[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 1 (Thursday, January 2, 2014)]
[Pages 143-145]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31394]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2013-0132; FXHC11220500000]

Preparation of an Environmental Assessment in Consideration of 
Issuance of a Bald Eagle Programmatic Take Permit and Implementation of 
the Associated Eagle Conservation Plan for the Great Bay Wind Energy 
Project, Somerset County, Maryland

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent, notice of scoping meeting, and request for 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare an environmental assessment (EA) to address the potential 
impacts of the issuance of a programmatic eagle take permit (permit) 
pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). The 
permit would authorize the taking of bald eagles associated with the 
construction and operation of the proposed Great Bay Wind Energy 
Project (Project) and implementation of an associated eagle 
conservation plan (ECP). The issuance of an eagle take permit is a 
Federal action subject to analysis under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). We provide this notice to announce the 
initiation of a public scoping period during which we invite other 
agencies and the public to submit written comments that provide 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to 
be addressed in the EA. We also announce that we will hold a public 
meeting where oral and written comments will also be accepted.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before February 3, 2014. 
We will hold one public scoping meeting; see Public Meeting under 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for the date, time, and location.

ADDRESSES: Comments concerning the issuance of the programmatic eagle 
take permit and the preparation of the associated EA should be 
identified as such, and may be submitted by one of the following 
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Sarah 
Nystrom, Ecological Services, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 
     In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Written comments 
will be accepted at the public meeting on Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 
or can be dropped off during regular business hours at the address 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Sarah Nystrom, Regional Bald and 
Golden Eagle Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate 
Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035; 413-253-8592 (telephone); Sarah_Nystrom@fws.gov (electronic mail). If you use a telecommunications 
device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service 
at 1-800-877-8339.



    We publish this notice under NEPA, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.), and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6), as well as in 
compliance with BGEPA (16 U.S.C. 668-688d).
    Great Bay Wind I, LLC (Applicant), a subsidiary of Lavaca Wind, LLC 
which is an affiliate of Pioneer Green Energy, LLC, has applied for a 
programmatic eagle take permit for the taking of bald eagles 
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) associated with the Project. We intend to 
gather the information necessary to prepare a draft EA to evaluate the 
impacts of, and alternatives to, the proposed issuance of a permit 
under BGEPA to the Applicant for the

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construction and operation of the Project and implementation of an 
associated ECP.
    The Applicant would own, construct, and operate the Project. The 
Project would be located on 12,046 acres (4,875 hectares) of private 
agricultural lands in Somerset County, Maryland, and would consist of 
25 wind turbine generators, access roads, an electrical collection 
system, an operations and maintenance building, a switchyard, and a 
substation. The Project would generate up to 90 megawatts and is 
anticipated to have a lifespan of up to 30 years.
    The Applicant will develop an ECP in coordination with the Service 
as part of its application for a permit. The objectives of the ECP will 
be to describe the environmental conditions in the Project area, 
summarize the results of eagle studies to date, develop an assessment 
of impacts to bald eagles, develop avoidance and minimization elements, 
and describe compensatory mitigation measures for unavoidable impacts 
that might result from site selection, construction, and operation of 
the project.

Environmental Assessment

    The NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. The proposed action presented in the draft EA will be 
compared to a reasonable range of alternatives, including a no-action 
alternative. The no-action alternative would represent estimated future 
conditions without the application for, or issuance of, a permit.
    The proposed action for the EA is the Service's decision whether to 
issue a permit pursuant to BGEPA (50 CFR 22.26) for the take of bald 
eagles associated with, but not the purpose of, the construction and 
operation of the Project and implementation of the associated ECP. The 
BGEPA defines ``take'' as ``to pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, 
kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or disturb individuals, 
their nests and eggs'' (50 CFR 22.3). ``Disturb'' means to agitate or 
bother an eagle to a degree that causes or is likely to cause (1) 
injury to an eagle; (2) a decrease in its productivity, by 
substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering 
behavior; or (3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with 
normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior (50 CFR 22.3).
    Issuance of an eagle take permit is a Federal action subject to 
analysis of potential environmental impacts under NEPA. The Service 
will prepare an EA to help decide whether to issue a permit authorizing 
take of bald eagles associated with the Project. Upon review of the EA, 
the Service will conclude the EA process with one of the following: (1) 
A finding of no significant impact; (2) a notice of intent to prepare 
an environmental impact statement; or (3) a result that no further 
action is taken on the proposal.

Environmental Review and Next Steps

    The Service will conduct an environmental review to analyze the 
proposed action, along with other alternatives and the associated 
impacts of each. The draft EA will provide the basis for the impact 
evaluation for each potentially affected resource and the range of 
alternatives to be addressed. The draft EA is expected to provide 
biological descriptions of the affected species and habitats, as well 
as the effects of the alternatives on other resources, such as 
vegetation, wetlands, wildlife, geology and soils, air quality, water 
resources, water quality, cultural resources, land use, recreation, 
visual resources, local economy, and environmental justice.
    Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will 
publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft 
EA. The draft EA is expected to be completed and available to the 
public in 2014.

Public Meeting

    The primary purpose of the scoping process is for the public to 
assist the Service in developing a draft EA by identifying important 
issues and alternatives related to permit issuance, to provide the 
public with a general understanding of the background of the eagle 
permit process and activities it would cover, and an overview of the 
NEPA process.
    The scoping meeting will be held on January 15, 2014, from 6 to 8 
p.m. at the J.M. Tawes Technology & Career Center, 7982 Crisfield 
Highway, Westover, MD 21871. The primary purpose of the meeting and 
associated public comment period is to solicit suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues and alternatives for the Service to 
consider when drafting the EA. The meeting format will consist of an 
open house prior to, and directly following, the formal scoping 
meeting. The open house format will provide an opportunity to learn 
about the Project and the proposed action. The initial open house will 
be followed by a formal presentation of the proposed action, summary of 
the NEPA process, and an opportunity for the public to ask questions 
and provide oral comments. Both oral and written comments will be 
accepted at the meeting. Comments can also be submitted by methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft EA is complete and made 
available for review, there will be an additional opportunity for 
public comment on the content of that document through a public meeting 
and comment period.

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, and suggestions from 
the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, industry and any other interested party on this notice. We 
will consider these comments in developing the draft EA. We 
particularly seek comments on the following:
    1. The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects that implementation 
of any reasonable alternative could have on bald eagles, other wildlife 
species, and their habitats;
    2. Other reasonable alternatives (in addition to permit issuance 
and no-action), for consideration and their associated effects;
    3. Relevant biological data and additional information concerning 
bald eagles;
    4. Current or planned activities in the Project area and their 
possible impacts on bald eagles;
    5. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    6. Any other environmental issues that should be considered with 
regard to the proposed Project and permit action.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the EA, will be available for public 
inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our office 

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, telephone 
number, electronic mail address, or other personal identifying 
information in your comments, 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

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cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Meeting Location Accommodations

    Please note that the meeting location is accessible to wheelchair 
users. If you require additional accommodations, please notify us at 
least 1 week in advance of the meeting.


    We provide this notice under NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7 and 
1508.22). The intent of the notice is to enable us to obtain 
suggestions and additional information from other agencies and the 
public on the scope of issues to be considered.

    Dated: December 11, 2013.
Martin Miller,
Acting Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Northeast 
[FR Doc. 2013-31394 Filed 12-31-13; 8:45 am]