Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kV Transmission Line Project, 8554-8556 [2020-02946]

Download as PDF 8554 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 31 / Friday, February 14, 2020 / Notices Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES All applicants, in accordance with 2 CFR part 25, must have a DUNS number, which can be obtained at no cost via a toll-free request line at (866) 705–5711, or online at: http:// fedgov.dnb.com/webform. Similarly, all applicants must be registered in SAM prior to submitting an application. Applicants may register for the SAM at: http://www.sam.gov/SAM. All recipients of Federal financial assistance are required to report information about first-tier sub-awards and executive total compensation in accordance with 2 CFR part 170. (2) Fax: (202) 690–7442; or (3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. Mark Brodziski, Acting Administrator, Rural BusinessCooperative Service. [FR Doc. 2020–02949 Filed 2–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–XY–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kV Transmission Line Project Nondiscrimination Statement AGENCY: In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/ parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD 3027, found online at: http:// www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_ cust.html and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632–9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250–9410; ACTION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:56 Feb 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 Rural Utilities Service, USDA. Notice of availability of a Record of Decision. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have issued a single Record of Decision (ROD) to approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kilovolt (kV) Transmission Line Project (C–HC Project). The C–HC Project will connect the Cardinal Substation in Dane County, Wisconsin with the Hickory Creek Substation in Dubuque County, Iowa. The C–HC Project also includes a new intermediate 345-/138-kV substation near the village of Montfort in Grant County, Wisconsin. The total length of the 345-kV transmission lines associated with the proposed project will be approximately 100 miles. ADDRESSES: To obtain copies of the ROD or for further information, contact: Dennis Rankin, Environmental Protection Specialist, USDA, Rural Utilities Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 2244, Stop 1571, Washington, DC 20250–1571, by telephone at (202) 720–1414, or email Dennis.Rankin@usda.gov. The ROD and Final Environmental Impact Statement are available online at https:// www.rd.usda.gov/publications/ environmental-studies/impactstatements/cardinal-%E2%80%93hickory-creek-transmission-line. For information about the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, contact: Tim Yager, Deputy Refuge Manager, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, 51 E 4th Street, Winona, MN 55987, by telephone at (507) 494– 6219, or email at timothy_yager@ fws.gov. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 RUS, the lead Federal agency, has approved the C–HC Project to proceed to the RUS loan review and engineering review processes for Dairyland Power Cooperative’s (Dairyland’s) share in the construction of the C–HC Project. The USFWS has received an application package from ITC Midwest LLC (ITC Midwest) and Dairyland for a right-ofway (ROW) permit to cross the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge). The USFWS is obligated to review the right-of-way application package, complete an associated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, identify a preferred alternative, and decide whether or not to issue a right-of-way permit. Before a right-of-way permit can be issued, the USFWS must determine that the proposed use (a transmission line across the Refuge) is compatible with the purpose for which the Refuge was established. The USFWS has found the proposed transmission line ROW across the Refuge as presented in Alternative 6 and described in the rightof-way application from ITC Midwest and Dairyland to be compatible. As a cooperating agency, the USFWS agrees that the NEPA process is complete and the FEIS adequately describes impacts to the human environment. The FEIS will be used to inform USFWS decision makers on the impacts of allowing a transmission line ROW across the Refuge. The USACE will approve the ROW request and will issue permit applications required by Section 10 and Section 408 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The ROD has been signed by the Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, Regional Director for the USFWS in Unified Region 3, and Colonel Steven M. Sattinger, Commander and District Engineer for USACE, which was effective upon signing on January 17, 2020. The RUS is the lead agency for the Federal environmental review, with USFWS, USACE, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) serving as cooperating agencies, and the National Park Service (NPS) as a participating agency. The FEIS was prepared pursuant to NEPA (United States Code [U.S.C.] 4231 et seq.) and in accordance with Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1500–1508), RUS Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR 1970), USFWS Environmental Policies and Procedures (43 CFR 46.10– 46.50 and 560 DM 8), and the USACE’s SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\14FEN1.SGM 14FEN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 31 / Friday, February 14, 2020 / Notices NEPA implementing procedures (33 CFR 230.9). As the lead Federal agency, and as part of its broad environmental review process, RUS must take into account the effect of the C–HC Project on historic properties in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f) and its implementing regulation ‘‘Protection of Historic Properties’’ (36 CFR 800). Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3), RUS used its procedures for public involvement under NEPA, in part, to meet its responsibilities to solicit and consider the views of the public and other interested parties during the Section 106 review process. Accordingly, comments submitted in the EIS process also informed RUS’s decision making in the Section 106 review process. Dairyland is participating in the proposed project with two other utilities: American Transmission Company LLC and ITC Midwest (altogether referred to as ‘‘the Utilities’’). The purpose of the proposed project is to: (1) Address reliability issues on the regional bulk transmission system, (2) alleviate congestion that occurs in certain parts of the transmission system and remove constraints that limit the delivery of power, (3) expand the access of the transmission system to additional resources, (4) increase the transfer capability of the electrical system between Iowa and Wisconsin, (5) reduce the losses in transferring power and increase the efficiency of the transmission system, and (6) respond to public policy objectives aimed at enhancing the nation’s transmission system and to support the changing generation mix. The C–HC Project includes the construction and operation of the 345kV transmission line and its associated infrastructure, including the following facilities: • At the existing Cardinal Substation in Dane County, Wisconsin: A new 345kV terminal within the substation; • At the proposed Hill Valley Substation near the village of Montfort, Wisconsin: An approximately 22-acre facility with five 345-kV circuit breakers, one 345-kV shunt reactor, one 345-/138-kV autotransformer, and three 138-kV circuit breakers; • At the existing Eden Substation near the village of Montfort, Wisconsin: Transmission line protective relaying upgrades to be compatible with the new protective relays installed at the new Hill Valley Substation and replacement of conductors and switches to meet the Utilities’ operating limits; • Between the existing Eden Substation and the proposed Hill Valley VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:56 Feb 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 Substation near the village of Montfort, Wisconsin: A rebuild of approximately 1 mile of the Hill Valley to Eden 138kV transmission line; • At the existing Wyoming Valley Substation near Wyoming, Wisconsin: Installation of nine 16-foot ground rods to mitigate potential fault current contributions from the proposed project; • Between the existing Cardinal Substation and the proposed Hill Valley Substation: A new 53-mile 345-kV transmission line; • Between the proposed Hill Valley Substation and existing Hickory Creek Substation: A new 49-mile 345-kV transmission line; • At the Mississippi River in Cassville, Wisconsin: A relocation of the existing Mississippi River transmission line crossing to accommodate the new 345-kV transmission line and Dairyland’s 161-kV transmission line, which would be capable of operating at 345-/345-kV but would initially be operated at 345-/161-kV; • a new 161-kV terminal and transmission line protective relaying upgrades within the existing Nelson Dewey Substation in Cassville, Wisconsin; • replacement or reinforcement of an existing transmission line structure within the Stoneman Substation in Cassville, Wisconsin; • Multiple, partial, or complete rebuilds of existing 69-kV, 138-kV, and 161-kV transmission lines in Wisconsin that would be collocated with the new 345-kV line; • At the existing Turkey River Substation in Clayton County, Iowa: One new 161-/69-kV transformer, three new 161-kV circuit breakers, and four new 69-kV circuit breakers; and • At the existing Hickory Creek Substation in Dubuque County, Iowa: A new 345-kV terminal within the existing Hickory Creek Substation. The decisions documented in the ROD are as follows: • The RUS agrees to consider, subject to loan approval, financing Dairyland’s share in the proposal. Details regarding RUS’s regulatory authority, rationale for the decision, and compliance with applicable regulations are included in the ROD. • The USFWS has determined that the NEPA review is complete and the FEIS adequately evaluates and describes impacts on the human environment. The USFWS agrees that the preferred alternative most effectively avoids, minimizes, and mitigates impacts to the Refuge. The USFWS also agrees that consultation under the Endangered Species Act is complete with the issuance of the biological opinion. The PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 8555 USFWS has found the transmission line route which crosses the Refuge as described in the preferred alternative to be compatible. The USFWS will continue to review a right-of-way permit application from ITC Midwest and Dairyland and will make a decision on granting a right-of-way permit within 270 days of signature of the ROD. Subsequent special use permits authorizing construction of the transmission line would be evaluated and issued after the right-of-way permit is granted. • The USACE will issue a permit for the C–HC Project under Sections 10 and 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, for the crossing of the Mississippi River at the selected alternative. The USACE will also issue permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, for activities that discharge fill into waters of the U.S., including wetlands. The USACE will also grant a ROW authorization to issue an easement across USACE-managed/ owned lands for the selected alternative. RUS published its Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Draft EIS (DEIS) in the Federal Register, 83 FR 235 (December 7, 2018), and in newspapers of general circulation within the proposed project’s area of environmental impact. The USEPA published its notice of receipt of the DEIS in the Federal Register 83 FR 235 (December 7, 2018). The comment period for the DEIS was extended from February 5, 2019, to April 1, 2019, due to a partial lapse in Federal government funding. Public meetings to receive comments on the DEIS were held from March 13 to 20, 2018, in Dodgeville, Barneveld, Cassville, and Middleton, Wisconsin, and Guttenberg and Peosta, Iowa. All comments received on the DEIS were addressed in the FEIS. The RUS published its NOA of the FEIS in the Federal Register 84 FR 205 (October 23, 2019) and in newspapers of general circulation within the proposed project’s area of environmental impact. The USEPA published its notice receipt of the FEIS in the Federal Register 84 FR 2017 (October 25, 2019). The 30-day comment period ended on November 25, 2019. Comments received on the FEIS were addressed in the ROD. The FEIS considered six action alternatives to meet the project need. These alternatives were evaluated in terms of ability to meet the purpose and need, technical feasibility, and environmental impacts (e.g., geology and soils; vegetation, including wetlands and special status plants; wildlife, including special status species; water resources and quality; air quality and climate change; noise; E:\FR\FM\14FEN1.SGM 14FEN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 8556 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 31 / Friday, February 14, 2020 / Notices transportation; cultural and historic resources; land use, including agriculture and recreation; visual quality and aesthetics; socioeconomics and environmental justice; public health and safety; Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge; and cumulative effects). The RUS selected Alternative 6. See ROD Section 2.6.1 ‘‘Selected Alternative and Agency Rationale’’ for the rationale for selecting Alternative 6. The resources or environmental impacts that could be affected by the C–HC Project selected alternative are summarized in the ROD Section 2.7 ‘‘Summary of Environmental Consequences.’’ Based on an evaluation of the information and impact analyses presented in the FEIS, including the evaluation of all alternatives, and in consideration of RUS’s NEPA implementing regulations, Environmental Policies and Procedures, as amended (7 CFR part 1970), RUS finds the evaluation of reasonable alternatives is consistent with NEPA. Because the proposed project may involve action in floodplains or wetlands, this NOA also serves as a final notice of action in floodplains and wetlands (in accordance with Executive Orders 11988 and 11990). The ROD is not a decision on Dairyland’s loan application and therefore not an approval of the expenditure of Federal funds. This notice of the ROD concludes RUS’s environmental review process in accordance with NEPA and RUS’s Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR 1970). The ultimate decision as to loan approval depends upon the conclusion of this environmental review process plus financial and engineering analyses. Issuance of the ROD will allow these reviews to proceed. The ROD is not a decision on the ROW permit application the USFWS has received from Dairyland and ITC Midwest, and therefore not an approval for crossing the Refuge. This notice concludes USFWS’s environmental review process in accordance with NEPA and USFWS Environmental Policies and Procedures (43 CFR 46.10– 46.450 and 516 DM 8). Processing, review, and further evaluation of the ROW permit application received from Dairyland Power and ITC can proceed with issuance of the ROD. Chad Rupe, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service. [FR Doc. 2020–02946 Filed 2–13–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:56 Feb 13, 2020 Jkt 250001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; 2021 Government Units Survey U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on a proposed reinstatement of the Government Units Survey, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. SUMMARY: To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before April 14, 2020. ADDRESSES: Direct all written comments to Thomas Smith, PRA Liaison, U.S. Census Bureau, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Room 7K250A, Washington, DC 20233 (or via the internet at PRAcomments@ doc.gov). You may also submit comments, identified by Docket Number USBC–2020–0002, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. All comments received are part of the public record. No comments will be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov for public viewing until after the comment period has closed. Comments will generally be posted without change. All Personally Identifiable Information (for example, name and address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Joy P. Pierson by phone at 301–763–7196 or by email at Joy.P.Pierson@census.gov and Amber Hennessy at Amber.L.Hennessy@ census.gov. DATES: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract Title 13, Section 161 of the United States Code requires the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a Census of Governments every five years, in years ending in ‘‘2’’ and ‘‘7’’. Section 193 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 provides for the collection of preliminary and supplementary statistics as related to the main topic of the census. The Census of Governments publishes unit counts and legal descriptions as well as employment and finance data for all county, municipal, township, school district, and special district governments in the United States. Prior to conducting the Census of Governments, it is necessary to ensure that the universe of all governments is as accurate and up to date as possible. The Government Units Survey (GUS) is conducted the year prior to the full Census of Governments collection operation and is used to evaluate and update the universe of all local and special district governments. Public sector surveys draw their sampling frames from this universe. The 2021 GUS will target townships, special districts, independent school districts, and educational service authorities (ESA). The GUS is particularly beneficial for identifying smaller units that have not been included in surveys in-between census years and identifying changes to the universe of special district governments that experience substantial change in a five-year period. The GUS contributes to the quality and timely releases of the other components of the Census of Governments. The 2021 GUS consists of yes/no type questions and checkbox selection questions designed to determine whether a government unit is in operation and verify contact information. Other questions collect information about a unit’s function, legal organization, and other characteristics. The 2021 GUS estimated time to respond is 15 minutes which is the same as the 2016 GUS. The 2021 GUS is designed to diminish unnecessary burden, and to collect information essential for maintaining the government universe. The scope for 2021 GUS collections is scaled back in comparison to the 2016 GUS collection operation. For greater efficiency, the 2021 GUS intends to collect information only from government units for which this information is difficult to obtain via other methods, such as internet research. There are a number of governments, particularly special district governments, for which information has not been collected since the 2017 Census of Governments. It is necessary to determine if these governments still exist. The GUS obtains information that can be difficult to verify conclusively through regular internet research, as many states do not provide this information for free via E:\FR\FM\14FEN1.SGM 14FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 31 (Friday, February 14, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8554-8556]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-02946]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service


Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kV Transmission Line Project

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a Record of Decision.

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

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities 
Service (RUS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (USACE) have issued a single Record of Decision 
(ROD) to approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for 
the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kilovolt (kV) Transmission Line 
Project (C-HC Project). The C-HC Project will connect the Cardinal 
Substation in Dane County, Wisconsin with the Hickory Creek Substation 
in Dubuque County, Iowa. The C-HC Project also includes a new 
intermediate 345-/138-kV substation near the village of Montfort in 
Grant County, Wisconsin. The total length of the 345-kV transmission 
lines associated with the proposed project will be approximately 100 
miles.

ADDRESSES: To obtain copies of the ROD or for further information, 
contact: Dennis Rankin, Environmental Protection Specialist, USDA, 
Rural Utilities Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 2244, Stop 
1571, Washington, DC 20250-1571, by telephone at (202) 720-1414, or 
email [email protected]. The ROD and Final Environmental Impact 
Statement are available online at https://www.rd.usda.gov/publications/environmental-studies/impact-statements/cardinal-%E2%80%93-hickory-creek-transmission-line.
    For information about the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife 
and Fish Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, contact: Tim 
Yager, Deputy Refuge Manager, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife 
and Fish Refuge, 51 E 4th Street, Winona, MN 55987, by telephone at 
(507) 494-6219, or email at [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: RUS, the lead Federal agency, has approved 
the C-HC Project to proceed to the RUS loan review and engineering 
review processes for Dairyland Power Cooperative's (Dairyland's) share 
in the construction of the C-HC Project. The USFWS has received an 
application package from ITC Midwest LLC (ITC Midwest) and Dairyland 
for a right-of-way (ROW) permit to cross the Upper Mississippi River 
National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge). The USFWS is obligated to 
review the right-of-way application package, complete an associated 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, identify a preferred 
alternative, and decide whether or not to issue a right-of-way permit. 
Before a right-of-way permit can be issued, the USFWS must determine 
that the proposed use (a transmission line across the Refuge) is 
compatible with the purpose for which the Refuge was established. The 
USFWS has found the proposed transmission line ROW across the Refuge as 
presented in Alternative 6 and described in the right-of-way 
application from ITC Midwest and Dairyland to be compatible. As a 
cooperating agency, the USFWS agrees that the NEPA process is complete 
and the FEIS adequately describes impacts to the human environment. The 
FEIS will be used to inform USFWS decision makers on the impacts of 
allowing a transmission line ROW across the Refuge. The USACE will 
approve the ROW request and will issue permit applications required by 
Section 10 and Section 408 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 
404 of the Clean Water Act.
    The ROD has been signed by the Administrator for the Rural 
Utilities Service, Regional Director for the USFWS in Unified Region 3, 
and Colonel Steven M. Sattinger, Commander and District Engineer for 
USACE, which was effective upon signing on January 17, 2020.
    The RUS is the lead agency for the Federal environmental review, 
with USFWS, USACE, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 
serving as cooperating agencies, and the National Park Service (NPS) as 
a participating agency. The FEIS was prepared pursuant to NEPA (United 
States Code [U.S.C.] 4231 et seq.) and in accordance with Council on 
Environmental Quality regulations for implementing the procedural 
provisions of NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1500-1508), 
RUS Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR 1970), USFWS 
Environmental Policies and Procedures (43 CFR 46.10-46.50 and 560 DM 
8), and the USACE's

[[Page 8555]]

NEPA implementing procedures (33 CFR 230.9). As the lead Federal 
agency, and as part of its broad environmental review process, RUS must 
take into account the effect of the C-HC Project on historic properties 
in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation 
Act (16 U.S.C. 470f) and its implementing regulation ``Protection of 
Historic Properties'' (36 CFR 800). Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3), RUS 
used its procedures for public involvement under NEPA, in part, to meet 
its responsibilities to solicit and consider the views of the public 
and other interested parties during the Section 106 review process. 
Accordingly, comments submitted in the EIS process also informed RUS's 
decision making in the Section 106 review process. Dairyland is 
participating in the proposed project with two other utilities: 
American Transmission Company LLC and ITC Midwest (altogether referred 
to as ``the Utilities''). The purpose of the proposed project is to: 
(1) Address reliability issues on the regional bulk transmission 
system, (2) alleviate congestion that occurs in certain parts of the 
transmission system and remove constraints that limit the delivery of 
power, (3) expand the access of the transmission system to additional 
resources, (4) increase the transfer capability of the electrical 
system between Iowa and Wisconsin, (5) reduce the losses in 
transferring power and increase the efficiency of the transmission 
system, and (6) respond to public policy objectives aimed at enhancing 
the nation's transmission system and to support the changing generation 
mix.
    The C-HC Project includes the construction and operation of the 
345-kV transmission line and its associated infrastructure, including 
the following facilities:
     At the existing Cardinal Substation in Dane County, 
Wisconsin: A new 345-kV terminal within the substation;
     At the proposed Hill Valley Substation near the village of 
Montfort, Wisconsin: An approximately 22-acre facility with five 345-kV 
circuit breakers, one 345-kV shunt reactor, one 345-/138-kV 
autotransformer, and three 138-kV circuit breakers;
     At the existing Eden Substation near the village of 
Montfort, Wisconsin: Transmission line protective relaying upgrades to 
be compatible with the new protective relays installed at the new Hill 
Valley Substation and replacement of conductors and switches to meet 
the Utilities' operating limits;
     Between the existing Eden Substation and the proposed Hill 
Valley Substation near the village of Montfort, Wisconsin: A rebuild of 
approximately 1 mile of the Hill Valley to Eden 138-kV transmission 
line;
     At the existing Wyoming Valley Substation near Wyoming, 
Wisconsin: Installation of nine 16-foot ground rods to mitigate 
potential fault current contributions from the proposed project;
     Between the existing Cardinal Substation and the proposed 
Hill Valley Substation: A new 53-mile 345-kV transmission line;
     Between the proposed Hill Valley Substation and existing 
Hickory Creek Substation: A new 49-mile 345-kV transmission line;
     At the Mississippi River in Cassville, Wisconsin: A 
relocation of the existing Mississippi River transmission line crossing 
to accommodate the new 345-kV transmission line and Dairyland's 161-kV 
transmission line, which would be capable of operating at 345-/345-kV 
but would initially be operated at 345-/161-kV;
     a new 161-kV terminal and transmission line protective 
relaying upgrades within the existing Nelson Dewey Substation in 
Cassville, Wisconsin;
     replacement or reinforcement of an existing transmission 
line structure within the Stoneman Substation in Cassville, Wisconsin;
     Multiple, partial, or complete rebuilds of existing 69-kV, 
138-kV, and 161-kV transmission lines in Wisconsin that would be 
collocated with the new 345-kV line;
     At the existing Turkey River Substation in Clayton County, 
Iowa: One new 161-/69-kV transformer, three new 161-kV circuit 
breakers, and four new 69-kV circuit breakers; and
     At the existing Hickory Creek Substation in Dubuque 
County, Iowa: A new 345-kV terminal within the existing Hickory Creek 
Substation.
    The decisions documented in the ROD are as follows:
     The RUS agrees to consider, subject to loan approval, 
financing Dairyland's share in the proposal. Details regarding RUS's 
regulatory authority, rationale for the decision, and compliance with 
applicable regulations are included in the ROD.
     The USFWS has determined that the NEPA review is complete 
and the FEIS adequately evaluates and describes impacts on the human 
environment. The USFWS agrees that the preferred alternative most 
effectively avoids, minimizes, and mitigates impacts to the Refuge. The 
USFWS also agrees that consultation under the Endangered Species Act is 
complete with the issuance of the biological opinion. The USFWS has 
found the transmission line route which crosses the Refuge as described 
in the preferred alternative to be compatible. The USFWS will continue 
to review a right-of-way permit application from ITC Midwest and 
Dairyland and will make a decision on granting a right-of-way permit 
within 270 days of signature of the ROD. Subsequent special use permits 
authorizing construction of the transmission line would be evaluated 
and issued after the right-of-way permit is granted.
     The USACE will issue a permit for the C-HC Project under 
Sections 10 and 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, for the crossing of 
the Mississippi River at the selected alternative. The USACE will also 
issue permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, for activities 
that discharge fill into waters of the U.S., including wetlands. The 
USACE will also grant a ROW authorization to issue an easement across 
USACE-managed/owned lands for the selected alternative.
    RUS published its Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Draft EIS 
(DEIS) in the Federal Register, 83 FR 235 (December 7, 2018), and in 
newspapers of general circulation within the proposed project's area of 
environmental impact. The USEPA published its notice of receipt of the 
DEIS in the Federal Register 83 FR 235 (December 7, 2018). The comment 
period for the DEIS was extended from February 5, 2019, to April 1, 
2019, due to a partial lapse in Federal government funding.
    Public meetings to receive comments on the DEIS were held from 
March 13 to 20, 2018, in Dodgeville, Barneveld, Cassville, and 
Middleton, Wisconsin, and Guttenberg and Peosta, Iowa. All comments 
received on the DEIS were addressed in the FEIS. The RUS published its 
NOA of the FEIS in the Federal Register 84 FR 205 (October 23, 2019) 
and in newspapers of general circulation within the proposed project's 
area of environmental impact. The USEPA published its notice receipt of 
the FEIS in the Federal Register 84 FR 2017 (October 25, 2019). The 30-
day comment period ended on November 25, 2019. Comments received on the 
FEIS were addressed in the ROD.
    The FEIS considered six action alternatives to meet the project 
need. These alternatives were evaluated in terms of ability to meet the 
purpose and need, technical feasibility, and environmental impacts 
(e.g., geology and soils; vegetation, including wetlands and special 
status plants; wildlife, including special status species; water 
resources and quality; air quality and climate change; noise;

[[Page 8556]]

transportation; cultural and historic resources; land use, including 
agriculture and recreation; visual quality and aesthetics; 
socioeconomics and environmental justice; public health and safety; 
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge; and 
cumulative effects).
    The RUS selected Alternative 6. See ROD Section 2.6.1 ``Selected 
Alternative and Agency Rationale'' for the rationale for selecting 
Alternative 6. The resources or environmental impacts that could be 
affected by the C-HC Project selected alternative are summarized in the 
ROD Section 2.7 ``Summary of Environmental Consequences.''
    Based on an evaluation of the information and impact analyses 
presented in the FEIS, including the evaluation of all alternatives, 
and in consideration of RUS's NEPA implementing regulations, 
Environmental Policies and Procedures, as amended (7 CFR part 1970), 
RUS finds the evaluation of reasonable alternatives is consistent with 
NEPA.
    Because the proposed project may involve action in floodplains or 
wetlands, this NOA also serves as a final notice of action in 
floodplains and wetlands (in accordance with Executive Orders 11988 and 
11990).
    The ROD is not a decision on Dairyland's loan application and 
therefore not an approval of the expenditure of Federal funds. This 
notice of the ROD concludes RUS's environmental review process in 
accordance with NEPA and RUS's Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 
CFR 1970). The ultimate decision as to loan approval depends upon the 
conclusion of this environmental review process plus financial and 
engineering analyses. Issuance of the ROD will allow these reviews to 
proceed.
    The ROD is not a decision on the ROW permit application the USFWS 
has received from Dairyland and ITC Midwest, and therefore not an 
approval for crossing the Refuge. This notice concludes USFWS's 
environmental review process in accordance with NEPA and USFWS 
Environmental Policies and Procedures (43 CFR 46.10-46.450 and 516 DM 
8). Processing, review, and further evaluation of the ROW permit 
application received from Dairyland Power and ITC can proceed with 
issuance of the ROD.

Chad Rupe,
Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-02946 Filed 2-13-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-15-P