Record of Decision for Issuing a Presidential Permit to Minnesota Power, 83825-83829 [2016-28091]

Download as PDF sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 225 / Tuesday, November 22, 2016 / Notices collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department’s information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records. Title of Collection: Student Assistance General Provisions—Subpart E— Verification Student Aid Application Information. OMB Control Number: 1845–0041. Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection. Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local, and Tribal Governments; Individuals or Households; Private Sector. Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 31,005,627. Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 5,011,254. Abstract: This request is for a revision of the information collection supporting the policies and reporting requirements contained in Subpart E of Part 668— Verification and Updating of Student Aid Application Information. Sections 668.53, 668.54, 668.55, 668.56, 668.57, 668.59 and 668.61 contain information collection requirements (OMB control number 1845–0041). This subpart governs the verification and updating of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid used to calculate an applicant’s Expected Family Contribution for purposes of determining an applicant’s need for student financial assistance under Title IV of Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The collection of this documentation helps ensure that students (and parents in the case of PLUS loans) receive the correct amount of Title IV program assistance by providing accurate information to calculate an applicant’s expected family contribution. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:52 Nov 21, 2016 Jkt 241001 Dated: November 17, 2016. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management. [FR Doc. 2016–28113 Filed 11–21–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED–2016–ICCD–013] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Annual Performance Reports for Title III, Title V, and Title VII Grantees Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), Department of Education (ED). ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a revision of an existing information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before January 23, 2017. ADDRESSES: To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED– 2016–ICCD–0131. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E–347, Washington, DC 20202–4537. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Jason Cottrell, 202–453–7530. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 83825 the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department’s information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records. Title of Collection: Annual Performance Reports for Title III, Title V, and Title VII Grantees. OMB Control Number: 1840–0766. Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection. Respondents/Affected Public: Private Sector. Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 1,114. Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 23,390. Abstract: Titles III, V, and VII of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), provide discretionary and formula grant programs that make competitive awards to eligible institutions of higher education and organizations (Title III, Part E) to assist these institutions to expand their capacity to serve minority and lowincome students. Grantees submit an annual performance report to demonstrate that substantial progress is being made towards meeting the objectives of their project. Dated: November 17, 2016. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management. [FR Doc. 2016–28066 Filed 11–21–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Record of Decision for Issuing a Presidential Permit to Minnesota Power U.S. Department of Energy. Record of decision. AGENCY: ACTION: E:\FR\FM\22NON1.SGM 22NON1 83826 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 225 / Tuesday, November 22, 2016 / Notices The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its decision to issue a Presidential permit to Minnesota Power, a regulated utility division of ALLETE, Inc. (Applicant), to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a new electric transmission line across the U.S./Canada border in northern Minnesota. The potential environmental impacts associated with the transmission line are analyzed in the Great Northern Transmission Line Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS–0499). The transmission line would cross the U.S./ Canada border in Roseau County, Minnesota and extend southeast approximately 220 miles to the proposed Iron Range 500-kilovolt (kV) Substation, located just east of the existing Blackberry Substation near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. ADDRESSES: The Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and this Record of Decision (ROD) are available on the DOE National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Web site at http:// energy.gov/nepa and on the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL) Project EIS Web site at http:// www.greatnortherneis.org/. The EIS Web site also includes a list of libraries in Minnesota where the Final EIS is available for review. Electronic copies of the Final EIS and this ROD may be requested by contacting Dr. Julie A. Smith, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE–20), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington DC 20585; by electronic mail to Juliea.Smith@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile to 202–318–7761. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on the GNTL Project EIS, contact Dr. Julie A. Smith at the addresses above, or at 202–586–7668. For general information on DOE’s NEPA process, contact Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC–54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585; by email to askNEPA@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile to 202–586–7031. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EIS was jointly prepared by DOE and the Minnesota Department of Commerce— Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (DOC–EERA), acting as state co-lead, in order to avoid duplication and to comply with both federal and state environmental review requirements. The St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5, the sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:52 Nov 21, 2016 Jkt 241001 Twin Cities Field Office (Region 3) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota were cooperating agencies in preparing the EIS for the GNTL Project. Background Executive Order (EO) 10485 (September 9, 1953), as amended by EO 12038 (February 7, 1978), requires that a Presidential permit be issued by DOE before electricity transmission facilities may be constructed, operated, maintained, or connected at the U.S. border. DOE may issue or amend a Presidential permit if it determines that the permit is in the public interest and after obtaining favorable recommendations from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. In determining whether issuance of a Presidential permit for a proposed action is in the public interest, DOE considers the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project, the project’s impact on electricity reliability by ascertaining whether the proposed project would adversely affect the operation of the U.S. electric power supply system under normal and contingency conditions, and any other factors that DOE considers relevant to the public interest. On April 15, 2014, Minnesota Power (the Applicant) applied to DOE for a Presidential permit to construct, operate, maintain, and connect an approximately 220-mile, 500-kV overhead, single circuit, alternating current (AC) electric power transmission system from the Canadian Province of Manitoba to the proposed Iron Range 500-kV Substation, located just east of the existing Blackberry Substation near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. On October 29, 2014, the Applicant submitted an amendment to its Presidential permit application, changing the location of the proposed international border crossing approximately 4.3 miles east to cross the U.S./Canada border in Roseau County, Minnesota at latitude 49°00′00.00″ N and longitude 95°54′50.49″ W, which is approximately 2.9 miles east of Highway 89 in Roseau County. The GNTL Project would be located on a new 200-foot-wide right-of-way (ROW) with a wider ROW required for certain spans at angle and corner structures, for guyed structures, or where special design requirements are dictated by topography. As part of the GNTL Project, the Applicant is also proposing to construct associated facilities including the proposed Iron Range 500-kV Substation, 500-kV Series PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Compensation Station, and three regeneration stations with permanent and temporary access roads. Consultation Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), DOE has consulted with USFWS regarding potential impacts on federally-listed threatened or endangered species in the area of the GNTL Project. On October 29, 2015, DOE sent USFWS a letter requesting initiation of formal Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act and submitted a Biological Assessment (BA), prepared by DOE. On April 26, 2016, USFWS issued a Biological Opinion (BO) indicating that the GNTL Project: ‘‘may affect, and is likely to adversely affect the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis); may affect, but not likely to adversely affect gray wolf (Canis lupus), gray wolf critical habitat, and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis);’’ and would result in no effect to other federally listed species. The BO further found that the GNTL Project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the northern long-eared bat. The Presidential permit requires the Applicant to comply with all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm, as required by USFWS. The BA is included as Appendix R of the Final EIS, and the BO is available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http:// www.greatnortherneis.org). DOE initiated consultation with the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act regarding potential impacts on historic properties and determined the undertaking has the potential to adversely affect historic properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. On November 2, 2016, a programmatic agreement (PA) between DOE, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota, and Minnesota SHPO was executed. The PA requires the Applicant to prepare a Cultural Resources Management Plan, which will meet the survey, data collection, and mitigation measures necessary, as identified by Minnesota SHPO. The PA is available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http:// www.greatnortherneis.org). NEPA Review On June 27, 2014, DOE issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) (79 FR 36493) to prepare an EIS for the GNTL Project and to conduct Public Scoping Meetings. The NOI also indicated that because the E:\FR\FM\22NON1.SGM 22NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 225 / Tuesday, November 22, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES GNTL Project would involve actions in floodplains and wetlands, the EIS would include a Floodplain and Wetland Assessment. On June 26, 2015, DOE published a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft EIS (80 FR 36795) that began a 45-day public review period. DOE held nine public hearings on the Draft EIS and received more than 200 comments. Concerns raised during the comment period were related to the following topics: The regulatory process/public involvement, purpose and need, project description/design, alternatives, human settlement, noise and vibration, air quality/greenhouse gases, socioeconomics, recreation and tourism, public health and safety, aesthetics, land use and ownership, cultural resources, wetlands and water quality, and biological resources. See Section 1.4.4.1 of the Final EIS for additional information regarding these comments. DOE considered all comments received on the Draft EIS in the preparation of the Final EIS. Comment letters and detailed responses are included in Appendix Y of the Final EIS. Throughout the EIS process, DOE worked with the cooperating agencies to ensure that potential impacts were appropriately addressed. EPA announced the availability of the Final EIS on November 6, 2015 (80 FR 68867). Alternatives Considered In the EIS, DOE analyzed the No Action Alternative and the Proposed Action of granting a Presidential permit to authorize the Applicant to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a 500-kV transmission line across the U.S./ Canada border. Under the No Action Alternative, DOE would not issue a Presidential permit for the proposed GNTL Project and the transmission line would not be built. Under the Proposed Action of granting the Presidential permit (the DOE Preferred Alternative), the transmission line would cross the U.S./Canada border in Roseau County, Minnesota at latitude 49°00′00.00″ N and longitude 95°54′50.49″ W. During the public scoping process, commenters proposed five alternative international border crossings, four of which DOE determined should be included for detailed analysis in the EIS. DOE’s Presidential permit decision is solely for the international border crossing; the proposed construction, operation, maintenance, and connection of the portion of the transmission line within the United States is a ‘‘connected action’’ to DOE’s Proposed Action. See 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1508.25(a)(1). In addition to the international border crossing VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:52 Nov 21, 2016 Jkt 241001 alternatives, the EIS analyzed the potential environmental impact associated with the Applicant’s proposed route, the Applicant’s alternative routes, and 22 alternative route segments and nine alignment modifications that were proposed by agencies and the public during scoping. Analysis of Potential Environmental Impacts The EIS analyzed potential environmental impacts associated with the alternatives for each of the following resource areas: Human settlement, public health and safety, land-based economies, archaeological and historic resources, natural environment, rare and unique natural resources, use of paralleling existing corridors, electrical system reliability, and cumulative impacts. The analysis of potential impacts of the alternatives is described in the Summary and Chapter 6 of the Final EIS. This analysis assumes the implementation of all Applicantproposed measures to minimize adverse impacts (Table 2–2 of the Final EIS). DOE prepared a Floodplain and Wetland Assessment and Floodplain Statement of Findings in accordance with DOE regulations, 10 CFR part 1022 (Compliance with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements). The DOE Floodplain and Wetland Assessment, which contains the statement of findings, is available on the DOE NEPA Web site (http://energy.gove/nepa) and the GNTL Project Web site (http:// greatnortherneis.org). The assessment considered potential impacts to floodplains and wetlands. DOE concluded that the proposed international border crossing is not located in a 100-year floodplain. The MN PUC-approved Route Alternative for the electric power transmission line (a connected action to DOE’s Presidential permit action) would cross 100-year floodplains that are too large to span. This would require construction and placement of transmission structures (towers) within floodplains. No FEMAdesignated 100-year floodplain has been identified in the locations proposed for associated facilities. Current design details and Applicant-proposed mitigation measures would minimize potential impacts to floodplains and wetlands to the extent practicable. Potential impacts to floodplain and wetland resources from the GNTL Project would not result in subsequent impacts to human lives and property. Therefore, DOE finds that potential impacts to floodplains will be avoided to the maximum extent practicable, that appropriate measures to minimize PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 83827 adverse effects on human health and safety and the functions and values provided by floodplains would be taken, and that the project would comply with applicable floodplain protection standards. Implementation of the No Action Alternative would not result in changes to existing conditions and is therefore, the environmentally preferable alternative. Comments Received on the Final EIS Comment letters regarding the Final EIS were submitted to DOE by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance and EPA on December 3, 2015. Comments received on the Final EIS are available on the Minnesota Public Utilities (MN PUC) Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/ energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847) and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). DOI Comment Letter On December 3, 2015, DOI submitted a comment letter that indicated that the Final EIS did not adequately address impacts to USFWS Interest Lands or compensatory mitigation. At that time the MN PUC had not issued a Route Permit for the proposed GNTL Project and it was not clear if USFWS interest lands would be potentially impacted by the Project. The DOI comment letter further indicated that if impacts to USFWS Interest Lands occur, USFWS would consider compensatory mitigation mandatory before USFWS would grant a ROW permit. Because the designated route in the MN PUC-issued Route Permit crosses USFWS Interest land, a ROW permit from USFWS will be necessary. USFWS is conducting its own Environmental Assessment for that action using the Final EIS as a primary/ major source of information to complete the USFWS analysis. However, DOE notes that the Applicant has adequately addressed the concerns articulated in the DOI comment letter related to impacts to USFWS Interest Lands and compensatory mitigation through the execution of a July 26, 2016, ‘‘Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Conservation Measures for the Great Northern Transmission Line Project.’’ The MOU can be found on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http:// www.greatnortherneis.org). The December 3, 2015, DOI comment letter also indicated an appreciation that the Final EIS added a commitment that the Applicant would continue working with USFWS to determine which measures are appropriate for addressing potential impacts to migratory bird E:\FR\FM\22NON1.SGM 22NON1 83828 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 225 / Tuesday, November 22, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES species from the GNTL Project and that any avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures imposed by USFWS would be addressed in the ROD or Presidential permit. DOI reiterated in the comment letter that pursuant to EO 13186 and the ESA, USFWS considers all three elements (avoiding, minimizing, and restoring/enhancing) necessary to adequately mitigate for impacts to listed species and migratory bird habitat. Following the publication of the Final EIS in November 2015, the Applicant and USFWS engaged in discussion for both mandatory and negotiable mitigation opportunities. Compensatory mitigation agreements between the Applicant and USFWS have been developed as a part of the July 26, 2016, MOU discussed above. DOE conditioned its Presidential permit to require the Applicant to comply with all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm as required by USFWS. EPA Comment Letter The December 3, 2015, EPA comment letter expressed an appreciation that the Final EIS incorporated additional information, analysis, clarification, and/ or discussion regarding cultural resources, tribal consultation, and inclusion of a National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 draft PA. DOE notes that consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act has been completed and a PA between DOE, the ACHP, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota, and Minnesota SHPO was executed on November 2, 2016. The PA is available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http:// www.greatnortherneis.org). The EPA comment letter also expressed an appreciation that the Final EIS incorporated estimates of construction emissions of criteria pollutants, CO2, and greenhouse gases (this information is provided in Appendix W of the Final EIS). The December 3, 2015, EPA comment letter indicated that the Final EIS did not identify the Applicant’s proposed locations for access roads, laydown areas, stringing areas, fly-in sites, and potential pole locations along with their potential resources impacts. DOE notes that these detailed project components are not determined at this point in the development of the GNTL Project, and that the Final EIS discloses the potential nature of the (mostly temporary) impacts to resources such as wetlands and forests that may be expected from the construction and use of such locations. Further, the BO indicates a commitment that the Applicant will VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:52 Nov 21, 2016 Jkt 241001 work with USFWS to avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential impacts from the proposed GNTL Project once the necessary details are known. The DOE Presidential permit conditions require the implementation of all avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures identified, not only in the Final EIS, but also in the Biological Opinion. The EPA comment letter also acknowledges the right of EPA to further review and comment on the GNTL Project during the USACE Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting process. The December 3, 2015, EPA comment letter raised concerns regarding resource impacts and suggested the ROD include additional information to help ensure that adequate safeguards and mitigation measures are in place to fully protect the environment. The following is a summary of EPA recommendations from the agency’s December 3, 2015, comment letter: • The ROD should include the MN PUC Route Permit for the GNTL Project. DOE notes that the MN PUC Route Permit is available on the MN PUC Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/ energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847), and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). • The ROD should identify the plans, mitigation measures, and state and federal agencies’ requirements that the MN PUC Route Permit requires the Applicant to develop and undertake, such as an Avian Mitigation Plan, Vegetation Management Plan (including control of invasive/noxious plant species), Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. DOE notes that development of these plans generally occurs during the permitting process and is not part of a Final EIS. The MN PUC Route Permit for the GNTL Project identifies permit conditions, including the development of the various plans referenced by the EPA. The MN PUC Route Permit also identifies the appropriate agencies the Applicant will need to coordinate with to satisfy these permit conditions. The MN PUC Route Permit is available on the MN PUC Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/ energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847), and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). • The ROD should disclose why a particular plan and/or mitigation measure identified in the Final EIS is not a MN PUC Route Permit requirement. DOE notes that the MN PUC Route Permit requires adherence to mitigation measures in the Final EIS. • A third party independent environmental inspector, such as the Minnesota Department of Natural PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Resources (MnDNR), should be utilized. The ROD should disclose whether or not an inspector will be used and if this is a requirement in the MN PUC Route Permit. DOE notes that the MN PUC Route Permit conditions indicate that the Applicant shall provide a dedicated independent environmental inspector to oversee the construction process and to monitor compliance with the Avian Mitigation Plan, Vegetation Management Plan, and requirements of the Construction Environmental Control Plan and all other environmental permits. • The Applicant should pursue opportunities for emission reduction strategies during construction. The ROD should identify additional air quality measures that the Applicant proposed to utilize and/or MN PUC intends to include as conditions/requirements in the Route Permit. DOE notes that employment of additional emission reduction strategies during construction of the GNTL Project will be dependent on the Applicant to implement, as the GNTL Project is not expected to result in long-term adverse criteria pollutant or climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Information on construction emissions of criteria pollutants, CO2, and greenhouse gases is provided in Appendix W of the Final EIS. • The Applicant should undertake voluntary forest compensation for forest impacts that do not require compensation under existing federal and/or state regulations. The ROD should identify whether or not the Applicant will conduct voluntary forest compensation and the amount, location, and timing, if applicable. DOE notes that compensatory mitigation agreements between the Applicant and USFWS have been developed, as referenced in the February 12, 2016, DOI letter. • The ROD should include the executed Section 106 PA and/or provide a direct link to the document. DOE notes that consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is summarized under ‘‘Consultation’’ in this ROD. The PA is available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). DOE ascertains that all issues or concerns identified in the December 3, 2015, EPA and DOI comment letters, which are summarized above, have been addressed or are currently being addressed, principally through continued consultation between the Applicant and USFWS. Decision DOE has decided to issue Presidential permit DOE PP–398 to authorize the E:\FR\FM\22NON1.SGM 22NON1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 225 / Tuesday, November 22, 2016 / Notices Applicant to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a 500-kV transmission line across the U.S./ Canada border. The Presidential permit includes a condition requiring the implementation of the Applicantproposed avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures described in the Final EIS, Biological Opinion, and the Section 106 Programmatic Agreement, all of which are included as conditions to the MN PUC Route Permit. On April 11 2016, MN PUC issued a Route Permit to the Applicant for the proposed Blue Route, in combination with the Effie and Trout Lake Variations, as the designated route. The designated route is described as follows: The international border crossing at the U.S./Canadian border is located at latitude 49°00′00.00″ N and longitude 95°54′50.49″ W, which is approximately 2.9 miles east of Minnesota State Highway 89 in Roseau County. From the international border, the designated route proceeds south 2.5 miles to 390th Street, approximately 0.5 miles east of 320th Avenue. The designated route then travels due east 6.5 miles to State Highway 310 before heading eastsoutheast approximately 12 miles to a point 0.5 miles west of CSAH 13/510th Avenue. From there, the designated route turns east and travels 2.3 miles to join the existing Minnkota Power Cooperative 230-kV transmission line. The designated route parallels the existing Minnkota 230-kV transmission line southeast for 1.8 miles where it meets the existing Xcel 500-kV transmission line. Beginning at 0.1 mile north of U.S. Highway 11, where the existing transmission lines intersect, the designated route parallels the existing Xcel 500-kV transmission line generally south and east for approximately 36.2 miles. The designated route leaves the Xcel 500-kV transmission line approximately 1 mile south of the intersection of 19th Street SW and 65th Avenue SW in Lake of the Woods County. The designated route then proceeds east for 5.9 miles before turning northeast for 1.4 miles to rejoin the existing Minnkota Power 230kV transmission line just west of its intersection with Pitt Grade Road NW. The designated route then parallels this existing 230-kV transmission line in an easterly direction for 31 miles to a point 0.3 miles west of Township Road 118 in Koochiching County. The designated route then proceeds south-southeast for 8.3 miles to Sandsmark Trail, 0.3 miles north of CSAH 32. The designated route travels south for 1.8 miles and then continues southeast for 21.4 miles where it intersects State Highway 71, approximately 4.2 miles northeast of Big VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:52 Nov 21, 2016 Jkt 241001 Falls. The designated route continues an additional 9.6 miles to the southeast where it rejoins the existing Minnkota 230-kV transmission line and follows this existing transmission line south for 12.4 miles. At this point the existing Minnkota 230-kV and Xcel 500-kV transmission lines meet and begin running parallel to the east and then south. The designated route parallels these existing transmission lines east and then south for 39.9 miles to a point 0.7 miles west of State Highway 65, 0.1 miles north of the Prairie River. At this point the existing transmission lines turn southeast while the designated route turns south-southwest and continues for 7.8 miles to approximately 0.6 miles west of Fork Lake Road and Harrison Lake and approximately 0.6 miles northeast of Kennedy Lake. The designated route then runs westsouthwest for 2.1 miles before turning due south toward Grass Lake. The designated route travels south for approximately 5 miles where it crosses CSAH 56 and CSAH 8 before reaching a point just south of its crossing of CSAH 57, approximately 0.6 miles west of County Road 58. The designated route turns southwest again for 3.7 miles before turning south for 5.2 miles where it passes between Little Diamond Lake and Big Diamond Lake and meets U.S. Highway 169. From U.S. Highway 169, the designated route heads southsoutheast for 1.6 miles. At the Swan River, the designated route heads south for 4.2 miles where it meets and generally parallels an existing Minnesota Power 230-kV transmission line east for 1.2 miles to the proposed Iron Range Substation. The MN PUC Route Permit includes associated maps and conditions of the Route Permit. The MN PUC Route Permit is available on the MN PUC Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/ energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847), and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). Basis for Decision DOE determined that the Proposed Action is in the public interest. The decision by DOE to grant a Presidential permit is based on consideration of the potential environmental impacts, impacts on the reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system under normal and contingency conditions, and the favorable recommendations of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense provided, respectively, in July and August of 2015. DOE has determined that the proposed international electric transmission line would not have an PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 83829 adverse impact on the reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system. In reaching this determination, DOE considered the operation of the electrical grid with a specified maximum amount of electric power transmitted over the proposed transmission line. DOE reviewed the System Impact Study (MH-US TSR Sensitivity Analysis) conducted by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) on the new transmission for the MH-US south bound (summer) and US-MH north bound (winter) transmission service requests (TSRs) on the proposed 500-kV GNTL—Dorsey-Iron Range 500-kV transmission line, from the MinnesotaManitoba border to a new Iron Range 500-kV substation near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. In addition, DOE reviewed the GNTL Stability Analysis prepared by Siemens PTI, the Short Circuit Study prepared by Power Engineers, and the New Tie Line Loop Flow Impact study report submitted by Minnesota Power. These studies are available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http:// www.greatnortherneis.org). DOE also considered MISO’s interconnection standards and its restrictions on any requested transmission service to and from the proposed interconnection. Mitigation All practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the Proposed Action have been, or will be, adopted. Applicant-proposed measures to avoid and minimize adverse impacts are described in Section 2.13 (Table 2– 2) of the Final EIS, and the Applicant will be responsible for implementing these avoidance and minimization measures. Additional measures will be required through the permitting process and as a result of ongoing consultations. The Presidential permit is conditioned on the Applicant’s compliance with all commitments and requirements outlined in the BA, BO, PA, Final EIS, and MN PUC Route Permit. Issued in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2016. Meghan Conklin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Transmission Permitting and Technical Assistance, Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability. [FR Doc. 2016–28091 Filed 11–21–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P E:\FR\FM\22NON1.SGM 22NON1

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[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 225 (Tuesday, November 22, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 83825-83829]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-28091]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Record of Decision for Issuing a Presidential Permit to Minnesota 
Power

AGENCY: U.S. Department of Energy.

ACTION: Record of decision.

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[[Page 83826]]

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its decision to 
issue a Presidential permit to Minnesota Power, a regulated utility 
division of ALLETE, Inc. (Applicant), to construct, operate, maintain, 
and connect a new electric transmission line across the U.S./Canada 
border in northern Minnesota. The potential environmental impacts 
associated with the transmission line are analyzed in the Great 
Northern Transmission Line Project Final Environmental Impact Statement 
(DOE/EIS-0499). The transmission line would cross the U.S./Canada 
border in Roseau County, Minnesota and extend southeast approximately 
220 miles to the proposed Iron Range 500-kilovolt (kV) Substation, 
located just east of the existing Blackberry Substation near Grand 
Rapids, Minnesota.

ADDRESSES: The Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and 
this Record of Decision (ROD) are available on the DOE National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Web site at http://energy.gov/nepa and 
on the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL) Project EIS Web site at 
http://www.greatnortherneis.org/. The EIS Web site also includes a list 
of libraries in Minnesota where the Final EIS is available for review.
    Electronic copies of the Final EIS and this ROD may be requested by 
contacting Dr. Julie A. Smith, Office of Electricity Delivery and 
Energy Reliability (OE-20), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 
Independence Avenue SW., Washington DC 20585; by electronic mail to 
Juliea.Smith@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile to 202-318-7761.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on the GNTL 
Project EIS, contact Dr. Julie A. Smith at the addresses above, or at 
202-586-7668. For general information on DOE's NEPA process, contact 
Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-
54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20585; by email to askNEPA@hq.doe.gov; or by facsimile 
to 202-586-7031.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The EIS was jointly prepared by DOE and the 
Minnesota Department of Commerce--Energy Environmental Review and 
Analysis (DOC-EERA), acting as state co-lead, in order to avoid 
duplication and to comply with both federal and state environmental 
review requirements. The St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
Region 5, the Twin Cities Field Office (Region 3) of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, 
Minnesota were cooperating agencies in preparing the EIS for the GNTL 
Project.

Background

    Executive Order (EO) 10485 (September 9, 1953), as amended by EO 
12038 (February 7, 1978), requires that a Presidential permit be issued 
by DOE before electricity transmission facilities may be constructed, 
operated, maintained, or connected at the U.S. border. DOE may issue or 
amend a Presidential permit if it determines that the permit is in the 
public interest and after obtaining favorable recommendations from the 
U.S. Departments of State and Defense. In determining whether issuance 
of a Presidential permit for a proposed action is in the public 
interest, DOE considers the potential environmental impacts of the 
proposed project, the project's impact on electricity reliability by 
ascertaining whether the proposed project would adversely affect the 
operation of the U.S. electric power supply system under normal and 
contingency conditions, and any other factors that DOE considers 
relevant to the public interest.
    On April 15, 2014, Minnesota Power (the Applicant) applied to DOE 
for a Presidential permit to construct, operate, maintain, and connect 
an approximately 220-mile, 500-kV overhead, single circuit, alternating 
current (AC) electric power transmission system from the Canadian 
Province of Manitoba to the proposed Iron Range 500-kV Substation, 
located just east of the existing Blackberry Substation near Grand 
Rapids, Minnesota.
    On October 29, 2014, the Applicant submitted an amendment to its 
Presidential permit application, changing the location of the proposed 
international border crossing approximately 4.3 miles east to cross the 
U.S./Canada border in Roseau County, Minnesota at latitude 
49[deg]00'00.00'' N and longitude 95[deg]54'50.49'' W, which is 
approximately 2.9 miles east of Highway 89 in Roseau County.
    The GNTL Project would be located on a new 200-foot-wide right-of-
way (ROW) with a wider ROW required for certain spans at angle and 
corner structures, for guyed structures, or where special design 
requirements are dictated by topography. As part of the GNTL Project, 
the Applicant is also proposing to construct associated facilities 
including the proposed Iron Range 500-kV Substation, 500-kV Series 
Compensation Station, and three regeneration stations with permanent 
and temporary access roads.

Consultation

    Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), DOE has 
consulted with USFWS regarding potential impacts on federally-listed 
threatened or endangered species in the area of the GNTL Project. On 
October 29, 2015, DOE sent USFWS a letter requesting initiation of 
formal Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act and 
submitted a Biological Assessment (BA), prepared by DOE. On April 26, 
2016, USFWS issued a Biological Opinion (BO) indicating that the GNTL 
Project: ``may affect, and is likely to adversely affect the northern 
long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis); may affect, but not likely to 
adversely affect gray wolf (Canis lupus), gray wolf critical habitat, 
and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis);'' and would result in no effect to 
other federally listed species. The BO further found that the GNTL 
Project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
northern long-eared bat. The Presidential permit requires the Applicant 
to comply with all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental 
harm, as required by USFWS. The BA is included as Appendix R of the 
Final EIS, and the BO is available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site 
(http://www.greatnortherneis.org).
    DOE initiated consultation with the Minnesota State Historic 
Preservation Office (SHPO) under Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act regarding potential impacts on historic properties and 
determined the undertaking has the potential to adversely affect 
historic properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of 
Historic Places. On November 2, 2016, a programmatic agreement (PA) 
between DOE, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the Red 
Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota, and Minnesota SHPO was 
executed. The PA requires the Applicant to prepare a Cultural Resources 
Management Plan, which will meet the survey, data collection, and 
mitigation measures necessary, as identified by Minnesota SHPO. The PA 
is available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org).

NEPA Review

    On June 27, 2014, DOE issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) (79 FR 36493) 
to prepare an EIS for the GNTL Project and to conduct Public Scoping 
Meetings. The NOI also indicated that because the

[[Page 83827]]

GNTL Project would involve actions in floodplains and wetlands, the EIS 
would include a Floodplain and Wetland Assessment.
    On June 26, 2015, DOE published a Notice of Availability (NOA) of 
the Draft EIS (80 FR 36795) that began a 45-day public review period. 
DOE held nine public hearings on the Draft EIS and received more than 
200 comments. Concerns raised during the comment period were related to 
the following topics: The regulatory process/public involvement, 
purpose and need, project description/design, alternatives, human 
settlement, noise and vibration, air quality/greenhouse gases, 
socioeconomics, recreation and tourism, public health and safety, 
aesthetics, land use and ownership, cultural resources, wetlands and 
water quality, and biological resources. See Section 1.4.4.1 of the 
Final EIS for additional information regarding these comments. DOE 
considered all comments received on the Draft EIS in the preparation of 
the Final EIS. Comment letters and detailed responses are included in 
Appendix Y of the Final EIS. Throughout the EIS process, DOE worked 
with the cooperating agencies to ensure that potential impacts were 
appropriately addressed. EPA announced the availability of the Final 
EIS on November 6, 2015 (80 FR 68867).

Alternatives Considered

    In the EIS, DOE analyzed the No Action Alternative and the Proposed 
Action of granting a Presidential permit to authorize the Applicant to 
construct, operate, maintain, and connect a 500-kV transmission line 
across the U.S./Canada border. Under the No Action Alternative, DOE 
would not issue a Presidential permit for the proposed GNTL Project and 
the transmission line would not be built. Under the Proposed Action of 
granting the Presidential permit (the DOE Preferred Alternative), the 
transmission line would cross the U.S./Canada border in Roseau County, 
Minnesota at latitude 49[deg]00'00.00'' N and longitude 
95[deg]54'50.49'' W. During the public scoping process, commenters 
proposed five alternative international border crossings, four of which 
DOE determined should be included for detailed analysis in the EIS.
    DOE's Presidential permit decision is solely for the international 
border crossing; the proposed construction, operation, maintenance, and 
connection of the portion of the transmission line within the United 
States is a ``connected action'' to DOE's Proposed Action. See 40 Code 
of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1508.25(a)(1). In addition to the 
international border crossing alternatives, the EIS analyzed the 
potential environmental impact associated with the Applicant's proposed 
route, the Applicant's alternative routes, and 22 alternative route 
segments and nine alignment modifications that were proposed by 
agencies and the public during scoping.

Analysis of Potential Environmental Impacts

    The EIS analyzed potential environmental impacts associated with 
the alternatives for each of the following resource areas: Human 
settlement, public health and safety, land-based economies, 
archaeological and historic resources, natural environment, rare and 
unique natural resources, use of paralleling existing corridors, 
electrical system reliability, and cumulative impacts. The analysis of 
potential impacts of the alternatives is described in the Summary and 
Chapter 6 of the Final EIS. This analysis assumes the implementation of 
all Applicant-proposed measures to minimize adverse impacts (Table 2-2 
of the Final EIS).
    DOE prepared a Floodplain and Wetland Assessment and Floodplain 
Statement of Findings in accordance with DOE regulations, 10 CFR part 
1022 (Compliance with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review 
Requirements). The DOE Floodplain and Wetland Assessment, which 
contains the statement of findings, is available on the DOE NEPA Web 
site (http://energy.gove/nepa) and the GNTL Project Web site (http://greatnortherneis.org). The assessment considered potential impacts to 
floodplains and wetlands. DOE concluded that the proposed international 
border crossing is not located in a 100-year floodplain. The MN PUC-
approved Route Alternative for the electric power transmission line (a 
connected action to DOE's Presidential permit action) would cross 100-
year floodplains that are too large to span. This would require 
construction and placement of transmission structures (towers) within 
floodplains. No FEMA-designated 100-year floodplain has been identified 
in the locations proposed for associated facilities. Current design 
details and Applicant-proposed mitigation measures would minimize 
potential impacts to floodplains and wetlands to the extent 
practicable. Potential impacts to floodplain and wetland resources from 
the GNTL Project would not result in subsequent impacts to human lives 
and property. Therefore, DOE finds that potential impacts to 
floodplains will be avoided to the maximum extent practicable, that 
appropriate measures to minimize adverse effects on human health and 
safety and the functions and values provided by floodplains would be 
taken, and that the project would comply with applicable floodplain 
protection standards.
    Implementation of the No Action Alternative would not result in 
changes to existing conditions and is therefore, the environmentally 
preferable alternative.

Comments Received on the Final EIS

    Comment letters regarding the Final EIS were submitted to DOE by 
the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Environmental 
Policy and Compliance and EPA on December 3, 2015. Comments received on 
the Final EIS are available on the Minnesota Public Utilities (MN PUC) 
Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847) 
and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org).

DOI Comment Letter

    On December 3, 2015, DOI submitted a comment letter that indicated 
that the Final EIS did not adequately address impacts to USFWS Interest 
Lands or compensatory mitigation. At that time the MN PUC had not 
issued a Route Permit for the proposed GNTL Project and it was not 
clear if USFWS interest lands would be potentially impacted by the 
Project. The DOI comment letter further indicated that if impacts to 
USFWS Interest Lands occur, USFWS would consider compensatory 
mitigation mandatory before USFWS would grant a ROW permit. Because the 
designated route in the MN PUC-issued Route Permit crosses USFWS 
Interest land, a ROW permit from USFWS will be necessary. USFWS is 
conducting its own Environmental Assessment for that action using the 
Final EIS as a primary/major source of information to complete the 
USFWS analysis. However, DOE notes that the Applicant has adequately 
addressed the concerns articulated in the DOI comment letter related to 
impacts to USFWS Interest Lands and compensatory mitigation through the 
execution of a July 26, 2016, ``Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for 
Conservation Measures for the Great Northern Transmission Line 
Project.'' The MOU can be found on the GNTL Project EIS Web site 
(http://www.greatnortherneis.org).
    The December 3, 2015, DOI comment letter also indicated an 
appreciation that the Final EIS added a commitment that the Applicant 
would continue working with USFWS to determine which measures are 
appropriate for addressing potential impacts to migratory bird

[[Page 83828]]

species from the GNTL Project and that any avoidance, minimization, and 
conservation measures imposed by USFWS would be addressed in the ROD or 
Presidential permit. DOI reiterated in the comment letter that pursuant 
to EO 13186 and the ESA, USFWS considers all three elements (avoiding, 
minimizing, and restoring/enhancing) necessary to adequately mitigate 
for impacts to listed species and migratory bird habitat. Following the 
publication of the Final EIS in November 2015, the Applicant and USFWS 
engaged in discussion for both mandatory and negotiable mitigation 
opportunities. Compensatory mitigation agreements between the Applicant 
and USFWS have been developed as a part of the July 26, 2016, MOU 
discussed above. DOE conditioned its Presidential permit to require the 
Applicant to comply with all practicable means to avoid or minimize 
environmental harm as required by USFWS.

EPA Comment Letter

    The December 3, 2015, EPA comment letter expressed an appreciation 
that the Final EIS incorporated additional information, analysis, 
clarification, and/or discussion regarding cultural resources, tribal 
consultation, and inclusion of a National Historic Preservation Act 
Section 106 draft PA. DOE notes that consultation under Section 106 of 
the National Historic Preservation Act has been completed and a PA 
between DOE, the ACHP, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota, 
and Minnesota SHPO was executed on November 2, 2016. The PA is 
available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). The EPA comment letter also expressed an 
appreciation that the Final EIS incorporated estimates of construction 
emissions of criteria pollutants, CO2, and greenhouse gases 
(this information is provided in Appendix W of the Final EIS).
    The December 3, 2015, EPA comment letter indicated that the Final 
EIS did not identify the Applicant's proposed locations for access 
roads, laydown areas, stringing areas, fly-in sites, and potential pole 
locations along with their potential resources impacts. DOE notes that 
these detailed project components are not determined at this point in 
the development of the GNTL Project, and that the Final EIS discloses 
the potential nature of the (mostly temporary) impacts to resources 
such as wetlands and forests that may be expected from the construction 
and use of such locations. Further, the BO indicates a commitment that 
the Applicant will work with USFWS to avoid, minimize, and mitigate 
potential impacts from the proposed GNTL Project once the necessary 
details are known. The DOE Presidential permit conditions require the 
implementation of all avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures 
identified, not only in the Final EIS, but also in the Biological 
Opinion. The EPA comment letter also acknowledges the right of EPA to 
further review and comment on the GNTL Project during the USACE Clean 
Water Act Section 404 permitting process.
    The December 3, 2015, EPA comment letter raised concerns regarding 
resource impacts and suggested the ROD include additional information 
to help ensure that adequate safeguards and mitigation measures are in 
place to fully protect the environment. The following is a summary of 
EPA recommendations from the agency's December 3, 2015, comment letter:
     The ROD should include the MN PUC Route Permit for the 
GNTL Project. DOE notes that the MN PUC Route Permit is available on 
the MN PUC Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847), and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org).
     The ROD should identify the plans, mitigation measures, 
and state and federal agencies' requirements that the MN PUC Route 
Permit requires the Applicant to develop and undertake, such as an 
Avian Mitigation Plan, Vegetation Management Plan (including control of 
invasive/noxious plant species), Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, and 
Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. DOE notes that development of 
these plans generally occurs during the permitting process and is not 
part of a Final EIS. The MN PUC Route Permit for the GNTL Project 
identifies permit conditions, including the development of the various 
plans referenced by the EPA. The MN PUC Route Permit also identifies 
the appropriate agencies the Applicant will need to coordinate with to 
satisfy these permit conditions. The MN PUC Route Permit is available 
on the MN PUC Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847), and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org).
     The ROD should disclose why a particular plan and/or 
mitigation measure identified in the Final EIS is not a MN PUC Route 
Permit requirement. DOE notes that the MN PUC Route Permit requires 
adherence to mitigation measures in the Final EIS.
     A third party independent environmental inspector, such as 
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR), should be 
utilized. The ROD should disclose whether or not an inspector will be 
used and if this is a requirement in the MN PUC Route Permit. DOE notes 
that the MN PUC Route Permit conditions indicate that the Applicant 
shall provide a dedicated independent environmental inspector to 
oversee the construction process and to monitor compliance with the 
Avian Mitigation Plan, Vegetation Management Plan, and requirements of 
the Construction Environmental Control Plan and all other environmental 
permits.
     The Applicant should pursue opportunities for emission 
reduction strategies during construction. The ROD should identify 
additional air quality measures that the Applicant proposed to utilize 
and/or MN PUC intends to include as conditions/requirements in the 
Route Permit. DOE notes that employment of additional emission 
reduction strategies during construction of the GNTL Project will be 
dependent on the Applicant to implement, as the GNTL Project is not 
expected to result in long-term adverse criteria pollutant or climate 
change and greenhouse gas emissions. Information on construction 
emissions of criteria pollutants, CO2, and greenhouse gases 
is provided in Appendix W of the Final EIS.
     The Applicant should undertake voluntary forest 
compensation for forest impacts that do not require compensation under 
existing federal and/or state regulations. The ROD should identify 
whether or not the Applicant will conduct voluntary forest compensation 
and the amount, location, and timing, if applicable. DOE notes that 
compensatory mitigation agreements between the Applicant and USFWS have 
been developed, as referenced in the February 12, 2016, DOI letter.
     The ROD should include the executed Section 106 PA and/or 
provide a direct link to the document. DOE notes that consultation 
under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is 
summarized under ``Consultation'' in this ROD. The PA is available on 
the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org).
    DOE ascertains that all issues or concerns identified in the 
December 3, 2015, EPA and DOI comment letters, which are summarized 
above, have been addressed or are currently being addressed, 
principally through continued consultation between the Applicant and 
USFWS.

Decision

    DOE has decided to issue Presidential permit DOE PP-398 to 
authorize the

[[Page 83829]]

Applicant to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a 500-kV 
transmission line across the U.S./Canada border. The Presidential 
permit includes a condition requiring the implementation of the 
Applicant-proposed avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures 
described in the Final EIS, Biological Opinion, and the Section 106 
Programmatic Agreement, all of which are included as conditions to the 
MN PUC Route Permit.
    On April 11 2016, MN PUC issued a Route Permit to the Applicant for 
the proposed Blue Route, in combination with the Effie and Trout Lake 
Variations, as the designated route. The designated route is described 
as follows:
    The international border crossing at the U.S./Canadian border is 
located at latitude 49[deg]00'00.00'' N and longitude 95[deg]54'50.49'' 
W, which is approximately 2.9 miles east of Minnesota State Highway 89 
in Roseau County. From the international border, the designated route 
proceeds south 2.5 miles to 390th Street, approximately 0.5 miles east 
of 320th Avenue. The designated route then travels due east 6.5 miles 
to State Highway 310 before heading east-southeast approximately 12 
miles to a point 0.5 miles west of CSAH 13/510th Avenue. From there, 
the designated route turns east and travels 2.3 miles to join the 
existing Minnkota Power Cooperative 230-kV transmission line. The 
designated route parallels the existing Minnkota 230-kV transmission 
line southeast for 1.8 miles where it meets the existing Xcel 500-kV 
transmission line. Beginning at 0.1 mile north of U.S. Highway 11, 
where the existing transmission lines intersect, the designated route 
parallels the existing Xcel 500-kV transmission line generally south 
and east for approximately 36.2 miles.
    The designated route leaves the Xcel 500-kV transmission line 
approximately 1 mile south of the intersection of 19th Street SW and 
65th Avenue SW in Lake of the Woods County. The designated route then 
proceeds east for 5.9 miles before turning northeast for 1.4 miles to 
rejoin the existing Minnkota Power 230-kV transmission line just west 
of its intersection with Pitt Grade Road NW. The designated route then 
parallels this existing 230-kV transmission line in an easterly 
direction for 31 miles to a point 0.3 miles west of Township Road 118 
in Koochiching County. The designated route then proceeds south-
southeast for 8.3 miles to Sandsmark Trail, 0.3 miles north of CSAH 32. 
The designated route travels south for 1.8 miles and then continues 
southeast for 21.4 miles where it intersects State Highway 71, 
approximately 4.2 miles northeast of Big Falls. The designated route 
continues an additional 9.6 miles to the southeast where it rejoins the 
existing Minnkota 230-kV transmission line and follows this existing 
transmission line south for 12.4 miles.
    At this point the existing Minnkota 230-kV and Xcel 500-kV 
transmission lines meet and begin running parallel to the east and then 
south. The designated route parallels these existing transmission lines 
east and then south for 39.9 miles to a point 0.7 miles west of State 
Highway 65, 0.1 miles north of the Prairie River. At this point the 
existing transmission lines turn southeast while the designated route 
turns south-southwest and continues for 7.8 miles to approximately 0.6 
miles west of Fork Lake Road and Harrison Lake and approximately 0.6 
miles northeast of Kennedy Lake. The designated route then runs west-
southwest for 2.1 miles before turning due south toward Grass Lake. The 
designated route travels south for approximately 5 miles where it 
crosses CSAH 56 and CSAH 8 before reaching a point just south of its 
crossing of CSAH 57, approximately 0.6 miles west of County Road 58. 
The designated route turns southwest again for 3.7 miles before turning 
south for 5.2 miles where it passes between Little Diamond Lake and Big 
Diamond Lake and meets U.S. Highway 169. From U.S. Highway 169, the 
designated route heads south-southeast for 1.6 miles. At the Swan 
River, the designated route heads south for 4.2 miles where it meets 
and generally parallels an existing Minnesota Power 230-kV transmission 
line east for 1.2 miles to the proposed Iron Range Substation.
    The MN PUC Route Permit includes associated maps and conditions of 
the Route Permit. The MN PUC Route Permit is available on the MN PUC 
Web site (http://mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/Docket.html?Id=33847), and the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org).

Basis for Decision

    DOE determined that the Proposed Action is in the public interest. 
The decision by DOE to grant a Presidential permit is based on 
consideration of the potential environmental impacts, impacts on the 
reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system under normal and 
contingency conditions, and the favorable recommendations of the U.S. 
Departments of State and Defense provided, respectively, in July and 
August of 2015.
    DOE has determined that the proposed international electric 
transmission line would not have an adverse impact on the reliability 
of the U.S. electric power supply system. In reaching this 
determination, DOE considered the operation of the electrical grid with 
a specified maximum amount of electric power transmitted over the 
proposed transmission line. DOE reviewed the System Impact Study (MH-US 
TSR Sensitivity Analysis) conducted by the Midcontinent Independent 
System Operator (MISO) on the new transmission for the MH-US south 
bound (summer) and US-MH north bound (winter) transmission service 
requests (TSRs) on the proposed 500-kV GNTL--Dorsey-Iron Range 500-kV 
transmission line, from the Minnesota-Manitoba border to a new Iron 
Range 500-kV substation near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. In addition, DOE 
reviewed the GNTL Stability Analysis prepared by Siemens PTI, the Short 
Circuit Study prepared by Power Engineers, and the New Tie Line Loop 
Flow Impact study report submitted by Minnesota Power. These studies 
are available on the GNTL Project EIS Web site (http://www.greatnortherneis.org). DOE also considered MISO's interconnection 
standards and its restrictions on any requested transmission service to 
and from the proposed interconnection.

Mitigation

    All practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from 
the Proposed Action have been, or will be, adopted. Applicant-proposed 
measures to avoid and minimize adverse impacts are described in Section 
2.13 (Table 2-2) of the Final EIS, and the Applicant will be 
responsible for implementing these avoidance and minimization measures. 
Additional measures will be required through the permitting process and 
as a result of ongoing consultations. The Presidential permit is 
conditioned on the Applicant's compliance with all commitments and 
requirements outlined in the BA, BO, PA, Final EIS, and MN PUC Route 
Permit.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2016.
Meghan Conklin,
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Transmission Permitting and Technical 
Assistance, Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability.
[FR Doc. 2016-28091 Filed 11-21-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6450-01-P