[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 150 (Friday, August 3, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 46512-46514]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18978]


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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2012-N098; FXHC1122055COM0Z5--123--FF05E00000]


Adoption and Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental 
Assessment for the Penobscot River Restoration Project

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) hereby gives 
notice of

[[Page 46513]]

its intent to adopt the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's 
(Commission) existing Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) for the 
Application for Surrender of License of the Veazie, Great Works, and 
Howland Projects.
    The FEA, issued on May 18, 2010, evaluates the environmental 
impacts that would result from the Commission approving the 
applications for license surrender. The Penobscot River Restoration 
Project (PRRP) seeks to restore diadromous fish to the Penobscot River 
and key tributaries in accordance with the Lower Penobscot River Basin 
Comprehensive Settlement Agreement (Agreement), to which the U.S. 
Department of the Interior (Department) is a signatory. The Service 
intends to approve mechanisms to assist with funding the PRRP because 
it will provide substantial benefits for diadromous fish. Based on the 
Service's independent evaluation, adoption of the FEA would meet the 
Department's and the Service's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
procedures and guidelines, as the Service is funding the precise 
actions, the effects of which have already been analyzed by the 
Commission. As part of that process, the Service is recirculating the 
FEA as its final Environmental Assessment in accordance with the 
Service's adoption requirements.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
August 20, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

ADDRESSES: Document availability: You may obtain copies of the notice 
and the FEA on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket 
Number FWS-R5-ES-2012-0046, or at http://www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/index.html (Web site for the Service's Field Office in Maine, or by 
mail from the Service's Maine Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). The full administrative record is available though the 
Commission's eLibrary at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eLibrary.asp. 
To use eLibrary, enter the docket number (either P-2403, P-2312, or P-
2721) to access the document. For assistance, contact the Commission's 
online support toll free at (866) 208-3676, or TTY at (866) 208-3372.
    Comment submission: You may submit written comments by one of the 
following methods:
    Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R5-ES-2012-0046, 
which is the docket number for this notice. Then, on the left side of 
the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Notices link 
to locate this document and submit a comment.
    By compact disk (CD) or hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-
delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2012-0046; 
Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Shepard, Maine Field Office, by 
mail at 17 Godfrey Drive, Suite 2, Orono Maine 04473; by 
telephone at (207) 866-3344, extension 116; or by electronic mail at 
steve_shepard@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service hereby gives notice of its 
intent to adopt the Commission's existing FEA for the Application for 
Surrender of License of the Veazie, Great Works, and Howland Projects 
(FERC Project Nos. 2403, 2312 and 2721, respectively) (Project). The 
FEA, issued on May 18, 2010, evaluates the environmental impacts that 
would result from the Commission approving the applications for license 
surrender for the Veazie, Great Works, and Howlands hydroelectric 
projects. The FEA makes it clear that surrender of the licenses would 
lead to removal of Veazie and Great Works Dams and construction of a 
nature-like fish bypass around the Howland Dam, which are key elements 
of the PRRP. The dams are located in the towns of Veazie, Old Town, and 
Howland in Penobscot County, Maine.
    The PRRP seeks to restore diadromous fish to the Penobscot River 
and key tributaries in accordance with the Lower Penobscot River Basin 
Comprehensive Settlement Agreement (Agreement), to which the Department 
is a signatory. The Service intends to approve grants, cooperative 
agreements, memoranda of agreement or understanding, or other 
administrative mechanisms to assist with funding the PRRP because the 
project will provide substantial benefits for diadromous fish.
    The May 2010 FEA assessed the environmental effects of five 
alternatives of the PRRP: (1) No action; (2) the proposed action (the 
removal of the Veazie and Great Works Dams and the construction of a 
nature-like fish bypass at the Howland Dam); (3) the removal of all 
three dams; (4) the removal of the Veazie and Great Works Dams and 
surrender in place at the Howland Project; and (5) the surrender in 
place of all three projects. The Service commented on the draft FEA and 
is satisfied that all of its comments have been adequately addressed by 
the Commission in the FEA. Based on its review, the Service finds that 
the FEA would satisfy the Department's and the Service's NEPA 
compliance requirements with respect to the Service's decision to 
provide funds for the PRRP. Therefore, by this notice, the Service is 
recirculating the FEA for written public comment to meet its NEPA (40 
CFR 1506.3 and 1506.6) requirements for the approval of future 
administrative mechanisms or funds in support of the PRRP. The Service 
encourages interested persons to review the FEA and submit written 
comments.

Availability of Documents

    Those who do not have access to the Web site or cannot visit our 
office can request copies by telephone at (207) 866-3344 or by letter 
to the Maine Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Location

    The dams are located in the towns of Veazie, Old Town, and Howland 
in Penobscot County, Maine. They are currently operated as 
hydroelectric facilities under a Federal license with the Commission.

Background

    The Commission's FEA was based on license applications from the 
Penobscot River Restoration Trust, a not-for-profit organization 
founded to implement the PRRP on behalf of the parties involved in the 
Agreement. The Service is a party to the Agreement, along with other 
State and Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and PPL 
Corporation, which owned the hydroelectric facilities and three dams at 
the time of the Agreement. The specific purpose of the PRRP is to 
restore diadromous fish to the Penobscot River. Diadromous fish are 
species that use both marine and freshwater habitats during their life 
cycles. The species can be anadromous like Atlantic salmon, which are 
born and grow in freshwater, migrate out to sea to finish growing, and 
migrate back to freshwater, and for many species their natal river, to 
spawn. The species can also be catadromous like American eel, which are 
born and grow at sea, migrate to freshwater rivers, ponds, and lakes 
where they finish growing, and

[[Page 46514]]

migrate back to their natal area at sea to spawn. Diadromous fish are 
one of the Service's trust resources for which the Service has been 
given specific responsibilities under Federal law. The Service's trust 
resources include migratory birds, interjurisdictional fishes (fish 
species that may cross State lines and include diadromous fish), 
federally listed threatened or endangered species, some marine mammals, 
and lands owned by the Service such as National Wildlife Refuges. The 
PRRP is consistent with the Service's mission to conserve trust 
resources. Therefore, the Service intends to assist in funding the PRRP 
through a variety of administrative mechanisms.
    The FEA evaluates five alternatives, including the no action 
alternative. Details of these alternatives and their environmental 
effects are described in the FEA. The Service intends to approve 
grants, cooperative agreements, memoranda of agreement or 
understanding, or other administrative mechanisms to assist with 
funding the PRRP. Those future Federal actions trigger the need for 
compliance with NEPA. Based on its review, the Service finds that the 
FEA adequately addresses appropriate alternatives and their 
environmental effects and accurately describes the future actions that 
the Service may fund. The Service finds, therefore, that the FEA meets 
the Department's and the Service's NEPA procedures and guidelines and 
is appropriate for adoption.

Public Comments

    The Service invites the public to comment on the Service adopting 
the FEA in order to comply with NEPA in association with future 
decisions to fund the PRRP (see DATES). You may submit your comments 
and materials concerning the notice by one of the methods listed in 
ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods 
described in ADDRESSES.
    If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire 
comment--including any personal identifying information--will be posted 
on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that 
includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top 
of your document that we withhold this information from public review. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as documents associated 
with the notice, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2012-0046, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the Service's Maine Field 
Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain copies of 
the notice on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. 
FWS-R5-ES-2012-0046, or by mail from the Service's Maine Field Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Conclusion

    Based on the information summarized above, the Service intends to 
adopt the Commission's FEA to fully comply with the regulations for 
implementing NEPA for Federal funding decisions the Service may make in 
the future. After the close of the comment period, the Service 
anticipates issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in 
conjunction with adopting the FEA. The FONSI will be available on the 
Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R5-ES-2012-
0046, and at http://www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/index.html (Service's 
Maine Field Office Web site), or may be obtained by mail from the 
Service's Maine Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authority

    This notice is provided pursuant to NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.3 
and 1506.6).

    Dated: July 17, 2012.
Henry Chang,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2012-18978 Filed 8-2-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P