[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)]
[Pages 19683-19684]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7840]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-FHC-2011-N266; FXHC11220900000Z2-112-FF09F20000]

Proposed Information Collection; Land-Based Wind Energy 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) will ask the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the information collection (IC) 
described below. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and 
as part of our continuing efforts to reduce paperwork and respondent 
burden, we invite the general public and other Federal agencies to take 
this opportunity to comment on this IC. This information collection is 
scheduled to expire on September 30, 2012. We may not conduct or 
sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of 
information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. 
However, under OMB regulations, we may continue to conduct or sponsor 
this information collection while it is pending at OMB.

DATES: To ensure that we are able to consider your comments on this IC, 
we must receive them by June 1, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments on the IC to the Service Information 
Collection Clearance Officer, Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 2042-PDM, 
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203 (mail); or 
INFOCOL@fws.gov (email). Please include ``1018-0148'' in the subject 
line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information 
about this IC, contact Hope Grey at INFOCOL@fws.gov (email) or 703-358-
2482 (telephone).


I. Abstract

    In January 2012, we requested that OMB approve, on an emergency 
basis, our request to collect information associated with the Land-
Based Wind Energy Guidelines (Guidelines). We asked for emergency 
approval because of the potential negative effects that proposed wind 
energy facilities may have on wildlife and their habitat. OMB approved 
our request and assigned OMB Control No. 1018-0148, which expires 
September 30, 2012. We are going to ask OMB to extend the approval for 
this information collection for 3 years.
    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. These voluntary Guidelines (http://www.fws.gov/windenergy) 
provide a structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife 
conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy 
development. They also 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 will be 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;
     Bald and golden eagles and other birds of prey;
     Prairie and sage grouse; and
     Listed, proposed, or candidate endangered and threatened 
    The Guidelines follow a tiered approach. The wind energy developer 
begins at Tier 1 or Tier 2, which entails 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 and a decision 
on whether or not to develop the site can be made. Many projects may 
not proceed beyond Tiers 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 Tiers 1 and 2.
    At each tier level, 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 

[[Page 19684]]

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 do 
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 nonhour burden costs. These analyses are conducted 
using readily available existing information, so the nature of these 
costs may include travel to project sites. 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. 
Developers of wind energy projects have a responsibility to comply with 
the law; for example, they must obtain incidental take authorization 
for species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and/or Bald 
and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA).

II. Data

    OMB Control Number: 1018-0148.
    Title: Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines.
    Service Form Number: None.
    Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection.
    Description of Respondents: Developers and operators of wind energy 
    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.

                                                                                            COMPLETION                    NONHOUR burden   TOTAL annual
         ACTIVITY (reporting and recordkeeping)              NUMBER of       NUMBER of       time per      TOTAL annual      cost per     nonhour burden
                                                            respondents      responses       response      burden hours      response          cost
Tier 1 (Desktop Analysis)...............................             150             150              83          12,450          $2,000        $300,000
Tier 2 (Site Characterization)..........................             110             110             375          41,250          $4,000        $440,000
Tier 3 (Pre-construction studies).......................              80              80           2,880         230,400         $23,000      $1,840,000
Tier 4 (Post-construction fatality monitoring and                     50              50           2,550         127,500         $95,000      $4,750,000
 habitat studies).......................................
Tier 5 (Other post-construction studies.................              10              10           2,400          24,000        $191,000      $1,910,000
    TOTALS..............................................             400             400  ..............         435,600  ..............      $9,240,000

    Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $9,240,000. 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 vehicle or 
helicopter; equipment needed for acoustic, telemetry, or radar 
monitoring, and carcass storage.

III. Comments

    We invite comments concerning this information collection on:
     Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility;
     The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this 
collection of information;
     Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
     Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on respondents.
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. We will include or summarize each comment in our request 
to OMB to approve this IC. 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.

    Dated: March 26, 2012.
Tina A.Campbell,
Chief, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-7840 Filed 3-30-12; 8:45 am]