Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines, 35821-35824 [2021-14410]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 7, 2021 / Notices Draft Recovery Plan Below, we summarize components from our draft recovery plan. Please reference the draft recovery plan for full details. The draft recovery plan describes the recovery goal for the Mosquito Range mustard as its long-term viability in the wild. For recovery, the species needs at least 11 (redundant) persistent (resilient) populations across the species’ range, where population trends are stable or increasing and ecological and genetic diversity are maintained (representation). This would be achieved by implementing recovery actions, such as protecting, conserving, and monitoring known populations, surveying for additional populations, and coordinating with stakeholders. The draft recovery plan includes recovery criteria for delisting. The delisting criteria include: (1) Maintaining population trends for the Mosquito Range mustard that are stable or increasing, according to objective measures that are described in the draft recovery plan; and (2) Maintaining existing regulatory mechanisms or other conservation plans that currently provide protections for Mosquito Range mustard and including protections in any new or amended land management plans on Federal lands. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Peer Review In accordance with our July 1, 1994, peer review policy (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994); our August 22, 2016, Director’s Memo on the Peer Review Process; and the Office of Management and Budget’s December 16, 2004, Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review (revised June 2012), we will seek the expert opinion of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding scientific data and interpretations contained in the species biological report and the draft recovery plan. We will send copies of both documents to the peer reviewers immediately following publication of this notice in the Federal Register. We will ensure that the opinions of peer reviewers are objective and unbiased by following the guidelines set forth in the Director’s Memo, which updates and clarifies Service policy on peer review (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2016). The purpose of such review is to ensure that our decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analysis. Accordingly, our final species biological report and recovery plan may differ from the draft documents. We will post the results of this structured peer review process on our website at https://www.fws.gov/ VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:44 Jul 06, 2021 Jkt 253001 mountain-prairie/science/ peerReview.php. We also submitted our biological report to our Federal and State partners for their scientific review. The biological report is the scientific foundation for the draft recovery plan. Request for Public Comments All comments we receive by the date specified (see DATES) will be considered prior to approval of the recovery plan. Written comments and materials regarding the recovery plan should be sent via one of the means in the ADDRESSES section. We will consider all information we receive during the public comment period, and particularly look for comments that provide scientific rationale or factual background. The Service and other Federal agencies and partners will take these comments into consideration in the course of implementing an approved final recovery plan. We are specifically seeking comments and suggestions on the following questions: • Understanding that the time and cost presented in the draft recovery plan will be fine-tuned when localized recovery implementation strategies are developed, do you think that the estimated time and cost to recovery are realistic? Is the estimate reflective of the time and cost of actions that may have already been implemented by Federal, State, county, or other agencies? Please provide suggestions or methods for determining a more accurate estimation. • Do the draft recovery criteria provide clear direction to partners on what is needed to recover Mosquito Range mustard? How could they be improved for clarity? • Are the draft recovery criteria both objective and measurable given the information available for Mosquito Range mustard now and into the future? Please provide suggestions. • Understanding that specific, detailed, and area-specific recovery actions will be developed in the RIS, do you think that the draft recovery actions presented in the draft recovery plan generally cover the types of actions necessary to meet the recovery criteria? If not, what general actions are missing? Are any of the draft recovery actions unnecessary for achieving recovery? Have we prioritized the actions appropriately? Public Availability of Comments We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the public in an appendix to the approved final recovery plan. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your PO 00000 Frm 00093 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35821 comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. You may request at the top of your comment that we withhold this information from public review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Authority The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f). Matthew Hogan, Deputy Regional Director, Lakewood, Colorado. [FR Doc. 2021–14464 Filed 7–6–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–HQ–ES–2021–N166; FXHC11140900000–212–FF09E33000; OMB Control Number 1018–0148] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of information collection; request for comment. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are proposing to renew an information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 6, 2021. ADDRESSES: Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to www.reginfo.gov/public/do/ PRAMain. Find this particular information collection by selecting ‘‘Currently under Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function. Please provide a copy of your comments to the Service Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB (JAO/3W), 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803 (mail); or by email to Info_Coll@fws.gov. Please reference OMB Control Number 1018– 0148 in the subject line of your comments. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Madonna L. Baucum, Service E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 35822 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 7, 2021 / Notices Information Collection Clearance Officer, by email at Info_Coll@fws.gov, or by telephone at (703) 358–2503. Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. You may also view the information collection request (ICR) at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/ PRAMain. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), we provide the general public and other Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on new, proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps us assess the impact of our information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand our information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. On December 22, 2020, we published in the Federal Register (85 FR 83607) a notice of our intent to request that OMB approve this information collection. In that notice, we solicited comments for 60 days, ending on February 22, 2021. We received two comments in response to that notice: Comment 1: Comment received via email on December 29, 2020, from V. Weeks, which stated any data collection should be mandatory in order to have viable information. Agency Response to Comment 1: The Service does not have regulatory authority to require this information collection. Therefore, we decline to make the requested change. The viability of data received under this collection is related to the methods and metrics used and relevance to inform decision-making. Comment 2: Comment received via email on March 22, 2021, from Tom Vinson, Vice President, Policy & Regulatory Affairs, American Clean Power Association (ACP). The ACP provided several comments and suggestions, numbered below and responded to below with corresponding numbering. 1. The Land–Based Wind Energy Guidelines (WEGs) continue to form a practical approach to assess and minimize wind energy impacts to wildlife. The tiered development framework in the WEGs is fully integrated into the land-based wind energy development process. 2. Depending on the available information at each Tier, the Service has noted that the tiered approach does not require that every Tier, or every element khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:44 Jul 06, 2021 Jkt 253001 within each Tier, be implemented for every project. The American Clean Power Association (ACP) agrees with this statement. For example, if a project is an additional phase to an existing project that has already gone through relevant Tiers, and the geography and habitat are similar, repeating Tiers on this new phase likely will not be necessary. 3. ACP agrees with statements made by Service that the WEGs ‘‘promote effective communication among wind energy developers and Federal, State, Tribal, and local conservation agencies. When used in concert with appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines are the best practical approach for conserving species of concern.’’ 4. ACP believes the estimate of the ‘‘annual number of respondents’’ in the Information Collection notice and the correlated total annual burden hours are low based on the number of wind facilities placed into service, under construction, or in an advanced phase of development as of the end of 2020. For every project constructed, there are 5–10 projects that are cancelled for one reason or another (wildlife or otherwise). Those projects have likely utilized Tier 1, potentially Tier 2, and in some cases, Tier 3. Also, projects may be built in phases with each phase being a separate entity, and the extent to which individual entities use the WEGs for individual project phases, or for a portfolio of phases within a geographic area, may differ. Thus, even though one set of WEG Tiers was applied, it may have covered up to five or six separate projects. 5. The number of wind projects going into service or starting development in any given year will continue to grow. Based on discussions with members, ACP believes a majority of wind facilities will continue to adhere to the WEGs. Therefore, ACP suggests that the assumption on the number of projects each year going through WEG Tiers 1– 4 is too low. Tiers 1–2 should be increased to include at least all projects put into service each year (90 in 2020) and then increase that number by a factor of 5 or 10. Tiers 3–4 should also be increased to include all the projects placed into service in a given year. 6. ACP provided an attachment that provides an estimate of the paperwork and respondent burden required for the wind industry to collect the data associated with the WEGs on a per project basis, based on discussions with project developers and consultants. Actual costs vary based on project details, company, consultant, regulatory requirements etc., however, ACP believes these updated estimates are a PO 00000 Frm 00094 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 more accurate reflection of the costs necessary to adhere to the WEGs. ACP respectfully requested that the Service utilize these estimates, combined with other assumed costs (e.g., government agency costs) in this and any other analysis of the WEGs going forward. Agency Response to Comment 2: The Service provides the following responses corresponding to the comment number above: 1. The Service appreciates this feedback on the utility of the WEGs and integration of these voluntary guidelines into wind industry development practices. No action necessary. 2. The Service appreciates this feedback on the flexibility of the WEGs. We also note that use of the WEGs is voluntary, and when a developer decides to follow the tiered process outlined in the voluntary guidelines, decisions as to which Tiers are applicable at an individual project should be made in communication and coordination with the Service. No action necessary. 3. The Service appreciates this feedback on the role of the WEGs. No action necessary. 4. The Service will consider the data supplied by ACP regarding the annual number of respondents and make adjustments as appropriate. 5. The Service appreciates the information provided by ACP regarding the anticipated increase in wind energy development in the U.S., and the feedback from the wind industry indicating that the WEGs will continue to be implemented by a majority of developers and operators in the U.S. We will adjust the number of respondents for each Tier of the WEGs as appropriate based on the information you have provided. 6. The Service thanks ACP for compiling this information and will use the figures provided to adjust our estimates as appropriate. As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burdens, we are again soliciting comments from the public and other Federal agencies on the proposed ICR that is described below. We are especially interested in public comment addressing the following: (1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether or not the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 35823 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 7, 2021 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) How might the agency minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of response. Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of public record. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Abstract: As wind energy production increased, both developers and wildlife agencies recognized the need for a system to evaluate and address the potential negative impacts of wind energy projects on species of concern. As a result, the Service worked with the wind energy industry, conservation nongovernmental organizations, Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and academia to develop the voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (Guidelines; http://www.fws.gov/ windenergy) to provide a structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy development. Released in 2012, the Guidelines promote effective communication among wind energy developers and Federal, State, Tribal, and local conservation agencies. When used in concert with appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines are the best practical approach for conserving species of concern. The Guidelines discuss various risks to species of concern from wind energy projects, including collisions with wind turbines and associated infrastructure; loss and degradation of habitat from turbines and infrastructure; fragmentation of large habitat blocks into smaller segments that may not support sensitive species; displacement and behavioral changes; and indirect effects such as increased predator populations or introduction of invasive plants. The Guidelines assist developers in identifying species of concern that may potentially be affected by proposed projects, including but not limited to: • Migratory birds; • Bats; • Bald and golden eagles, and other birds of prey; • Prairie chickens and sage grouse; and • Species that have been identified as candidates, or proposed or listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The Guidelines follow a tiered approach. The wind energy developer begins at Tier 1 or Tier 2, which entails the gathering of existing data to help identify any potential risks to wildlife and their habitats at proposed wind energy project sites. The developer then proceeds through subsequent tiers, as appropriate, to collect information in increasing detail until the level of risk is adequately ascertained to inform the developer’s decision on whether or not to develop the site. Many projects may not proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2, when developers become aware of potential barriers, including high risks to wildlife. Developers would only have an interest in adhering to the Guidelines for those projects that proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2. At each tier, wind energy developers and operators should retain documentation to provide to the Service. Such documentation may include copies of correspondence with the Service, results of pre- and postconstruction studies conducted at project sites, bird and bat conservation strategies, or any other record that supports a developer’s adherence to the Guidelines. The extent of the documentation will depend on the conditions of the site being developed. Sites with greater risk of impacts to wildlife and habitats will likely involve more extensive communication with the Service and longer durations of pre- and post-construction studies than sites with little risk. Distributed or community-scale wind energy projects are unlikely to have significant adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats. The Guidelines recommend that developers of these small-scale projects conduct the desktop analysis described in Tier 1 or Tier 2 using publicly available information to determine whether they should communicate with the Service. Since such project designs usually include a single turbine associated with existing development, conducting a Tier 1 or Tier 2 analysis for distributed or community-scale wind energy projects should incur limited non-hour burden costs. For such projects, if there is no potential risk identified, a developer will have no need to communicate with the Service regarding the project or to conduct studies described in Tiers 3, 4, and 5. Adherence to the Guidelines is voluntary. Following the Guidelines does not relieve any individual, company, or agency of the responsibility to comply with applicable laws and regulations (i.e., species protected by the Endangered Species Act and/or Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668–668c)). This information collection was first approved by OMB in 2012 and subsequently renewed twice, in 2015 and 2018. Title of Collection: Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. OMB Control Number: 1018–0148. Form Number: None. Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection. Respondents/Affected Public: Developers and operators of wind energy facilities. Respondent’s Obligation: Voluntary. Frequency of Collection: On occasion. Total Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $73,697,500. Costs will depend on the size and complexity of issues associated with each project. These expenses may include, but are not limited to: Travel expenses for site visits, studies conducted, and meetings with the Service and other Federal and State agencies; training in survey methodologies; data management; special transportation, such as allterrain vehicles or helicopters; equipment needed for acoustic, telemetry, or radar monitoring; and carcass storage. Requirement Annual number of respondents Number of responses each Total annual responses Tier 1 (Desktop Analysis) Reporting ...................................................................... Recordkeeping .............................................................. 630 ........................ ........................ 1 ........................ ........................ 630 ........................ ........................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:04 Jul 06, 2021 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Completion time per response (hours) 52.5 1 Total annual burden hours 33,075 630 35824 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 7, 2021 / Notices Tier 2 (Site characterization) Reporting ...................................................................... Recordkeeping .............................................................. Tier 3 (Pre-construction studies) Reporting ...................................................................... Recordkeeping .............................................................. Tier 4 (Post-construction fatality monitoring and habitat studies) Reporting ...................................................................... Recordkeeping .............................................................. Tier 5 (Other post-construction studies) Reporting ...................................................................... Recordkeeping .............................................................. Totals ..................................................................... An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The authority for this action is the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Madonna Baucum, Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2021–14410 Filed 7–6–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R4–ES–2021–N022; FXES11130400000C2–201–FF04E00000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery Plan for Agave eggersiana Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of the draft recovery plan for the Agave eggersiana, a plant listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. We request review and comment on this draft recovery plan from local, State, and Federal agencies; nongovernmental organizations; and the public. DATES: We must receive comments by September 7, 2021. ADDRESSES: Obtaining documents: You may obtain a copy of the plan by contacting Maritza Vargas, by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, P.O. Box 491, Boquero´n, PR 00622; by telephone at khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:44 Jul 06, 2021 Jkt 253001 Total annual burden hours Number of responses each Total annual responses 473 ........................ 1 ........................ 473 ........................ 210 3 99,330 1,419 90 ........................ 1 ........................ 90 ........................ 2,695 5 242,550 450 90 ........................ 1 ........................ 90 ........................ 3,600 5 324,000 450 5 ........................ 1,288 1 ........................ ........................ 5 ........................ 1,288 2,100 5 ........................ 10,500 25 712,429 787–851–7297; by the Federal Relay Service (TTY) at 1–800–877–8339. Alternatively, you may obtain a copy at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/ caribbean. Submitting comments: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by mail to the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, at the above address, or you may email comments to maritza_vargas@fws.gov. Please include ‘‘Agave eggersiana Draft Recovery Plan Comments’’ in the email subject line. For additional information about submitting comments, see Public Comments below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maritza Vargas at 787–851–7297. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability for public review and comment of the draft recovery plan for Agave eggersiana, a plant listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The draft recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives and criteria we have identified to better assist us in determining when the species has recovered to the point that it may be reclassified as threatened, or that the protections of the ESA are no longer necessary. We request review and comment on this draft recovery plan from local, State, and Federal agencies; nongovernmental organizations; and the public. Background Agave eggersiana (no common name) is a flowering plant of the Agavaceae family (century plant family). The species is restricted to six natural populations, and seven additional populations established in different areas known to be part of its historical range. These populations occur in small, disjunct areas on the northern and PO 00000 Completion time per response (hours) Annual number of respondents Requirement Frm 00096 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 southern coasts of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Agave eggersiana commonly occurs on coastal cliffs with rocky formations covered with sparse vegetation and dry coastal scrubland vegetation communities that occur within the subtropical dry forest life zone. The ESA states that a species may be listed as endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five factors outlined in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA. The greatest threats to Agave eggersiana are loss or degradation of habitat in unstable coastal cliffs (Listing Factor A) and competition with non-native vegetation for light and space via succession (Listing Factor E). The species’ severely restricted range and small population increase the likelihood of stochastic events causing extirpation of stands or populations. As a result of these threats, Agave eggersiana was listed as endangered under the ESA on September 9, 2014 (79 FR 53303). Approximately 20.5 hectares (ha) (50.6 acres (ac)), distributed among 6 units on the northern and southern coasts of St. Croix, were designated as critical habitat on September 9, 2014 (79 FR 53315). Recovery Plan Section 4(f)(1) of the ESA requires the development of recovery plans for listed species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a particular species. The purpose of a recovery plan is to provide an effective and feasible roadmap for a species’ recovery, with the goal of improving its status and managing its threats to the point where the protections of the ESA are no longer needed. The ESA requires that, to the maximum extent practicable, recovery plans incorporate the following: 1. Objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the species is no longer threatened or endangered; E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 127 (Wednesday, July 7, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 35821-35824]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-14410]


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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-HQ-ES-2021-N166; FXHC11140900000-212-FF09E33000; OMB Control 
Number 1018-0148]


Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the 
Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Land-Based 
Wind Energy Guidelines

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of information collection; request for comment.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, we, 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are proposing to renew an 
information collection.

DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before 
August 6, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and recommendations for the proposed 
information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of 
this notice to www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain. Find this particular 
information collection by selecting ``Currently under Review--Open for 
Public Comments'' or by using the search function. Please provide a 
copy of your comments to the Service Information Collection Clearance 
Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB (JAO/3W), 5275 
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803 (mail); or by email to 
[email protected]. Please reference OMB Control Number 1018-0148 in the 
subject line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Madonna L. Baucum, Service

[[Page 35822]]

Information Collection Clearance Officer, by email at 
[email protected], or by telephone at (703) 358-2503. Individuals who 
are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1-
800-877-8339 for TTY assistance. You may also view the information 
collection request (ICR) at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), we 
provide the general public and other Federal agencies with an 
opportunity to comment on new, proposed, revised, and continuing 
collections of information. This helps us assess the impact of our 
information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting 
burden. It also helps the public understand our information collection 
requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format.
    On December 22, 2020, we published in the Federal Register (85 FR 
83607) a notice of our intent to request that OMB approve this 
information collection. In that notice, we solicited comments for 60 
days, ending on February 22, 2021. We received two comments in response 
to that notice:
    Comment 1: Comment received via email on December 29, 2020, from V. 
Weeks, which stated any data collection should be mandatory in order to 
have viable information.
    Agency Response to Comment 1: The Service does not have regulatory 
authority to require this information collection. Therefore, we decline 
to make the requested change. The viability of data received under this 
collection is related to the methods and metrics used and relevance to 
inform decision-making.
    Comment 2: Comment received via email on March 22, 2021, from Tom 
Vinson, Vice President, Policy & Regulatory Affairs, American Clean 
Power Association (ACP). The ACP provided several comments and 
suggestions, numbered below and responded to below with corresponding 
numbering.
    1. The Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (WEGs) continue to form a 
practical approach to assess and minimize wind energy impacts to 
wildlife. The tiered development framework in the WEGs is fully 
integrated into the land-based wind energy development process.
    2. Depending on the available information at each Tier, the Service 
has noted that the tiered approach does not require that every Tier, or 
every element within each Tier, be implemented for every project. The 
American Clean Power Association (ACP) agrees with this statement. For 
example, if a project is an additional phase to an existing project 
that has already gone through relevant Tiers, and the geography and 
habitat are similar, repeating Tiers on this new phase likely will not 
be necessary.
    3. ACP agrees with statements made by Service that the WEGs 
``promote effective communication among wind energy developers and 
Federal, State, Tribal, and local conservation agencies. When used in 
concert with appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines are the best 
practical approach for conserving species of concern.''
    4. ACP believes the estimate of the ``annual number of 
respondents'' in the Information Collection notice and the correlated 
total annual burden hours are low based on the number of wind 
facilities placed into service, under construction, or in an advanced 
phase of development as of the end of 2020. For every project 
constructed, there are 5-10 projects that are cancelled for one reason 
or another (wildlife or otherwise). Those projects have likely utilized 
Tier 1, potentially Tier 2, and in some cases, Tier 3. Also, projects 
may be built in phases with each phase being a separate entity, and the 
extent to which individual entities use the WEGs for individual project 
phases, or for a portfolio of phases within a geographic area, may 
differ. Thus, even though one set of WEG Tiers was applied, it may have 
covered up to five or six separate projects.
    5. The number of wind projects going into service or starting 
development in any given year will continue to grow. Based on 
discussions with members, ACP believes a majority of wind facilities 
will continue to adhere to the WEGs. Therefore, ACP suggests that the 
assumption on the number of projects each year going through WEG Tiers 
1-4 is too low. Tiers 1-2 should be increased to include at least all 
projects put into service each year (90 in 2020) and then increase that 
number by a factor of 5 or 10. Tiers 3-4 should also be increased to 
include all the projects placed into service in a given year.
    6. ACP provided an attachment that provides an estimate of the 
paperwork and respondent burden required for the wind industry to 
collect the data associated with the WEGs on a per project basis, based 
on discussions with project developers and consultants. Actual costs 
vary based on project details, company, consultant, regulatory 
requirements etc., however, ACP believes these updated estimates are a 
more accurate reflection of the costs necessary to adhere to the WEGs. 
ACP respectfully requested that the Service utilize these estimates, 
combined with other assumed costs (e.g., government agency costs) in 
this and any other analysis of the WEGs going forward.
    Agency Response to Comment 2: The Service provides the following 
responses corresponding to the comment number above:
    1. The Service appreciates this feedback on the utility of the WEGs 
and integration of these voluntary guidelines into wind industry 
development practices. No action necessary.
    2. The Service appreciates this feedback on the flexibility of the 
WEGs. We also note that use of the WEGs is voluntary, and when a 
developer decides to follow the tiered process outlined in the 
voluntary guidelines, decisions as to which Tiers are applicable at an 
individual project should be made in communication and coordination 
with the Service. No action necessary.
    3. The Service appreciates this feedback on the role of the WEGs. 
No action necessary.
    4. The Service will consider the data supplied by ACP regarding the 
annual number of respondents and make adjustments as appropriate.
    5. The Service appreciates the information provided by ACP 
regarding the anticipated increase in wind energy development in the 
U.S., and the feedback from the wind industry indicating that the WEGs 
will continue to be implemented by a majority of developers and 
operators in the U.S. We will adjust the number of respondents for each 
Tier of the WEGs as appropriate based on the information you have 
provided.
    6. The Service thanks ACP for compiling this information and will 
use the figures provided to adjust our estimates as appropriate.
    As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent 
burdens, we are again soliciting comments from the public and other 
Federal agencies on the proposed ICR that is described below. We are 
especially interested in public comment addressing the following:
    (1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary for 
the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including 
whether or not the information will have practical utility;
    (2) The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection 
of information, including the validity of the methodology and 
assumptions used;

[[Page 35823]]

    (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
    (4) How might the agency minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on those who are to respond, including through the use of 
appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., 
permitting electronic submission of response.
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. Before including your address, phone number, email 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so.
    Abstract: As wind energy production increased, both developers and 
wildlife agencies recognized the need for a system to evaluate and 
address the potential negative impacts of wind energy projects on 
species of concern. As a result, the Service worked with the wind 
energy industry, conservation nongovernmental organizations, Federal 
and State agencies, Tribes, and academia to develop the voluntary Land-
Based Wind Energy Guidelines (Guidelines; http://www.fws.gov/windenergy) to provide a structured, scientific process for addressing 
wildlife conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy 
development. Released in 2012, the Guidelines promote effective 
communication among wind energy developers and Federal, State, Tribal, 
and local conservation agencies. When used in concert with appropriate 
regulatory tools, the Guidelines are the best practical approach for 
conserving species of concern.
    The Guidelines discuss various risks to species of concern from 
wind energy projects, including collisions with wind turbines and 
associated infrastructure; loss and degradation of habitat from 
turbines and infrastructure; fragmentation of large habitat blocks into 
smaller segments that may not support sensitive species; displacement 
and behavioral changes; and indirect effects such as increased predator 
populations or introduction of invasive plants. The Guidelines assist 
developers in identifying species of concern that may potentially be 
affected by proposed projects, including but not limited to:
     Migratory birds;
     Bats;
     Bald and golden eagles, and other birds of prey;
     Prairie chickens and sage grouse; and
     Species that have been identified as candidates, or 
proposed or listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    The Guidelines follow a tiered approach. The wind energy developer 
begins at Tier 1 or Tier 2, which entails the gathering of existing 
data to help identify any potential risks to wildlife and their 
habitats at proposed wind energy project sites. The developer then 
proceeds through subsequent tiers, as appropriate, to collect 
information in increasing detail until the level of risk is adequately 
ascertained to inform the developer's decision on whether or not to 
develop the site. Many projects may not proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2, 
when developers become aware of potential barriers, including high 
risks to wildlife. Developers would only have an interest in adhering 
to the Guidelines for those projects that proceed beyond Tier 1 or 2.
    At each tier, wind energy developers and operators should retain 
documentation to provide to the Service. Such documentation may include 
copies of correspondence with the Service, results of pre- and post-
construction studies conducted at project sites, bird and bat 
conservation strategies, or any other record that supports a 
developer's adherence to the Guidelines. The extent of the 
documentation will depend on the conditions of the site being 
developed. Sites with greater risk of impacts to wildlife and habitats 
will likely involve more extensive communication with the Service and 
longer durations of pre- and post-construction studies than sites with 
little risk.
    Distributed or community-scale wind energy projects are unlikely to 
have significant adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats. The 
Guidelines recommend that developers of these small-scale projects 
conduct the desktop analysis described in Tier 1 or Tier 2 using 
publicly available information to determine whether they should 
communicate with the Service. Since such project designs usually 
include a single turbine associated with existing development, 
conducting a Tier 1 or Tier 2 analysis for distributed or community-
scale wind energy projects should incur limited non-hour burden costs. 
For such projects, if there is no potential risk identified, a 
developer will have no need to communicate with the Service regarding 
the project or to conduct studies described in Tiers 3, 4, and 5.
    Adherence to the Guidelines is voluntary. Following the Guidelines 
does not relieve any individual, company, or agency of the 
responsibility to comply with applicable laws and regulations (i.e., 
species protected by the Endangered Species Act and/or Bald and Golden 
Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c)).
    This information collection was first approved by OMB in 2012 and 
subsequently renewed twice, in 2015 and 2018.
    Title of Collection: Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines.
    OMB Control Number: 1018-0148.
    Form Number: None.
    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents/Affected Public: Developers and operators of wind 
energy facilities.
    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.
    Total Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $73,697,500. Costs will 
depend on the size and complexity of issues associated with each 
project. These expenses may include, but are not limited to: Travel 
expenses for site visits, studies conducted, and meetings with the 
Service and other Federal and State agencies; training in survey 
methodologies; data management; special transportation, such as all-
terrain vehicles or helicopters; equipment needed for acoustic, 
telemetry, or radar monitoring; and carcass storage.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Completion
                                  Annual  number     Number of     Total annual      time per      Total annual
           Requirement            of respondents  responses each     responses       response      burden hours
                                                                                      (hours)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tier 1 (Desktop Analysis)                    630               1             630
    Reporting...................  ..............  ..............  ..............            52.5          33,075
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               1             630

[[Page 35824]]

 
Tier 2 (Site characterization)
    Reporting...................             473               1             473             210          99,330
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               3           1,419
Tier 3 (Pre-construction
 studies)
    Reporting...................              90               1              90           2,695         242,550
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               5             450
Tier 4 (Post-construction
 fatality monitoring and habitat
 studies)
    Reporting...................              90               1              90           3,600         324,000
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               5             450
Tier 5 (Other post-construction
 studies)
    Reporting...................               5               1               5           2,100          10,500
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               5              25
        Totals..................           1,288  ..............           1,288  ..............         712,429
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required 
to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a 
currently valid OMB control number.
    The authority for this action is the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

Madonna Baucum,
Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-14410 Filed 7-6-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P