Next Era Energy LLC, Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting, 54674-54676 [2021-21506]

Download as PDF 54674 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 189 / Monday, October 4, 2021 / Notices appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments regarding this information collection received by November 3, 2021 will be considered. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be submitted within 30 days of the publication of this notice on the following website www.reginfo.gov/ public/do/PRAMain. Find this particular information collection by selecting ‘‘Currently under 30-day Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function. An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Food Safety and Inspection Service Title: Overtime and Holiday Inspection Fees for Small and Very Small Establishments. OMB Control Number: 0583–0185. Summary of Collection: FSIS has been delegated the authority to exercise the functions of the Secretary (7 CFR 2.18, 2.53), as specified in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) (21 U.S.C. 601, et seq.), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) (21 U.S.C. 451, et seq.) and the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. 1031, et seq.). These statutes mandate that FSIS protect the public by verifying that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged. Need and Use of the Information: FSIS will collect information on FSIS Form 5200–16, Overtime/Holiday Rate Reduction Form, to determine whether an establishment inspected by FSIS qualifies for an overtime and holiday inspection fee reduction, and, if so, the amount of the reduction. If an establishment experiences any change in qualifying circumstances, it must immediately notify FSIS by resubmitting the attestation form. To conduct the information collections less frequently would reduce the effectiveness of the meat and poultry inspection program that ensures that meat and poultry products are properly marked, labeled and packaged. Description of Respondents: Business or other for-profits. Number of Respondents: 3,944. VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:52 Oct 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Annually. Total Burden Hours: 724. Ruth Brown, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2021–21479 Filed 10–1–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–DM–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service [Docket # RUS–21–Electric–0018] Next Era Energy LLC, Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting Rural Utilities Service, USDA. Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement and notice of public meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: Notice is hereby given that the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency within the Department of Agriculture, has prepared and is announcing that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a project proposed by Next Era Energy Inc (NEER), is available for public review and comment. RUS is publishing the Draft EIS to inform interested parties and the general public about the project proposal and to invite the public to comment on the proposed action addressed in the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA and the Rural Utilities Service, Environmental Policies and Procedures and evaluates the potential environmental effects related to providing financial assistance for the NEER, Skeleton Creek Solar and Battery Storage Project, a proposed 250megawatt (MW) solar array, plus 200– MW/800-megawatt-hour (MWh) storage facility using photovoltaic (PV) modules on private lands in Garfield County. The purpose and need of the proposed Project is to meet the needs of the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC). The Project will allow NextEra to provide the additional generation capacity needed by WFEC to serve electrical needs at a reasonable cost to their member cooperatives. RUS has determined that its action regarding the proposed Project is an undertaking subject to review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulation, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 ‘‘Protection of Historic Properties’’ and as part of its broad environmental review process, RUS must take into account the effect of the proposed project on historic properties. RUS is using its procedures for public involvement under NEPA to meet its responsibilities to solicit and consider the views of the public during Section 106 review. Accordingly, comments submitted in response to this Notice will inform RUS decision-making during Section 106 review. As noted in the Federal Register notice announcing the intent to prepare an EIS on March 15, 2021, RUS invited any interested party wishing to participate directly with the agency as a ‘‘consulting party’’ in Section 106 review may submit a written request to the RUS contact provided below. RUS will consider, and provide a timely response to, any and all requests for consulting party status. DATES: Written comments on this Draft EIS must be received November 18, 2021. Two public meetings to solicit comments on the Draft EIS will be held. The first meeting on November 9, 2021 will be a webinar held on Zoom from 1:00–2:30 p.m. CT. Meeting 1 Link: https://swca.zoom.us/j/ 92375284700 Meeting 1 Webinar ID: 923 7528 4700 Toll-Free call-in number: 888 475 4499 The second meeting will be held on November 10, 2021 on Zoom from 6:00– 8:00 p.m. CT. Meeting 2 Link: https://swca.zoom.us/j/ 98165619926 Meeting 2 Webinar ID: 981 6561 9926 Toll-Free call-in number: 888 475 4499 Both meetings will provide a presentation by Rural Utilities Service, third-party EIS contractor, followed by a session to take public comment. Oral comments from the public will be recorded by a certified court reporter or by Zoom webinar. Attendees will be able to submit oral and written comments during the public meeting which will become part of the public record. Written comments may also be submitted to SkeletonCreekSolarPublicComments@ usda.gov. Comments mailed directly to the Agency are discouraged during the COVID 19 period due to the potential for delayed receipt. All comments submitted during the public review period, oral or written, will become part of the public record. Before including your address, telephone 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 E:\FR\FM\04OCN1.SGM 04OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 189 / Monday, October 4, 2021 / Notices time. All comments will be reviewed and responded to in the Final EIS. For consideration in the Final EIS, comments must be postmarked or received online by November 18, 2021. ADDRESSES: The Draft EIS and other Project-related information is available at Rural Utilities Service website located at https://www.rd.usda.gov/ environmentalstudy/skeleton-creeksolar-and-battery-storage-projectgarfield-county-oklahoma. All information related to the Project is available at this website. In addition, hardcopies of the documents are available at the Enid Public Library, located at 120 W Maine St, Enid, OK 73701. Parties wishing to be placed on the mailing list for future information or to receive hard or electronic copies of the EIS should send an email to SkeletonCreekSolarPublicComments@ usda.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information related to the Project is available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/ environmentalstudy/skeleton-creeksolar-and-battery-storage-projectgarfield-county-oklahoma. To request official consulting party status, submit comments, or for further information, please contact: Kristen Bastis, Environmental Protection Specialist, SkeletonCreekSolarPublicComments@ usda.gov, Rural Utilities Service, Environment and Engineering Department, Water and Environmental Programs, Rural Utilities Service, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, Mail Stop 1571, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 1. Agencies Involved and Status a. The Rural Utilities Service, Lead Agency b. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, Cooperating Agency c. The Bureau of Land Management, Cooperating Agency d. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cooperating Agency e. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Participating Agency 2. Project Description and Location The Draft EIS addresses the construction and operation of the Project, which consists of a 250–MW solar array, plus 200–MW/800–MWh storage facility in Garfield County, Oklahoma. The Project consists of four major components: Photovoltaic solar arrays, energy storage facilities, linear facilities, and transmission interconnection facilities. The energy VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:52 Oct 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 storage facilities consist of batteries, solar trackers, and solar power inverters. Linear facilities include a network of internal access roads, communication cables or lines, and a distribution power network for construction and operations control systems. The transmission interconnection facilities include a substation/switchyard that interconnects to the existing OG&E 345– kV Woodring Substation via an estimated 1-to-2-mile gen-tie. These components are explained in detail in the Draft EIS. 3. Purpose and Need for the Action Since the Applicant entered into a power purchase agreement with Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) for the Project, the Project’s purpose and need is focused on meeting the energy buyer’s (WFEC) needs. WFEC’s objective is to provide safe, adequate, and reliable power to its members at the lowest reasonable cost. The Project would allow the Applicant to provide the additional generation capacity needed by WFEC to achieve these goals within the service territories of their member cooperatives. Specifically, the Project would provide a source of non-dispatchable power via solar panels that increase capacity, whereas battery storage would provide a source of dispatchable power that increases the reliability of generated power to the grid. The pairing of battery storage with solar panels would further allow WFEC to meet peak demand needs without adding additional fossil fuel consumption to the system. In addition, the Project would help WFEC and the Southwest Power Pool to continue to comply with Oklahoma legislative declarations to facilitate the delivery of renewable energy. The following three federal agencies will use this EIS to inform decisions about funding, authorizing, or permitting various components of the Project: • Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the lead federal agency, will evaluate whether or not to provide Project financial assistance. • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will review the Applicant’s permit application, as required by Section 404 under the Clean Water Act. • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will determine the likelihood of Project effects on listed species, as required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. 4. Issues of Concern Based on RUS’s assessment of potential Project impacts, as well as input provided during the scoping PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 54675 period, RUS identified key issues to be addressed in the EIS. These issues are evaluated in Chapter 3 of the Draft EIS and are as follows: • Air quality • Geology and soils • Water resources • Vegetation (including invasive species/noxious weeds and specialstatus species) • Wetlands • Wildlife (including special-status species) • Cultural and historic resources • Land use • Noise • Public health and safety • Socioeconomics and environmental justice • Transportation • Visual quality and aesthetics 5. Alternatives To Be Considered Alternatives to the Project considered by RUS consist of the No Action alternative, under which the proposed Project would not be undertaken, and a Proposed Action site location. To allow for flexibility in design, the Applicant identified an additional 1,744 acres of buildable land located east of the Proposed Action that could be developed to support the Project. Land acquisition has not yet occurred for this Alternative. The Project would connect to the point of interconnect via a 1-mile transmission line. All construction and operations and maintenance activities, as well as Applicant-committed minimization or avoidance measures, would be the same as described for the Proposed Action. The Draft EIS describes these alternatives in detail and discusses their anticipated impacts to physical, biological, and social resources. 6. Overview of Scoping Process The first Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS and hold a public scoping meeting was published in the Federal Register at 86 FR 14302, on March 15, 2021 and initiated a 30-day public scoping period. One public scoping meeting was held on March 30, 2021 using Zoom Webinar. The public scoping period occurred from March 15 through April 19, 2021 and RUS issued a Scoping Report in April 2021. The scoping report is available on RUS’s website here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/ environmentalstudy/skeleton-creeksolar-and-battery-storage-projectgarfield-county-oklahoma. RUS also sent letters to federal and state agencies inviting them to participate in the public scoping meeting and provide input on Projectrelated concerns. Thirty-nine tribes E:\FR\FM\04OCN1.SGM 04OCN1 54676 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 189 / Monday, October 4, 2021 / Notices were invited to participate in the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 review process, attend the public scoping meeting, and provide relevant information for inclusion in the EIS. 7. Decision Process The Draft EIS will be available for review and comment for 45 days. Following the 45-day review period, Rural Utilities Service will prepare a Final EIS. All comments received on the DEIS will be duly considered in preparing the Final EIS, which is expected to be available in the spring of 2022. The availability of the Final EIS will be announced for public review and comment in the Federal Register and the local newspapers used in previous public notices. After a 30-day public comment period, Rural Utilities Service will consider all public comments and prepare responses and a Record of Decision (ROD) documenting the Agency’s decision under NEPA regarding NEER’s request for financial assistance. Notices announcing the availability of the ROD will be published in the Federal Register and in local newspapers. Any final action by RUS related to the proposal will be subject to, and contingent upon, compliance with all relevant executive orders and federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations in addition to the completion of the environmental review requirements as prescribed in Rural Utilities Service Environmental Policies and Procedures, 7 CFR part 1970. Christopher A. McLean, Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. [FR Doc. 2021–21506 Filed 10–1–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–15–P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Tennessee Advisory Committee Commission on Civil Rights. Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that a meeting of the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the Commission will convene by Webex call on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, Wednesday, November 10, 2021, and Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. (CT). The purpose is to discuss the proposal for their next project. SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:52 Oct 01, 2021 Jkt 256001 The meetings will be held on: Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 2:00 p.m. CT Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 2:00 p.m. CT Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 2:00 p.m. CT Join via Webex: https:// civilrights.webex.com/civilrights/ j.php?MTID=m6958e6448 69f1a35674244048116d5e1 Join via phone: 800–360–9505 USA Toll Free; Access Code: 276 037 495 41# FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victoria Moreno at vmoreno@usccr.gov or by phone at 434–515–0204. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This meeting is available to the public through the WebEx link above. If joining only via phone, callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Individuals who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 and providing the Service with the call-in number found through registering at the web link provided above for the meeting. Members of the public are entitled to make comments during the open period at the end of the meeting. Members of the public may also submit written comments; the comments must be received in the Regional Programs Unit within 30 days following the respective meeting. Written comments may be emailed to Victoria Moreno at vmoreno@usccr.gov. All written comments received will be available to the public. Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit at (202) 809–9618. Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing as they become available at the www.facadatabase.gov. Persons interested in the work of this advisory committee are advised to go to the Commission’s website, www.usccr.gov, or to contact the Regional Programs Unit at the above phone number or email address. DATES: Agenda: Wednesday, October 13, 2021; Wednesday, November 10, 2021; Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. (CT) 1. Welcome & Roll Call 2. Chair’s Comments 3. Committee Discussion 4. Next Steps 5. Public Comment 6. Other Business 7. Adjourn PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Dated: September 28, 2021. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit. [FR Doc. 2021–21456 Filed 10–1–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the North Carolina Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. ACTION: Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the North Carolina Advisory Committee (Committee) to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold meetings on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Tuesday, December 21, 2021, and Tuesday, January 22, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The Committee will discuss civil rights concerns in the state. DATES: The meetings will take place on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Tuesday, December 21, 2021, and Tuesday, January 22, 2022 from 12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Online Regisration (Audio/Visual): https://civilrights.webex.com/civilrights/ j.php?MTID=mf8ab25b5d5856a1e0e 8e228cc4e942a1. Telephone (Audio Only): Dial 800– 360–9505 USA Toll Free; Access code: 2762 063 7373#. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victoria Moreno, Designated Federal Officer, at vmoreno@usccr.gov or (434) 515–0204. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Members of the public can listen to these discussions. Committee meetings are available to the public through the above call-in number. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. An open comment period will be provided to allow members of the public to make a statement as time allows. Callers can expect to incur regular charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, according to their wireless plan. The Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over landline connections to the toll-free telephone number. Individuals who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1– SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04OCN1.SGM 04OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 189 (Monday, October 4, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54674-54676]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-21506]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service

[Docket # RUS-21-Electric-0018]


Next Era Energy LLC, Notice of Availability of a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft environmental impact 
statement and notice of public meeting.

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

SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), 
an agency within the Department of Agriculture, has prepared and is 
announcing that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a 
project proposed by Next Era Energy Inc (NEER), is available for public 
review and comment. RUS is publishing the Draft EIS to inform 
interested parties and the general public about the project proposal 
and to invite the public to comment on the proposed action addressed in 
the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural 
provisions of NEPA and the Rural Utilities Service, Environmental 
Policies and Procedures and evaluates the potential environmental 
effects related to providing financial assistance for the NEER, 
Skeleton Creek Solar and Battery Storage Project, a proposed 250-
megawatt (MW) solar array, plus 200-MW/800-megawatt-hour (MWh) storage 
facility using photovoltaic (PV) modules on private lands in Garfield 
County. The purpose and need of the proposed Project is to meet the 
needs of the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC). The Project 
will allow NextEra to provide the additional generation capacity needed 
by WFEC to serve electrical needs at a reasonable cost to their member 
cooperatives. RUS has determined that its action regarding the proposed 
Project is an undertaking subject to review under Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulation, 
``Protection of Historic Properties'' and as part of its broad 
environmental review process, RUS must take into account the effect of 
the proposed project on historic properties. RUS is using its 
procedures for public involvement under NEPA to meet its 
responsibilities to solicit and consider the views of the public during 
Section 106 review. Accordingly, comments submitted in response to this 
Notice will inform RUS decision-making during Section 106 review. As 
noted in the Federal Register notice announcing the intent to prepare 
an EIS on March 15, 2021, RUS invited any interested party wishing to 
participate directly with the agency as a ``consulting party'' in 
Section 106 review may submit a written request to the RUS contact 
provided below. RUS will consider, and provide a timely response to, 
any and all requests for consulting party status.

DATES: Written comments on this Draft EIS must be received November 18, 
2021. Two public meetings to solicit comments on the Draft EIS will be 
held. The first meeting on November 9, 2021 will be a webinar held on 
Zoom from 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT.

Meeting 1 Link: https://swca.zoom.us/j/92375284700
Meeting 1 Webinar ID: 923 7528 4700
Toll-Free call-in number: 888 475 4499

    The second meeting will be held on November 10, 2021 on Zoom from 
6:00-8:00 p.m. CT.

Meeting 2 Link: https://swca.zoom.us/j/98165619926
Meeting 2 Webinar ID: 981 6561 9926
Toll-Free call-in number: 888 475 4499

    Both meetings will provide a presentation by Rural Utilities 
Service, third-party EIS contractor, followed by a session to take 
public comment. Oral comments from the public will be recorded by a 
certified court reporter or by Zoom webinar.
    Attendees will be able to submit oral and written comments during 
the public meeting which will become part of the public record. Written 
comments may also be submitted to 
[email protected]. Comments mailed directly to 
the Agency are discouraged during the COVID 19 period due to the 
potential for delayed receipt.
    All comments submitted during the public review period, oral or 
written, will become part of the public record. Before including your 
address, telephone 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

[[Page 54675]]

time. All comments will be reviewed and responded to in the Final EIS. 
For consideration in the Final EIS, comments must be postmarked or 
received online by November 18, 2021.

ADDRESSES: The Draft EIS and other Project-related information is 
available at Rural Utilities Service website located at https://www.rd.usda.gov/environmentalstudy/skeleton-creek-solar-and-battery-storage-project-garfield-county-oklahoma.
    All information related to the Project is available at this 
website. In addition, hardcopies of the documents are available at the 
Enid Public Library, located at 120 W Maine St, Enid, OK 73701. Parties 
wishing to be placed on the mailing list for future information or to 
receive hard or electronic copies of the EIS should send an email to 
[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information related to the Project is 
available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/environmentalstudy/skeleton-creek-solar-and-battery-storage-project-garfield-county-oklahoma.
    To request official consulting party status, submit comments, or 
for further information, please contact: Kristen Bastis, Environmental 
Protection Specialist, [email protected], Rural 
Utilities Service, Environment and Engineering Department, Water and 
Environmental Programs, Rural Utilities Service, Rural Development, 
United States Department of Agriculture, Mail Stop 1571, 1400 
Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

1. Agencies Involved and Status

a. The Rural Utilities Service, Lead Agency
b. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, Cooperating Agency
c. The Bureau of Land Management, Cooperating Agency
d. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cooperating Agency
e. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Participating Agency

2. Project Description and Location

    The Draft EIS addresses the construction and operation of the 
Project, which consists of a 250-MW solar array, plus 200-MW/800-MWh 
storage facility in Garfield County, Oklahoma. The Project consists of 
four major components: Photovoltaic solar arrays, energy storage 
facilities, linear facilities, and transmission interconnection 
facilities. The energy storage facilities consist of batteries, solar 
trackers, and solar power inverters. Linear facilities include a 
network of internal access roads, communication cables or lines, and a 
distribution power network for construction and operations control 
systems. The transmission interconnection facilities include a 
substation/switchyard that interconnects to the existing OG&E 345-kV 
Woodring Substation via an estimated 1-to-2-mile gen-tie. These 
components are explained in detail in the Draft EIS.

3. Purpose and Need for the Action

    Since the Applicant entered into a power purchase agreement with 
Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) for the Project, the 
Project's purpose and need is focused on meeting the energy buyer's 
(WFEC) needs. WFEC's objective is to provide safe, adequate, and 
reliable power to its members at the lowest reasonable cost. The 
Project would allow the Applicant to provide the additional generation 
capacity needed by WFEC to achieve these goals within the service 
territories of their member cooperatives. Specifically, the Project 
would provide a source of non-dispatchable power via solar panels that 
increase capacity, whereas battery storage would provide a source of 
dispatchable power that increases the reliability of generated power to 
the grid. The pairing of battery storage with solar panels would 
further allow WFEC to meet peak demand needs without adding additional 
fossil fuel consumption to the system. In addition, the Project would 
help WFEC and the Southwest Power Pool to continue to comply with 
Oklahoma legislative declarations to facilitate the delivery of 
renewable energy.
    The following three federal agencies will use this EIS to inform 
decisions about funding, authorizing, or permitting various components 
of the Project:
     Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the lead federal agency, 
will evaluate whether or not to provide Project financial assistance.
     The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will review the 
Applicant's permit application, as required by Section 404 under the 
Clean Water Act.
     The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will determine the 
likelihood of Project effects on listed species, as required under 
Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

4. Issues of Concern

    Based on RUS's assessment of potential Project impacts, as well as 
input provided during the scoping period, RUS identified key issues to 
be addressed in the EIS. These issues are evaluated in Chapter 3 of the 
Draft EIS and are as follows:
     Air quality
     Geology and soils
     Water resources
     Vegetation (including invasive species/noxious weeds and 
special-status species)
     Wetlands
     Wildlife (including special-status species)
     Cultural and historic resources
     Land use
     Noise
     Public health and safety
     Socioeconomics and environmental justice
     Transportation
     Visual quality and aesthetics

5. Alternatives To Be Considered

    Alternatives to the Project considered by RUS consist of the No 
Action alternative, under which the proposed Project would not be 
undertaken, and a Proposed Action site location. To allow for 
flexibility in design, the Applicant identified an additional 1,744 
acres of buildable land located east of the Proposed Action that could 
be developed to support the Project. Land acquisition has not yet 
occurred for this Alternative. The Project would connect to the point 
of interconnect via a 1-mile transmission line. All construction and 
operations and maintenance activities, as well as Applicant-committed 
minimization or avoidance measures, would be the same as described for 
the Proposed Action.
    The Draft EIS describes these alternatives in detail and discusses 
their anticipated impacts to physical, biological, and social 
resources.

6. Overview of Scoping Process

    The first Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS and hold a 
public scoping meeting was published in the Federal Register at 86 FR 
14302, on March 15, 2021 and initiated a 30-day public scoping period. 
One public scoping meeting was held on March 30, 2021 using Zoom 
Webinar. The public scoping period occurred from March 15 through April 
19, 2021 and RUS issued a Scoping Report in April 2021. The scoping 
report is available on RUS's website here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/environmentalstudy/skeleton-creek-solar-and-battery-storage-project-garfield-county-oklahoma.
    RUS also sent letters to federal and state agencies inviting them 
to participate in the public scoping meeting and provide input on 
Project-related concerns. Thirty-nine tribes

[[Page 54676]]

were invited to participate in the National Historic Preservation Act 
Section 106 review process, attend the public scoping meeting, and 
provide relevant information for inclusion in the EIS.

7. Decision Process

    The Draft EIS will be available for review and comment for 45 days. 
Following the 45-day review period, Rural Utilities Service will 
prepare a Final EIS. All comments received on the DEIS will be duly 
considered in preparing the Final EIS, which is expected to be 
available in the spring of 2022. The availability of the Final EIS will 
be announced for public review and comment in the Federal Register and 
the local newspapers used in previous public notices. After a 30-day 
public comment period, Rural Utilities Service will consider all public 
comments and prepare responses and a Record of Decision (ROD) 
documenting the Agency's decision under NEPA regarding NEER's request 
for financial assistance. Notices announcing the availability of the 
ROD will be published in the Federal Register and in local newspapers.
    Any final action by RUS related to the proposal will be subject to, 
and contingent upon, compliance with all relevant executive orders and 
federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations in 
addition to the completion of the environmental review requirements as 
prescribed in Rural Utilities Service Environmental Policies and 
Procedures, 7 CFR part 1970.

Christopher A. McLean,
Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture.
[FR Doc. 2021-21506 Filed 10-1-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-15-P