[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 246 (Tuesday, December 22, 2020)]
[Pages 83607-83609]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-28259]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-HQ-ES-2020-N146; FXHC11140900000-212-FF09E33000; OMB Control 
Number 1018-0148]

Agency Information Collection Activities; Land-Based Wind Energy 

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 
February 22, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments on the information collection request 
(ICR) by mail 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 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number 
1018-0148 in the subject line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information 
about this ICR, contact Madonna L. Baucum, Service 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 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction 
Act (PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and its implementing regulations

[[Page 83608]]

at 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), all information collections require approval 
under the PRA. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required 
to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a 
currently valid OMB control number.
    As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent 
burdens, we invite the public and other Federal agencies 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.
    We are especially interested in public comment addressing the 
    (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;
    (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. We will include or summarize each comment in our request 
to OMB to approve this ICR. 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;
     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 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: $36,870,000. 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;

[[Page 83609]]

special transportation, such as all-terrain vehicles or helicopters; 
equipment needed for acoustic, telemetry, or radar monitoring; and 
carcass storage.

                                   Annual number     Number of     Total annual      time per      Total annual
           Requirement            of respondents  responses each     responses       response      burden hours
Tier 1 (Desktop Analysis):
    Reporting...................              40               1              40              25           1,000
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               1              40
Tier 2 (Site characterization):
    Reporting...................              35               1              35             155           5,425
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               3             105
Tier 3 (Pre-construction
    Reporting...................              30               1              30           3,100          93,000
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               5             150
Tier 4 (Post-construction
 fatality monitoring and habitat
    Reporting...................              45               1              45           3,600         162,000
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               5             225
Tier 5 (Other post-construction
    Reporting...................              10               1              10           2,100          21,000
    Recordkeeping...............  ..............  ..............  ..............               5              50
        Totals..................             160  ..............             160  ..............         282,995

    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.).

    Dated: December 17, 2020.
Madonna Baucum,
Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 2020-28259 Filed 12-21-20; 8:45 am]