the best practical approach for conserving species of concern. We 
are asking OMB to renew approval for the information collection 
requirements in the Guidelines. We are not making any changes to the 
requirements.
    The Guidelines discuss various risks to species of concern from 
wind energy projects, including collisions with wind turbines and 
associated infrastructure; loss and degradation of habitat from 
turbines and infrastructure; fragmentation of large habitat blocks into 
smaller segments that may not support sensitive species; displacement 
and behavioral changes; and indirect effects, such as increased 
predator populations or introduction of invasive plants. The Guidelines 
assist developers in identifying species of concern that may 
potentially be affected by proposed projects, including, but not 
limited to:
     Migratory birds;
     Bats;
     Bald and golden eagles and other birds of prey;
     Prairie chickens and sage grouse; and
     Listed, proposed, or candidate endangered and threatened 
species.
    The Guidelines follow a tiered approach. The wind energy developer 
begins at Tier 1 or Tier 2, which entails gathering existing data to 
help identify any potential risks to wildlife and their habitats at 
proposed wind energy project sites. The developer then proceeds through 
subsequent tiers, as appropriate, to collect information in increasing 
detail until the level of risk is adequately ascertained and a decision 
on whether or not to develop the site can be made. Many projects may 
not proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2, when developers become aware of 
potential barriers, including high risks to wildlife. Developers would 
only have an interest in adhering to the Guidelines for those projects 
that proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2.
    At each tier, wind energy developers and operators should retain 
documentation to provide to the Service. Such documentation may include 
copies of correspondence with the Service, results of pre- and post-
construction studies conducted at project sites, bird and bat 
conservation strategies, or any other record that supports a 
developer's adherence to the Guidelines. The extent of the 
documentation will depend on the conditions of the site being 
developed. Sites with greater risk of impacts to wildlife and habitats 
will likely involve more extensive communication with the Service and 
longer durations of pre- and post-construction studies than sites with 
little risk.
    Distributed or community-scale wind energy projects are unlikely to 
have significant adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats. The 
Guidelines recommend that developers of these small-scale projects do 
the desktop analysis described in Tier 1 or Tier 2 using publicly 
available information to determine whether they should communicate with 
the Service. Since such project designs usually include a single 
turbine associated with existing development, conducting a Tier 1 or 
Tier 2 analysis for distributed or community-scale wind energy projects 
should incur limited nonhour burden costs. For such projects, if there 
is no potential risk identified, a developer will have no need to 
communicate with the Service regarding the project or to conduct 
studies described in Tiers 3, 4, and 5.
    Adherence to the Guidelines is voluntary. Following the Guidelines 
does not relieve any individual, company, or agency of the 
responsibility to comply with applicable laws and regulations. 
Developers of wind energy projects have a responsibility to comply with 
all applicable laws and regulations, including the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the 
Endangered Species Act.

Comments Received and Our Responses

    Comments: On July 3, 2014, we published in the Federal Register (79 
FR 38055) a notice of our intent to request that OMB renew approval for 
this information collection. In that notice, we solicited comments for 
60 days, ending on September 2, 2014. We received comments from the 
wind energy industry, a State agency, an environmental consulting firm, 
an environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO), and an independent 
consultant to the environmental NGO community. The comments are sorted 
below by relevance to the questions posed in the July 3, 2014, notice, 
followed by our responses. We invited comments concerning this 
information collection on:
    Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility.
    Commenters felt that the collection of information was necessary 
and that the information has practical utility. We did not receive any 
comments to the contrary. It was noted that the necessity and utility 
of information collected are dependent upon whether information has 
previously been collected in the study area. We agree that existing 
information should be used, where available. The Guidelines encourage 
use of credible, publicly available information including published 
studies, technical reports, databases, and information from agencies, 
local

[[Page 78467]]

conservation organizations, and/or local experts. Another commenter 
noted that any proposal to conduct a study should define the questions 
that are expected to be answered, because studies are sometimes 
proposed without regard for whether the information learned will 
contribute to useful project evaluation. We agree that information 
should not be collected for the sake of collecting information. To 
accomplish this, the Guidelines pose questions within each Tier to help 
developers and Service staff identify data needs and any necessary 
surveys or studies.
    The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection of 
information.
    One commenter noted that the estimate of 50 responses and 
respondents annually submitting information related to Tier 4 seems low 
considering that the Guidelines are intended to apply not only to 
projects initiated after publication of the Guidelines, but also to 
projects that were already in development and already operating. 
Another commenter provided a revised estimated burden calculated by 
members of the wind energy industry community. We used the industry's 
figures in revising the estimate of the burden, and also agreed with 
the comment that the number of respondents in Tier 4 should be higher 
to reflect ongoing fatality studies at existing facilities. In 
addition, we revised the total number of respondents and responses 
based on the number of wind energy projects the Service reviewed in 
fiscal year 2013. These changes are reflected in the table above. We 
have decreased our estimates for the total number of respondents. 
Although Tier 4 responses have increased in proportion to the total 
number of respondents, the number reflected in the table above is less 
than what we provided in our previous request to OMB.
    A third commenter noted that the burden estimates are dependent 
upon the size of the project, complexity of the issues, and experience 
and equipment needs of the consultant, as well as previous information 
available for the site. We agree that the factors listed all affect 
estimates of project costs.
    Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected.
    Regarding the quality of the data, several commenters felt that 
there should be a standardized methodology for collection of pre- and 
post-construction data. We agree that standardized methodologies are 
ideal. The Guidelines encourage the use of common methods and metrics. 
Such standardization allows for comparisons among projects and provides 
some certainty regarding what will be asked of a developer for specific 
projects. However, because of the need for flexibility in application, 
the Guidelines do not make specific recommendations on protocol 
elements for pre- and post-construction studies. The Service's wind 
energy Web site and the Guidelines direct developers to tools and 
resources that have been developed and compiled through collaborative 
efforts and partnerships between Federal, State, and tribal agencies; 
wind energy developers; and NGOs interested in wind energy-wildlife 
interactions.
    We received comments on specific survey methodologies and study 
design considerations, which detailed the manner in which studies 
should be designed, executed, and evaluated, and provided analysis of 
the usefulness and efficacy of certain pre- and post-construction 
survey methods. As noted, the Guidelines do not recommend certain 
methods over others, and instead point users to methods generally 
accepted by the wind-wildlife community as scientifically valid with an 
aim towards greater consistency.
    One commenter suggested that in addition to standardized data 
collection, post-construction fatality monitoring should also be 
automated using new and emerging technologies, and that these automated 
systems should be required as conditions of receiving incidental take 
permits under the Endangered Species Act or Bald and Golden Eagle 
Protection Act. This suggestion extends beyond the purview of the 
Guidelines in terms of permitting requirements. In addition, we do not 
have sufficient information about these systems at this time to 
evaluate their efficacy. If such technologies become a reality, their 
use, along with a suite of other existing tools, could potentially 
improve estimates of strike-related fatalities at wind energy 
facilities.
    Regarding the utility of the data, one commenter questioned whether 
the use of voluntary guidelines is effective due to a lack of use by 
public and private entities. The commenter referenced a map that shows 
that wind energy facilities have been, and continue to be, developed in 
areas of high risk to migratory birds, contrary to the purpose of the 
Guidelines to guide development away from areas of highest risk to more 
suitable areas. We are currently in the process of evaluating the 
efficacy and use of the Guidelines, and the Service is considering 
regulatory options. Based on feedback from the wind energy industry, 
and from Service staff, the Guidelines are often successful in 
improving communication and lead to development of wind projects that 
are safer for wildlife, but in other cases are not successful in 
preventing wind energy facilities from being constructed in areas of 
high risk to wildlife.
    Regarding clarity, several commenters indicated the need for 
greater transparency in pre- and post-construction monitoring results, 
study design and protocol, and adaptive management plans. Several 
reasons were given regarding the need for greater transparency, 
including facilitating study replication and consistency, allowing 
public evaluation of the effectiveness of the Guidelines, improved 
quality of information collected, and the need for greater public 
oversight generally. It was noted that often these data are treated as 
proprietary information, or are considered as ``confidential business 
information'' and are withheld from requests made via the Freedom of 
Information Act. While we agree that the public availability of data 
would facilitate greater oversight, improved consistency and 
comparability in study design and results, and improved landscape-level 
and cumulative effects analyses, we do not have the authority to 
require companies to share data that they own. Often, we receive 
reports that contain an analysis of data collected, and not the raw 
data itself. The information that is provided to us will continue to be 
evaluated on a case-by-case basis when it is requested via the Freedom 
of Information Act. We are developing tools that would allow companies 
to transmit fatality monitoring data via an online system that would 
provide anonymity, but still make the data available. We will continue 
to pursue other means of increasing the transparency of information 
related to study methodology and fatality data.
    Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
respondents.
    One commenter felt that the burden of adhering to the Guidelines is 
adequately compensated for by the discretion that will be exercised by 
the Office of Law Enforcement should violations of the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act (MBTA) or Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) 
occur. This comment has been noted, although it does not provide 
suggestions for ways to further minimize the burden of the information 
collection. We also received a comment suggesting burdens could be 
minimized through use of ``desktop tools'' or existing publicly 
available information online in Tiers 1 and 2, and by siting projects 
in areas with minimal risk to

[[Page 78468]]

rare, threatened, and endangered species. We agree with the commenter 
that use of existing information reduces the burden on respondents. The 
Guidelines encourage use of credible, publicly available information, 
including published studies, technical reports, databases, and 
information from agencies, local conservation organizations, and/or 
local experts. We also agree that burdens are reduced by siting 
projects in areas with least risk to wildlife and their habitats, and 
note that this is exactly what we hope to accomplish by working with 
developers to implement the Guidelines.

Other Comments

    Several other comments were provided that were not pertinent to the 
questions asked in the notice. These comments addressed regulatory 
tools for migratory bird conservation, BGEPA programmatic permits for 
incidental take of eagles, suggestions for what types of mitigation 
methods should be acceptable as compensation for loss of protected 
species, enforcement actions by the Office of Law Enforcement against 
wind facilities compared with other energy technologies, splitting 
environmental study responsibilities among separate consultants, and 
stakeholder involvement in the development of adaptive management 
plans. One commenter also noted that the Service did not estimate the 
burden on the public to access the information collected via Freedom of 
Information Act requests, administrative appeals, and lawsuits. The 
Paperwork Reduction Act requires that we analyze the burden placed on 
those who submit information to us, not on the burden of others 
attempting to access that information.

Request for Public Comments

    We again invite comments concerning this information collection on:
     Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility;
     The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this 
collection of information;
     Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
     Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on respondents.
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. Before including your address, phone number, email 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal 
identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask OMB in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that it 
will be done.

    Dated: December 23, 2014.
Tina A. Campbell,
Chief, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-30481 Filed 12-29-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P