MidAmerican Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan; Draft Environmental Impact Statement, 25414-25417 [2016-09945]

Download as PDF 25414 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 82 / Thursday, April 28, 2016 / Notices described below. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, HUD is requesting comment from all interested parties on the proposed collection of information. The purpose of this notice is to allow for 60 days of public comment. DATES: Comments Due Date: June 27, 2016. Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding this proposal. Comments should refer to the proposal by name and/or OMB Control Number and should be sent to: Colette Pollard, Reports Management Officer, QDAM, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 4176, Washington, DC 20410–5000; telephone 202–402–3400 (this is not a toll-free number) or email at Colette.Pollard@hud.gov for a copy of the proposed forms or other available information. Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the tollfree Federal Relay Service at (800) 877– 8339. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colette Pollard, Reports Management Officer, QDAM, Department of Housing ADDRESSES: and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Washington, DC 20410; email Colette Pollard at Colette.Pollard@ hud.gov or telephone 202–402–3400. This is not a toll-free number. Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. Copies of available documents submitted to OMB may be obtained from Ms. Pollard. This notice informs the public that HUD is seeking approval from OMB for the information collection described in Section A. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A. Overview of Information Collection Title of Information Collection: 25 CFR 125, Fair Housing Initiatives Program. OMB Approval Number: 2529–0033. Type of Request: Extension of currently approved collection. Form Number: HUD 904 A, B and C, SF–425, SF–424, SF–LLL, HUD–2880, HUD–2990, HUD–2993, HUD–424CB, HUD–424–CBW, HUD–2994–A, HUD– 96010, and HUD–27061. Number of respondents Frequency of response Application Development ............. Quarterly Report .......................... Supplemental Outcome Report ... Enforcement Log .......................... Final Report ................................. Recordkeeping ............................. 400 104 104 59 104 104 1 4 1 4 1 1 400 416 104 236 104 104 76.50 19 19 7 20 21 30,600 7904 1976 1652 2040 2184 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 Total ...................................... 876 14 1366 187.50 46356 00 00 Information collection mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES B. Solicitation of Public Comment This notice is soliciting comments from members of the public and affected parties concerning the collection of information described in Section A on the following: (1) 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) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond; including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:09 Apr 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 Responses per annum Burden hour per response Description of the need for the information and proposed use: The collection is needed to allow the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to request applicant information necessary to complete a grant application package during the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) grant application process. The collection is used to assist the Department in effectively evaluating grant application packages to select the highest ranked applications for funding to carry out fair housing enforcement and/or education and outreach activities under the following FHIP initiatives: Private Enforcement, Education and Outreach, and Fair Housing Organization. The collection is also needed for the collection of post-award report and other information used to monitor grants and grant funds. Information collected from quarterly and final progress reports and enforcement logs will enable the Department to evaluate the performance of agencies that receive funding and determine the impact of the program on preventing and eliminating discriminatory housing practices. Respondents (i.e. affected public): 400. Annual burden hours Hourly cost per response Annual cost HUD encourages interested parties to submit comment in response to these questions. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Authority: Section 3507 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35. [FWS–R3–ES–2016–N046; FVES59420300000F2 14X FF03E00000] Dated: April 21, 2016. Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. MidAmerican Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan; Draft Environmental Impact Statement [FR Doc. 2016–09961 Filed 4–27–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P PO 00000 Fish and Wildlife Service Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement; notice of scoping meetings; and request for comments. AGENCY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), we are advising the public that we intend to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) incidental take permit (ITP) application from MidAmerican Energy SUMMARY: Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 82 / Thursday, April 28, 2016 / Notices Company (MEC) for the federally endangered Indiana bat, the federally threatened northern long-eared bat, the little brown bat, and the bald eagle. We are also announcing the initiation of a public scoping process to engage Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments; special interest groups; and the public in the identification of issues and concerns, potential impacts, and possible alternatives to the proposed action. MEC is currently operating (20) and constructing (2) wind energy facilities in the State of Iowa capable of generating more than 4,040 megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity, and expects to construct additional wind energy projects over the next 30 years. MEC is preparing a habitat conservation plan (HCP) in support of its ITP application for both MEC’s existing facilities and facilities presently under construction. Construction, operation, maintenance, decommissioning, reclamation, and repowering of wind energy facilities, as well as activities associated with the management of mitigation land, have the potential to impact certain bat and bird species. Species to be covered in the MEC HCP include the federally listed endangered Indiana bat, the federally listed threatened northern long-eared bat, the unlisted little brown bat and the bald eagle, which is protected under the Eagle Act. As allowed under the Eagle Act, we anticipate extending Eagle Act take authorization for bald eagle through an ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) permit associated with the HCP, provided MEC is in full compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit and Eagle Act. DATES: Public scoping will begin with the publication of this NOI in the Federal Register and will continue through May 31, 2016. We will consider all comments on the scope of the EIS analysis that are received or postmarked by this date. Comments received or postmarked after this date will be considered to the extent practicable. We will conduct two public scoping meetings during the scoping period. The scoping meetings will provide the public with an opportunity to ask questions, discuss issues with Service and State staff regarding the EIS, and provide written comments. • May 17, 2016—Council Bluffs Public Library, 400 Willow Avenue Council Bluffs, Iowa, 5:30 to 7 p.m. • May 18, 2016—FFA Enrichment Center, 1055 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa, 5:30 to 7 p.m. In addition, we will host an online webinar on April 20, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time. Additional information VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:09 Apr 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 on the proposed action, including how to participate in the webinar, is provided on the Internet at: http://www. fws.gov/midwest/rockisland/te/ index.html. ADDRESSES: Send written comments via U.S. mail to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office, 1511 47th Avenue, Moline, Illinois 61265; by facsimile at 309–757– 5807; or by electronic mail to RockIsland@fws.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Schorg at 309–757–5800, extension 222 (telephone) or amber_ schorg@fws.gov (email). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction Pursuant to the NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., we advise the public that we intend to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate impacts associated with several alternatives related to the potential issuance of ITPs to MEC (Service’s proposed action). ITPs would be expected to cover the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), the federally threatened northern longeared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), and the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). We are also announcing the initiation of a public scoping process to engage Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments, special interest groups, and the public in the identification of issues and concerns, potential impacts, and possible alternatives to our proposed action. Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ‘‘take’’ of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered under section 4 (16 U.S.C. 1538, and 1533, respectively). The ESA implementing regulations extend, under certain circumstances, the prohibition of take to threatened species (50 CFR 17.31). Under section 3 of the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm’’ is defined by regulation as an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such act may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ‘‘harass’’ is defined in the regulations as an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25415 injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). Under section 10 of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of federally listed fish and wildlife species. ‘‘Incidental take’’ is defined by the ESA as ‘‘take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity’’. To obtain an ITP, an applicant must submit an HCP that specifies (1) the impact that will likely result from the taking; (2) what steps the applicant will take to monitor, minimize and mitigate the impacts, and the funding that will be available to implement such steps; (3) what alternative actions to the taking the applicant considered and the reasons why the alternatives are not being utilized; and (4) how the applicant will carry out any other measures that we may require as being necessary or appropriate for purposes of the HCP. 50 CFR 17.22(b)(1)(iii); 50 CFR 17.32(b)(1)(iii)(C). If we find, after opportunity for public comment, with respect to the permit application and the related HCP that (1) the taking will be incidental; (2) the applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3) the applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the HCP will be provided, as well as procedures to deal with unforeseen circumstances; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the measures, if any, required by us will be carried out; and we have received assurances that the plan will be implemented, then we will issue MEC the requested permit(s). 50 CFR 17.22, 17.32(b)(2)(i). 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. 16 U.S.C. 668c. ‘‘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. Our regulations at 50 CFR 22.11 allow Eagle Act take authorization to be extended to permittees authorized E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1 25416 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 82 / Thursday, April 28, 2016 / Notices to take eagles by an ITP issued pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. Take coverage for bald eagles provided through an ITP applies for the duration of the permit, or until the amount or level of take authorized has been met, provided the permittee complies with all terms and conditions provided in the ITP. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Proposed MEC HCP The purpose of the HCP process and subsequent issuance of an ITP is to authorize the incidental take of threatened or endangered species and eagles, not to authorize the underlying activities that result in take. This process ensures that the effects of the authorized incidental take will be adequately minimized and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. The MEC HCP will encompass land within the State of Iowa where MEC facilities currently exist, are presently under construction, and where MEC may develop future facilities. MEC currently has approximately 4,050 megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity installed or under construction and anticipates developing additional wind generation capacity over the requested 30-year term of their ITPs. Activities to be covered by the proposed HCP include those necessary to construct, operate, maintain and repair, decommission and reclaim, and repower utility-scale, multi-turbine wind energy projects within the State of Iowa. Covered activities also include development and management of mitigation lands and monitoring. The MEC HCP would potentially cover four species that are subject to injury or mortality at wind generation facilities, including two federally listed species and two unlisted species. The two federally listed species are the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat. The two unlisted species are the little brown bat and the bald eagle. Species may also be added or deleted as the MEC HCP is developed, based on further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and public involvement. Environmental Impact Statement NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly affect the human environment. Based on 40 CFR 1508.27 and 40 CFR 1508.2, we have determined that implementation of the proposed MEC HCP may have significant impacts on the human environment. Therefore, before deciding whether to issue ITPs to MEC, we will VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:09 Apr 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 prepare an EIS to analyze the environmental impacts associated with those actions. The EIS will also include an analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives to the proposed action. Alternatives considered in the EIS may include, but are not limited to, variations in the permit term or permit structure; the level of take allowed; the level, location, or type of conservation, monitoring, or mitigation provided in the MEC HCP; the scope of covered activities; the list of covered species; or a combination of these factors. Additionally, a no action alternative will be included. The EIS is intended to analyze and disclose potential environmental impacts that could result from the issuance of ITPs to MEC for its existing and future facilities in the State of Iowa, including subsequent implementation of its proposed HCP. For permitting decisions on existing facilities (20) and facilities presently under construction (2), the EIS will address potential environmental impacts at specific temporal and spatial scales. For permitting decisions on future facilities with uncertain temporal and/or spatial scales, the EIS will evaluate environmental impacts programmatically, and include a process for assessing the need for subsequent NEPA review on future permitting decisions. If we find that our initial NEPA review has sufficiently analyzed potential environmental impacts, we will rely upon the analysis provided in our initial NEPA review. On the other hand, if there is significant new information of relevance to the proposed action or its impacts, we may choose to supplement our NEPA review by developing separate, stand-alone environmental documents that make use of tiering and incorporation by reference. Request for Information We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other concerned 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. We also seek specific comments on: 1. Biological information and relevant data concerning covered species; 2. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, population size, and population trends of covered species; 3. Direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts that implementation of the proposed covered activities could have on endangered, threatened, and other PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 covered species, and their communities or habitats; 4. Other possible alternatives to the proposed action that the Service should consider; 5. Other current or planned activities in the subject area and their possible cumulative impacts on covered species; 6. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; 7. Issues, questions, or concerns with developing an EIS which may be supplemented in the future to support additional ITP applications from MEC; and 8. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be considered with regard to the proposed MEC HCP and permit action. Public Availability of Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed above in the ADDRESSES section. 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. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the EIS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at the Services’ Rock Island Field Office in Moline, Illinois. (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Scoping Meetings See DATES for the date/s and time/s of our public scoping meetings. 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. Written comments will be accepted at the meetings. Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft EIS and proposed MEC HCP are complete and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of those documents. E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1 25417 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 82 / Thursday, April 28, 2016 / Notices Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public meetings should contact the Service using one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES 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 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668a–668d), NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 1506.5, 1506.6 and 1508.22). Dated: April 11, 2016. Lynn Lewis, Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region. [FR Doc. 2016–09945 Filed 4–27–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–HQ–LE–2016–N078; FF09L00200–FX– LE18110900000] Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. 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 April 30, 2016. 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 May 31, 2016. 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 ‘‘1018–0012’’ 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 SUMMARY: (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: 1018–0012. Title: Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife, 50 CFR 14.61–14.64 and 14.94. Service Form Numbers: 3–177 and 3– 177a. Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection. Description of Respondents: Businesses or individuals that import or export fish, wildlife, or wildlife products; scientific institutions that import or export fish or wildlife scientific specimens; and government agencies that import or export fish or wildlife specimens for various purposes. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to obtain or retain a benefit. Frequency of Collection: On occasion. Number of responses Activity Completion time per response (minutes) Total annual burden hours 16,207 172,446 190,874 15 10 1 4,052 28,741 3,181 Totals .................................................................................................................................... mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 3–177 hard copy submission ....................................................................................................... 3–177 electronic submission ....................................................................................................... Fee waiver certification ................................................................................................................ 379,527 ........................ 35,974 Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: None. Abstract: The Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) makes it unlawful to import or export fish, wildlife, or plants without filing a declaration or report deemed necessary for enforcing the Act or upholding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (see 16 U.S.C. 1538(e)). With a few exceptions, businesses, individuals, or government agencies importing into or exporting from the United States any fish, wildlife, or wildlife product must complete and submit to the Service an FWS Form 3–177 (Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:09 Apr 27, 2016 Jkt 238001 Wildlife). This form as well as FWS Form 3–177a (Continuation Sheet) and instructions for completion are available for electronic submission at https:// edecs.fws.gov. These forms are also available in fillable format at http:// www.fws.gov/forms/. The information that we collect is unique to each wildlife shipment and enables us to: • Accurately inspect the contents of the shipment; • Enforce any regulations that pertain to the fish, wildlife, or wildlife products contained in the shipment; and • Maintain records of the importation and exportation of these commodities. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Businesses or individuals must file FWS Forms 3–177 and 3–177a with us at the time and port where they request clearance of the import or export of wildlife or wildlife products. Our regulations allow for certain species of wildlife to be imported or exported between the United States and Canada or Mexico at U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports, even though our wildlife inspectors may not be present. In these instances, importers and exporters may file the forms with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. We collect the following information: (1) Name of the importer or exporter and broker. E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 82 (Thursday, April 28, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25414-25417]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-09945]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2016-N046; FVES59420300000F2 14X FF03E00000]


MidAmerican Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan; Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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

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

SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as 
amended (NEPA), we are advising the public that we intend to prepare an 
environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposed Endangered Species 
Act (ESA) incidental take permit (ITP) application from MidAmerican 
Energy

[[Page 25415]]

Company (MEC) for the federally endangered Indiana bat, the federally 
threatened northern long-eared bat, the little brown bat, and the bald 
eagle. We are also announcing the initiation of a public scoping 
process to engage Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments; 
special interest groups; and the public in the identification of issues 
and concerns, potential impacts, and possible alternatives to the 
proposed action.
    MEC is currently operating (20) and constructing (2) wind energy 
facilities in the State of Iowa capable of generating more than 4,040 
megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity, and expects to construct 
additional wind energy projects over the next 30 years. MEC is 
preparing a habitat conservation plan (HCP) in support of its ITP 
application for both MEC's existing facilities and facilities presently 
under construction.
    Construction, operation, maintenance, decommissioning, reclamation, 
and repowering of wind energy facilities, as well as activities 
associated with the management of mitigation land, have the potential 
to impact certain bat and bird species. Species to be covered in the 
MEC HCP include the federally listed endangered Indiana bat, the 
federally listed threatened northern long-eared bat, the unlisted 
little brown bat and the bald eagle, which is protected under the Eagle 
Act. As allowed under the Eagle Act, we anticipate extending Eagle Act 
take authorization for bald eagle through an ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) 
permit associated with the HCP, provided MEC is in full compliance with 
the terms and conditions of the permit and Eagle Act.

DATES: Public scoping will begin with the publication of this NOI in 
the Federal Register and will continue through May 31, 2016. We will 
consider all comments on the scope of the EIS analysis that are 
received or postmarked by this date. Comments received or postmarked 
after this date will be considered to the extent practicable. We will 
conduct two public scoping meetings during the scoping period. The 
scoping meetings will provide the public with an opportunity to ask 
questions, discuss issues with Service and State staff regarding the 
EIS, and provide written comments.
     May 17, 2016--Council Bluffs Public Library, 400 Willow 
Avenue Council Bluffs, Iowa, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
     May 18, 2016--FFA Enrichment Center, 1055 SW Prairie Trail 
Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
    In addition, we will host an online webinar on April 20, 2016 at 
1:00 p.m. Central Time. Additional information on the proposed action, 
including how to participate in the webinar, is provided on the 
Internet at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/rockisland/te/index.html.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments via U.S. mail to the Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office, 1511 47th 
Avenue, Moline, Illinois 61265; by facsimile at 309-757-5807; or by 
electronic mail to RockIsland@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amber Schorg at 309-757-5800, 
extension 222 (telephone) or amber_schorg@fws.gov (email). If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal 
Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    Pursuant to the NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., we advise the public 
that we intend to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to 
evaluate impacts associated with several alternatives related to the 
potential issuance of ITPs to MEC (Service's proposed action). ITPs 
would be expected to cover the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis 
sodalis), the federally threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis 
septentrionalis), the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), and the bald 
eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). We are also announcing the initiation 
of a public scoping process to engage Federal, Tribal, State, and local 
governments, special interest groups, and the public in the 
identification of issues and concerns, potential impacts, and possible 
alternatives to our proposed action.
    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ``take'' of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered under section 4 (16 U.S.C. 1538, and 1533, 
respectively). The ESA implementing regulations extend, under certain 
circumstances, the prohibition of take to threatened species (50 CFR 
17.31). Under section 3 of the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, 
harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or 
attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term 
``harm'' is defined by regulation as an act which actually kills or 
injures wildlife. Such act may include significant habitat modification 
or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ``harass'' is 
defined in the regulations as an intentional or negligent act or 
omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying 
it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral 
patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    Under section 10 of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to 
authorize incidental take of federally listed fish and wildlife 
species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the ESA as ``take that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful 
activity''. To obtain an ITP, an applicant must submit an HCP that 
specifies (1) the impact that will likely result from the taking; (2) 
what steps the applicant will take to monitor, minimize and mitigate 
the impacts, and the funding that will be available to implement such 
steps; (3) what alternative actions to the taking the applicant 
considered and the reasons why the alternatives are not being utilized; 
and (4) how the applicant will carry out any other measures that we may 
require as being necessary or appropriate for purposes of the HCP. 50 
CFR 17.22(b)(1)(iii); 50 CFR 17.32(b)(1)(iii)(C). If we find, after 
opportunity for public comment, with respect to the permit application 
and the related HCP that (1) the taking will be incidental; (2) the 
applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and 
mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3) the applicant will ensure that 
adequate funding for the HCP will be provided, as well as procedures to 
deal with unforeseen circumstances; (4) the taking will not appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in 
the wild; and (5) the measures, if any, required by us will be carried 
out; and we have received assurances that the plan will be implemented, 
then we will issue MEC the requested permit(s). 50 CFR 17.22, 
17.32(b)(2)(i).
    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. 16 U.S.C. 
668c. ``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. Our regulations at 50 CFR 
22.11 allow Eagle Act take authorization to be extended to permittees 
authorized

[[Page 25416]]

to take eagles by an ITP issued pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA. Take coverage for bald eagles provided through an ITP applies for 
the duration of the permit, or until the amount or level of take 
authorized has been met, provided the permittee complies with all terms 
and conditions provided in the ITP.

Proposed MEC HCP

    The purpose of the HCP process and subsequent issuance of an ITP is 
to authorize the incidental take of threatened or endangered species 
and eagles, not to authorize the underlying activities that result in 
take. This process ensures that the effects of the authorized 
incidental take will be adequately minimized and mitigated to the 
maximum extent practicable.
    The MEC HCP will encompass land within the State of Iowa where MEC 
facilities currently exist, are presently under construction, and where 
MEC may develop future facilities. MEC currently has approximately 
4,050 megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity installed or under 
construction and anticipates developing additional wind generation 
capacity over the requested 30-year term of their ITPs. Activities to 
be covered by the proposed HCP include those necessary to construct, 
operate, maintain and repair, decommission and reclaim, and repower 
utility-scale, multi-turbine wind energy projects within the State of 
Iowa. Covered activities also include development and management of 
mitigation lands and monitoring.
    The MEC HCP would potentially cover four species that are subject 
to injury or mortality at wind generation facilities, including two 
federally listed species and two unlisted species. The two federally 
listed species are the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat. The 
two unlisted species are the little brown bat and the bald eagle. 
Species may also be added or deleted as the MEC HCP is developed, based 
on further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and public 
involvement.

Environmental Impact Statement

    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. Based on 40 CFR 1508.27 and 40 CFR 1508.2, we have 
determined that implementation of the proposed MEC HCP may have 
significant impacts on the human environment. Therefore, before 
deciding whether to issue ITPs to MEC, we will prepare an EIS to 
analyze the environmental impacts associated with those actions. The 
EIS will also include an analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives 
to the proposed action. Alternatives considered in the EIS may include, 
but are not limited to, variations in the permit term or permit 
structure; the level of take allowed; the level, location, or type of 
conservation, monitoring, or mitigation provided in the MEC HCP; the 
scope of covered activities; the list of covered species; or a 
combination of these factors. Additionally, a no action alternative 
will be included.
    The EIS is intended to analyze and disclose potential environmental 
impacts that could result from the issuance of ITPs to MEC for its 
existing and future facilities in the State of Iowa, including 
subsequent implementation of its proposed HCP. For permitting decisions 
on existing facilities (20) and facilities presently under construction 
(2), the EIS will address potential environmental impacts at specific 
temporal and spatial scales. For permitting decisions on future 
facilities with uncertain temporal and/or spatial scales, the EIS will 
evaluate environmental impacts programmatically, and include a process 
for assessing the need for subsequent NEPA review on future permitting 
decisions. If we find that our initial NEPA review has sufficiently 
analyzed potential environmental impacts, we will rely upon the 
analysis provided in our initial NEPA review. On the other hand, if 
there is significant new information of relevance to the proposed 
action or its impacts, we may choose to supplement our NEPA review by 
developing separate, stand-alone environmental documents that make use 
of tiering and incorporation by reference.

Request for Information

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned 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. We 
also seek specific comments on:
    1. Biological information and relevant data concerning covered 
species;
    2. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of covered species;
    3. Direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts that implementation of 
the proposed covered activities could have on endangered, threatened, 
and other covered species, and their communities or habitats;
    4. Other possible alternatives to the proposed action that the 
Service should consider;
    5. Other current or planned activities in the subject area and 
their possible cumulative impacts on covered species;
    6. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act;
    7. Issues, questions, or concerns with developing an EIS which may 
be supplemented in the future to support additional ITP applications 
from MEC; and
    8. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be 
considered with regard to the proposed MEC HCP and permit action.

Public Availability of Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed above in the ADDRESSES section. 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.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the EIS, will be available for public 
inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at the 
Services' Rock Island Field Office in Moline, Illinois. (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Scoping Meetings

    See DATES for the date/s and time/s of our public scoping meetings. 
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. Written comments will be accepted at the meetings. Comments can 
also be submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the 
draft EIS and proposed MEC HCP are complete and made available for 
review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the 
content of those documents.

[[Page 25417]]

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings should contact the Service using one 
of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES 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 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 
et seq.), section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668a-668d), NEPA (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 1506.5, 
1506.6 and 1508.22).

    Dated: April 11, 2016.
Lynn Lewis,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2016-09945 Filed 4-27-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P