Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Pacific Gas & Electric Company Eagle Conservation Plan, 24955-24958 [2015-10067]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 84 / Friday, May 1, 2015 / Notices significant mold present; contact Agriculture for more information. Utah Little Mountain Communication 40.53807749–109.69935286 Maeser UT 84078 Landholding Agency: GSA Property Number: 54201520002 Status: Excess GSA Number: 7–A–UT–0536–AA Directions: Disposal Agency: GSA, Land Holding Agency: Agriculture Comments: off-site removal; 190 sq. ft.; 12+mos. vacant; radio tower, commercial; contact Forest Service to gain access; contact Agriculture for more information. Vermont Old Operators Quarters/USACE N 100 Reservoir Road Springfield VT 05156 Landholding Agency: COE Property Number: 31201520001 Status: Underutilized Comments: off-site removal only; 50+yrs. old; 700 sq. ft.; storage; asbestos; no future agency need; contact COE for more information. Washington Building 03932 Joint Base Lewis McChord JBLM WA 98433 Landholding Agency: Army Property Number: 21201520001 Status: Underutilized Comments: off-site removal only; no future agency need; 120 sq. ft.; storage; 49+ yrs.; significant repairs for restoration; contamination; contact Army for accessibility and removal requirements. Land Colorado Grand Valley Project 39.25326873–108.84370271 Unincorporated CO 81524 Landholding Agency: GSA Property Number: 54201520001 Status: Excess GSA Number: 7–I–CO–0699–AA Directions: Disposal Agency: GSA, Land Holding Agency: Interior Comments: 30.12 acres; agricultural; silage pits; contact Interior for more information. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Unsuitable Properties Building Massachusetts Building 181 181 East Road Otis ANGB MA 02542 Landholding Agency: Air Force Property Number: 18201520001 Status: Excess Comments: public access denied & no alternative method to gain access without compromising National Security. Reasons: Secured Area 3 Buildings Otis ANGB, MA Otis ANGB MA 02542 Landholding Agency: Air Force Property Number: 18201510045 Status: Excess VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:14 Apr 30, 2015 Jkt 235001 Directions: Building 120; 122; 153 Comments: public access denied & no alternative method to gain access w/out compromising National Security.; property located within an Airport Runway Clear Zone. Reasons: Secured Area; Within airport runway clear zone Alaska Duplex Housing Units 100 & 102 Lots 3 & 4, Block 2, Bettles Airport Subdivision Bettles AK 99755 Landholding Agency: Interior Property Number: 61201520003 Status: Unutilized Comments: Property located within an airport runway. Reasons: Within airport runway clear zone Michigan Mio 7 Winowiecki Consumers Cab Huron Nat’l Forest Old M–72 (Smith Bridge) Grayling MI 49738 Landholding Agency: Agriculture Property Number: 15201520003 Status: Unutilized Comments: documented deficiencies: documentation provided represents a clear threat to personal safety; significant rot in floor/roof structure; relocation will most likely result in the roof collapsing. Reasons: Extensive deterioration Mio 7 Winowiecki Consumers Lea Huron National Forest Old M–72 (Smith Bridge) Grayling MI 49738 Landholding Agency: Agriculture Property Number: 15201520004 Status: Unutilized Comments: documented deficiencies: documentation provided represents a clear threat to personal safety; interior space of the structure cannot be made to comply w/ habitability requirements. Reasons: Extensive deterioration Washington Navy Reserve Center-Building 7 5101 N. Assemble Street Spokane WA 99205 Landholding Agency: Navy Property Number: 77201520002 Status: Excess Comments: Public access denied & no alternative method to gain access without compromising National Security. Reasons: Secured Area Land Georgia Proposed Photovoltaic (PV) Sit Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany GA 31704 Landholding Agency: Navy Property Number: 77201520001 Status: Underutilized Comments: Public access denied & no alternative method to gain access without compromising National Security. Reasons: Secured Area [FR Doc. 2015–10017 Filed 4–30–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24955 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–MB–2015–N062; FF08M00000– FXMB12310800000–145] Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Pacific Gas & Electric Company Eagle Conservation Plan Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement; notice of scoping meeting and request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) (Applicant) proposed Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP) and request for a 30-year programmatic eagle take permit for take of bald eagles and golden eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act). The ECP, which serves as the foundation of the permit application, is a comprehensive plan that addresses take of the eagles associated with PG&E’s existing infrastructure and operations and maintenance (O&M) activities throughout the Plan Area, which encompasses about two-thirds of the State of California. We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; (2) advise other Federal and state agencies, potentially affected tribal interests, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce the initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the EIS. We also announce plans for a public scoping meeting and the opening of a public comment period. We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific community, tribes, industry, or any other interested party. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by June 30, 2015. A public scoping meeting will be held on May 21, 2015, at Red Lion Hotel Woodlake Conference Center, 500 Leisure Lane, Sacramento, CA 95815. ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comment is in reference to the PG&E Eagle Conservation Plan EIS: • Email: [fw8_eagle_nepa@fws.gov]. Include ‘‘PG&E Eagle Conservation Plan EIS’’ in the subject line of the message. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01MYN1.SGM 01MYN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 24956 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 84 / Friday, May 1, 2015 / Notices • U.S. Mail: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Regional Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W– 2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. • Fax: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, (916) 414–6486; Attn: PG&E Eagle Conservation Plan EIS Scoping. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, at the address shown above or at (916) 414–6651 (telephone). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) (Applicant) proposed Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP) and request for a 30-year programmatic eagle take permit under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act). The ECP serves as the foundation of the permit application. The ECP summarizes the applicant’s current voluntary approach to address eagle and bird impacts associated with PG&E’s existing infrastructure and operations and maintenance (O&M) activities throughout their ECP Plan Area (Plan Area). The ECP is a comprehensive plan that addresses the take of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) associated with PG&E’s existing infrastructure and O&M activities throughout the Plan Area, which encompasses about twothirds of the State of California. The ECP also provides measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate for eagle mortality. The draft EIS will evaluate the impacts of several alternatives related to the proposed issuance of a programmatic eagle take permit to PG&E for bald and golden eagles that results from system-wide standard O&M at their infrastructure and facilities. We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; (2) advise other Federal and state agencies, potentially affected tribal interests, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce the initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the EIS. We also announce plans for a public scoping meeting and the opening of a public comment period. We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:14 Apr 30, 2015 Jkt 235001 community, tribes, industry, or any other interested party. We publish this notice in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321–4347, et seq.; NEPA), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1500–1508 as well as Section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668a–668d). Introduction The Service is considering an application from PG&E, under the Eagle Act, for a 30-year programmatic take permit for bald and golden eagles. PG&E has prepared an ECP, which addresses incidental take of bald and golden eagles from electrocution and collision with above-ground electric transmission and distribution lines (collectively power lines), as well as disturbance of nesting eagles during various operations and maintenance (O&M) activities within the Plan Area. The Plan Area encompasses PG&E’s Service Area including all electric and hydroelectric facilities located within the state of California. The ECP analyzes their system’s risk to eagles. It also identifies measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate eagle mortality associated with those activities. The Plan Area is within the following California Counties: Alameda Alpine Amador Butte Calaveras Colusa Contra Costa Del Norte El Dorado Fresno Glenn Humboldt Inyo Kern Kings Lake Lassen Los Angeles Madera Marin Mariposa Mendocino Merced Modoc Mono Monterey Napa Nevada Placer Plumas Sacramento San Benito San Bernardino San Francisco San Joaquin PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 San Luis Obispo San Mateo Santa Barbara Santa Clara Santa Cruz Shasta Sierra Siskiyou Solano Sonoma Stanislaus Sutter Tehama Trinity Tulare Tuolumne Ventura Yolo Yuba Background Eagles are protected under the Eagle Act, which prohibits take and disturbance of individuals and nests. Take under the Eagle Act includes any actions that pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, and disturb eagles. Disturb is further defined in 50 CFR 22.3 as ‘‘to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available (1) injury to an eagle, (2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or (3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior.’’ Prior to 2009, permits for purposeful take of birds or body parts were limited to scientific (50 CFR 22.21), religious (50 CFR 22.22), or falconry (50 CFR 22.24) pursuits; for eagles causing serious injury to livestock or other wildlife (50 CFR 22.23); and for golden eagle nests that interfere with resource development or recovery operations (50 CFR 22.21–25). In 2009, we issued the Final Rule for Eagle Permits; Take Necessary to Protect Interests in Particular Localities (2009 Final Rule) on new permit regulations that allow take ‘‘for the protection of . . . other interests in any particular locality’’ and where the take is ‘‘associated with and not the purpose of an otherwise lawful activity . . .’’ (September 11, 2009; 74 FR 46836–46879). The 2009 Final Rule authorizes programmatic take (take that is recurring and not in a specific, identifiable timeframe and/or location) of eagles only if avoidance measures have been implemented to the maximum extent achievable. PG&E’s activities are programmatic and existed prior to the 2009 Final Rule. Considerations for issuing take permits E:\FR\FM\01MYN1.SGM 01MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 84 / Friday, May 1, 2015 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES include the health of the local and regional eagle populations, availability of suitable nesting and foraging habitat for any displaced eagles, and whether the take and associated mitigation provide a net benefit to eagles (74 FR 46836–46879). The programmatic take permit under the 2009 Final Rule was valid up to 5 years. In 2012, we proposed to extend the maximum term for programmatic take permits from 5 to 30 years (April 13, 2012; 77 FR 22267– 22278), and in 2013, we issued a Final Rule to extend the maximum term for programmatic eagle permits to 30 years, subject to a recurring 5-year review process throughout the life of the permit (December 9, 2013; 78 FR 73704– 78725). PG&E’s power lines have resulted in eagle mortality due to electrocution and collision. Furthermore, infrastructure associated with electric and hydroelectric energy generation requires long-term O&M, pipeline, and utility line modernization and replacement to produce and deliver reliable and safe energy to PG&E customers. Some O&M activities occur in eagle nesting habitat where there is a potential to disturb nesting eagles. Scope of EIS PG&E’s ECP serves as the foundation of the permit application. As such, all alternatives considered in the EIS should conform to the permit issuance criteria for programmatic eagle take permits under the Eagle Act as required in 50 CFR 22.26(f)(1–6). The draft EIS will identify and analyze direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the proposed action and alternatives to several resource areas, including biological resources, public utilities, air quality, noise, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics, and climate change. We will also consider evaluation of additional resource areas if issues of concern specific to the proposed action are identified during the public scoping process. The purpose of the public scoping process for the EIS is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including potential alternatives, and the extent to which those issues and impacts will be analyzed in the EIS. We will evaluate a minimum of three alternatives. Applicant’s Proposal PG&E has requested a programmatic eagle take permit for incidental take of bald and golden eagles associated with O&M activities in the Plan Area, as described in the ECP, for a term of 30 years. Specific activities covered under VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:14 Apr 30, 2015 Jkt 235001 the ECP would include otherwise lawful activities that have the potential to kill eagles or disturb them to the extent that nests are abandoned or eagle productivity is decreased, as well as avoidance and minimization measures to reduce these impacts. The ECP describes: (1) Eagle collision with or electrocution by PG&E’s existing distribution and transmission lines and conductors within the Plan Area; (2) Operation and maintenance of PG&E’s electrical system, including inspection and patrols (aerial and ground), routine maintenance and repair, vegetation management (including tree pruning and removal with the right of way), and replacement or upgrades of existing power lines and infrastructure. This activity would apply to all power lines in the Plan Area (141,200 miles of distribution lines and 18,600 miles of transmission lines) and related infrastructure; (3) Operation and maintenance of PG&E’s hydroelectric system, including the associated electric system, recreation facility maintenance, log boom/buoy/safety marker maintenance, intake tunnel clearing, and repair of weirs and gages. This activity would apply to all facilities in the Plan Area, including 68 existing powerhouses, a pumped storage facility, and nearly 100 reservoirs; (4) Continued implementation of migratory bird and eagle take-reduction measures, including, but not limited to: (a) Adoption of avian-safe construction design standards; (b) Proactive and reactive bird-safe power pole retrofits; (c) Bird nest protection best management practices during vegetation management activities and other routine or project work; (d) Bird flight diverter effectiveness studies; (e) Targeted management at hydroelectric facilities; and (f) Pre-construction nesting bird surveys when required for project work. (5) Monitoring to validate the estimated amount of disturbance take and the number of fatalities associated with PG&E’s existing infrastructure and to evaluate the effectiveness of the conservation measures at reducing eagle take. Monitoring efforts would generally include: (a) Monitoring of eagle nests located throughout PG&E’s hydroelectric system, as well as those discovered during inspections, patrols, and vegetation management activities; and (b) Monitoring eagle fatalities during inspections, patrols, and vegetation management actions. PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24957 Public Comments We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this notice. We will consider these comments in developing the draft EIS. Public Availability of Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES. Before including your address, phone number, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—might be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Scoping Meetings See DATES for the date(s) and time(s) of our public meeting(s). The primary purpose of these meetings and public comment period is to provide the public with a general understanding of the background of the proposed action and to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives we should consider when drafting the EIS. Oral and written comments will be accepted at the meetings. An interpreter and/or court reporter will be present when deemed necessary. Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft EIS and proposed ECP are complete and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of these documents. Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public meetings should contact the Pacific Southwest Region’s Migratory Bird Office using one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please make contact no later than one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request. Authority We provide this notice under section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668– 668c) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 1506.6, and 40 CFR 1508.22). E:\FR\FM\01MYN1.SGM 01MYN1 24958 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 84 / Friday, May 1, 2015 / Notices Dated: April 23, 2015. Alexandra Pitts, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, California. [FR Doc. 2015–10067 Filed 4–30–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R4–R–2014–N198; FXRS12650400000S3–123–FF04R02000] Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana; Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a ‘‘Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, for public review and comment. In this Draft CCP/ EA, we describe the alternative we propose to use to manage this refuge for the 15 years following approval of the final CCP. DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by June 1, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the Draft CCP/EA by contacting Kent Ozment, Wildlife Refuge Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lower Mississippi River Refuge Complex, 21 Pintail Ln. 89, Natchez, MS 39165. Alternatively, you may download the document from our Internet site at http://southeast.fws.gov/planning under ‘‘Draft CCP Documents.’’ Comments on the Draft CCP/EA may be submitted to the above postal address or by email to Kent Ozment at Kent_Ozment@fws.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Ozment, Natural Resource Planner, (601) 442–6696 or Kent_Ozment@ fws.gov. SUMMARY: With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) started through a notice in the Federal Register on October 22, 2013 (78 FR 62648). For more about the refuge and our CCP process, please see that notice. Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in October 2000, as the 526th refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is located in West mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:14 Apr 30, 2015 Jkt 235001 Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, near the town of St. Francisville, 25 miles north of Baton Rouge. The refuge currently encompasses 10,473 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, baldcypress-tupelo swamp, and shrub-scrub swamps. The Congressionally approved acquisition boundary encloses 36,500 acres. Cat Island NWR is part of the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem and is located on the southeastern edge of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) Bird Conservation Region, which is incorporated into the Gulf Coastal Plans and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative. The refuge provides highquality habitat for many species of waterfowl, wading birds, Neotropical migratory songbirds, and resident game and fish, as well as threatened and endangered species and species of concern. The refuge contains a number of relict old-growth baldcypress trees, including the world’s largest known individual of this species. Background The CCP Process The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (Improvement Act), requires us to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. CCPs are developed to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and our policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlifedependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Improvement Act. Priority resource issues addressed in the Draft CCP/EA include: Fish and Wildlife Population Management, Habitat Management, Resource Protection, Visitor Services, and Refuge Administration. CCP Alternatives, Including Our Proposed Alternative (B) We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge (Alternatives A, B, and C), with Alternative B as our proposed alternative. A full description of each alternative is in the Draft CCP/ EA. We summarize each alternative below. PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Alternative A: Current Management (No Action) Under alternative A, Cat Island NWR would be managed as it has been in recent years. No new actions would be taken to manage Cat Island NWR, or improve or otherwise change the refuge’s habitats, wildlife, or public use. Programs that have been ongoing in the past would continue. Certain monitoring activities would continue, including periodic migratory bird surveys. Maintenance of roads and public-use facilities would continue as presently conducted. Habitats would continue to be mostly passively managed, with actions taken only to provide for public safety or to avoid or mitigate damage to refuge resources. Current partnerships with the West Feliciana Parish Tourist Commission, Louisiana Hiking Club, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and others would continue as before. The refuge hunting, fishing, and nonconsumptive uses would continue as presently constituted. Legal requirements for protection of natural and cultural resources would continue to be met. Acquisition of lands within the approved acquisition boundary would continue as before, contingent upon the availability of funding and appropriate lands offered by willing sellers. Law enforcement would continue to be a shared responsibility between the Service, the State of Louisiana, and the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office. The refuge would continue to be unstaffed, and funding for its operation would be restricted to funds generated by the sale of recreational use permits and occasional special project funding. Alternative B: Active Resource Management (Proposed Alternative) Under this alternative, the refuge’s natural resources would be managed to enhance habitats for priority species, including waterfowl and other migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, species of concern, and resident fish and wildlife. Additionally, consistent wildlife surveys would be conducted, using established protocols to establish baseline habitat conditions, estimate wildlife population indices, determine responses to management actions, and contribute to larger scale biological assessments. Invasive exotic and nuisance species would be actively managed to minimize their impacts on refuge resources. The refuge forests would be actively managed to enhance wildlife habitat. Aquatic habitats on the refuge would be inventoried and E:\FR\FM\01MYN1.SGM 01MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 84 (Friday, May 1, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24955-24958]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-10067]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-MB-2015-N062; FF08M00000-FXMB12310800000-145]


Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Pacific Gas & 
Electric Company Eagle Conservation Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement; 
notice of scoping meeting and request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Pacific 
Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) (Applicant) proposed Eagle 
Conservation Plan (ECP) and request for a 30-year programmatic eagle 
take permit for take of bald eagles and golden eagles under the Bald 
and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act). The ECP, which serves as 
the foundation of the permit application, is a comprehensive plan that 
addresses take of the eagles associated with PG&E's existing 
infrastructure and operations and maintenance (O&M) activities 
throughout the Plan Area, which encompasses about two-thirds of the 
State of California. We provide this notice to (1) describe the 
proposed action; (2) advise other Federal and state agencies, 
potentially affected tribal interests, and the public of our intent to 
prepare an EIS; (3) announce the initiation of a 60-day public scoping 
period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of 
issues and possible alternatives to be included in the EIS. We also 
announce plans for a public scoping meeting and the opening of a public 
comment period. We request data, comments, new information, or 
suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, tribes, industry, or any other interested party.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
June 30, 2015. A public scoping meeting will be held on May 21, 2015, 
at Red Lion Hotel Woodlake Conference Center, 500 Leisure Lane, 
Sacramento, CA 95815.

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods, and note that your information 
request or comment is in reference to the PG&E Eagle Conservation Plan 
EIS:
     Email: [fw8_eagle_nepa@fws.gov]. Include ``PG&E Eagle 
Conservation Plan EIS'' in the subject line of the message.

[[Page 24956]]

     U.S. Mail: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Regional Office, 2800 
Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825.
     Fax: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, (916) 414-
6486; Attn: PG&E Eagle Conservation Plan EIS Scoping.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird 
Program, at the address shown above or at (916) 414-6651 (telephone). 
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the 
Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement 
(EIS) for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) (Applicant) 
proposed Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP) and request for a 30-year 
programmatic eagle take permit under the Bald and Golden Eagle 
Protection Act (Eagle Act). The ECP serves as the foundation of the 
permit application. The ECP summarizes the applicant's current 
voluntary approach to address eagle and bird impacts associated with 
PG&E's existing infrastructure and operations and maintenance (O&M) 
activities throughout their ECP Plan Area (Plan Area).
    The ECP is a comprehensive plan that addresses the take of bald 
eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) 
associated with PG&E's existing infrastructure and O&M activities 
throughout the Plan Area, which encompasses about two-thirds of the 
State of California. The ECP also provides measures to avoid, minimize, 
and mitigate for eagle mortality. The draft EIS will evaluate the 
impacts of several alternatives related to the proposed issuance of a 
programmatic eagle take permit to PG&E for bald and golden eagles that 
results from system-wide standard O&M at their infrastructure and 
facilities.
    We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; (2) 
advise other Federal and state agencies, potentially affected tribal 
interests, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce 
the initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible 
alternatives to be included in the EIS.
    We also announce plans for a public scoping meeting and the opening 
of a public comment period. We request data, comments, new information, 
or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, tribes, industry, or any other interested party.
    We publish this notice in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, et 
seq.; NEPA), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1500-1508 as well as Section 668a of the 
Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668a-668d).

Introduction

    The Service is considering an application from PG&E, under the 
Eagle Act, for a 30-year programmatic take permit for bald and golden 
eagles. PG&E has prepared an ECP, which addresses incidental take of 
bald and golden eagles from electrocution and collision with above-
ground electric transmission and distribution lines (collectively power 
lines), as well as disturbance of nesting eagles during various 
operations and maintenance (O&M) activities within the Plan Area. The 
Plan Area encompasses PG&E's Service Area including all electric and 
hydroelectric facilities located within the state of California. The 
ECP analyzes their system's risk to eagles. It also identifies measures 
to avoid, minimize and mitigate eagle mortality associated with those 
activities. The Plan Area is within the following California Counties:

Alameda
Alpine
Amador
Butte
Calaveras
Colusa
Contra Costa
Del Norte
El Dorado
Fresno
Glenn
Humboldt
Inyo
Kern
Kings
Lake
Lassen
Los Angeles
Madera
Marin
Mariposa
Mendocino
Merced
Modoc
Mono
Monterey
Napa
Nevada
Placer
Plumas
Sacramento
San Benito
San Bernardino
San Francisco
San Joaquin
San Luis Obispo
San Mateo
Santa Barbara
Santa Clara
Santa Cruz
Shasta
Sierra
Siskiyou
Solano
Sonoma
Stanislaus
Sutter
Tehama
Trinity
Tulare
Tuolumne
Ventura
Yolo
Yuba

Background

    Eagles are protected under the Eagle Act, which prohibits take and 
disturbance of individuals and nests. Take under the Eagle Act includes 
any actions that pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, 
trap, collect, destroy, molest, and disturb eagles. Disturb is further 
defined in 50 CFR 22.3 as ``to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle 
to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best 
scientific information available (1) injury to an eagle, (2) a decrease 
in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering behavior, or (3) nest abandonment, by 
substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering 
behavior.''
    Prior to 2009, permits for purposeful take of birds or body parts 
were limited to scientific (50 CFR 22.21), religious (50 CFR 22.22), or 
falconry (50 CFR 22.24) pursuits; for eagles causing serious injury to 
livestock or other wildlife (50 CFR 22.23); and for golden eagle nests 
that interfere with resource development or recovery operations (50 CFR 
22.21-25). In 2009, we issued the Final Rule for Eagle Permits; Take 
Necessary to Protect Interests in Particular Localities (2009 Final 
Rule) on new permit regulations that allow take ``for the protection of 
. . . other interests in any particular locality'' and where the take 
is ``associated with and not the purpose of an otherwise lawful 
activity . . .'' (September 11, 2009; 74 FR 46836-46879). The 2009 
Final Rule authorizes programmatic take (take that is recurring and not 
in a specific, identifiable timeframe and/or location) of eagles only 
if avoidance measures have been implemented to the maximum extent 
achievable. PG&E's activities are programmatic and existed prior to the 
2009 Final Rule. Considerations for issuing take permits

[[Page 24957]]

include the health of the local and regional eagle populations, 
availability of suitable nesting and foraging habitat for any displaced 
eagles, and whether the take and associated mitigation provide a net 
benefit to eagles (74 FR 46836-46879). The programmatic take permit 
under the 2009 Final Rule was valid up to 5 years. In 2012, we proposed 
to extend the maximum term for programmatic take permits from 5 to 30 
years (April 13, 2012; 77 FR 22267-22278), and in 2013, we issued a 
Final Rule to extend the maximum term for programmatic eagle permits to 
30 years, subject to a recurring 5-year review process throughout the 
life of the permit (December 9, 2013; 78 FR 73704-78725).
    PG&E's power lines have resulted in eagle mortality due to 
electrocution and collision. Furthermore, infrastructure associated 
with electric and hydroelectric energy generation requires long-term 
O&M, pipeline, and utility line modernization and replacement to 
produce and deliver reliable and safe energy to PG&E customers. Some 
O&M activities occur in eagle nesting habitat where there is a 
potential to disturb nesting eagles.

Scope of EIS

    PG&E's ECP serves as the foundation of the permit application. As 
such, all alternatives considered in the EIS should conform to the 
permit issuance criteria for programmatic eagle take permits under the 
Eagle Act as required in 50 CFR 22.26(f)(1-6).
    The draft EIS will identify and analyze direct, indirect, and 
cumulative impacts of the proposed action and alternatives to several 
resource areas, including biological resources, public utilities, air 
quality, noise, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics, 
and climate change. We will also consider evaluation of additional 
resource areas if issues of concern specific to the proposed action are 
identified during the public scoping process. The purpose of the public 
scoping process for the EIS is to determine relevant issues that will 
influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including potential 
alternatives, and the extent to which those issues and impacts will be 
analyzed in the EIS. We will evaluate a minimum of three alternatives.

Applicant's Proposal

    PG&E has requested a programmatic eagle take permit for incidental 
take of bald and golden eagles associated with O&M activities in the 
Plan Area, as described in the ECP, for a term of 30 years. Specific 
activities covered under the ECP would include otherwise lawful 
activities that have the potential to kill eagles or disturb them to 
the extent that nests are abandoned or eagle productivity is decreased, 
as well as avoidance and minimization measures to reduce these impacts. 
The ECP describes:
    (1) Eagle collision with or electrocution by PG&E's existing 
distribution and transmission lines and conductors within the Plan 
Area;
    (2) Operation and maintenance of PG&E's electrical system, 
including inspection and patrols (aerial and ground), routine 
maintenance and repair, vegetation management (including tree pruning 
and removal with the right of way), and replacement or upgrades of 
existing power lines and infrastructure. This activity would apply to 
all power lines in the Plan Area (141,200 miles of distribution lines 
and 18,600 miles of transmission lines) and related infrastructure;
    (3) Operation and maintenance of PG&E's hydroelectric system, 
including the associated electric system, recreation facility 
maintenance, log boom/buoy/safety marker maintenance, intake tunnel 
clearing, and repair of weirs and gages. This activity would apply to 
all facilities in the Plan Area, including 68 existing powerhouses, a 
pumped storage facility, and nearly 100 reservoirs;
    (4) Continued implementation of migratory bird and eagle take-
reduction measures, including, but not limited to:
    (a) Adoption of avian-safe construction design standards;
    (b) Proactive and reactive bird-safe power pole retrofits;
    (c) Bird nest protection best management practices during 
vegetation management activities and other routine or project work;
    (d) Bird flight diverter effectiveness studies;
    (e) Targeted management at hydroelectric facilities; and
    (f) Pre-construction nesting bird surveys when required for project 
work.
    (5) Monitoring to validate the estimated amount of disturbance take 
and the number of fatalities associated with PG&E's existing 
infrastructure and to evaluate the effectiveness of the conservation 
measures at reducing eagle take. Monitoring efforts would generally 
include:
    (a) Monitoring of eagle nests located throughout PG&E's 
hydroelectric system, as well as those discovered during inspections, 
patrols, and vegetation management activities; and
    (b) Monitoring eagle fatalities during inspections, patrols, and 
vegetation management actions.

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, 
industry, or any other interested party on this notice. We will 
consider these comments in developing the draft EIS.

Public Availability of Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed above in ADDRESSES. Before including your address, phone number, 
or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should 
be aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--might be made publicly available at any time. While you 
can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Scoping Meetings

    See DATES for the date(s) and time(s) of our public meeting(s). The 
primary purpose of these meetings and public comment period is to 
provide the public with a general understanding of the background of 
the proposed action and to solicit suggestions and information on the 
scope of issues and alternatives we should consider when drafting the 
EIS. Oral and written comments will be accepted at the meetings. An 
interpreter and/or court reporter will be present when deemed 
necessary. Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in the 
ADDRESSES section. Once the draft EIS and proposed ECP are complete and 
made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for 
public comment on the content of these documents.
    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings should contact the Pacific Southwest 
Region's Migratory Bird Office using one of the methods listed above in 
ADDRESSES as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please make contact no later than one week before the 
public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available 
in alternative formats upon request.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 
U.S.C. 668-668c) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 1506.6, 
and 40 CFR 1508.22).


[[Page 24958]]


    Dated: April 23, 2015.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
California.
[FR Doc. 2015-10067 Filed 4-30-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-55-P