Federal Register Vol. 80, No.178,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 178 (September 15, 2015)

Page Range55217-55501
FR Document

80_FR_178
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 55219 - Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 2015PDF
80 FR 55217 - National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, 2015PDF
80 FR 55358 - Sunshine Act Meeting; Open Commission Meeting Thursday, September 17, 2015PDF
80 FR 55412 - Culturally Significant Object Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Judith and Holofernes” ExhibitionPDF
80 FR 55410 - In the Matter of NMI Health, Inc., Order of Suspension of TradingPDF
80 FR 55410 - Order of Suspension of TradingPDF
80 FR 55285 - Risk Reduction ProgramPDF
80 FR 55249 - Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Valuing and Paying BenefitsPDF
80 FR 55405 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 55381 - National Science Board; Sunshine Act Meetings; NoticePDF
80 FR 55364 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Guidance for Industry on Drug Supply Chain Security Act Implementation: Identification of Suspect Product and NotificationPDF
80 FR 55257 - Regulated Navigation Area, Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay; Bayonne, NJ, NYPDF
80 FR 55378 - Record of Decision for Wilderness Stewardship Plan, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Fresno and Tulare Counties, CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 55277 - Special Local Regulation, Tennessee River, Mile 255.0 to 256.5; Florence, ALPDF
80 FR 55259 - Special Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Off-Road Motor VehiclesPDF
80 FR 55342 - Annual Notice of Interest Rates of Federal Student Loans Made Under the Federal Family Education Loan Program Prior to July 1, 2010PDF
80 FR 55336 - Large Residential Washers From the Republic of Korea: Final Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2013PDF
80 FR 55332 - Stainless Steel Bar From India: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 55344 - Annual Notice of Interest Rates of Federal Student Loans Made Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Prior to July 1, 2013PDF
80 FR 55328 - Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 55335 - Large Residential Washers From Mexico: Final Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2014PDF
80 FR 55323 - Shasta-Trinity National Forest; California; Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration ProjectPDF
80 FR 55333 - Utility Scale Wind Towers From the Socialist Republic Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 55412 - Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning Project SelectionsPDF
80 FR 55380 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Abandoned Individual Account Plan TerminationPDF
80 FR 55350 - Mr. Adam R. Rousselle, II; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 55349 - Adam R. Rousselle II; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 55351 - Loup River Hydroelectric Project; Notice of Technical MeetingPDF
80 FR 55349 - Notice of Commission Staff AttendancePDF
80 FR 55351 - Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 55351 - Alaska Energy Authority; Notice Soliciting Comments on Request To Lift the ILP Abeyance and Approve Proposed Modifications to the ILP Plan and SchedulePDF
80 FR 55350 - PB Energy, Inc.; Notice of Intent To File License Application, Filing of Pre-Application Document, and Approving Use of the Traditional Licensing ProcessPDF
80 FR 55280 - Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Washington: Additional Regulations for the Benton Clean Air Agency JurisdictionPDF
80 FR 55352 - National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology: Assumable Waters Subcommittee; Notice of Public MeetingsPDF
80 FR 55379 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Air ActPDF
80 FR 55256 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Snake River, Burbank, WAPDF
80 FR 55242 - Schedule of Fees for Consular Services, Department of State and Overseas Embassies and Consulates-Passport and Citizenship Services Fee Changes; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 55378 - Notice of Availability for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the North Valley Regional Recycled Water ProgramPDF
80 FR 55243 - Controlled Group Regulation ExamplesPDF
80 FR 55347 - Proposed Agency Information CollectionPDF
80 FR 55377 - Filing of Plats of Survey: CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 55246 - Return of Wine to Bonded PremisesPDF
80 FR 55327 - Privacy Act of 1974, Amended System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 55356 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Printing, Coating and Dyeing of Fabrics and Other Textiles (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 55356 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Refractory Products Manufacturing (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 55355 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Flexible Polyurethane Foam Fabrication (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 55328 - Privacy Act of 1974, New System of RecordsPDF
80 FR 55373 - Announcement of Requirements and Registration for the NIEHS Climate Change and Environmental Exposures ChallengePDF
80 FR 55372 - State Planning GrantsPDF
80 FR 55237 - Administrative Destruction of Certain Drugs Refused Admission to the United StatesPDF
80 FR 55322 - Notice of Intent To Request New Information CollectionPDF
80 FR 55376 - Meeting: Homeland Security Advisory CouncilPDF
80 FR 55357 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Reinforced Plastic Composites Production (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 55358 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Benzene Waste Operations (Renewal)PDF
80 FR 55376 - National Institute on Aging Amended; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 55373 - National Institute on Aging Amended; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 55346 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) Spring Fifth-Grade National Data CollectionPDF
80 FR 55284 - Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities; Reopening of Comment PeriodPDF
80 FR 55414 - Sanctions Actions Pursuant to Executive Order 13224PDF
80 FR 55338 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 55395 - ISE Mercury, LLC; Order Granting Application for a Conditional Exemption Pursuant to Section 36(a) of the Exchange Act From Certain Requirements of Rules 6a-1 and 6a-2 Under the Exchange ActPDF
80 FR 55360 - Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 55221 - Special Conditions: Bombardier Aerospace Inc. Model BD-500-1A10 and BD-500-1A11 Airplanes; Flight-Envelope Protection, High Incidence Protection FunctionPDF
80 FR 55228 - Special Conditions: Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Model GVII-G500 Airplanes; Limit Engine Torque LoadsPDF
80 FR 55226 - Special Conditions: Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 5X Airplane, Pilot-Compartment View Through Hydrophobic Windshield Coatings in Lieu of Windshield WipersPDF
80 FR 55411 - Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 55371 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Public Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 55406 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Order Approving a Proposed Rule Change To Introduce an Additional Data Element to the IPO Indicator ServicePDF
80 FR 55407 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Establish an Administration and Delivery Fee for the Municipal Advisor Representative Examination (“Series 50 Examination”)PDF
80 FR 55397 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NASDAQ OMX PHLX LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Modify the Phlx Pricing SchedulePDF
80 FR 55399 - TIAA-CREF Funds, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
80 FR 55341 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 55339 - Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small EntitiesPDF
80 FR 55362 - Depository Library Council to the Director; MeetingPDF
80 FR 55362 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
80 FR 55327 - Information Collection Activity; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 55381 - Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station, Units 2 and 3; South Carolina Electric & Gas CompanyPDF
80 FR 55383 - Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Unit No. 1; Application and Amendment to Facility Operating License Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Consideration DeterminationPDF
80 FR 55376 - Office of the Director; Amended Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 55387 - Biweekly Notice; Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving No Significant Hazards ConsiderationsPDF
80 FR 55337 - Open Meeting of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory BoardPDF
80 FR 55352 - Public Comment on EPA's National Enforcement Initiatives for Fiscal Years 2017-2019PDF
80 FR 55417 - Masters Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Decision and OrderPDF
80 FR 55411 - Surrender of License of Small Business Investment CompanyPDF
80 FR 55304 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Platanthera integrilabia (White Fringeless Orchid)PDF
80 FR 55275 - Proposed Revocation and Establishment of Class E Airspace; Bowman, NDPDF
80 FR 55273 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
80 FR 55229 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
80 FR 55286 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the New England Cottontail as an Endangered or Threatened SpeciesPDF
80 FR 55250 - Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS); TRICARE Reserve Select; TRICARE Dental Program; Early Eligibility for TRICARE for Certain Reserve Component MembersPDF
80 FR 55235 - Airworthiness Directives; CFM International S.A. Turbofan EnginesPDF
80 FR 55232 - Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan EnginesPDF
80 FR 55267 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; State of Nebraska; Cross-State Air Pollution RulePDF
80 FR 55279 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; State of Nebraska; Cross-State Air Pollution RulePDF
80 FR 55266 - Partial Approval and Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans (SIP); State of Nebraska; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)PDF

Issue

80 178 Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Economic Research Service

See

Forest Service

See

Rural Utilities Service

Alcohol Tobacco Tax Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau RULES Return of Wine to Bonded Premises, 55246-55249 2015-23132 Army Army Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55341-55342 2015-23069 2015-23091 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55362-55364 2015-23088 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services PROPOSED RULES Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities; Reopening of Comment Period, 55284-55285 2015-23110 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Snake River, Burbank, WA, 55256-55257 2015-23141 Regulated Navigation Areas: Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay; Bayonne, NJ, NY, 55257-55259 2015-23171 PROPOSED RULES Special Local Regulations: Tennessee River, Mile 255.0 to 256.5; Florence, AL, 55277-55279 2015-23169 Commerce Commerce Department See

International Trade Administration

See

National Institute of Standards and Technology

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

Patent and Trademark Office

NOTICES Privacy Act; Amended Systems of Records, 55327-55328 2015-23131 Privacy Act; New Systems of Records, 55328 2015-23127
Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

RULES Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS); TRICARE Reserve Select; TRICARE Dental Program; Early Eligibility for TRICARE for Certain Reserve Component Members, 55250-55256 2015-22815
Drug Drug Enforcement Administration NOTICES Decisions and Orders: Masters Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 55418-55501 2015-23038 Economic Research Economic Research Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55322 2015-23123 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 Spring Fifth-Grade National Data Collection, 55346-55347 2015-23111 Annual notice of interest rates of Federal student loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program prior to July 1, 2010, 55342-55344 2015-23165 Federal Student Loan Interest Rates: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Prior to July 1, 2013, 55344-55346 2015-23160 Energy Department Energy Department See

Energy Information Administration

See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Energy Information Energy Information Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55347-55349 2015-23136 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: State of Nebraska; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, 55267-55272 2015-20631 State of Nebraska; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard, 55266-55267 2015-20619 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: State of Nebraska; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, 55279-55280 2015-20630 Washington: Additional Regulations for the Benton Clean Air Agency Jurisdiction, 55280-55284 2015-23144 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: NESHAP for Benzene Waste Operations (Renewal), 55358 2015-23114 NESHAP for Flexible Polyurethane Foam Fabrication, 55355 2015-23128 NESHAP for Printing, Coating and Dyeing of Fabrics and Other Textiles, 55356 2015-23130 NESHAP for Refractory Products Manufacturing, 55356-55357 2015-23129 NESHAP for Reinforced Plastic Composites Production (Renewal), 55357-55358 2015-23115 Meetings: National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, Assumable Waters Subcommittee, 55352 2015-23143 National Enforcement Initiatives for Fiscal Years 2017-2019, 55352-55355 2015-23056 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 55229-55232 2015-22924 CFM International S.A. Turbofan Engines, 55235-55237 2015-22598 Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines, 55232-55234 2015-21458 Special Conditions: Bombardier Aerospace Inc. Model BD-500-1A10 and BD-500-1A11 Airplanes; Flight-Envelope Protection, High Incidence Protection Function, 55221-55225 2015-23101 Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 5X Airplane, Pilot-Compartment View Through Hydrophobic Windshield Coatings In Lieu Of Windshield Wipers, 55226-55228 2015-23099 Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Model GVII-G500 Airplanes; Limit Engine Torque Loads, 55228-55229 2015-23100 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: The Boeing Company Airplanes, 55273-55275 2015-22926 Establishment of Class E Airspace: Bowman, ND, 55275-55277 2015-22972 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 55358-55360 2015-23274 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Filings: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., 55351 2015-23148 License Applications: PB Energy, Inc., 55350 2015-23146 Meetings: Loup River Hydroelectric Project, 55351 2015-23150 Permit Applications: Adam R. Rousselle II, 55349 2015-23151 Mr. Adam R. Rousselle, II, 55350 2015-23152 Request to Lift the ILP Abeyance and Approve Proposed Modifications to the ILP Plan and Schedule: Alaska Energy Authority, 55351 2015-23147 Staff Attendances, 55349 2015-23149 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration PROPOSED RULES Risk Reduction Program, 55285-55286 2015-23233 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55360-55362 2015-23103 Federal Transit Federal Transit Administration NOTICES Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning Project Selections, 55412-55414 2015-23154 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service PROPOSED RULES Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: New England Cottontail; 12-Month Finding on Petition to List, 55286-55304 2015-22885 Threatened Species Status for Platanthera integrilabia (White Fringeless Orchid), 55304-55321 2015-22973 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration RULES Administrative Destruction of Certain Drugs Refused Admission to the U.S., 55237-55242 2015-23124 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Guidance for Industry on Drug Supply Chain Security Act Implementation: Identification of Suspect Product and Notification, 55364-55371 2015-23203 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 55414-55415 2015-23109 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California, Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project, 55323-55327 2015-23157 Government Printing Government Publishing Office NOTICES Meetings: Depository Library Council to the Director, 55362 2015-23089 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

Health Resources and Services Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Health Resources Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55371-55372 2015-23097 State Planning Grants, 55372-55373 2015-23125 Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

NOTICES Meetings: Homeland Security Advisory Council, 55376-55377 2015-23116
Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

See

Reclamation Bureau

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service RULES Controlled Group Regulation Examples, 55243-55246 2015-23137 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 55328-55332 2015-23159 Large Residential Washers from Mexico, 55335-55336 2015-23158 Large Residential Washers from the Republic of Korea, 55336-55337 2015-23163 Stainless Steel Bar from India, 55332-55333 2015-23161 Utility Scale Wind Towers from the Socialist Republic Vietnam, 55333-55335 2015-23155 Justice Department Justice Department See

Drug Enforcement Administration

NOTICES Proposed Consent Decrees under the Clean Air Act, 55379-55380 2015-23142
Labor Department Labor Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Abandoned Individual Account Plan Termination, 55380-55381 2015-23153 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Plats of Surveys: California, 55377-55378 2015-23134 National Institute National Institute of Standards and Technology NOTICES Meetings: Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, 55337-55338 2015-23081 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: National Institute on Aging; Amendments, 55373, 55376 2015-23112 2015-23113 Office of the Director, 55376 2015-23084 Requirements and Registration for the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge, 55373-55376 2015-23126 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOTICES Meetings: New England Fishery Management Council, 55338-55339 2015-23107 National Park National Park Service RULES Special Regulations; Areas of the National Park System: Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Off-Road Motor Vehicles, 55259-55266 2015-23168 NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Wilderness Stewardship Plan, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Fresno and Tulare Counties, CA, 55378 2015-23170 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 55381 2015-23207 2015-23208 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, etc., 55387-55395 2015-23083 Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, etc.: Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Unit No. 1, 55383-55387 2015-23085 Combined License Amendments: Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station, Units 2 and 3; South Carolina Electric and Gas Co., 55381-55383 2015-23086 Patent Patent and Trademark Office NOTICES Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities, 55339-55341 2015-23090 Pension Benefit Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation RULES Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Valuing and Paying Benefits, 55249-55250 2015-23231 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: National Days of Prayer and Remembrance (Proc. 9318), 55217-55218 2015-23301 Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance (Proc. 9319), 55219-55220 2015-23302 Reclamation Reclamation Bureau NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program, 55378-55379 2015-23138 Rural Utilities Rural Utilities Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55327 2015-23087 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Applications: TIAA-CREF Funds, et al., 55399-55405 2015-23093 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 55405 2015-23221 Self-egulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., 55407-55410 2015-23095 ISE Mercury, LLC, 55395-55397 2015-23106 NASDAQ OMX PHLX LLC, 55397-55399 2015-23094 NASDAQ Stock Market LLC, 55406-55407 2015-23096 Suspension of Trading Orders: NMI Health, Inc., 55410 2015-23238 Trading Suspension Orders: American Smooth Wave Ventures Inc., ASA International Ltd., Baker Manufacturing Co., et al., 55410-55411 2015-23237 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55411-55412 2015-23098 Small Business License Surrenders: Valley Capital Corp., 55411 2015-22978 State Department State Department RULES Schedule of Fees for Consular Services, Department of State and Overseas Embassies and Consulates, Passport and Citizenship Services Fee Changes; Correction, 55242-55243 2015-23140 NOTICES Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Judith and Holofernes, 55412 2015-23262 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

See

Federal Transit Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

See

Internal Revenue Service

Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, 55418-55501 2015-23038 Reader Aids

Consult the Reader Aids section at the end of this issue for phone numbers, online resources, finding aids, and notice of recently enacted public laws.

To subscribe to the Federal Register Table of Contents LISTSERV electronic mailing list, go to http://listserv.access.thefederalregister.org and select Online mailing list archives, FEDREGTOC-L, Join or leave the list (or change settings); then follow the instructions.

80 178 Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2015-1940; Special Conditions No. 25-597-SC] Special Conditions: Bombardier Aerospace Inc. Model BD-500-1A10 and BD-500-1A11 Airplanes; Flight-Envelope Protection, High Incidence Protection Function AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions, request for comment.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for the Bombardier Aerospace Inc. Model BD-500-1A10 and -A11 airplanes. These airplanes will have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology and design envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport-category airplanes. This design feature is a high incidence protection system that limits the angle of attack at which the airplane can be flown during normal low-speed operation. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

This action is effective on Bombardier Aerospace Inc. on September 15, 2015. We must receive your comments by October 30, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-1940 using any of the following methods:

Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC, 20590-0001.

Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the docket Web site, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-19478), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov/.

Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read athttp://www.regulations.gov/ at any time. Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or go to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Joe Jacobsen, FAA, Airplane and Flight Crew Interface Branch, ANM-111, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2011; facsimile (425) 227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The FAA has determined that notice of, and opportunity for prior public comment on, these special conditions is impracticable because these procedures would significantly delay issuance of the design approval and thus delivery of the affected airplanes.

In addition, the substance of these special conditions has been subject to the public-comment process in several prior instances with no substantive comments received. The FAA therefore finds that good cause exists for making these special conditions effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

Comments Invited

We invite interested people to take part in this rulemaking by sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.

We will consider all comments we receive by the closing date for comments. We may change these special conditions based on the comments we receive.

Background

On December 10, 2009, Bombardier Aerospace Inc. applied for a type certificate for their new Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes. The Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes are swept-wing monoplanes with a pressurized cabin, and share an identical supplier base and significant common design elements. The fuselage is aluminum alloy material, blended double-bubble fuselage, and is sized for nominal five-abreast seating. The powerplant for each airplane model includes two under-wing Pratt and Whitney PW1524G ultra-high bypass, geared turbofan engines. Flight controls are fly-by-wire with two passive/uncoupled side sticks. Avionics include five landscape primary flightdeck displays. The wingspans are 115 feet; heights are 37.75 feet; and length is 114.75 feet for the Model BD-500-1A10, and 127 feet for the Model BD-500-1A11. Passenger capacity is 110 for the Model BD-500-1A10, and 125 for the Model BD-500-1A11. Maximum takeoff weight is 131,000 pounds for the Model BD-500-1A10, and 144,000 pounds for the Model BD-500-1A11. Maximum takeoff thrust is 21,000 pounds for the Model BD-500-1A10, and 23,300 pounds for the Model BD-500-1A11. Range is 3,394 miles, and operating altitude is 41,000 feet, for both airplane models.

Sections specified in these special conditions that address the high incidence protection system will replace common sections found in the applicable sections of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 25.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.17, Bombardier Aerospace Inc. must show that the Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes meet the applicable provisions of part 25 as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-129.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model be amended later to include any other model that incorporates the same or similar novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would also apply to the other model under § 21.101.

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36; and the FAA must issue a finding of regulatory adequacy under § 611 of Public Law 92-574, the “Noise Control Act of 1972.”

The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in accordance with § 11.38, and they become part of the type certification basis under § 21.17(a)(2).

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes will incorporate the following novel or unusual design feature:

A high incidence protection system that replaces the stall warning system during normal operating conditions, prohibits the airplane from stalling, limits the angle of attack at which the airplane can be flown during normal low speed operation, and that cannot be overridden by the flightcrew. The application of this angle-of-attack limit impacts the stall-speed determination, the stall-characteristics and stall-warning demonstration, and the longitudinal-handling characteristics. The current regulations do not address this type of protection feature.

Discussion

The high incidence protection function prevents the airplane from stalling at low speeds and, therefore, a stall-warning system is not needed during normal flight conditions. If a failure of the high incidence protection function occurs that is not shown to be extremely improbable, stall warning must be provided in a conventional manner. Also, the flight characteristics at the angle of attack for maximum-lift coefficient (CLmax) must be suitable in the traditional sense.

These special conditions address this novel or unusual design feature on the Bombardier Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes. These special conditions, which include airplane performance requirements, establish a level of safety equivalent to the current regulations for reference stall speeds, stall warning, stall characteristics, and miscellaneous other minimum reference speeds.

These proposed special conditions for the Bombardier Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes present amendments to the appropriate regulations to accommodate the unique features of the high incidence protection function.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Bombardier Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes. Should Bombardier apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same or similar novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would apply to that model as well.

Conclusion

This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on one model of airplanes. It is not a rule of general applicability.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701, 44702, 44704.

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues the following special conditions as part of the type certification basis for Bombardier Model BD-500-1A10 and -1A11 airplanes.

Flight Envelope Protection: High Incidence Protection System Special Conditions Part I Stall Protection and Scheduled Operating Speeds

The following special conditions are in lieu of §§ 25.21(b), 25.103, 25.145(a), 25.145(b)(6), 25.201, 25.203, 25.207, and 25.1323(d).

Foreword

In the following paragraphs, “in icing conditions” means with the ice accretions (relative to the relevant flight phase) as defined in 14 CFR part 25, Amendment 121, appendix C.

1. Definitions

These special conditions use terminology that does not appear in 14 CFR part 25:

High incidence protection system: A system that operates directly and automatically on the airplane's flying controls to limit the maximum angle of attack that can be attained to a value below that at which an aerodynamic stall would occur.

Alpha limit: The maximum angle of attack at which the airplane stabilizes with the high incidence protection system operating, and the longitudinal control held on its aft stop.

V min : The minimum steady flight speed in the airplane configuration under consideration with the high incidence protection system operating. See Part I, section 3 of these special conditions.

V min 1g: Vmin corrected to 1g conditions. See Part I, section 3 of these special conditions. It is the minimum calibrated airspeed at which the airplane can develop a lift force normal to the flight path and equal to its weight when at an angle of attack not greater than that determined for Vmin.

2. Capability and Reliability of the High Incidence Protection System

The applicant must establish the capability and reliability of the high incidence protection system. The applicant may establish this capability and reliability by flight test, simulation, or analysis. The capability and reliability required are:

1. It must not be possible during pilot-induced maneuvers to encounter a stall, and handling characteristics must be acceptable, as required by Part I, section 5 of these special conditions.

2. The airplane must be protected against stalling due to the effects of wind-shears and gusts at low speeds as required by Part I, section 6 of these special conditions.

3. The ability of the high incidence protection system to accommodate any reduction in stalling incidence must be verified in icing conditions.

4. The high incidence protection system must be provided in each abnormal configuration of the high-lift devices that are likely to be used in flight following system failures.

5. The reliability of the system and the effects of failures must be acceptable in accordance with § 25.1309.

3. Minimum Steady Flight Speed and Reference Stall Speed

In lieu of § 25.103, the following applies:

(a) The minimum steady flight speed, Vmin, is the final stabilized calibrated airspeed obtained when the airplane is decelerated until the longitudinal control is on its stop in such a way that the entry rate does not exceed 1 knot per second.

(b) The minimum steady flight speed, Vmin, must be determined in icing and non-icing conditions with:

(1) The high incidence protection system operating normally;

(2) Idle thrust and automatic thrust system (if applicable) inhibited;

(3) All combinations of flap settings and landing gear position for which Vmin is required to be determined;

(4) The weight used when reference stall speed, VSR, is being used as a factor to determine compliance with a required performance standard;

(5) The most unfavorable center of gravity allowable; and

(6) The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system.

(c) The 1-g minimum steady flight speed, Vmin1g, is the minimum calibrated airspeed at which the airplane can develop a lift force (normal to the flight path) equal to its weight, while at an angle of attack not greater than that at which the minimum steady flight speed of subparagraph (a) was determined. It must be determined in icing and non-icing conditions.

(d) The reference stall speed, VSR, is a calibrated airspeed defined by the applicant. VSR may not be less than a 1g stall speed. VSR must be determined in non-icing conditions and expressed as:

ER15SE15.002

(e) VCLmax is determined in non-icing conditions with:

(1) Engines idling, or, if that resultant thrust causes an appreciable decrease in stall speed, not more than zero thrust at the stall speed;

(2) The airplane in other respects (such as flaps and landing gear) in the condition existing in the test or performance standard in which VSR is being used;

(3) The weight used when VSR is being used as a factor to determine compliance with a required performance standard;

(4) The center of gravity position that results in the highest value of reference stall speed;

(5) The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system, but not less than 1.13 VSR and not greater than 1.3 VSR;

(6) Reserved.

(7) The high incidence protection system adjusted, at the option of the applicant, to allow higher incidence than is possible with the normal production system; and

(8) Starting from the stabilized trim condition, apply the longitudinal control to decelerate the airplane so that the speed reduction does not exceed 1 knot per second.

4. Stall Warning

In lieu of § 25.207, the following apply:

4.1 Normal Operation

If the design meets all conditions of section 2 of these special conditions, then the airplane need not provide stall warning during normal operation. The conditions of section 2 provide safety equivalent to § 25.207, “Stall warning,” so the provision of an additional, unique warning device for normal operations is not required.

4.2 High Incidence Protection System Failure

For any failure of the high incidence protection system that the applicant cannot show to be extremely improbable, and that result in the capability of the system no longer satisfying any part of section 2 of these special conditions, the design must provide stall warning that protects against encountering unacceptable stall characteristics and against encountering stall.

(a) This stall warning, with the flaps and landing gear in any normal position, must be clear and distinctive to the pilot and meet the requirements specified in paragraphs (d) and (e), below.

(b) The design must also provide this stall warning in each abnormal configuration of the high-lift devices that is likely to be used in flight following system failures.

(c) The design may furnish this stall warning either through the inherent aerodynamic qualities of the airplane or by a device that will give clearly distinguishable indications under all expected conditions of flight. However, a visual stall-warning device that requires the attention of the crew within the flightdeck is not acceptable by itself. If a warning device is used, it must provide a warning in each of the airplane configurations prescribed in paragraph (a), above, and for the conditions prescribed in paragraphs (d) and (e), below.

(d) In non-icing conditions, stall warning must provide sufficient margin to prevent encountering unacceptable stall characteristics and encountering stall in the following conditions:

(1) In power-off straight deceleration not exceeding 1 knot per second to a speed 5 knots or 5 percent calibrated airspeed, whichever is greater, below the warning onset.

(2) In turning flight, stall deceleration at entry rates up to 3 knots per second when recovery is initiated not less than 1 second after the warning onset.

(e) In icing conditions, stall warning must provide sufficient margin to prevent encountering unacceptable characteristics and encountering stall, in power-off straight and turning flight decelerations not exceeding 1 knot per second, when the pilot starts a recovery maneuver not less than three seconds after the onset of stall warning.

(f) An airplane is considered stalled when the behavior of the airplane gives the pilot a clear and distinctive indication of an acceptable nature that the airplane is stalled. Acceptable indications of a stall, occurring either individually or in combination, are:

(1) A nose-down pitch that cannot be readily arrested;

(2) Buffeting, of a magnitude and severity that is a strong and effective deterrent to further speed reduction;

(3) The pitch control reaches the aft stop, and no further increase in pitch attitude occurs when the control is held full aft for a short time before recovery is initiated.

(g) An airplane exhibits unacceptable characteristics during straight or turning flight decelerations if it is not always possible to produce and to correct roll and yaw by unreversed use of aileron and rudder controls, or abnormal nose-up pitching occurs.

5. Handling Characteristics at High Incidence

In lieu of §§ 25.201 and 25.203, the following apply:

5.1 High Incidence Handling Demonstration

In lieu of § 25.201:

(a) Maneuvers to the limit of the longitudinal control, in the nose-up pitch, must be demonstrated in straight flight and in 30-degree banked turns with:

(1) The high incidence protection system operating normally;

(2) Initial power conditions of:

i. Power off; and

ii. The power necessary to maintain level flight at 1.5 VSR1, where VSR1 is the reference stall speed with flaps in approach position, the landing gear retracted, and maximum landing weight.

(3) None.

(4) Flaps, landing gear, and deceleration devices in any likely combination of positions;

(5) Representative weights within the range for which certification is requested; and

(6) The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system.

(b) The following procedures must be used to show compliance in non-icing and icing conditions:

(1) Starting at a speed sufficiently above the minimum steady flight speed to ensure that a steady rate of speed reduction can be established, apply the longitudinal control so that the speed reduction does not exceed 1 knot per second until the control reaches the stop;

(2) The longitudinal control must be maintained at the stop until the airplane has reached a stabilized flight condition and must then be recovered by normal recovery techniques;

(3) Maneuvers with increased deceleration rates:

(i) In non-icing conditions, the requirements must also be met with increased rates of entry to the incidence limit, up to the maximum rate achievable; and

(ii) In icing conditions, with the anti-ice system working normally, the requirements must also be met with increased rates of entry to the incidence limit, up to 3 knots per second.

(4) Maneuver with ice accretion prior to operation of the normal anti-ice system. With the ice accretion prior to operation of the normal anti-ice system, the requirements must also be met in deceleration at 1 knot per second up to full back stick.

5.2 Characteristics in High Incidence Maneuvers

In lieu of § 25.203:

In icing and non-icing conditions:

(a) Throughout maneuvers with a rate of deceleration of not more than 1 knot per second, both in straight flight and in 30-degree banked turns, the airplane's characteristics must be as follows:

(1) There must not be any abnormal nose-up pitching.

(2) There must not be any uncommanded nose-down pitching, which would be indicative of stall. However, reasonable attitude changes associated with stabilizing the incidence at Alpha limit as the longitudinal control reaches the stop would be acceptable.

(3) There must not be any uncommanded lateral or directional motion, and the pilot must retain good lateral and directional control, by conventional use of the controls, throughout the maneuver.

(4) The airplane must not exhibit buffeting of a magnitude and severity that would act as a deterrent from completing the maneuver specified in paragraph 5.1(a).

(b) In maneuvers with increased rates of deceleration, some degradation of characteristics is acceptable, associated with a transient excursion beyond the stabilized Alpha limit. However, the airplane must not exhibit dangerous characteristics or characteristics that would deter the pilot from holding the longitudinal control on the stop for a period of time appropriate to the maneuver.

(c) It must always be possible to reduce incidence by conventional use of the controls.

(d) The rate at which the airplane can be maneuvered from trim speeds associated with scheduled operating speeds such as V2 and VREF, up to Alpha limit, must not be unduly damped or be significantly slower than can be achieved on conventionally controlled transport airplanes.

5.3 Characteristics Up to Maximum Lift Angle of Attack

In lieu of § 25.201:

(a) In non-icing conditions:

Maneuvers with a rate of deceleration of not more than 1 knot per second, up to the angle of attack at which VCLmax was obtained, as defined in section 3, “Minimum Steady Flight Speed and Reference Stall Speed,” must be demonstrated in straight flight and in 30-degree banked turns in the following configurations:

(1) The high incidence protection deactivated or adjusted, at the option of the applicant, to allow higher incidence than is possible with the normal production system;

(2) Automatic thrust-increase system inhibited (if applicable);

(3) Engines idling;

(4) Flaps and landing gear in any likely combination of positions; and

(5) The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system.

(b) In icing conditions:

Maneuvers with a rate of deceleration of not more than 1 knot per second, up to the maximum angle of attack reached during maneuvers from paragraph 5.1(b)(3)(ii), must be demonstrated in straight flight with:

(1) The high incidence protection deactivated or adjusted, at the option of the applicant, to allow higher incidence than is possible with the normal production system;

(2) Automatic thrust-increase system inhibited (if applicable);

(3) Engines idling;

(4) Flaps and landing gear in any likely combination of positions; and

(5) The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system.

(c) During the maneuvers used to show compliance with paragraphs (a) and (b), above, the airplane must not exhibit dangerous characteristics, and it must always be possible to reduce the angle of attack by conventional use of the controls. The pilot must retain good lateral and directional control, by conventional use of the controls, throughout the maneuver.

6. Atmospheric Disturbances

Operation of the high incidence protection system must not adversely affect airplane control during expected levels of atmospheric disturbances, nor impede the application of recovery procedures in case of wind-shear. This must be demonstrated in non-icing and icing conditions.

7. Proof of Compliance

In lieu of § 25.21(b), “[Reserved],” the design must meet the following requirement:

(b) The flying qualities must be evaluated at the most unfavorable center-of-gravity position.

8. Sections 25.145(a), 25.145(b)(6), and 25.1323(d)

The design must meet the following modified requirements:

• For § 25.145(a), add “Vmin” in lieu of “stall identification.”

• For § 25.145(b)(6), add “Vmin” in lieu of “VSW.”

• For § 25.1323(d), add “From 1.23 VSR to Vmin . . .,” in lieu of “1.23 VSR to stall warning speed . . .,” and, “. . . speeds below Vmin . . .” in lieu of “. . . speeds below stall warning. . . .”

Special Conditions Part II—Credit for Robust Envelope Protection in Icing Conditions

The following special conditions are in lieu of the specified paragraphs of §§ 25.103, 25.105, 25.107, 25.121, 25.123, 25.125, 25.143, and 25.207.

1. In lieu of § 25.103, define the stall speed as provided in Part I of these special conditions.

2. In lieu of § 25.105(a)(2)(i), the following applies:

(i) The V2 speed scheduled in non-icing conditions does not provide the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h) for the takeoff configuration, or apply 25.105(a)(2)(ii) unchanged.

3. In lieu of § 25.107(c) and (g), the following apply, with additional sections (c′) and (g′):

(c) In non-icing conditions, V2, in terms of calibrated airspeed, must be selected by the applicant to provide at least the gradient of climb required by § 25.121(b), but may not be less than—

(1) V2MIN;

(2) VR plus the speed increment attained (in accordance with § 25.111(c)(2)) before reaching a height of 35 feet above the takeoff surface; and

(3) A speed that provides the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h).

(c′) In icing conditions with the “takeoff ice” accretion defined in part 25, appendix C, V2 may not be less than—

(1) The V2 speed determined in non-icing conditions; and

(2) A speed that provides the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h).

(g) In non-icing conditions, VFTO, in terms of calibrated airspeed, must be selected by the applicant to provide at least the gradient of climb required by § 25.121(c), but may not be less than—

(1) 1.18 VSR; and

(2) A speed that provides the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h).

(g′) In icing conditions with the “final takeoff ice” accretion defined in part 25, appendix C, VFTO may not be less than—

(1) The VFTO speed determined in non-icing conditions.

(2) A speed that provides the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h).

4. In lieu of §§ 25.121(b)(2)(ii)(A), 25.121(c)(2)(ii)(A), and 25.121(d)(2)(ii), the following apply:

In lieu of § 25.121(b)(2)(ii)(A):

(A) The V2 speed scheduled in non-icing conditions does not provide the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h) for the takeoff configuration; or

In lieu of § 25.121(c)(2)(ii)(A):

(A) The VFTO speed scheduled in non-icing conditions does not provide the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h) for the en-route configuration; or

In lieu of § 25.121(d)(2)(ii):

(d)(2) The requirements of subparagraph (d)(1) of this paragraph must be met:

(ii) In icing conditions with the approach ice accretion defined in 14 CFR part 25, appendix C, in a configuration corresponding to the normal all-engines-operating procedure in which Vmin1g for this configuration does not exceed 110 percent of the Vmin1g for the related all-engines-operating landing configuration in icing, with a climb speed established with normal landing procedures, but not more than 1.4 VSR (VSR determined in non-icing conditions).

5. In lieu of § 25.123(b)(2)(i), the following applies:

(i) The minimum en-route speed scheduled in non-icing conditions does not provide the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h) for the en-route configuration, or

6. In lieu of § 25.125(b)(2)(ii)(B) and § 25.125(b)(2)(ii)(C), the following applies:

(B) A speed that provides the maneuvering capability specified in § 25.143(h) with the approach ice accretion defined in 14 CFR part 25, appendix C.

7. In lieu of § 25.143(j)(2)(i), the following applies:

(i) The airplane is controllable in a pull-up maneuver up to 1.5 g load factor or lower if limited by angle-of-attack protection.

8. In lieu of § 25.207, “Stall warning,” to read as the requirements defined in these special conditions Part I, section 4.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 1, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-23101 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2014-1075; Special Conditions No. 25-599-SC] Special Conditions: Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 5X Airplane, Pilot-Compartment View Through Hydrophobic Windshield Coatings in Lieu of Windshield Wipers AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comment.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for the Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane. This airplane will have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport-category airplanes. This design feature is hydrophobic windshield coatings in lieu of windshield wipers. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

This action is effective on Dassault Aviation on September 15, 2015. We must receive your comments by October 30, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2014-1075 using any of the following methods:

Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the docket Web site, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-19478), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov/.

Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at http://www.regulations.gov/ at any time. Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or go to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Bob Hettman, ANM-112, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2683; facsimile (425) 227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The FAA has determined that notice of, and opportunity for prior public comment on, these special conditions is impracticable because these procedures would significantly delay issuance of the design approval and thus delivery of the affected airplane(s).

In addition, the substance of these special conditions has been subject to the public comment process in several prior instances with no substantive comments received. The FAA therefore finds that good cause exists for making these special conditions effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

Comments Invited

We invite interested people to take part in this rulemaking by sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.

We will consider all comments we receive by the closing date for comments. We may change these special conditions based on the comments we receive.

Background

On July 1, 2012, Dassault Aviation applied for a type certificate for their new Model Falcon 5X airplane.

The Model Falcon 5X airplane is a large, transport-category airplane to be operated in private/corporate transportation with a maximum of 19 passengers. The airplane incorporates a low, swept-wing design with winglets; twin rear-fuselage-mounted engines; and the newest generation of Dassault Aviation's EASy flightdeck.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 21.17, Dassault Aviation must show that the Model Falcon 5X airplane meets the applicable provisions of part 25, as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-136.

The certification basis includes certain special conditions, exemptions, or later amended sections of the applicable part that are not relevant to these special conditions.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Model Falcon 5X airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model be amended later to include any other model that incorporates the same novel or unusual design feature, or should any other model already included on the same type certificate be modified to incorporate the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would also apply to the other model under § 21.101.

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Model Falcon 5X airplane must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of part 34, and the noise-certification requirements of part 36.

The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in accordance with § 11.38, and they become part of the type-certification basis under § 21.101.

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane will incorporate the following novel or unusual design feature:

The airplane flightdeck design incorporates a hydrophobic windshield coating that, during precipitation, provides an adequate outside view from the pilot compartment. Sole reliance on such a coating, without windshield wipers, constitutes a novel or unusual design feature for which the applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards. Therefore, special conditions are required to provide a level of safety equivalent to that established by the regulations.

Discussion

Section 25.773(b)(1) requires a means to maintain a clear portion of the windshield for both pilots operating a transport-category airplane to have a sufficiently extensive view along the flight path during precipitation conditions. The regulations require this means to maintain such an area of clear vision during heavy-rain precipitation at airplane speeds up to 1.5 VSR1.

This requirement has existed in principle since 1953 in part 4b of the “Civil Air Regulations” (CAR). Section 4b.351(b)(1) required that “Means shall be provided for maintaining a sufficient portion of the windshield clear so that both pilots are afforded a sufficiently extensive view along the flight path in all normal flight attitudes of the airplane. Such means shall be designed to function under the following conditions without continuous attention on the part of the crew: (i) In heavy rain at speeds up to 1.6 VS1, flaps retracted.”

Effective December 26, 2002, Amendment 25-108 changed the speed for effectiveness of the means to maintain an area of clear vision from up to 1.6 VS1 to 1.5 VSR1 to accommodate the redefinition of the reference stall speed from the minimum speed in the stall, VS1, to greater than or equal to the 1g stall speed, VSR1. As noted in the preamble to the final rule for that amendment, the reduced factor of 1.5 on VSR1 is to maintain approximately the same speed as the 1.6 factor on VS1.

The requirement that the means to maintain a clear area of forward vision must function at high speeds and high precipitation rates is based on the use of windshield wipers as the means to maintain an adequate area of clear vision in precipitation conditions. The requirement in 14 CFR 121.313(b) and 125.213(b) to provide “. . . a windshield wiper or equivalent for each pilot station . . .” has remained unchanged since at least 1953.

The effectiveness of windshield wipers to maintain an area of clear vision normally degrades as airspeed and precipitation rates increase. It is assumed that because high speeds and high precipitation rates represent limiting conditions for windshield wipers, they will also be effective at lower speeds and precipitation levels. Accordingly, § 25.773(b)(1)(i) does not require maintenance of a clear area of forward vision at lower speeds or lower precipitation rates.

A forced airflow blown directly over the windshield has also been used to maintain an area of clear vision in precipitation. The limiting conditions for this technology are comparable to those for windshield wipers. Accordingly, introduction of this technology did not present a need for special conditions to maintain the level of safety embodied in the existing regulations.

Hydrophobic windshield coatings may depend to some degree on airflow to maintain a clear-vision area. The heavy rain and high speed conditions specified in the current rule do not necessarily represent the limiting condition for this new technology. For example, airflow over the windshield, which may be necessary to remove moisture from the windshield, may not be adequate to maintain a sufficiently clear-vision area of the windshield in low-speed flight or during surface operations. Alternatively, airflow over the windshield may be disturbed during such critical times as the approach to land, where the airplane is at a higher-than-normal pitch attitude. In these cases, areas of airflow disturbance or separation on the windshield could cause failure to maintain a clear-vision area on the windshield.

In addition to potentially depending on airflow to function effectively, hydrophobic coatings may also be dependent on water-droplet size for effective precipitation removal. For example, precipitation in the form of a light mist may not be sufficient for the coating's properties to result in maintaining a clear area of vision.

The current regulations identify speed and precipitation rate requirements that represent limiting conditions for windshield wipers and blowers, but not for hydrophobic coatings. Likewise, it is necessary to issue special conditions to maintain the level of safety represented by the current regulations.

These special conditions provide an appropriate safety standard for the hydrophobic-coating technology as the means to maintain a clear area of vision by requiring the coating to be effective at low speeds and low precipitation rates, as well as at the higher speeds and precipitation rates identified in the current regulation. These special conditions are the only new or changed requirements relative to those in § 25.773(b)(1) at Amendment 25-108.

These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Dassault Falcon 5X airplane. Should Dassault apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would apply to that model as well.

Conclusion

This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on the Dassault Falcon 5X airplane. It is not a rule of general applicability.

The substance of these special conditions has been subjected to the notice and comment period in several prior instances and has been derived without substantive change from those previously issued. It is unlikely that prior public comment would result in a significant change from the substance contained herein. Therefore, because a delay would significantly affect the certification of the airplane, which is imminent, the FAA has determined that prior public notice and comment are unnecessary and impracticable, and good cause exists for adopting these special conditions upon publication in the Federal Register. The FAA is requesting comments to allow interested persons to submit views that may not have been submitted in response to the prior opportunities for comment described above.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

49106(g), 40113, 44701, 44702, 44704.

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type-certification basis for Dassault Falcon 5X airplanes.

The airplane must have a means to maintain a clear portion of the windshield, during precipitation conditions, enough for both pilots to have a sufficiently extensive view along the ground or flight path in normal taxi and flight attitudes of the airplane. This means must be designed to function, without continuous attention on the part of the flightcrew, in conditions from light misting precipitation to heavy rain, at speeds from fully stopped in still air, to 1.5 VSR1 with lift and drag devices retracted.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 9, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-23099 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2015-1483; Special Conditions No. 25-598-SC] Special Conditions: Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Model GVII-G500 Airplanes; Limit Engine Torque Loads AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for the Gulfstream Model GVII-G500 airplane. These airplanes have a novel or unusual design feature as compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. This design feature includes engine size and the potential torque loads imposed by sudden engine stoppage. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

The effective date of these special conditions is September 15, 2015. We must receive your comments by October 30, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-1483 using any of the following methods:

Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the docket Web site, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-19478), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov/.

Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read athttp://www.regulations.gov/ at any time. Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or go to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Walt Sippel, FAA, Airframe and Cabin Safety Branch, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2774; facsimile 425-227-1232.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The FAA has determined that notice of, and opportunity for, prior public comment on these special conditions are impracticable because these procedures would significantly delay issuance of the design approval and thus delivery of the affected airplane.

In addition, the substance of these special conditions has been subject to the public-comment process in several prior instances with no substantive comments received. The FAA therefore finds that good cause exists for making these special conditions effective upon issuance.

Comments Invited

We invite interested people to take part in this rulemaking by sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.

We will consider all comments we receive on or before the closing date for comments. We may change these special conditions based on the comments we receive.

Background

On March 29, 2012, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation applied for a type certificate for their new Model GVII-G500 airplane.

The GVII airplane is a large-cabin business jet with seating for 19 passengers. It incorporates a low, swept-wing design with winglets and a T-tail. The Model GVII-G500 airplane is powered by two aft-fuselage-mounted Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines. Avionics will include four primary display units and multiple touchscreen controllers. The flight-control system is a three-axis fly-by-wire system controlled by active control/coupled side sticks.

The Model GVII-G500 airplane wingspan is approximately 87 ft with a length of just over 91 ft. Maximum takeoff weight will be approximately 76,850 lbs and maximum takeoff thrust will be approximately 15,135 lbs. Maximum range will be approximately 5,000 nm and maximum operating altitude will be 51,000 ft.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 21.17, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation must show that the Model GVII-500 airplane meets the applicable provisions of part 25, as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-137 thereto.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Model GVII-G500 airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model be amended later to include any other model that incorporates the same or similar novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would also apply to the other model under § 21.101.

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Model GVII-G500 airplane must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34 and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in accordance with § 11.38, and they become part of the type-certification basis under § 21.17(a)(2).

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Model GVII-G500 airplane will incorporate the following novel or unusual design features: Large-bypass engines capable of larger and more complex dynamic loads than were envisioned when the 14 CFR 25.361(b) rule was developed in 1957, thereby requiring issuance of special conditions to establish appropriate design standards for the Model GVII-G500 airplane.

Discussion

The limit engine torque load imposed by sudden engine stoppage due to malfunction or structural failure (such as a compressor jamming) has been a specific requirement for transport-category airplanes since 1957. In the past, the design torque loads associated with typical failure scenarios have been estimated by the engine manufacturer and were provided to the airframe manufacturer as limit loads. These limit loads were considered simple, pure-torque static loads.

It is evident from service history that the engine-failure events that tend to cause the most severe loads are fan-blade failures, and these events occur much less frequently than the typical “limit” load condition.

To maintain the level of safety envisioned by § 25.361(b), more comprehensive criteria are required for the new generation of high-bypass engines. These special conditions distinguish between the more common engine-failure events and those rare events resulting from structural failures. The more-common events are regarded as static torque limit load conditions. The more-severe events resulting from extreme engine-failure conditions (such as loss of a full fan blade at redline speed) are regarded as full dynamic load conditions. These are considered ultimate loads, and include all transient loads associated with the event. An additional safety factor is applied to the more-critical airframe supporting structure.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Model GVII-G500 airplane. Should Gulfstream Aerospace apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would apply to that model as well.

Conclusion

This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on one model series of airplane. It is not a rule of general applicability.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701, 44702, 44704.

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Model GVII-G500 airplane.

In lieu of § 25.361(b) the following special conditions apply:

1. For turbine engine installations, the engine mounts, pylons, and adjacent supporting airframe structure must be designed to withstand 1g level flight loads acting simultaneously with the maximum limit torque loads imposed by each of the following:

a. Sudden engine deceleration due to a malfunction that could result in a temporary loss of power or thrust, and

b. The maximum acceleration of the engine.

2. For auxiliary power unit (APU) installations, the power unit mounts and adjacent supporting airframe structure must be designed to withstand 1g level-flight loads acting simultaneously with the maximum limit torque loads imposed by each of the following:

a. Sudden APU deceleration due to malfunction or structural failure; and

b. The maximum acceleration of the APU.

3. For engine supporting structure, an ultimate loading condition must be considered that combines 1g flight loads with the transient dynamic loads resulting from:

a. The loss of any fan, compressor, or turbine blade; and separately,

b. Where applicable to a specific engine design, any other engine structural failure that results in higher loads.

4. The ultimate loads developed from the conditions specified in special conditions 3(a) and 3(b), above, are to be multiplied by a factor of 1.0 when applied to engine mounts and pylons, and multiplied by a factor of 1.25 when applied to adjacent supporting airframe structure.

5. Any permanent deformation that results from the conditions specified in special condition 3, above, must not prevent continued safe flight and landing.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 1, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-23100 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0926; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-121-AD; Amendment 39-18263; AD 2015-18-05] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 97-07-14, for certain Airbus Model A320-111, -211, and -231 airplanes. AD 97-07-14 required modification of an area on the front spar of the wing center section by installing shims and new fasteners to reinforce pressure floor fittings. This new AD continues to require modifying the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section by installing shims and new fasteners to reinforce pressure floor fittings; and requires repetitive high frequency eddy current inspections for cracking of the radius of the rib flanges and vertical stiffener at frame 36, a rototest inspection for cracking of the fastener holes of the rib flanges, repair if needed, and adding additional airplanes to the applicability. This AD was prompted by the need for repetitive inspections on airplanes on which the modification of the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section has been done. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking on the rib flange area of the front spar of the wing center section, which can reduce the structural integrity of fuselage frame 36 and the wing center section.

DATES:

This AD becomes effective October 20, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of October 20, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain other publication listed in this AD as of May 12, 1997 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997).

ADDRESSES:

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0926; or in person at the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC.

For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0926.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1405; fax 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997). AD 97-07-14 applied to certain Airbus Model A320-111, -211, and -231 airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on April 24, 2015 (80 FR 22943).

Since we issued AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997), we have determined the need for repetitive inspections on airplanes on which Airbus Modification 20976 (modification of the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section) was done in production, or was done using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, dated April 12, 1989; or Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0053, dated March 7, 2014 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition on certain Airbus Model A320-211 and -231 airplanes. The MCAI states:

During full scale fatigue tests on the Airbus A320 test specimen, cracks were found in the rib flange on the front spar side perpendicular to vertical posts at frame (FR) 36. It was determined that similar cracks could develop on certain in-service aeroplanes.

This condition, if not detected and corrected, could affect the wing structural integrity.

To reduce the risk of crack initiation, two modifications for aeroplanes in production and one modification for in-service aeroplanes were developed by Airbus: Prior to [manufacturer serial number] MSN 0085, the adaptation modification (Mod) 20976 was applied in production, consisting in installing shims under the fasteners linking the rib flange, the lower corner, the front spar and its vertical stiffener; from MSN 0085 onwards, the serial Mod 20908 was applied in production, consisting in installing reinforced lower surface rib flanges at front spar level.

Airbus issued Service Bulletin (SB) A320-57-1013 for affected in-service aeroplanes, and [Directorate General for Civil Aviation] DGAC France issued AD [F-19]95-098-066 [dated May 24, 1995, which corresponds to FAA AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997), http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/F-1995-098-066] to require installation of shims under the fasteners linking the rib flange, the lower corner, the front spar and its vertical stiffener.

Following a recent analysis, Airbus identified the need for repetitive [HFEC and rototest] inspections for aeroplanes on which Airbus SB A320-57-1013 or production Mod 20976 has been embodied.

For the reason described above, this [EASA] AD retains the requirements of DGAC France AD [F-19]95-098-066, [dated May 24, 1995, which corresponds to FAA AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997), http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/F-1995-098-066], which is superseded, and requires repetitive [HFEC and rototest] inspections of the center wing lower ribs at FR 36 and, depending on findings, accomplishment of a repair.

After EASA issued PAD 14-013, it was discovered that additional work [removal of shims and fasteners on the rib flange on the front spar side and doing an HFEC inspection for cracking of the radius of the rib flanges and a rototest inspection for cracking of the fastener holes during each inspection] to be included in Revision 01 of Airbus SB A320-57-1175, is required to accomplish the inspections. This Final [EASA] AD has been amended accordingly.

Airplanes having MSNs 001, 009, and 015 were not included in the applicability of AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997). EASA AD 2014-0053, dated March 7, 2014, expanded the applicability to all airplanes having manufacturer serial numbers up to MSN 0084 inclusive. We included paragraph (h) of this AD to require the modification for the airplanes having MSNs 001, 009, and 015. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0926-0002.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. We received no comments on the NPRM (80 FR 22943, April 24, 2015) or on the determination of the cost to the public.

Conclusion

We reviewed the available data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD as proposed except for minor editorial changes. We have determined that these minor changes:

• Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 22943, April 24, 2015) for correcting the unsafe condition; and

• Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 22943, April 24, 2015).

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-57-1175, Revision 01, including Appendix 01, dated May 28, 2014. The service information describes procedures for repetitive high frequency eddy current inspections for cracking of the radius of the rib flanges and vertical stiffener at frame 36, a rototest inspection for cracking of the fastener holes of the rib flanges, and repair. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this AD.

Explanation of “RC” Procedures and Tests in Service Information

The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), to enhance the AD system. One enhancement was a new process for annotating which procedures and tests in the service information are required for compliance with an AD. Differentiating these procedures and tests from other tasks in the service information is expected to improve an owner's/operator's understanding of crucial AD requirements and help provide consistent judgment in AD compliance. The procedures and tests identified as Required for Compliance (RC) in any service information have a direct effect on detecting, preventing, resolving, or eliminating an identified unsafe condition.

As specified in a NOTE under the Accomplishment Instructions of the specified service information, procedures and tests that are identified as RC in any service information must be done to comply with the AD. However, procedures and tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an alternative method of compliance (AMOC), provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in a serviceable condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC will require approval of an AMOC.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects 11 airplanes of U.S. registry.

The actions required by AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997), and retained in this AD take about 13 work-hours per product, at an average labor rate of $85 per work-hour. Required parts cost about $576 per product. Based on these figures, the estimated cost of the actions that were required by AD 97-07-14 is $1,681 per product.

We also estimate that it will take about 45 work-hours per product to comply with the new basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts will cost about $1,600 per product. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $59,675, or $5,425 per product.

Authority for This Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. “Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs,” describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in “Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

Regulatory Findings

We determined that this AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this AD:

1. Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866;

2. Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

4. Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0926; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997), and adding the following new AD: 2015-18-05 Airbus: Amendment 39-18263. Docket No. FAA-2015-0926; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-121-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD becomes effective October 20, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD replaces AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus Model A320-211 and -231 airplanes, certificated in any category, all manufacturer serial numbers (MSN) up to MSN 0084 inclusive.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 57, Wings.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by the determination that repetitive inspections are needed on airplanes on which the modification of the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section has been done. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking on the rib flange area of the front spar of the wing center section, which can reduce the structural integrity of fuselage frame 36 and the wing center section.

(f) Compliance

Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

(g) Retained Modification

This paragraph restates the requirements of paragraph (a) of AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997). For airplanes with manufacturer serial numbers (MSN) 005 through 008 inclusive, MSNs 010 through 014 inclusive, and MSNs 016 through 042 inclusive: Prior to the accumulation of 16,000 total landings, or within 3 months after May 12, 1997 (the effective date of AD 97-07-14), whichever occurs later, modify the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section by installing shims and new fasteners to reinforce pressure floor fittings, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992.

(h) New Requirement of This AD: Modification for Airplanes With MSNs 001, 009, and 015

Prior to the accumulation of 16,000 total landings since first flight, or within 30 days after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later, modify the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section by installing shims and new fasteners to reinforce pressure floor fittings, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992.

(i) New Requirement of This AD: Repetitive Inspections

Within the applicable compliance times specified in paragraphs (i)(1) and (i)(2) of this AD, do a high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection for cracking of the radius of the rib flanges and vertical stiffener at frame 36, and do a rototest inspection for cracking of the fastener holes of the rib flanges and vertical stiffener, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1175, Revision 01, including Appendix 01, dated May 28, 2014. During each inspection, remove the shims and fasteners on the rib flange on the front spar side and do an HFEC inspection for cracking of the radius of the rib flanges and a rototest inspection for cracking of the fastener holes. If no cracking is found, oversize the holes of the rib flange and the holes of the shims, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1175, Revision 01, including Appendix 01, dated May 28, 2014. Repeat the inspections thereafter at intervals not to exceed 32,500 flight cycles or 65,000 flight hours, whichever occurs first.

(1) For airplanes having Airbus Modification 20976 embodied: At the later of the times specified in paragraphs (i)(1)(i) or (i)(1)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Before exceeding 47,800 flight cycles or 95,600 flight hours, whichever occurs first, since the airplane's first flight.

(ii) Within 850 flight cycles or 1,700 flight hours, whichever occurs first, after the effective date of this AD.

(2) For airplanes on which the modification of the front spar of the wing center section was accomplished using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992: At the later of the times specified in paragraphs (i)(2)(i) or (i)(2)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Before exceeding 10,700 flight cycles or 21,500 flight hours, whichever occurs first, after the modification of the rib flange on the front spar of the wing center section was done using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992.

(ii) Within 850 flight cycles or 1,700 flight hours, whichever occurs first, after the effective date of this AD.

(j) Repair

If, during any inspection required by paragraph (i) of this AD, any cracking is found, before further flight, repair using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

(k) Credit for Previous Actions

This paragraph restates the requirements of Note 2 of paragraph (g) of AD 97-07-14, Amendment 39-9988 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997): This paragraph provides credit for the modification of the rib flange required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before May 12, 1997 (the effective date of AD 97-07-14), using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, dated April 12, 1989, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(l) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1405; fax 425-227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

(2) Contacting the Manufacturer: As of the effective date of this AD, for any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(3) Required for Compliance (RC): Except as required by paragraph (j) of this AD, if the service information contains procedures or tests that are identified as RC, those procedures and tests must be done to comply with this AD; any procedures and tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in a serviceable condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC require approval of an AMOC.

(m) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0053, dated March 7, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0926.

(2) Service information identified in this AD that is not incorporated by reference is available at the addresses specified in paragraphs (n)(5) and (n)(6) of this AD.

(n) Material Incorporated by Reference

(1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

(2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless this AD specifies otherwise.

(3) The following service information was approved for IBR on October 20, 2015.

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1175, Revision 01, including Appendix 01, dated May 28, 2014.

(ii) Reserved.

(4) The following service information was approved for IBR on May 12, 1997 (62 FR 16473, April 7, 1997).

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992.

Note 1 to paragraph (n)(4)(i):

Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1013, Revision 1, dated September 29, 1992, contains the following list of effective pages: Pages 1 through 3 show revision level 1, dated September 29, 1992; pages 4 through 11 are from the original issue, dated April 12, 1989.

(ii) Reserved.

(5) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com.

(6) You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

(7) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 2, 2015. Jeffrey E. Duven, Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-22924 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2014-0363; Directorate Identifier 2014-NE-08-AD; Amendment 39-18252; AD 2015-17-19] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211 Trent 768-60, 772-60, and 772B-60 turbofan engines. This AD was prompted by fuel leaks caused by damage to the fan case low-pressure (LP) fuel tube. This AD requires inspection of the fan case LP fuel tubes and associated clips and the fuel oil heat exchanger (FOHE) mounts and associated hardware. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the fan case LP fuel tube, which could lead to an in-flight engine shutdown, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 20, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of October 20, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this AD, contact Rolls-Royce plc, Corporate Communications, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE248BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936; email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp; Web site: https://www.aeromanager.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-0363.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-0363; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Document Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Wego Wang, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7134; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all RR RB211 Trent 768-60, 772-60, and 772B-60 turbofan engines. The SNPRM published in the Federal Register on April 21, 2015 (80 FR 22137). We preceded the SNPRM with a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that published in the Federal Register on July 3, 2014 (79 FR 37965). The NPRM proposed to require inspection of the fan case LP fuel tubes and associated clips and the FOHE mounts and associated hardware. The NPRM was prompted by fuel leaks caused by damage to the fan case LP fuel tube. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the fan case LP fuel tube, which could lead to an in-flight engine shutdown, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

We reviewed RR Alert Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014; and RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH837, dated September 9, 2014. This service information describes procedures for inspecting, and replacing if required, the fan case LP fuel tube and clips and the FOHE mounts and hardware. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or see ADDRESSES for other ways to access this service information.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. We received no comments on the SNPRM (80 FR 22137, April 21, 2015).

Conclusion

We reviewed the relevant data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD as proposed.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects about 50 engines installed on airplanes of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it will take about 6 hours per engine to comply with this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. We also estimate that 25 of the engines will fail the inspection required by this AD. Required parts cost about $4,031 per engine. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $126,275.

Authority for This Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

Regulatory Findings

This AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this AD:

(1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

(2) Is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979),

(3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction, and

(4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2015-17-19 Rolls-Royce plc: Amendment 39-18252; Docket No. FAA-2014-0363; Directorate Identifier 2014-NE-08-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD is effective October 20, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to all Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211 Trent 768-60, 772-60, and 772B-60 turbofan engines, if fitted with fuel tube, part number (P/N) FW53576, which was incorporated through RR production modification 73-F343 or which were modified in service in accordance with RR Service Bulletin (SB) No. RB.211-73-F343, Revision 4, dated May 26, 2011.

(d) Reason

This AD was prompted by fuel leaks caused by damage to the fan case low-pressure (LP) fuel tube. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the fan case LP fuel tube, which could lead to an in-flight engine shutdown, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

(e) Actions and Compliance

Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

(1) Within 800 flight hours (FH) after the effective date of this AD, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 800 FH, inspect the clip at the uppermost fan case LP fuel tube clip position, CP4881, and support bracket, P/N FW26692. Use Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 3.A, of RR Alert Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) No. RB.211-73-AH837, dated September 9, 2014, or paragraph 3.A. or 3.B. of RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014, to do the inspection.

(i) If the clip at the uppermost clip position, CP4881, fails inspection, replace the clip with a part eligible for installation and, before further flight, inspect the fan case LP fuel tube, P/N FW53576, for fretting, and clips for cracks or failure, according to Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 3.A. of RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH837, dated September 9, 2014, or paragraph 3.A. or 3.B. of RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014.

(ii) If the support bracket, P/N FW26692, fails inspection, replace the bracket before further flight with a part eligible for installation and inspect the fan case LP fuel tube, P/N FW53576, and clips for cracks or failure.

(2) Within 4,000 FH since new or 800 FH, whichever occurs later, after the effective date of this AD, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 4,000 FH, inspect the fan case LP fuel tube, P/N FW53576, and clips, and the fuel oil heat exchanger (FOHE) mounts and hardware, for damage, wear, or fretting. Use paragraph 3.A. or 3.B., Accomplishment Instructions, of RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014, to do the inspection.

(i) If the fan case LP fuel tube, P/N FW53576, fails inspection, before further flight, replace the fuel tube and clips with parts eligible for installation.

(ii) If any FOHE mount or hardware shows signs of damage, wear, or fretting, replace the damaged part before further flight with a part eligible for installation.

(3) At each shop visit after the effective date of this AD, inspect the fan case LP fuel tubes, P/Ns FW26589, FW36335, FW26587, FW53577, and FW53576, and clips, and the FOHE mounts and hardware, for damage, wear, or fretting. Use paragraphs 3.B.(1) and 3.B.(2) of RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014, to do the inspection.

(i) If any fan case LP fuel tube fails inspection, replace the fuel tube and clips before further flight with parts eligible for installation.

(ii) If any FOHE mount or hardware shows signs of damage, wear, or fretting, replace the damaged part before further flight with a part eligible for installation.

(4) If you replace any fan case LP fuel tube, clip, or FOHE mount or hardware as a result of the inspections in paragraphs (e)(1), (e)(2), or (e)(3) of this AD, you must still continue to perform the repetitive inspections in paragraphs (e)(1), (e)(2), and (e)(3) of this AD.

(5) Any reports requested in the Alert NMSB accomplishment instructions referenced in paragraphs (e)(1), (e)(2), and (e)(3) of this AD are not required by this AD.

(f) Credit for Previous Actions

If, before the effective date of this AD, you performed the inspections and corrective actions required by paragraph (e) of this AD using RR NMSB No. RB.211-73-G848, Revision 3, dated June 12, 2014; or RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH837, dated September 9, 2014; or paragraph 3.A. or 3.B. of RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014; or earlier versions, you met the inspection requirements in paragraph (e) of this AD.

(g) Definitions

For the purposes of this AD:

(1) An “engine shop visit” is the induction of an engine into the shop for maintenance involving the separation of pairs of major mating engine flanges, except that the separation of engine flanges solely for the purposes of transportation without subsequent engine maintenance is not an engine shop visit.

(2) The fan case LP fuel tubes and clips, and the FOHE mounts and hardware, are eligible for installation if they have passed the inspection requirements of paragraphs (e)(1), (e)(2), and (e)(3) of this AD.

(h) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

The Manager, Engine Certification Office, FAA, may approve AMOCs to this AD. Use the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19 to make your request. You may email your request to: [email protected]

(i) Related Information

(1) For more information about this AD, contact Wego Wang, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7134; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected].

(2) Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency AD 2014-0243R1, dated December 10, 2014 for more information. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2014-0363-0004.

(3) RR NMSB No. RB.211-73-G848, Revision 3, dated June 12, 2014; RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH837, dated September 9, 2014; and RR Alert NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014, or earlier versions, which are not incorporated by reference in this AD, can be obtained from RR, using the contact information in paragraph (j)(3) of this AD.

(4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

(j) Material Incorporated by Reference

(1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

(2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless the AD specifies otherwise.

(i) Rolls-Royce plc (RR) Alert Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) No. RB.211-73-AH522, Revision 2, dated July 18, 2014.

(ii) RR NMSB No. RB.211-73-AH837, dated September 9, 2014.

(3) For RR service information identified in this AD, contact Rolls-Royce plc, Corporate Communications, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE24 8BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936; email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp; Internet: https://www.aeromanager.com.

(4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

(5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on August 20, 2015. Colleen M. D'Alessandro, Directorate Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-21458 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0277; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-05-AD; Amendment 39-18262; AD 2015-18-04] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; CFM International S.A. Turbofan Engines AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain CFM International S.A. (CFM) CFM56-7B and CFM56-3 turbofan engines. This AD was prompted by a report of an uncommanded in-flight shutdown (IFSD) on a CFM CFM56-7B engine following rupture of the 73-tooth gearshaft located in the engine accessory gearbox (AGB). This AD requires AGB/transfer gearbox (TGB) magnetic chip detector (MCD) inspection of the affected gearshafts until removal. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of certain engine AGB gearshafts, which could lead to failure of one or more engines, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 20, 2015.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of October 20, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this AD, contact CFM International Inc., Aviation Operations Center, 1 Neumann Way, M/D Room 285, Cincinnati, OH 45125; phone: 877-432-3272; fax: 877-432-3329; email: [email protected] You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0277.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0277; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Document Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kyle Gustafson, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7183; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to certain CFM CFM56-7B series turbofan engines. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on May 1, 2015 (80 FR 24856). The NPRM was prompted by a report of an uncommanded IFSD on a CFM CFM56-7B engine following rupture of the 73-tooth gearshaft located in the engine AGB. The NPRM proposed to require MCD inspection of the affected gearshafts until removal.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015) and the FAA's response to each comment.

Request To Add CFM56-3 Engines to Applicability

CFM requested that we add CFM56-3 engines to this AD, as the CFM56-3 engines share the same 73-tooth and 41-tooth gearshafts as the CFM56-7B engines.

We agree. We revised the applicability of this AD by adding CFM56-3 engines.

Request To Clarify Discussion of IFSDs

CFM commented that the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015) incorrectly indicated that multiple instances of uncommanded IFSDs occurred on CFM56-7B engines following rupture of the 73-tooth gearshaft when only one IFSD actually occurred. CFM requested that this AD be revised to reflect that only one IFSD occurred following rupture of the 73-tooth gearshaft.

We agree. We revised the Summary, Discussion, and Unsafe Condition sections of this final rule to reflect the occurrence of one IFSD following rupture of the 73-tooth gearshaft in the CFM56-7B's AGB.

Request To Clarify Inspection Requirement

CFM commented that the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015) did not clearly specify that the MCD inspection is of the AGB/TGB.

We agree. We revised the Summary and the Compliance sections of this final rule to reflect that the required inspection is an “AGB/TGB MCD inspection.”

Request To Clarify Relevant Service Information

CFM requested that we specify in the Relevant Service Information section of the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015) that the referenced service bulletins (SBs) describe the procedures for removal of the affected 73-tooth and 41-tooth gearshafts and also list the affected gearshafts by serial number (S/N).

We disagree. This AD does not include a “Relevant Service Information” section. We are, however, incorporating this SB by reference and it is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0277. We did not change this AD.

Request To Clarify Proposed AD Requirements

CFM commented that the Proposed AD Requirements section should be revised to be consistent with the compliance and mandatory terminating action paragraphs in this AD.

We disagree. This AD incorporates changes produced as a result of the comments received, as permitted by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) (Pub. L. 79-404, 5 U.S.C. 551, et. seq.). To take the action the commenter suggests would be contrary to the APA. We did not change this AD.

Request To Allow Use of Later Revisions to SBs

CFM requested that we include a provision in this AD to allow for use of later revisions to CFM SB No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964, Revision 1, dated December 15, 2014, and SB No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0965, dated December 16, 2014.

We disagree. We do not know the content of future revisions of SBs and, therefore, cannot approve them before publication. We did not change this AD.

Request To Revise Description of Laboratory Analysis

CFM requested we change the wording in the Compliance section of this AD from “particles lab analysis” to “laboratory analysis.”

We agree. The term “laboratory analysis” is more accurate. We revised the term “particles lab analysis” to read “laboratory analysis” in the Compliance section of this AD.

Request To Include Serial Numbers of Affected Gearshafts

CFM requested that we include the S/Ns of the affected 73-tooth and 41-tooth gearshafts in this AD instead of referencing the SBs. CFM indicated that CFM56-3 operators may not have access to the CFM56-7B SBs.

We disagree. Operators have access to CFM SB No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964, Revision 1, dated December 15, 2014, in the AD docket on the Internet athttp://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0277, or by requesting the SB from CFM. We did not change this AD.

Request To Limit Applicability by Engine Serial Number

Sun Country Airlines requested that the Applicability of this AD be limited to CFM56-7B engines with engine S/Ns listed in Appendix A of CFM SB No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964 and CFM56-7B engines that have the 73-tooth gearshafts listed in Appendix B of CFM SB No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964 installed post-production. Sun Country Airlines noted that the applicability of the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015) could be misconstrued to mean to include all CFM56-7B engines unless it is proven that they do not have the affected 73-tooth or 41-toth gearshafts.

We disagree. CFM identified the affected population of gearshafts by gearshaft S/N and by the engine S/N on which it was installed. However, an affected gearshaft may now be installed on an engine with an S/N not listed in Appendix A. To address the latter population, those engines with a gearshaft that has been installed on an unknown engine, we identified the affected population of 73-tooth and 41-tooth gearshafts by gearshaft part number and S/N. We did not change this AD.

Request To Clarify That Applicability Is by Gearshaft Serial Number

Delta Air Lines (Delta) requested that we clarify that the applicability of the AD is by gearshaft S/N rather than by engine S/N.

We agree. We revised the Applicability paragraph of this AD to read: “This AD applies to all CFM International S.A. (CFM) CFM56-7B and CFM56-3 engines with a 73-tooth or 41-tooth gearshaft installed in the accessory gearbox (AGB), that has a gearshaft serial number in Appendix A or Appendix B of CFM Service Bulletin (SB) No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964, Revision 1, dated December 15, 2014.”

Request To Verify Affected Gearshafts Have Been Removed From Service and Reduce the Scope of Applicability

Delta requested that we verify which gearshafts have been removed from service per the proposed requirements of the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015). Delta further asked that we reduce the applicability to only those affected gearshafts that remain in service.

We disagree. This AD will ensure that all affected gearshafts are removed from service and that gearshafts already removed from service are not returned to service. We did not change this AD.

Support for the NPRM

The Boeing Company and an anonymous commenter expressed support for the NPRM (80 FR 24856, May 1, 2015) as proposed.

Conclusion

We reviewed the relevant data, considered the comments received, and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD with the changes described previously.

We also determined that these changes will not increase the economic burden on any operator or increase the scope of this AD.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

We reviewed CFM SB No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964, Revision 1, dated December 15, 2014. The service information describes procedures for removal of affected 73-tooth and 41-tooth gearshafts. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this AD.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD will affect about 67 engines installed on airplanes of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it will take about 1 hour per engine to do the inspection and 8 hours per engine to replace each affected gearshaft. We estimate thirty-six 73-tooth gearshafts and forty 41-tooth gearshafts will need replacement at a cost of $12,480 and $7,680 per part, respectively. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $813,855.

Authority for This Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

Regulatory Findings

This AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this AD:

(1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

(2) Is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979),

(3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction, and

(4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2015-18-04 CFM International S.A.: Amendment 39-18262; Docket No. FAA-2015-0277; Directorate Identifier 2015-NE-05-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD is effective October 20, 2015.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to CFM International S.A. (CFM) CFM56-7B and CFM56-3 engines with a 73-tooth or 41-tooth gearshaft installed in the accessory gearbox (AGB), that has a gearshaft serial number in Appendix A or Appendix B of CFM Service Bulletin (SB) No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964, Revision 1, dated December 15, 2014.

(d) Unsafe Condition

This AD was prompted by a report of an uncommanded in-flight shutdown on a CFM CFM56-7B engine following rupture of the 73-tooth gearshaft located in the engine AGB. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of certain AGB gearshafts, which could lead to failure of one or more engines, loss of thrust control, and damage to the airplane.

(e) Compliance

Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

(1) Initial AGB/Transfer Gearbox (TGB)/Magnetic Chip Detector (MCD) Inspection and Analysis

(i) For affected 73-tooth gearshafts, perform an AGB/TGB MCD inspection within 250 flight hours (FHs) since last inspection, within 25 FHs from the effective date of this AD, or when the gearshaft accumulates 3,000 FHs since new, whichever comes later.

(ii) For affected 41-tooth gearshafts, perform an AGB/TGB MCD inspection within 250 FHs since last inspection, within 25 FHs from the effective date of this AD, or when the gearshaft accumulates 6,000 FHs since new, whichever comes later.

(iii) If any magnetic particles, including fuzz, are seen, determine with laboratory analysis if the particles are 73-tooth or 41-tooth gearshaft material.

(iv) If the particles are 73-tooth or 41-tooth gearshaft material, remove the affected gearshaft(s) within 75 FHs since the AGB/TGB MCD inspection.

(2) Repetitive AGB/TGB MCD Inspection and Analysis

(i) For affected 73-tooth gearshafts, perform an AGB/TGB MCD inspection and laboratory analysis within every 500 FHs since the last AGB/TGB MCD inspection until affected gearshaft is removed.

(ii) For affected 41-tooth gearshafts, perform an AGB/TGB MCD inspection and laboratory analysis within every 500 FHs since the last AGB/TGB MCD inspection until affected gearshaft is removed.

(iii) If any magnetic particles, including fuzz, are seen, determine with laboratory analysis if the particles are 73-tooth or 41-tooth gearshaft material.

(iv) If the particles are 73-tooth or 41-tooth gearshaft material, remove the affected gearshaft(s) within 75 FHs since the AGB/TGB MCD inspection.

(f) Mandatory Terminating Action

(1) Remove the affected 73-tooth gearshaft prior to the gearshaft accumulating 6,000 FHs since new or within 50 FHs after the effective date of this AD, whichever comes later.

(2) Remove the affected 41-tooth gearshaft prior to the gearshaft accumulating 9,000 FHs since new or within 50 FHs after the effective date of this AD, whichever comes later.

(g) Installation Prohibition

After the effective date of this AD, do not install an affected gearshaft into an AGB.

(h) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

The Manager, Engine Certification Office, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Use the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19 to make your request. You may email your request to: [email protected]

(i) Related Information

For more information about this AD, contact Kyle Gustafson, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7183; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

(j) Material Incorporated by Reference

(1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

(2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless the AD specifies otherwise.

(3) The following service information was approved for IBR on October 20, 2015.

(i) CFM International Service Bulletin No. CFM56-7B S/B 72-0964, Revision 1, dated December 15, 2014.

(ii) Reserved.

(4) For CFM service information identified in this AD, contact CFM International Inc., Aviation Operations Center, 1 Neumann Way, M/D Room 285, Cincinnati, OH 45125; phone: 877-432-3272; fax: 877-432-3329; email: [email protected]

(5) You may view this service information at FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

(6) You may view this service information at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on August 28, 2015. Ann C. Mollica, Acting Directorate Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-22598 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 1 [Docket No. FDA-2014-N-0504] RIN 0910-AH12 Administrative Destruction of Certain Drugs Refused Admission to the United States AGENCY:

Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is implementing its authority to destroy a drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that has been refused admission into the United States under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act), by issuing a rule that provides to the owner or consignee notice and an opportunity to appear and introduce testimony to the Agency prior to destruction. This regulation is authorized by amendments made to the FD&C Act by the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). Implementation of this authority will allow FDA to better protect the public health by providing an administrative process for the destruction of certain refused drugs, thus increasing the integrity of the drug supply chain.

DATES:

This rule is effective October 15, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ann M. Metayer, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, Rm. 4338, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-3324, [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary Purpose of the Regulatory Action

Implementation of FDA's administrative destruction authority will better protect the integrity of the drug supply chain by providing a disincentive for the importation of drugs that are adulterated, misbranded, or unapproved in violation of section 505 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 355) (unapproved drugs) and reducing the likelihood of such drugs being refused admission and subsequently offered for reimportation. In 2012, Congress amended section 801(a) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 381(a)) to provide FDA with the authority to destroy a refused drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) without providing the owner or consignee with the opportunity to export the drug. Congress directed FDA to issue regulations that provide the drug's owner or consignee with notice and an opportunity to present testimony to the Agency prior to the drug's destruction (section 708 of FDASIA). The final rule provides the owner or consignee of a drug that has been refused admission into the United States, and that is valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) with: (1) Written notice that FDA intends to destroy the drug and (2) an opportunity to present testimony to the Agency before the drug is destroyed.

FDA is issuing this final rule under section 801(a) of the FD&C Act.

Summary of the Major Provisions

The final rule implements the authority of FDA to destroy a drug after providing the owner or consignee of a drug that has been refused admission into the United States under section 801(a) of the FD&C Act, and that is valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) with: (1) Written notice that FDA intends to destroy the drug and (2) an opportunity to present testimony to the Agency before the drug is destroyed.

FDA is amending part 1 (21 CFR part 1) by expanding the scope of § 1.94 (21 CFR 1.94) to include administrative destruction. Currently this provision provides the owner or consignee of an FDA-regulated product offered for import into the United States with notice and opportunity to present testimony to the Agency prior to refusal of admission of the product. The final rule expands the scope of § 1.94 to also provide an owner or consignee with notice and opportunity to present testimony to the Agency prior to the destruction of certain refused drugs.

Section 708 of FDASIA and the final rule allow FDA to provide two separate notices and hearings—one for refusal of admission and one for destruction of a refused drug product—or to combine both notices and hearings into one notice and proceeding. Whether the determinations occur separately or in one combined proceeding, the determination of refusal and the determination regarding destruction of a drug will be made separately by the Agency as the findings are separate and distinct.

Costs and Benefits

The primary public health benefit from adoption of the rule would be the value of the illnesses and deaths avoided because FDA destroyed a drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that posed a public health risk. This benefit accrues whenever the Agency's other enforcement tools would not have prevented a drug, including a biological product, which does not comply with the requirements of the FD&C Act (violative drug) from entering the U.S. market. The estimated primary costs of the final rule include the additional costs to destroy a violative drug and the one-time costs of updating the FDA Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS), making appropriate revisions to Chapter 9 of the FDA Regulatory Procedures Manual (RPM) and the Agency's internal import operations guidelines, and training for FDA personnel. FDA estimates the quantifiable net annual effect of the final rule to range between a cost of $54,325 and a cost savings of $901,950 for an estimated 15,100 destructions each year. The Agency estimates that it will also incur one-time costs of $531,670.

I. Background and Legal Authority

In the Federal Register of May 6, 2014 (79 FR 25758), FDA proposed a rule to implement its new authority under section 708 of FDASIA to destroy a refused drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation). As discussed in the preamble to the proposed rule, President Obama signed FDASIA (Pub. L. 112-144) into law on July 9, 2012. Title VII of FDASIA provides FDA with important new authorities to help the Agency better protect the integrity of the drug supply chain. One of those new authorities is provided in section 708 of FDASIA, which amends section 801(a) of the FD&C Act, to provide FDA with the authority to use an administrative procedure to destroy a drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that was not brought into compliance as described in section 801(b) of the FD&C Act and was refused admission into the United States. Section 708 of FDASIA authorizes FDA to use this new administrative procedure without offering the owner or consignee the opportunity to export the drug. The statute further provides that FDA will store and, as applicable, dispose of the drug that the Agency intends to destroy. The drug's owner or consignee is liable for FDA's storage and disposal costs under section 801(c) of the FD&C Act.

Section 708 of FDASIA directs FDA to issue regulations that provide the owner or consignee of a drug designated by the Agency for administrative destruction with notice and an opportunity to introduce testimony to the Agency prior to the destruction of the drug. The provision further states that this process may be combined with the notice and opportunity to appear before FDA and introduce testimony on the admissibility of the drug under section 801(a) of the FD&C Act, as long as appropriate notice is provided to the owner or consignee.

II. Overview of the Final Rule Including Changes to the Proposed Rule

FDA is amending part 1 to implement the administrative destruction of refused drugs. The amendment to part 1 consists of amendments to § 1.94, including two technical changes to § 1.94(b) where “his” is now changed to “his or her” and “act” is now changed to “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act” in the final rule. No changes have been made to the proposed regulation and, therefore, FDA is finalizing the implementing regulation as proposed.

III. Comments on the Proposed Rule

FDA received 22 comments in the public docket for the May 6, 2014, proposed rule by the close of the comment period, July 7, 2014, each containing one or more comments. One comment was received in the public docket on July 8, 2014, 1 day after the docket closed. These comments were submitted by consumers, consumer advocacy groups, industry and trade organizations, industry, and a member of Congress. One comment consisted of a “placeholder” and did not contain any substantive remarks.

After considering the comments responsive to the proposed rule, the Agency is not making any changes to the regulatory language included in the proposed rule.

This section contains summaries of the relevant portions of the responsive comments and the Agency's responses to those comments. To make it easier to identify the comments and our responses, the word “Comment,” in parentheses, appears before the comment's description, and the word “Response,” in parentheses, appears before our response. We have numbered each comment and response to help distinguish between different types of comments. Similar comments are grouped together under the same number. The number assigned to each comment is purely for organizational purposes and does not signify the comment's value, importance, or the order in which it was received.

The Agency also received some general comments that were not responsive to the content of the rule, and therefore were not considered in its final development. Some of these comments, however, are summarized in this section and the Agency responded to those comments to provide clarity for the public and industry on the Agency's implementation of its administrative destruction authority under section 708 of FDASIA.

A. Notice and Hearing Process

Two comments suggested that FDA modify the notice and hearing process in the proposed rule.

(Comment 1) One comment asserted that the procedure set forth in § 1.94 appears to apply only to large commercial drug imports, not drugs offered for import by individuals, and that FDA should create a separate administrative hearing process for individuals.

(Response 1) The proposed rule amends § 1.94 to add administrative destruction of certain drugs to the current administrative hearing process for refusal of admission of an FDA-regulated product. The current rule applies to all imports regardless of how they enter the United States, e.g., via a commercial port or an International Mail Facility (IMF), and regardless of who seeks to import the drug. As amended by this final rule, § 1.94 will provide an administrative hearing process to any owner or consignee of a refused drug with a value of $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that FDA intends to destroy whether that owner or consignee is an individual owner or consignee or a commercial importer. There is, therefore, no need to establish a separate administrative hearing process for individuals whose drugs have been refused and designated for administrative destruction.

(Comment 2) One comment stated that FDA should provide clarity for consumers regarding how they can introduce testimony to the Agency to challenge the administrative destruction of drugs they attempted to import but which were refused admission. The comment suggested that FDA allow testimony to be submitted by an affected owner or consignee through an online platform, email, regular mail, or facsimile and that the Agency include a supplemental document in the notice that instructs consumers on how to provide testimony to FDA to prevent administrative destruction of their drugs.

(Response 2) As described in Chapter 9 of the RPM, the type of administrative hearing under § 1.94 may vary from a series of telephone conversations to a more formal procedure. Introduction of testimony by the owner or consignee for Agency review and consideration can take many forms, including a telephone conversation, a facsimile, or mail, and does not have to be introduced in person. However, an in-person hearing will be scheduled if requested by the owner or consignee. (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/RegulatoryProceduresManual/UCM074300.pdf). Current Agency procedures also allow such testimony to be submitted by the owner or consignee by email. Under the final rule, owners or consignees will have the same options for submitting testimony in opposition to the destruction of their drugs. Given the variety of options historically available to owners and consignees for submission of testimony, which will continue under the final rule, FDA does not believe that a dedicated online platform for submission of testimony is currently needed. If circumstances change in the future, FDA will consider whether such a system is appropriate.

FDA recognizes that an owner or consignee importing a drug for his/her own personal use may need information about the administrative hearing process when that drug has been detained by FDA for administrative destruction. Accordingly, the Agency will provide information on the administrative hearing process under § 1.94, as amended in this rule, by providing an insert in the Agency's notice of detention or by establishing a Web page on the FDA Web site containing information about the administrative destruction process including ways to submit testimony to the Agency in opposition to the destruction of a drug. FDA will also consider issuing guidance or other explanatory materials, as appropriate.

B. Drugs Subject to Administrative Destruction by FDA

Two comments requested clarity regarding what drugs will be destroyed by FDA under section 708 of FDASIA.

(Comment 3) Two commenters requested clarity on when a refused drug will be destroyed under section 708 of FDASIA and when the Agency will give the owner or consignee the option to destroy or export a refused drug.

(Response 3) Currently, owners or consignees of drugs that have been refused admission into the United States under section 801(a) of the FD&C Act have the option to destroy or export those drugs. Drugs imported via an IMF that have been refused admission are sent back to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for export. After implementation of section 708 of FDASIA, FDA anticipates that owners or consignees will still have the option to destroy or export a refused drug in at least two situations. First, only a drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) is subject to administrative destruction under section 708 of FDASIA. Owners or consignees of a drug valued over the current $2,500 threshold that has been refused admission will still have the option to destroy or export that drug unless the drug has been imported via an IMF. For a drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that has been refused admission, section 708 of FDASIA allows FDA to destroy the drug without providing the owner or consignee with the opportunity to destroy or export the drug.

The second situation where owners or consignees will still have the option to destroy or export a refused drug is when FDA refuses admission to a drug, including a biological product, that is subject to destruction under section 708 of FDASIA, but the Agency is not able to make a determination that the drug is, in fact, adulterated, misbranded, or unapproved in violation of section 505 of the FD&C Act. As stated in the proposed rule, FDA intends to administratively destroy a drug only where the Agency has made a determination that the drug is adulterated, misbranded, or is an unapproved drug. There may be situations where the Agency refuses admission to a drug that is valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) because it appears to be an adulterated, misbranded, or unapproved drug but the Agency does not have sufficient information to make a determination that the drug is, in fact, an adulterated, misbranded, or unapproved drug. Under those circumstances, the owner or consignee will be given the opportunity to destroy or export that refused drug. If such a drug has come into the United States via an IMF, however, FDA will generally return the drug to the USPS for export.

C. Storage and Destruction Costs of Drugs Designated for Destruction

Section 708 of FDASIA provides that FDA will store and, as applicable, dispose of a drug where the Agency has made the determination to destroy that drug. The drug's owner or consignee is liable for FDA's storage and disposal costs under section 801(c) of the FD&C Act.

(Comment 4) One comment asked when FDA will take physical possession of drugs designated for destruction at express courier facilities and expressed concern about the possibility of extended storage time for these drugs at the expense of the express courier. The commenter also requested clarification regarding whether an express courier could be held liable for the costs of storage and destruction of a refused drug under section 801(c) of the FD&C Act.

(Response 4) If FDA designates a drug for possible destruction that has been offered for import into the United States via an express courier, FDA intends to take physical possession of that drug when the Agency has made the determination to destroy the drug. The Agency expects that by combining the notice and introduction of testimony on destruction with the notice and introduction of testimony on refusal of admission, any additional storage time at an express courier due to implementation of section 708 of FDASIA will be minimal.

An express courier is not liable for the storage or destruction costs under section 801(c) of the FD&C Act unless that courier is also the owner or consignee of a destroyed drug, which would be unusual. As stated in the proposed rule, if a drug is sent by international mail, FDA generally considers the addressee of the parcel to be the owner or consignee of the drug.

(Comment 5) One commenter requested that FDA clearly define and outline the storage and destruction costs to consumers under section 801(c) of the FD&C Act and that the Agency provide offsets to those costs for consumers unable to pay due to financial stress.

(Response 5) FDA generally does not intend to pursue recovery of storage and destruction costs under section 801(c) of the FD&C Act against individual consumers who seek to import a drug for their own personal use that is then refused and destroyed by the Agency under section 708 of FDASIA.

D. General Comments

The final rule provides the owner or consignee of a drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that is refused admission into the United States with: (1) Written notice that FDA intends to destroy the drug and (2) an opportunity to present testimony to the Agency before the drug is destroyed.

(Comment 6) Many comments made general remarks expressing support or opposition to the authority granted to FDA by section 708 of FDASIA to administratively destroy certain refused drugs and did not focus on the rule or a particular section of the rule.

One comment supported the administrative destruction of certain refused drugs while several comments expressed concern about the potential impact of administrative destruction on a consumer's access to foreign drugs. These comments cited a patient's inability to comply with a drug treatment plan as a consequence of that lack of access. One comment requested that FDA change its current Personal Importation Policy to allow importation of any drug from a “safe” foreign pharmacy or for which there is a “valid” prescription. The comment further requested that FDA define the term “safe personal drug import” in the final rule.

(Response 6) As required for implementation of section 708 of FDASIA, the final rule provides appropriate due process to the owner or consignee of a drug that has been refused admission under section 801(a) of the FD&C Act, and that FDA intends to destroy. The new authority granted to FDA by section 708 of FDASIA to administratively destroy a drug applies only after the Agency has made the final decision to refuse admission to the drug. This new authority, therefore, does not affect a consumer's access to a foreign drug because consumers have no access to a refused drug under the FD&C Act. The final rule does not modify FDA's current policy with respect to personal importation of drugs.

(Comment 7) One comment suggested that implementation of section 708 of FDASIA could adversely affect the supply of low-value excipients and other drug components potentially leading to a drug shortage. The commenter suggested that FDA closely coordinate with manufacturers to limit the impact on the drug supply chain when the Agency exercises its authority to destroy low-value excipients or other drug components. The commenter further suggested that FDA's Drug Shortages Task Force monitor and publicly report on the effects of section 708 of FDASIA on the drug supply in the United States.

(Response 7) Excipients and other components of a drug are defined as drugs under section 201(g)(1) of the FD&C Act. An excipient or other drug component is therefore subject to administrative destruction under section 708 of FDASIA if that excipient or drug component offered for import is valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) and is refused admission. FDA does not expect that administrative destruction of refused excipients or other drug components will lead to shortages of medically necessary drugs. The majority of excipients and drug components are imported into the United States as commercial entries. Currently, where excipients or drug components are refused admission, they are exported or destroyed. Refused excipients or other drug components, therefore, are not currently available for drug manufacturing in the United States. The Agency's exercise of administrative destruction will not affect a manufacturer's access to these refused excipients or other drug components and, therefore, will not contribute to shortages of drugs manufactured in the United States.

(Comment 8) One comment asserted that FDA only quantified the benefits but not the costs of the proposed rule which, according to the comment, should include the societal costs attributable to a patient's lack of access to an imported drug that does not pose a public health risk, and that patient's non-adherence to a medical plan that includes such drug.

(Response 8) In the proposed rule, FDA estimated both the costs and the benefits of the implementation of section 708 of FDASIA and the result was a quantifiable net annual social benefit. The detailed analysis of the estimated economic impact as provided in Ref. 10 in the proposed rule can be found at http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/EconomicAnalyses/default.htm#.

The preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis did not include any costs attributable to lack of access to an imported drug by a patient as this is not a cost attributable to administrative destruction. Currently, drugs that are refused admission are destroyed or exported by the importer or, in the case of international mail, returned to the USPS for export. Consequently, patients do not have access to those drugs. Only refused drugs are subject to administrative destruction under section 708 of FDASIA and, therefore, implementation of this authority does not result in a quantifiable cost to be included in the regulatory impact analysis of the implementation of section 708.

(Comment 9) A number of comments requested that FDA flag shipments in Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial System (ACS) or the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system, which is expected to replace ACS by December 2016, when a drug is destroyed. Another comment suggested that FDA establish a public database listing drugs destroyed by FDA under the authority of section 708 of FDASIA.

(Response 9) These comments relate to the Agency's operations implementing the final rule and, as FDA stated in the proposed rule, the Agency plans to specify the operational details of its process for destruction by guidance, operating guidelines, or similar means.

IV. Analysis of Impacts (Summary of the Final Regulatory Impact Analysis)

FDA has examined the impacts of the final rule under Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4). Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct Agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). The Agency believes that this final rule is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires Agencies to analyze regulatory options that would minimize any significant impact of a rule on small entities. Because of the small number of expected destructions each year and the very small value per event, the Agency certifies that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Section 202(a) of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires that Agencies prepare a written statement, which includes an assessment of anticipated costs and benefits, before finalizing “any rule that includes any Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 or more (adjusted annually for inflation) in any one year.” The current threshold after adjustment for inflation is $141 million, using the most current (2013) Implicit Price Deflator for the Gross Domestic Product. FDA does not expect this final rule to result in any 1-year expenditure that would meet or exceed this amount.

The primary public health benefit from adoption of the rule will be the value of the illnesses or deaths avoided because the Agency destroyed a refused drug valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) that posed a public health risk. Additionally, the final rule may benefit firms through increases in sales, brand value, and investment in research and development if the destroyed drug is a counterfeit or an otherwise falsified version of an approved drug. The threat of destruction may also have a deterrent effect resulting in a reduction in the amount of violative drugs shipped into the United States in the future. These benefits accrue whenever the Agency's other enforcement tools would not have prevented a violative drug from entering the U.S. market. The current procedure whereby a drug refused admission might be exported does not ensure that the drug would not be imported into the United States in the future. These benefits are not quantified.

The estimated primary costs to FDA include the additional costs incurred by FDA to destroy a refused drug as opposed to the costs related to exportation of the drug and the one-time costs of updating OASIS, revising Chapter 9 of the RPM and other internal import operations guidelines, and training for FDA personnel. Our estimates of the primary costs assume that all refused drugs valued at $2,500 or less (or such higher amount as the Secretary of the Treasury may set by regulation) would be destroyed (estimated 15,100 destructions performed each year), that FDA would contract the act of destruction out to another government agency or private firm, and the notice and hearing process for destruction will be combined with the current FDA notice and hearing process for refusal of drugs. The assumption that FDA will destroy all refused drugs represents an upper bound and may not always hold. If FDA chooses to destroy less than all of the refused drugs, all annual costs will decrease but the one-time costs will stay the same.

Based on an assumed 15,100 administrative destructions performed each year, the Agency estimates the quantifiable net annual effect of the final rule to be between a cost of $54,325 and a cost savings of $901,950, in addition to one-time costs of $531,670. Annualized over 20 years, the final rule is estimated to produce a net effect ranging from a cost of $89,021 to a cost savings of $867,254 at a 3 percent discount rate and a cost of $101,228 to a cost savings of $855,047 at a 7 percent discount rate. The present discounted value of the quantifiable net effect over 20 years ranges from a cost of $1,324,403 to a cost savings of $12,902,554 at a 3 percent discount rate and a cost of $1,072,408 to a cost savings of $9,058,383 at a 7 percent discount rate.

Our estimates do not include net benefits of the final rule because we have not quantified the potential health benefits of reducing the probability that a refused drug will be imported into the United States in the future. However, because the final rule likely represents a cost savings and the health benefits, though not quantified, will be positive even if one violative drug that would have caused an adverse event is destroyed rather than entering the U.S. market, the net benefits of the rule are likely positive.

FDA has examined the economic implications of the final rule as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act. If a rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires Agencies to analyze regulatory options that would lessen the economic effect of the rule on small entities. U.S. Federal Government Agencies will bear the costs of the final rule with FDA bearing most of the cost as the Agency is responsible under section 708 of FDASIA for implementation of the rule and for the costs of storage and destruction. Therefore we certify that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This analysis, together with other relevant sections of this document, serves as the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

The full discussion of economic impacts, which includes a list of changes made in the final regulatory impact analysis, is available in Docket No. FDA-2014-N-0504 and at http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/EconomicAnalyses/default.htm#(Ref. 1).

V. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

This final rule contains no collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3518(c)(1)(B)(ii)). Therefore, clearance by the Office of Management and Budget is not required under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

VI. Federalism

FDA has analyzed this final rule in accordance with the principles set forth in Executive Order 13132. FDA has determined that the rule does not contain policies that have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Accordingly, the Agency has concluded that the rule does not contain policies that have federalism implications as defined in the Executive order and, consequently, a federalism summary impact statement is not required.

VII. Environmental Impact

The Agency has determined under 21 CFR 25.30(h) that this action is of a type that does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. Therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required.

VIII. Reference

The following reference has been placed on display in the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852, and may be seen by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is available electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. (FDA has verified the Web site address in this Reference section, but FDA is not responsible for any subsequent changes to the Web site after this document publishes in the Federal Register.)

1. Final Regulatory Impact Analysis, Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, and Final Unfunded Mandates Reform Act Analysis for Administrative Destruction of Certain Drugs Refused Admission to the United States, available at http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/EconomicAnalyses/default.htm#.

List of Subjects in 21 CFR Part 1

Cosmetics, Drugs, Exports, Food labeling, Imports, Labeling, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Therefore, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and under authority delegated to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, 21 CFR part 1 is amended as follows:

PART 1—GENERAL ENFORCEMENT REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for 21 CFR part 1 continues to read as follows: Authority:

15 U.S.C. 1333, 1453, 1454, 1455, 4402; 19 U.S.C. 1490, 1491; 21 U.S.C. 321, 331, 332, 333, 334, 335a, 343, 350c, 350d, 352, 355, 360b, 360ccc, 360ccc-1, 360ccc-2, 362, 371, 374, 381, 382, 387, 387a, 387c, 393; 42 U.S.C. 216, 241, 243, 262, 264.

2. Revise § 1.94 to read as follows:
§ 1.94 Hearing on refusal of admission or destruction.

(a) If it appears that the article may be subject to refusal of admission, or that the article is a drug that may be subject to destruction under section 801(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the district director shall give the owner or consignee a written notice to that effect, stating the reasons therefor. The notice shall specify a place and a period of time during which the owner or consignee shall have an opportunity to introduce testimony. Upon timely request giving reasonable grounds therefor, such time and place may be changed. Such testimony shall be confined to matters relevant to the admissibility or destruction of the article, and may be introduced orally or in writing.

(b) If such owner or consignee submits or indicates his or her intention to submit an application for authorization to relabel or perform other action to bring the article into compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or to render it other than a food, drug, device, or cosmetic, such testimony shall include evidence in support of such application. If such application is not submitted at or prior to the hearing on refusal of admission, the district director shall specify a time limit, reasonable in the light of the circumstances, for filing such application.

(c) If the article is a drug that may be subject to destruction under section 801(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the district director may give the owner or consignee a single written notice that provides the notice on refusal of admission and the notice on destruction of an article described in paragraph (a) of this section. The district director may also combine the hearing on refusal of admission with the hearing on destruction of the article described in paragraph (a) of this section into a single proceeding.

Dated: September 9, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2015-23124 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF STATE 22 CFR Part 22 [Public Notice: 9269] RIN 1400-AD71 Schedule of Fees for Consular Services, Department of State and Overseas Embassies and Consulates—Passport and Citizenship Services Fee Changes; Correction AGENCY:

Department of State.

ACTION:

Interim final rule; correction.

SUMMARY:

The Department of State published an interim final rule on September 8, 2015, amending the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services (Schedule) for certain passport fees and citizenship services fees. The document contained an incorrect effective date for a portion of the rule. This document corrects the rule.

DATES:

The effective date of the amendments to § 22.1, Items 2.(a), 2.(b), and 2.(g), published in the Federal Register on September 8, 2015 (80 FR 53704), is corrected to September 26, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jill Warning, Special Assistant, Office of the Comptroller, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State; phone: 202-485-6681, telefax: 202-485-6826; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Department of State published an interim final rule on September 8, 2015 (80 FR 53704); this document corrects the effective date for one portion of the rulemaking. The other dates applicable to the rulemaking, as well as the duration of the public comment period, are unchanged.

Corrections

In FR Rule Doc. 2015-22054, in the Federal Register of September 8, 2015 (80 FR 53704), the following corrections are made:

1. On page 53704 in the second column, the first sentence of the DATES section is corrected to read: “Section 22.1, Items 2.(a), 2.(b), and 2.(g) of this rule become effective on September 26, 2015.”

2. On page 53709, in the third column, amendatory instruction 2a is corrected to read:

“a. Revising Items 2.(a), (b), and (g), effective September 26, 2015; and”

Dated: September 9, 2015. David T. Donahue, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
[FR Doc. 2015-23140 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4710-06-P
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Part 1 [TD 9737] RIN 1545-BK96 Controlled Group Regulation Examples AGENCY:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

ACTION:

Final regulations.

SUMMARY:

This document contains final rules with revisions to examples that illustrate the controlled group rules applicable to regulated investment companies (RICs). The revised examples illustrate how the controlled group rules affect the RIC asset diversification tests.

DATES:

Effective Date: These regulations are effective on September 15, 2015.

Applicability Dates: For dates of applicability, see §§ 1.851-3(b), 1.851-5(b).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Julanne Allen or Susan Baker of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Financial Institutions and Products) at (202) 317-6945 (Julanne Allen) or (202) 317-7053 (Susan Baker) (not toll-free numbers).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

This document contains amendments to the Income Tax Regulations (26 CFR, part 1) relating to the application of the controlled group rules under section 851(c) to RICs.

To qualify as a RIC, a taxpayer must meet asset diversification tests pursuant to which, at the close of each quarter of the RIC's taxable year, not more than 25 percent of the value of the taxpayer's total assets may be invested in (i) the securities (other than Government securities or the securities of other RICs) of any one issuer; (ii) the securities (other than the securities of other RICs) of two or more issuers that the taxpayer controls and that are determined, under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, to be engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses or related trades or businesses; or (iii) the securities of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships (as defined in section 851(h)) (the 25 percent tests). See section 851(b)(3)(B).

Section 851(c) provides special rules applicable to the asset diversification requirements of section 851(b)(3), including the 25 percent tests. The controlled group rules in section 851(c)(1) provide that, when ascertaining the value of a taxpayer's investment in the securities of an issuer for purposes of determining whether the 25 percent tests have been met, the taxpayer's proper proportion of any investment in the securities of such issuer that are held by a member of the taxpayer's “controlled group” must be aggregated with the taxpayer's investment in such issuer, as determined under regulations.

Section 851(c)(3) defines a controlled group as one or more chains of corporations connected through stock ownership with the taxpayer if (i) 20 percent or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote of each of the corporations (except the taxpayer) is owned directly by one or more of the other corporations, and (ii) the taxpayer owns directly at least 20 percent or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote of at least one of the other corporations.

On August 2, 2013, the Treasury Department and the IRS published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (REG-114122-12 at 78 FR 46851) (NPRM). The proposed regulations would revise certain examples in § 1.851-5 to clarify that a RIC and its controlled subsidiary are a controlled group even if the group consists of only that RIC and its subsidiary.

No public hearing was requested or held. Written comments responding to the NPRM were received. The written comments are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov or upon request. After consideration of all the comments, these final regulations adopt the provisions of the proposed regulations with certain clarifications. The comments and clarifications are discussed in this preamble.

Summary of Comments and Explanation of Revisions

Comments received in response to the NPRM's request for comments addressed three general categories of issues: (1) application of the proposed changes to a parent RIC investing in the stock of subsidiary RICs (a Fund of Funds structure); (2) application of the proposed changes to a RIC's indirect investment in qualified publicly traded partnerships, as defined in section 851(h) (QPTPs); and (3) clarification of existing regulatory language implementing the controlled group rules of section 851(c).

1. Fund of Funds

Commenters recognized that the changes to the examples in § 1.851-5 apply to structures in which the investments of a RIC (Upper RIC) include stock of one or more subsidiary RICs (Lower RICs). Commenters noted that there may be uncertainty in determining whether an Upper RIC satisfies its 25 percent tests when what might otherwise be a quarter-end violation by the Lower RIC is saved from being a violation by one or both of the relief provisions in section 851(d)(1) (sometimes called the “market value exception” and the “30-day cure provision”) or when the Upper RIC and a Lower RIC have different quarter end testing dates.

To resolve this uncertainty, commenters urged the Treasury Department and the IRS either to provide a safe harbor for Fund of Funds structures or to exempt these structures from the controlled group rules. Commenters noted that securities of RICs are listed as qualifying assets for purposes of the “good asset” 50 percent test of section 851(b)(3)(A) and are correspondingly excluded from the categories of assets listed in the 25 percent tests set forth in sections 851(b)(3)(B)(i) and (ii). In response to these requests, the Treasury Department and the IRS are issuing Revenue Procedure 2015-45 (2015-39 IRB dated September 28, 2015), which describes conditions under which the IRS will treat an Upper RIC that invests in one or more Lower RICs as satisfying the 25 percent tests and provides procedures to lessen the burden of demonstrating compliance with the 25 percent tests, applying the market value exception and the 30-day cure provision, and dealing with different quarter-end testing dates.

2. QPTPs

Comments were received both on the revised language in Example 1 and on proposed Example 7. Example 7 illustrates the application of the controlled group rules to a RIC's indirect investment in securities of QPTPs.

In 2004, Congress enacted section 851(b)(2)(B), which facilitated investment by RICs in equity interests of QPTPs by providing that net income from an interest in a QPTP would be treated as qualifying income under the RIC income test set forth in section 851(b)(2) without regard to the character of the income earned by the QPTP. Congress provided for this new ability of RICs to invest in QPTPs to improve QPTP access to U.S. capital markets.1

1 “The Congress understood that . . .[p]ublicly traded partnerships with specified types of income are not treated as corporations, however, for the reason that if the income is from sources that are commonly considered to be passive investments, then there is less reason to treat the publicly traded partnership as a corporation. The Congress understood that these types of publicly traded partnerships may have improved access to capital markets if their interests were permitted investments of mutual funds. Therefore, the Act treats publicly traded partnership interests as permitted investments for mutual funds (`RICs').” Joint Committee on Taxation, General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 108th Congress at 249 (JCS-5-05), May 2005 (footnote omitted).

At the same time, however, Congress enacted section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii), which limits a RIC's investment in securities of one or more QPTPs to not more than 25 percent of the value of the RIC's assets. The Ways and Means Committee report explained the rationale for this limitation by stating:

[T]he Committee bill requires that present-law limitations on ownership and composition of assets of mutual funds apply to any investment in a publicly traded partnership by a mutual fund. The Committee believes that these limitations will serve to limit the use of mutual funds as conduits for avoidance of unrelated business income tax or withholding rules [for effectively connected income] that would otherwise apply with respect to publicly traded partnership income.

H.R. Rep. No. 108-548, pt. 1 at 152 (2004). Commenters relied on this legislative history in support of their position that the section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii) QPTP test (which focuses on a RIC's holdings of securities of a category of issuers) is fundamentally different from the section 851(b)(3)(B)(i) and (ii) tests (which focus on a RIC's holdings of securities of particular issuers). These commenters contended that an interest in a QPTP should not be subject to the clarified controlled group rules in the NPRM when the interest in the QPTP is held by a corporation that is not a RIC.

The Treasury Department and the IRS do not find this argument sufficiently persuasive to overcome the plain language of section 851(c) regarding the application of the controlled group rules. Pursuant to its introductory language, section 851(c) applies generally “[f]or purposes of subsection 851(b)(3),” and pursuant to section 851(c)(1), the look-through rule for controlled group members applies specifically “for purposes of subparagraph (B)” of section 851(b)(3), in each case without distinguishing between the various 25 percent tests. Moreover, the Treasury Department and the IRS note that Congress, in the same legislation in which it enacted section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii), had the opportunity to amend these rules in the manner urged by the commenters. In that legislation, Congress made other changes to conform section 851(c) to the changes relating to QPTPs by redesignating former section 851(c)(5) as section 851(c)(6) and adding a new section 851(c)(5), which defines the term “outstanding voting securities of such issuer” to include equity securities of QPTPs. Congress made no changes, however, to limit the application of the section 851(c) controlled group rules to solely the 25 percent tests under section 851(b)(3)(i) and (ii).

Thus, the Treasury Department and the IRS believe, consistent with the statutory language, that the controlled group rules should apply to section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii) because (1) Congress specifically provided that a RIC's investment in QPTP securities should be limited to 25 percent of the RIC's total asset value; (2) the controlled group rules of section 851(c) by their terms apply to all of section 851(b)(3), including section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii); and (3) Congress did not carve out section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii) when it updated section 851(c).

3. Clarifying regulatory language

Some practitioners have interpreted section 851(c)(3) to require the presence of at least two levels of controlled entities for a controlled group to exist and have relied on certain of the examples in the existing regulations to support this interpretation. These final regulations clarify, through revisions to the existing examples, that as few as two corporations are enough to constitute a controlled group if the ownership requirements of section 851(c)(3) are met.

The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that the interpretation of the controlled group rules reflected in these final regulations is consistent with both the statutory language of section 851(c)(3) and the well-established interpretation of analogous Code provisions. For example, for purposes of the consolidated return rules, the IRS has consistently treated a parent and its directly owned subsidiary as “affiliated” within the meaning of section 1504(a)(1). Similarly, in limiting certain tax benefits for affiliated corporations, the IRS treats a parent and its subsidiary as a “controlled group” under section 1563, which uses language similar to section 1504(a). See section 1563(a)(1) and § 1.1563-1(a)(2)(ii),

Example 1.

The interpretation reflected in these final regulations is also consistent with the purpose of section 851(c)(3), which is to aggregate the investments of a RIC's related corporations for purposes of determining whether the RIC satisfies its 25 percent tests.

As stated in the preamble to the NPRM, the Treasury Department and the IRS believe that the language in the examples in the existing regulations was intended merely to simplify the description of certain fact patterns and not to articulate a legal interpretation that is inconsistent with the statutory language of section 851(c) and the construction of substantially similar language elsewhere in the Code.

Commenters noted that § 1.851-3 states that “[i]n determining the value of the taxpayer's investment in the securities of any one issuer, for the purposes of subparagraph (B) of section 851(b)[(3)], there shall be included its proper proportion of the investment of any other corporation, a member of a controlled group, in the securities of such issuer” (emphasis added). Commenters cited the phrase “any one issuer” in support of the proposition that the controlled group rules should not be applied for purposes of section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii), which addresses not the value of a RIC's direct and indirect holdings of securities of any single issuer but rather a RIC's aggregate direct and indirect holdings of securities of a category of issuers (that is, QPTPs). While the Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe that the use of “any one issuer” in § 1.851-3 bears the weight these commenters attribute to it, in order to respond to the comment and more closely align § 1.851-3 with the statutory language of section 851(c)(1), these final regulations update the language of § 1.851-3 by changing “any one issuer” to “an issuer.”

Commenters similarly maintained that because section 851(c)(1) refers to use of the controlled group rules “in ascertaining the value of the taxpayer's investment in the securities of an issuer” (emphasis added), the rules should not apply for purposes of a limitation that applies to holdings of securities in a category of issuers, such as the section 851(b)(3)(B)(iii) limitation on investment in QPTPs. The Treasury Department and the IRS do not agree with this reading of the statute. As noted above, the controlled group rules expressly apply for purposes of section 851(b)(3)(B) without qualification. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that the more natural reading of the statutory language is that, in assessing compliance with section 851(b)(3), a RIC applies the controlled group rules to determine its indirect holdings in each individual issuer (including each QPTP), and the RIC then aggregates its direct and indirect holdings in each individual issuer for purposes of applying the test in section 851(b)(3)(B)(i); aggregates its direct and indirect holdings of securities of issuers engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses or related trades or businesses for purposes of applying the test in section 851(b)(3)(ii); and aggregates its direct and indirect holdings of securities of issuers that are QPTPs for purposes of applying the test in section 851(b)(3)(iii).

Finally, commenters suggested that operative rules should be set forth in substantive rules in addition to being demonstrated in the examples. They urged the Treasury Department and the IRS to provide regulatory text setting forth general rules, with the examples in § 1.851-5 demonstrating the application of those rules. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that the revised examples are intended to, and do, make sufficiently clear how the statutory rules are to be interpreted and applied, and accordingly no changes are being made in response to this comment.

Applicability Date

The final regulations apply to quarters that begin on or after December 14, 2015. Under section 851(d)(1), whether a taxpayer loses status as a RIC in one quarter may depend on whether the taxpayer satisfied section 851(b)(3) and (c) at the close of one or more prior quarters. For purposes of applying the first sentence of section 851(d)(1) to a quarter that begins on or after March 14, 2016, these final regulations apply in determining whether the taxpayer met the requirements of section 851(b)(3) and (c) at the close of prior quarters.

Special Analyses

Certain IRS regulations, including this one, are exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 12866, as supplemented and reaffirmed by Executive Order 13563. Therefore, a regulatory impact assessment is not required. It has also been determined that section 553(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 5) does not apply to these regulations, and because the regulations do not impose a collection of information on small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) does not apply. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Code, the proposed regulations preceding these final regulations were submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on their impact on small businesses. No comments were received.

Drafting Information

The principal author of these regulations is Julanne Allen, Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Financial Institutions and Products). However, other personnel from the Treasury Department and the IRS participated in their development.

List of Subjects in 26 CFR Part 1

Income taxes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Adoption of Amendments to the Regulations

Accordingly, 26 CFR part 1 is amended as follows:

PART 1—INCOME TAXES Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 1 is amended by adding an entry in numerical order to read in part as follows: Authority:

26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

Sections 1.851-3 and 1.851-5 are also issued under 26 U.S.C. 851(c).

Par. 2. Section 1.851-3 is revised to read as follows:
§ 1.851-3 Rules applicable to section 851(b)(3).

(a) In general. In determining the value of the taxpayer's investment in the securities of an issuer, for purposes of subparagraph (B) of section 851(b)(3), there shall be included its proper proportion of the investment of any other corporation, a member of a controlled group, in the securities of such issuer. See Example 4 in § 1.851-5. For purposes of §§ 1.851-2, 1.851-4, 1.851-5, and 1.851-6, the terms “controls,” “controlled group,” and “value” have the meaning assigned to them by section 851(c). All other terms used in these sections have the same meaning as when used in the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C., chapter 2D), as amended.

(b) Effective/applicability dates. The rules of this section apply to quarters that begin on or after December 14, 2015. For purposes of applying the first sentence of section 851(d)(1) to a quarter that begins on or after March 14, 2016, the rules of this section apply in determining whether the taxpayer met the requirements of section 851(b)(3) and (c) at the close of prior quarters.

Par. 3. Section 1.851-5 is revised to read as follows:
§ 1.851-5 Examples.

(a) Examples. The provisions of section 851 may be illustrated by the following examples:

Example 1.

(i) Investment Company W at the close of its first quarter of its taxable year has its assets invested as follows:

Percent Cash 5 Government securities 10 Securities of regulated investment companies 20 Securities of Corporation A 10 Securities of Corporation B 15 Securities of Corporation C 20 Securities of various corporations (not exceeding 5 percent of its assets in any one company) 20 Total 100

(ii) Investment Company W owns all of the voting stock of Corporations A and B, 15 percent of the voting stock of Corporation C, and less than 10 percent of the voting stock of regulated investment companies and various other corporations. Neither Corporation A nor Corporation B owns:

(A) 20 percent or more of the voting stock of any other corporation;

(B) Securities issued by Corporation C; or

(C) Securities issued by any of the regulated investment companies or various corporations whose securities are owned by Investment Company W. Except for Corporation A and Corporation B, none of the corporations (including the regulated investment companies) is a member of a controlled group with Investment Company W.

(iii) Investment Company W meets the requirements under section 851(b)(3) at the end of its first quarter. It complies with subparagraph (A) of section 851(b)(3) because it has 55 percent of its assets invested as provided in that subparagraph. It complies with subparagraph (B) of section 851(b)(3) because it does not have more than 25 percent of its assets invested in the securities of any one issuer, of two or more issuers that it controls, or of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships (as defined in section 851(h)).

Example 2.

(i) Investment Company V at the close of a particular quarter of the taxable year has its assets invested as follows:

Percent Cash 10 Government securities 35 Securities of Corporation A 7 Securities of Corporation B 12 Securities of Corporation C 15 Securities of Corporation D 21 Total 100

(ii) Investment Company V fails to meet the requirements of subparagraph (A) of section 851(b)(3) since its assets invested in Corporations A, B, C, and D exceed in each case 5 percent of the value of the total assets of the company at the close of the particular quarter.

Example 3.

(i) Investment Company X at the close of a particular quarter of the taxable year has its assets invested as follows:

Percent Cash and Government securities 20 Securities of Corporation A 5 Securities of Corporation B 10 Securities of Corporation C 25 Securities of various corporations (not exceeding 5 percent of its assets in any one company) 40 Total 100

(ii) Investment Company X owns more than 20 percent of the voting power of Corporations B and C and less than 10 percent of the voting power of all of the other corporations. Corporation B manufactures radios and Corporation C acts as its distributor and also distributes radios for other companies. Investment Company X fails to meet the requirements of subparagraph (B) of section 851(b)(3) since it has 35 percent of its assets invested in the securities of two issuers which it controls and which are engaged in related trades or businesses.

Example 4.

(i) Investment Company Y at the close of a particular quarter of its taxable year has its assets invested as follows:

Percent Cash and Government securities 15 Securities of Corporation K (a regulated investment company) 30 Securities of Corporation A 10 Securities of Corporation B 20 Securities of various corporations (not exceeding 5 percent of its assets in any one company) 25 Total 100

(ii) Corporation K has 20 percent of its assets invested in Corporation L, and Corporation L has 40 percent of its assets invested in Corporation B. Corporation A also has 30 percent of its assets invested in Corporation B. Investment Company Y owns more than 20 percent of the voting power of Corporations A and K. Corporation K owns more than 20 percent of the voting power of Corporation L.

(iii) At the end of that quarter, Investment Company Y is disqualified under subparagraph (B)(i) of section 851(b)(3) because, after applying section 851(c)(1), more than 25 percent of the value of Investment Company Y's total assets is invested in the securities of Corporation B. This result is shown by the following calculation:

Percent Percentage of assets invested directly in Corporation B 20.0 Percentage invested indirectly through K and L (30% × 20% × 40%) 2.4 Percentage invested indirectly through A (10% × 30%) 3.0 Total percentage of assets of Investment Company Y invested in Corporation B 25.4 Example 5.

Investment Company Z, which keeps its books and makes its returns on the basis of the calendar year, at the close of the first quarter of 2016 meets the requirements of section 851(b)(3) and has 20 percent of its assets invested in Corporation A. Later during the taxable year it makes distributions to its shareholders and because of such distributions, it finds at the close of the taxable year that it has more than 25 percent of its remaining assets invested in Corporation A. Investment Company Z does not lose its status as a regulated investment company for the taxable year 2016 because of such distributions, nor will it lose its status as a regulated investment company for any subsequent year solely as a result of such distributions. See section 851(d)(1).

Example 6.

Investment Company Q, which keeps its books and makes its returns on the basis of the calendar year, at the close of the first quarter of 2016 meets the requirements of section 851(b)(3) and has 20 percent of its assets invested in Corporation P. At the close of the taxable year 2016, it finds that it has more than 25 percent of its assets invested in Corporation P. This situation results entirely from fluctuations in the market values of the securities in Investment Company Q's portfolio and is not due in whole or in part to the acquisition of any security or other property. Investment Company Q does not lose its status as a regulated investment company for the taxable year 2016 because of such fluctuations in the market values of the securities in its portfolio, nor will it lose its status as a regulated investment company for any subsequent year solely as a result of such market value fluctuations. See section 851(d)(1).

Example 7.

(i) Investment Company T at the close of a particular quarter of its taxable year has its assets invested as follows:

Percent Cash and Government securities 40 Securities of Corporation A 20 Securities of various qualified publicly traded partnerships (within the meaning of sections 851(b)(3) and 851(h)) 15 Securities of various corporations (not exceeding 5 percent of its assets in any one company) 25 Total 100

(ii) Investment Company T owns more than 20 percent of the voting power of Corporation A and less than 10 percent of the voting power of all of the other corporations. Corporation A has 80 percent of its assets invested in qualified publicly traded partnerships.

(iii) Investment Company T is disqualified under subparagraph (B)(iii) of section 851(b)(3), because, after applying section 851(c)(1), more than 25 percent of the value of Investment Company T's total assets is invested in the securities of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships. This result is shown by the following calculation:

Percent Percentage of assets invested directly in qualified publicly traded partnerships 15.0 Percentage invested in qualified publicly traded partnerships indirectly through A (20% × 80%) 16.0 Total percentage of assets of Investment Company T invested in qualified publicly traded partnerships 31.0

(b) Effective/applicability dates. The rules of this section apply to quarters that begin on or after December 14, 2015. For purposes of applying the first sentence of section 851(d)(1) to a quarter that begins on or after March 14, 2016, the rules of this section apply in determining whether the taxpayer met the requirements of section 851(b)(3) and (c) at the close of prior quarters.

John Dalrymple, Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement. Approved: September 2, 2015. Mark J. Mazur, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (Tax Policy).
[FR Doc. 2015-23137 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4830-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau 27 CFR Parts 24 and 70 [Docket No. TTB-2015-0013; T.D. TTB-130] RIN 1513-AB92 Return of Wine to Bonded Premises AGENCY:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury.

ACTION:

Final rule; Treasury decision.

SUMMARY:

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is revising the wine regulations governing the return of wine to bonded wine premises in response to two statutory changes. First, to incorporate a provision contained in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, TTB is removing a regulatory requirement that wine returned to bond must be unmerchantable. Second, to incorporate a provision contained in the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, TTB is revising the regulations to clarify that the refund or credit of excise tax applies to any wine removed from a bonded wine cellar and subsequently returned to bond. The current regulatory text states that a refund or credit of tax is available only for wine produced in the United States.

DATES:

This rule is effective on October 15, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jennifer Berry, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Regulations and Rulings Division; telephone 202-453-1039, ext. 275.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background TTB Authority

Chapter 51 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (IRC), 26 U.S.C. chapter 51, sets forth excise tax collection and related provisions pertaining to, among other things, the production and importation of wine. Under 26 U.S.C. 5041(a), a Federal excise tax is imposed on all wine in bond in, produced in, or imported, into the United States, and such tax is determined at the time the wine is removed for consumption or sale. As a general matter, the tax is determined or paid at the time the product is removed from bonded premises in accordance with 26 U.S.C. 5041(a). Tax on imported wine, however, is imposed when the product is imported into the United States, and is generally determined or paid when the product is removed from bonded premises or from customs custody for consumption or sale in accordance with relevant statutory provisions and Treasury regulations and orders.

Section 5361 of the IRC (26 U.S.C. 5361) provides that taxpaid wine may be returned to bonded wine premises, and section 5044(a) of the IRC (26 U.S.C. 5044(a)) states that, under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, when wine is removed from a bonded wine cellar and subsequently returned to bond, then: (1) If tax on wine returned to bond has been paid (taxpaid wine), that tax shall be refunded or credited, without interest, to the proprietor of the bonded wine cellar to which the wine is delivered; and (2) if tax on wine returned to bond has not been paid, the person liable for the tax may be relieved of liability.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) administers chapter 51 of the IRC pursuant to section 1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, codified at 6 U.S.C. 531(d). The Secretary has delegated various authorities through Treasury Department Order 120-01, dated December 10, 2013, to the TTB Administrator to perform the functions and duties in the administration and enforcement of this law.

Current Regulatory Requirements

Regulations implementing the provisions of chapter 51 of the IRC pertaining to the establishment and operation of wine premises are contained in 27 CFR part 24. Provisions regarding the return of wine to bonded premises are contained in 27 CFR 24.295. Section 24.295(a) states that when taxpaid wine produced in the United States has been removed from bonded premises and subsequently found to be unmerchantable, such wine may be returned to a bonded wine premises for reconditioning, reformulation, or destruction. When such wine is returned to bond, the tax paid on such wine may be refunded or credited without interest to the proprietor of the bonded premises to which the wine was delivered if a claim pursuant to 27 CFR part 70, subpart G has or will not be made. In the case of untaxpaid domestic wine that was removed from bonded premises and then found to be unmerchantable, the person liable for the tax may be relieved of that liability when such wine is returned to bond. Claims for relief, credit, or refund may be filed pursuant to § 24.66.

Section 24.66 (27 CFR 24.66) currently provides that a claim for credit or refund, or relief from liability, of tax on unmerchantable U.S. wine returned to bond will be filed with the appropriate TTB officer within six months after the date of the return of the wine to bond. A single claim may not be filed under this section for a quantity on which the credit or refund of tax would be less than $25. However, this limitation does not apply to any returned wine on which the six- month period for filing a claim will expire.

Statutory Changes and Conforming Regulatory Amendments Public Law 105-34

Section 1416 of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Public Law 105-34, 111 Stat. 788, amended section 5044 of the IRC to remove a previous requirement that wine returned to bond must be unmerchantable. Accordingly, TTB is amending its regulatory provisions to conform the regulations to the statute by removing the word “unmerchantable” from where it appears in §§ 24.66(a), 24.295, and 24.312, and from the undesignated center heading that precedes § 24.295. TTB is also removing the definition of unmerchantable wine from 27 CFR 24.10 since that definition is no longer relevant with respect to the part 24 regulations. In addition, TTB is removing the word “unmerchantable” in the four instances where it appears in Part 70, Procedure and Administration (see §§ 70.411(c)(10), 70.413(c)(2)(ii) (removing the phrase “as unmerchantable”), 70.413(d)(2), and 70.414(d)(3)).

Public Law 105-206

Section 6014(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Public Law 105-206, 112 Stat. 685, amended section 5044 of the IRC by removing a prior requirement that wine returned to bond must have been produced in the United States and instead required only that the wine first have been removed from a bonded wine cellar. To conform the regulations to the statute, TTB is removing references to “United States” or “produced in the United States” when it modifies the term “wine” in §§ 24.66(a) and 24.295, respectively. TTB is also removing the word “domestic” in the two instances where it modifies “wine” in part 70, Procedure and Administration (see §§ 70.413(d)(2) and 70.414(d)(3)).

OMB Information Collection Control Numbers

In addition, TTB is removing obsolete references to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control numbers for information collection requests used by the former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and replacing them with the OMB control numbers assigned to TTB. Specifically, in the second parenthetical statement at the end of § 24.66, OMB control number “1512-0492” is updated to “1513-0030”; in the second parenthetical statement at the end of § 24.295, OMB control numbers “1512-0216,” “1512-0298,” and “1512-0492” are updated to “1513-0053,” “1513-0115,” and “1513-0030” respectively; in the second parenthetical statement at the end of § 24.312, OMB control number “1512-0298” is updated to “1513-0115”; and in the first parenthetical statement at the end of § 70.413, OMB control number “1512-0141” is updated to “1513-0030.” The changes to these OMB control numbers are technical in nature and do not change any TTB information collection or recordkeeping requirement.

Inapplicability of Prior Notice and Comment

TTB is issuing this final rule without prior notice and comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” TTB finds that prior notice and comment for this rule is unnecessary because the rule is limited to conforming TTB regulations to statutory amendments that TTB lacks discretion to change.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required, the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) do not apply. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the IRC, TTB submitted this final rule to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on the impact of the regulations, and no comments were received.

Paperwork Reduction Act

The collections of information in the regulations contained in this final rule have been previously reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), and assigned control numbers 1513-0030, 1513-0053, and 1513-0115. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number assigned by OMB. There is no new collection of information imposed by this final rule.

Executive Order 12866

This final rule is not a significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993. Therefore, it requires no regulatory assessment.

Drafting Information

Jennifer Berry of the Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, drafted this document.

List of Subjects 27 CFR Part 24

Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Electronic fund transfers, Excise taxes, Exports, Food additives, Fruit juices, Labeling, Liquors, Packaging and containers, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Research, Scientific equipment, Spices and flavorings, Surety bonds, Vinegar, Warehouses, Wine.

27 CFR Part 70

Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Excise taxes, Freedom of information, Law enforcement, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Surety bonds.

Amendments to the Regulations

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB amends 27 CFR, chapter I, parts 24 and 70 as set forth below:

PART 24—WINE 1. The authority citation for 27 CFR part 24 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 552(a); 26 U.S.C. 5001, 5008, 5041, 5042, 5044, 5061, 5062, 5121, 5122-5124, 5173, 5206, 5214, 5215, 5351, 5353, 5354, 5356, 5357, 5361, 5362, 5364-5373, 5381-5388, 5391, 5392, 5511, 5551, 5552, 5661, 5662, 5684, 6065, 6091, 6109, 6301, 6302, 6311, 6651, 6676, 7302, 7342, 7502, 7503, 7606, 7805, 7851; 31 U.S.C. 9301, 9303, 9304, 9306.

§ 24.10 [Amended]
2. Section 24.10 is amended by removing the definition of “Unmerchantable wine”.
§ 24.66 [Amended]
3. In § 24.66: a. The first sentence of paragraph (a) is amended by removing the words “unmerchantable United States”; and b. The second parenthetical phrase at the end of the section is amended by removing the Office of Management and Budget control number “1512-0492” and adding, in its place, the number “1513-0030”.
Subpart N—[Amended] 4. In subpart N, the undesignated center heading located before § 24.295 is revised to read as follows: Return of Wine to Bond 5. In § 24.295: a. The section heading and paragraph (a) are revised; b. The first sentences of paragraph (b) and paragraph (c) are amended by removing the word “unmerchantable”; c. Paragraph (b) is amended by removing the term “United States” where it occurs in two instances; and d. The second parenthetical phrase at the end of the section is amended by removing the Office of Management and Budget control numbers “1512-0216, 1512-0298, and 1512-0492” and adding, in their place, the numbers “1513-0053, 1513-0115, and 1513-0030”.

The revisions read as follows:

§ 24.295 Return of wine to bond.

(a) General. Wine, domestic or imported, which has been taxpaid and removed from bonded wine premises, may be received by the proprietor of a bonded wine premises for return to bond. The proprietor may, when such taxpaid wine is returned to bond, make a claim for refund or credit, without interest. However, tax will not be refunded or credited for any wine for which a claim has been or will be made under 27 CFR part 70, subpart G. If the tax has been determined but not paid, the person liable for the tax may, when such wine is returned to bond, be relieved of the liability. Claims for refund or credit, or relief from tax paid or determined on wine returned to bond, are filed in accordance with § 24.66.

6. In § 24.312: a. The section heading is revised, and the introductory text is amended by removing the word “unmerchantable”; and b. The second parenthetical phrase at the end of the section is amended by removing the Office of Management and Budget control number “1512-0298” and adding, in its place, the number “1513-0115”.

The revision reads as follows:

§ 24.312 Wine returned to bond record.
PART 70—PROCEDURE AND ADMINISTRATION 7. The authority citation for part 70 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 301 and 552; 26 U.S.C. 4181, 4182, 5123, 5203, 5207, 5275, 5367, 5415, 5504, 5555, 5684(a), 5741, 5761(b), 5802, 6020, 6021, 6064, 6102, 6155, 6159, 6201, 6203, 6204, 6301, 6303, 6311, 6313, 6314, 6321, 6323, 6325, 6326, 6331-6343, 6401-6404, 6407, 6416, 6423, 6501-6503, 6511, 6513, 6514, 6532, 6601, 6602, 6611, 6621, 6622, 6651, 6653, 6656-6658, 6665, 6671, 6672, 6701, 6723, 6801, 6862, 6863, 6901, 7011, 7101, 7102, 7121, 7122, 7207, 7209, 7214, 7304, 7401, 7403, 7406, 7423, 7424, 7425, 7426, 7429, 7430, 7432, 7502, 7503, 7505, 7506, 7513, 7601-7606, 7608-7610, 7622, 7623, 7653, 7805.

§ 70.411 [Amended]
8. Section 70.411 is amended by removing the word “unmerchantable” from paragraph (c)(10).
§ 70.413 [Amended]
9. In § 70.413: a. Paragraph (c)(2)(ii) is amended by removing the words “as unmerchantable,”; b. Paragraph (d)(2) is amended by removing the words “unmerchantable domestic”; and c. The first parenthetical phrase at the end of the section is amended by removing the Office of Management and Budget control number “1512-0141” and adding, in its place, the number “1513-0030”.
§ 70.414 [Amended]
10. Section 70.414 is amended by removing the words “unmerchantable domestic” from paragraph (d)(3).
Signed: June 11, 2015. John J. Manfreda, Administrator. Approved: June 19, 2015. Timothy E. Skud, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax, Trade, and Tariff Policy).
[FR Doc. 2015-23132 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-31-P
PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION 29 CFR Parts 4022 and 4044 Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Valuing and Paying Benefits AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule amends the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's regulations on Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans and Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans to prescribe interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation for valuation dates in October 2015 and interest assumptions under the asset allocation regulation for valuation dates in the fourth quarter of 2015. The interest assumptions are used for valuing and paying benefits under terminating single-employer plans covered by the pension insurance system administered by PBGC.

DATES:

Effective October 1, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine B. Klion ([email protected]), Assistant General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20005, 202-326-4024. (TTY/TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4024.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

PBGC's regulations on Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR part 4044) and Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR part 4022) prescribe actuarial assumptions—including interest assumptions —for valuing and paying plan benefits under terminating single-employer plans covered by title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The interest assumptions in the regulations are also published on PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

The interest assumptions in Appendix B to Part 4044 are used to value benefits for allocation purposes under ERISA section 4044. PBGC uses the interest assumptions in Appendix B to Part 4022 to determine whether a benefit is payable as a lump sum and to determine the amount to pay. Appendix C to Part 4022 contains interest assumptions for private-sector pension practitioners to refer to if they wish to use lump-sum interest rates determined using PBGC's historical methodology. Currently, the rates in Appendices B and C of the benefit payment regulation are the same.

The interest assumptions are intended to reflect current conditions in the financial and annuity markets. Assumptions under the asset allocation regulation are updated quarterly; assumptions under the benefit payments regulation are updated monthly. This final rule updates the benefit payments interest assumptions for October 2015 and updates the asset allocation interest assumptions for the fourth quarter (October through December) of 2015.

The fourth quarter 2015 interest assumptions under the allocation regulation will be 2.46 percent for the first 20 years following the valuation date and 2.98 percent thereafter. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for the third quarter of 2015, these interest assumptions represent no change in the select period (the period during which the select rate (the initial rate) applies), an increase of 0.14 percent in the select rate, and an increase of 0.68 percent in the ultimate rate (the final rate).

The October 2015 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 1.25 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for September 2015, these interest assumptions are unchanged.

PBGC has determined that notice and public comment on this amendment are impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This finding is based on the need to determine and issue new interest assumptions promptly so that the assumptions can reflect current market conditions as accurately as possible.

Because of the need to provide immediate guidance for the valuation and payment of benefits under plans with valuation dates during October 2015, PBGC finds that good cause exists for making the assumptions set forth in this amendment effective less than 30 days after publication.

PBGC has determined that this action is not a “significant regulatory action” under the criteria set forth in Executive Order 12866.

Because no general notice of proposed rulemaking is required for this amendment, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 does not apply. See 5 U.S.C. 601(2).

List of Subjects 29 CFR Part 4022

Employee benefit plans, Pension insurance, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

29 CFR Part 4044

Employee benefit plans, Pension insurance, Pensions.

In consideration of the foregoing, 29 CFR parts 4022 and 4044 are amended as follows:

PART 4022—BENEFITS PAYABLE IN TERMINATED SINGLE-EMPLOYER PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 4022 continues to read as follows: Authority:

29 U.S.C. 1302, 1322, 1322b, 1341(c)(3)(D), and 1344.

2. In appendix B to part 4022, Rate Set 264, as set forth below, is added to the table. Appendix B to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for PBGC Payments Rate set For plans with a valuation date On or after Before Immediate annuity rate
  • (percent)
  • Deferred annuities
  • (percent)
  • i 1 i 2 i 3 n 1 n 2
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 264 10-1-15 11-1-15 1.25 4.00 4.00 4.00 7 8
    3. In appendix C to part 4022, Rate Set 264, as set forth below, is added to the table. Appendix C to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for Private-Sector Payments Rate set For plans with a valuation date On or after Before Immediate annuity rate
  • (percent)
  • Deferred annuities
  • (percent)
  • i 1 i 2 i 3 n 1 n 2
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 264 10-1-15 11-1-15 1.25 4.00 4.00 4.00 7 8
    PART 4044—ALLOCATION OF ASSETS IN SINGLE-EMPLOYER PLANS 4. The authority citation for part 4044 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    29 U.S.C. 1301(a), 1302(b)(3), 1341, 1344, 1362.

    5. In appendix B to part 4044, a new entry for October-December 2015, as set forth below, is added to the table. Appendix B to Part 4044—Interest Rates Used to Value Benefits For valuation dates occurring in the month— The values of i t are: i t for t = i t for t = i t for t = *         *         *         *         *         *         * October-December 2015 0.0246 1-20 0.0298 >20 N/A N/A Issued in Washington, DC, on this 10th day of September 2015. Judith Starr, General Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23231 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7709-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary 32 CFR Part 199 [DOD-2006-HA-0207] RIN 0720-AB15 Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS); TRICARE Reserve Select; TRICARE Dental Program; Early Eligibility for TRICARE for Certain Reserve Component Members AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) is a premium-based TRICARE health plan available for purchase worldwide by qualified members of the Ready Reserve and by qualified survivors of TRS members. TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) is a premium-based TRICARE dental plan available for purchase worldwide by qualified Service members. This final rule revises requirements and procedures for the TRS program to specify the appropriate actuarial basis for calculating premiums in addition to making other minor clarifying administrative changes. For a member who is involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve under other than adverse conditions this final rule provides a time-limited exception that allows TRS coverage in effect to continue for up to 180 days after the date on which the member is separated from the Selected Reserve and TDP coverage in effect to continue for no less than 180 days after the separation date. It also expands early TRICARE eligibility for certain Reserve Component members from a maximum of 90 days to a maximum of 180 days prior to activation in support of a contingency operation for more than 30 days.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective October 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brian Smith, Defense Health Agency, TRICARE Health Plan Division, telephone (703) 681-0039.

    Questions regarding payment of specific claims under the TRICARE allowable charge method should be addressed to the appropriate TRICARE contractor.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Introduction and Background A. Overview

    An interim final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 20, 2007 (72 FR 46380). That interim final rule addressed provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (NDAA-07) (Pub. L. 109-364),which expanded eligibility for the TRICARE Reserve Select program to include all Selected Reservists except those individuals either enrolled or eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.

    Before finalizing the interim final rule, a proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2014 (79 FR 51127). The proposed rule addressed provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (NDAA-09) (Pub. L. 110-417), the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA-10) (Pub. L. 111-84), and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA-13) (Pub. L. 112-239). First, section 704 of NDAA-09 specifies that the appropriate actuarial basis for calculating premiums for TRS shall utilize the actual cost of providing benefits to members and their dependents during preceding calendar years. Second, section 702 of NDAA-10 expands early eligibility for Reserve Component members issued delayed-effective-date active duty orders from a maximum of 90 days to a maximum of 180 days prior to activation in support of a contingency for more than 30 days. Third, for a member who is involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve under other than adverse conditions as characterized by the Secretary concerned, section 701 of NDAA-13 provides a time-limited exception that allows TRS coverage already in effect at time of separation to continue for up to 180 days after the date on which the member is separated from the Selected Reserve and TDP coverage already in effect at time of separation to continue for no less than 180 days after the separation date. This exception expires December 31, 2018. Finally, the proposed rule addressed additional administrative clarifications to 32 CFR 199.24, which implements TRS.

    This final rule addresses and finalizes the provisions in both the interim final rule and the proposed rule.

    B. Public Comments

    An interim final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 20, 2007 and we received 4 comments (one comment was a duplicate submission). A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2014 and we received 1 comment. We thank those who provided comments. Specific matters raised by those who submitted comments are summarized below.

    II. Provisions of the Rule Regarding Early TRICARE Eligibility

    1. Provisions of Proposed Rule. Section 199.3(b)(5) implements section 702 of NDAA-10, which specifies that Reserve Component members issued delayed-effective-date orders for service in support of a contingency operation, and their family members, are eligible for TRICARE on the date the orders are issued, up to a maximum of 180 days prior to the date on which the period of active duty of more than 30 consecutive days is to begin. Previously, members and their family members could become eligible for TRICARE up to a maximum of 90 days prior to the date on which the period of active duty in support of a contingency operation of more than 30 consecutive days is to begin.

    2. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    3. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    III. Provisions of the Rule Regarding the TRICARE Dental Program

    A summary of the relevant proposed rule provision is presented, followed by an analysis of major public comments, and by a summary of the final rule provisions.

    1. Provisions of Proposed Final Rule. So that the existing provisions of § 199.13(c)(3)(ii)(E)(2) would not be confused with the new paragraph described below, we proposed to clarify that the continued coverage described in this paragraph is actually survivor coverage. We also proposed to reinsert the provision that the government will pay both the government and the beneficiary's portion of the premium share during the three-year period of continued survivor enrollment, which was inadvertently deleted by a previous amendment to the regulation.

    We proposed to add new § 199.13(c)(3)(ii)(E)(5) that implements the provisions in section 701 of NDAA- 13 concerning TDP. A time-limited exception is added to the general rule that TDP coverage shall terminate for members who no longer qualify for TDP. This exception specifies that if a member is involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve under other than adverse conditions, as characterized by the Secretary concerned, and TDP coverage was in effect for the member and/or the family on the last day of his or her membership in the Selected Reserve, the TDP coverage that was in effect, whether member coverage and/or family coverage, may terminate no earlier than 180 days after the date on which the member is separated from the Selected Reserve. This exception expires December 31, 2018.

    2. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    3. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    IV. Provisions of the Rule Regarding the TRICARE Reserve Select Program

    Many of our proposed clarifications update the rules for TRS (§ 199.24) and, as appropriate, bring the rules in closer alignment and sequencing with the very similar TRICARE Retired Reserve program (§ 199.25).

    A. Establishment of the TRICARE Reserve Select Program (§ 199.24(a))

    1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule. This paragraph describes the nature, purpose, statutory basis, scope, and major features of TRICARE Reserve Select, a premium-based medical coverage program that was made available worldwide to certain members of the Selected Reserve and their family members. TRICARE Reserve Select is authorized by 10 U.S.C. 1076d.

    2. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to remove the existing terminology at § 199.24(a)(4) and to redesignate § 199.24(a)(5) as § 199.24(a)(4). We proposed to clarify that certain special programs established in 32 CFR part 199 are not available to members covered under TRS (§ 199.24(a)(4)(i)(B)).

    We proposed to clarify the wording for submitting an initial payment of the appropriate premium along with the request to purchase coverage (§ 199.24(a)(4)(iii)) and to make it consistent throughout this section. We proposed to clarify that both the member and the member's covered family members are provided access priority for care in military treatment facilities on the same basis as active duty service members' dependents who are not enrolled in TRICARE Prime (§ 199.24(a)(4)(iv)).

    3. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    4. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the interim final rule and the proposed rule.

    B. Qualifications for TRICARE Reserve Select Coverage (§ 199.24(b))

    1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule. In the interim final rule, paragraph (b) addressed TRICARE Reserve Select premiums (§ 199.24(b)). It continued that members are charged premiums for coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select that represent 28 percent of the total annual premium amount that the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs (ASD(HA)) determines on an appropriate actuarial basis as being appropriate for coverage under the TRICARE Standard (and Extra) benefit for the TRICARE Reserve Select eligible population. Premiums are to be paid monthly, except as otherwise established as part of the administrative implementation of TRICARE Reserve Select.

    Annual rates for the first year TRICARE Reserve Select was offered (2005) were based on the calendar year annual premiums for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Standard Service Benefit Plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a nationwide plan closely resembling TRICARE Standard (and Extra) coverage, with an adjustment based on estimated differences in covered populations, as determined by the ASD(HA).

    Based on an analysis of demographic differences between Blue Cross and Blue Shield members and beneficiaries eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select, the adjustment amount in calendar year 2005 represented a 32 percent reduction from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield annual premium for member-only coverage and represented an 8 percent reduction from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield annual premium for member and family coverage. (The difference in the percentage reductions between member only and member and family premiums is due to the disproportionately high number of high cost, single, elderly retiree federal employees covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield member-only coverage).

    TRICARE Reserve Select monthly premium rates are established and updated annually, on a calendar year basis, to maintain an appropriate relationship with the annual changes in Blue Cross and Blue Shield premiums, or by other adjustment methodology determined to be appropriate by the ASD(HA) for each of the two types of coverage, member-only coverage and member and family coverage, on a calendar year basis. The monthly rate for each month of a calendar year is one twelfth of the annual rate for that calendar year.

    In addition to these annual premium changes, premium adjustments may also be made prospectively for any calendar year to reflect any significant program changes or any actual experience in the costs of administering the TRICARE Reserve Select Program.

    A surviving family member of a Reserve Component service member who qualified for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage as described in paragraph (c)(3) of this section will pay premium rates as follows. The premium amount shall be at the member-only rate if there is only one surviving family member to be covered by TRICARE Reserve Select and at the member and family rate if there are two or more survivors to be covered.

    2. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to redesignate § 199.24(c) as § 199.24(b) so that it precedes the section on TRICARE Reserve Select premiums for clarity and maintains parallel sequencing with § 199.25.

    Section 10144(b) of title 10, U.S.C. provides that the Secretary concerned may designate a category of members within the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) of each Reserve Component who are subject to being ordered to active duty involuntarily in accordance with section 12304 of title 10, U.S.C. We proposed to clarify that since a member of the IRR who has volunteered to serve in such mobilization category is eligible for benefits (other than pay and training) as are normally available to members of the Selected Reserve, these members may also qualify for TRS (§ 199.24(b)(1)(i)).

    We proposed to clarify the exclusion involving the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. Section 199.24(b)(1)(ii) specifies that an otherwise qualified member of the Ready Reserve qualifies to purchase TRS coverage if the member is not enrolled in, or eligible to enroll in, a health benefits plan under chapter 89 of title 5, U.S.C. That statute has been implemented under part 890 of title 5, CFR as the “Federal Employees Health Benefits” program. For purposes of the FEHB program, the terms “enrolled,” “enroll” and “enrollee” are defined in § 890.101 of title 5, CFR. We proposed to clarify that the member (or certain involuntarily separated former member) no longer qualifies for TRS coverage when the member has been eligible for active coverage in a health benefits plan under the FEHB program for more than 60 days (§ 199.24(b)(1)(ii)). This affords the member sufficient time to make arrangements for health coverage other than TRS and avoid any days without having health coverage being in force.

    We proposed to clarify that qualification for TRS survivor coverage applies regardless of type of coverage in effect on the day of the TRS member's death (§ 199.24(b)(2)).

    3. Analysis of Major Public Comments. One commenter suggested that we eliminate the exclusion regarding the FEHB program rather than clarify it.

    Response. The exclusion is statutory; the Department of Defense has no authority to eliminate it.

    4. Provisions of the Final Rule. Note in the proposed rule that we proposed to redesignate paragraph (c) as paragraph (b) so that the section on Qualifications for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage would precede the section on TRICARE Reserve Select premiums for clarity purposes and to maintain consistent sequencing with § 199.25. Then we proposed to replace the content in the section on Eligibility for (qualifying to purchase) TRICARE Reserve Select coverage that appeared in the interim final rule in its entirety with the newly revised section on Qualifications for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage. Therefore, the final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    C. TRICARE Reserve Select Premiums (§ 199.24(c))

    1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule. In the interim final rule, § 199.24(c) addressed Eligibility for (qualifying to purchase) TRICARE Reserve Select coverage. It reflected the statutory conditions under which members of a Reserve component may qualify to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage.

    2. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to redesignate § 199.24(b) as § 199.24(c) so that it follows the section on Qualifications for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage for clarity purposes and maintains consistent sequencing with § 199.25. We also proposed to clarify that the Director, Healthcare Operations in the Defense Health Agency may establish procedures for administrative implementation related to premiums (§ 199.24(c)).

    Section 199.24(c)(1) implements section 704 of NDAA-09, which requires that monthly premiums be determined by utilizing the actual reported cost of providing benefits to TRS members and their dependents during preceding calendar years. Section 704 of NDAA-09 specified that actual TRS cost data from calendar years 2006 and 2007 be utilized in the determination of premium rates for calendar year 2009. This established pattern has been followed to determine premium rates for all calendar years starting with 2009 (§ 199.24(c)(1)). Further, we proposed to amend § 199.24(c) by deleting all former provisions involving the relationship between premium rates for TRS and premium rates for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Standard Service Benefit Plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.

    3. Analysis of Major Public Comments. Three military service organizations commented on the methodology described in the interim final rule to be used for annual TRS premium updates that was based on annual changes in premiums in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan offered nationwide by the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. Rather than applying the same percentage increases to TRS premiums that were observed in the federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield nationwide plan, each commenting organization requested that the annual TRS premium increases not exceed the percentage increase in military basic pay.

    Response. Section 704 of NDAA-09 added 10 U.S.C. 1076 d(d)(3)(B) to specify that the appropriate actuarial basis for calculating premiums for TRS shall utilize the actual cost of providing benefits to members and their dependents during preceding calendar years. The final rule is consistent with this statutory requirement.

    4. Provisions of the Final Rule. Note in the proposed rule that we proposed to redesignate paragraph (b) as paragraph (c) so that the section on TRICARE Reserve Select premiums would follow the section on Qualifications for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage for clarity purposes and to maintain consistent sequencing with § 199.25). Then we proposed to replace the content on TRICARE Reserve Select premiums that appeared in the interim final rule in its entirety with the newly revised section on TRICARE Reserve Select premiums in order to implement section 704 of NDAA-09. That had the effect of removing all of the former provisions involving the relationship between premium rates for TRS and premium rates for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Standard Service Benefit Plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program will appear in the amended § 199.24(c). The final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    D. Procedures (§ 199.24(d)) 1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule

    The interim final rule addressed procedures for TRS coverage.

    2. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to clarify that the Director, Healthcare Operations in the Defense Health Agency may establish procedures for TRS (§ 199.24(d)).

    We proposed to clarify that either reserve members or survivors qualified under § 199.24(b) may follow applicable procedures throughout this section regarding TRS coverage. We proposed to clarify the rule about immediate family members who may be included in family coverage under TRS (§ 199.24(d)(1)), which is further supported by the proposed definition for immediate family member included in § 199.24(g).

    We proposed to clarify continuation coverage by removing the previous requirement that the member had to be the sponsor of the other TRICARE coverage in order to qualify for continuation coverage (§ 199.24(d)(1)(i)). In circumstances when the spouse of the Reserve Component member is the sponsor for purposes of the other TRICARE coverage, it would be clear that the qualified member would be able to purchase TRS coverage with an effective date immediately following the date of termination of coverage under another TRICARE program regardless whether it was the Reserve Component member or the spouse who was the sponsor of the other TRICARE coverage.

    We proposed rules to implement the provisions in section 701 of NDAA-13 concerning TRS coverage (§ 199.24(d)(3)(i)). Similar to the TDP, this provision would apply to members involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve if, and only if, the member was covered by TRS on the last day of his or her membership in the Selected Reserve. However, the termination date of TRS is characterized slightly differently from the TDP provision because TRS may terminate up to 180 days after the date on which the member is separated from the Selected Reserve. This delayed termination exception applies regardless of type of TRS coverage actually in effect at the time. This exception expires December 31, 2018.

    We proposed to clarify the rule that procedures may be established for TRS coverage to be suspended for up to one year followed by final termination for members or qualified survivors if they fail to make premium payments in accordance with established procedures or otherwise if they request suspension/termination of coverage (§ 199.24(d)(3)). Suspension/termination of coverage for the TRS member/survivor will result in suspension/termination of coverage for the member's/survivor's family members in TRS, except as described in § 199.24 (d)(1)(iv). We also proposed to clarify that procedures may be established for the suspension to be lifted upon request before final termination is applied.

    3. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    4. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the interim final rule and the proposed rule.

    E. Preemption of State Laws (§ 199.24(e))

    1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule. In the interim final rule, paragraph (e) addressed Relationship to Continued Health Care Benefits Program (CHCBP) (§ 199.24(e)). Based on a statutory amendment concerning CHCBP, the Final Rule published September 16, 2011 (76 FR 57637-57641) removed paragraph (e) in its entirety and replaced it with the placeholder (e) Reserved to maintain numerical sequencing.

    3. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to remove the previous § 199.24(e) Reserved and redesignate § 199.24(f) as § 199.24(e). No other changes are proposed this section.

    4. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    5. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    F. Administration (§ 199.25(f))

    1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule. In the interim final rule, paragraph (f) addressed Preemption of State laws (§ 199.25(f)).

    2. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to redesignate § 199.24(g) as § 199.24(f). We proposed to clarify this provision by removing the phrase, “based on extraordinary circumstances” as a limitation on authority to grant exceptions to requirements of the section and to clarify that the Director, Healthcare Operations in the Defense Health Agency has authority to grant such exceptions and establish administrative rules and procedures for TRS.

    3. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    4. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    G. Terminology (§ 199.25(g))

    1. Provisions of Interim Final Rule. In the interim final rule, paragraph (g) addressed Administration (§ 199.25(g)).

    2. Provisions of the Proposed Rule. We proposed to redesignate paragraph (g) as paragraph (f) and to add a new paragraph (g) regarding terminology. This would also remove the terminology under § 199.25(a)(4).

    3. Analysis of Major Public Comments. No public comments were received relating to this section of the rule.

    4. Provisions of the Final Rule. The final rule is consistent with the proposed rule.

    V. Costs

    Fiscal year 2014 through 2019 costs are anticipated to be $7,735,728.00:

    Fiscal year Government cost 2014 $1,296,884 2015 1,373,929 2016 1,455,633 2017 1,542,277 2018 1,634,096 2019 432,909 Total FY14-FY19 7,735,728 VI. Regulatory Procedures

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 require certain regulatory assessments for any significant regulatory action that would result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or have other substantial impacts. The Congressional Review Act establishes certain procedures for major rules, defined as those with similar major impacts. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that each Federal agency prepare, and make available for public comment, a regulatory flexibility analysis when the agency issues a regulation that would have significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. This final rule is not subject to any of these requirements because it will not have any of these substantial impacts. However, this rule has been designated a “significant regulatory action,” although not economically significant, under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    This rule will not impose additional information collection requirements on the public under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3511).

    We have examined the impact(s) of the final rule under Executive Order 13132 and it does not have policies that have federalism implications that will have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. The preemption provisions in the rule conform to law and long-established TRICARE policy. Therefore, consultation with State and local officials is not required.

    List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 199

    Claims, Handicapped, Health insurance, Military personnel.

    Accordingly, the interim final rule published at 72 FR 46380 on August 20, 2007, amending 32 CFR part 199 is adopted as a final rule with the following changes:

    PART 199—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 199 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 301; 10 U.S.C. chapter 55.

    2. Amend § 199.3 by revising paragraph (b)(5)(iii)(B) to read as follows:
    § 199.3 Eligibility.

    (b) * * *

    (5) * * *

    (iii) * * *

    (B) 180 days before the date on which the period of active duty is to begin.

    3. Amend § 199.13 by revising paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(E)(2) introductory text and adding paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(E)(5) to read as follows:
    § 199.13 TRICARE Dental Program.

    (c) * * *

    (3) * * *

    (ii) * * *

    (E) * * *

    (2) Survivor eligibility. Eligible dependents of active duty members who die while on active duty for a period of more than 30 days and eligible dependents of members of the Ready Reserve (i.e., Selected Reserve or Individual Ready Reserve, as specified in 10 U.S.C. 10143 and 10144(b) respectively) who die, shall be eligible for survivor enrollment in the TDP. During the period of survivor enrollment, the government will pay both the government and the eligible dependent's portion of the premium share. This survivor enrollment shall be up to (3) three years from the date of the member's death, except that, in the case of a dependent of the deceased who is described in 10 U.S.C. 1072(2)(D) or (I), the period of survivor enrollment shall be the longer of the following periods beginning on the date of the member's death:

    (5) TRICARE Dental Program coverage shall terminate for members who no longer qualify for the TRICARE Dental Program as specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, with one exception. If a member is involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve under other than adverse conditions, as characterized by the Secretary concerned, and TRICARE Dental Program coverage is in effect for the member and/or the family on the last day of his or her membership in the Selected Reserve; then the TRICARE Dental Program coverage that was actually in effect may terminate no earlier than 180 days after the date on which the member is separated from the Selected Reserve. This exception expires December 31, 2018.

    4. Amend § 199.24 as follows. a. Remove paragraph (a)(4). b. Redesignate paragraph (a)(5) as paragraph (a)(4). c. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (a)(4)(i)(B), (a)(4)(iii), and (a)(4)(iv). d. Redesignate paragraphs (b) and (c) as paragraphs (c) and (b), respectively. e. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b) and (c). f. Revise paragraph (d). g. Redesignate paragraphs (f) and (g) as paragraphs (e) and (f), respectively. h. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (f). i. Add new paragraph (g).

    The revisions and additions read as follows:

    § 199.24 TRICARE Reserve Select.

    (a) * * *

    (4) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (B) Certain special programs established in 32 CFR part 199 are not available to members covered under TRICARE Reserve Select. These include the Extended Care Health Option (§ 199.5), the Special Supplemental Food Program (see § 199.23), and the Supplemental Health Care Program (§ 199.16), except when referred by a Military Treatment Facility (MTF) provider for incidental consults and the MTF provider maintains clinical control over the episode of care. The TRICARE Dental Program (§ 199.13) is independent of this program and is otherwise available to all members of the Selected Reserve and their eligible family members whether or not they purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage. The Continued Health Care Benefits Program (§ 199.20) is also independent of this program and is otherwise available to all members who qualify.

    (iii) Procedures. Under TRICARE Reserve Select, Reserve Component members who fulfilled all of the statutory qualifications may purchase either the member-only type of coverage or the member-and-family type of coverage by submitting a completed request in the appropriate format along with an initial payment of the applicable premium. Rules and procedures for purchasing coverage and paying applicable premiums are prescribed in this section.

    (iv) Benefits. When their coverage becomes effective, TRICARE Reserve Select beneficiaries receive the TRICARE Standard (and Extra) benefit including access to military treatment facility services and pharmacies, as described in §§ 199.17 and 199.21. TRICARE Reserve Select coverage features the deductible and cost share provisions of the TRICARE Standard (and Extra) plan applicable to active duty family members for both the member and the member's covered family members (paragraph (a)(4)(iv) of this section). Both the member and the member's covered family members are provided access priority for care in military treatment facilities on the same basis as active duty service members' dependents who are not enrolled in TRICARE Prime as described in § 199.17(d)(1)(i)(D).

    (b) Qualifications for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage—(1) Ready Reserve member. A Ready Reserve member qualifies to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage if the Service member meets both the following criteria:

    (i) Is a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces, or a member of the Individual Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces who has volunteered to be ordered to active duty pursuant to the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 12304 in accordance with section 10 U.S.C. 10144(b); and

    (ii) Is not enrolled in, or eligible to enroll in, a health benefits plan under 5 U.S.C. chapter 89. That statute has been implemented under 5 CFR part 890 as the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. For purposes of the FEHB program, the terms “enrolled,” “enroll” and “enrollee” are defined in 5 CFR 890.101. Further, the member (or certain former member involuntarily separated) no longer qualifies for TRICARE Reserve Select when the member (or former member) has been eligible for coverage to be effective in a health benefits plan under the FEHB program for more than 60 days.

    (2) TRICARE Reserve Select survivor. If a qualified Service member dies while in a period of TRICARE Reserve Select coverage, the immediate family member(s) of such member is qualified to purchase new or continue existing TRICARE Reserve Select coverage for up to six months beyond the date of the member's death as long as they meet the definition of immediate family members as specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section. This applies regardless of type of coverage in effect on the day of the TRICARE Reserve Select member's death.

    (c) TRICARE Reserve Select premiums. Members are charged premiums for coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select that represent 28 percent of the total annual premium amount that the Director, Defense Health Agency determines on an appropriate actuarial basis as being appropriate for coverage under the TRICARE Standard (and Extra) benefit for the TRICARE Reserve Select eligible population. Premiums are to be paid monthly, except as otherwise provided through administrative implementation, pursuant to procedures established by the Director, Healthcare Operations in the Defense Health Agency. The monthly rate for each month of a calendar year is one-twelfth of the annual rate for that calendar year.

    (1) Annual establishment of rates. TRICARE Reserve Select monthly premium rates shall be established and updated annually on a calendar year basis for each of the two types of coverage, member-only and member- and-family as described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section. Starting with calendar year 2009, the appropriate actuarial basis for purposes of this paragraph (c) shall be determined for each calendar year by utilizing the actual reported cost of providing benefits under this section to members and their dependents during the calendar years preceding such calendar year. Reported actual TRS cost data from calendar years 2006 and 2007 was used to determine premium rates for calendar year 2009. This established pattern will be followed to determine premium rates for all calendar years subsequent to 2009.

    (2) Premium adjustments. In addition to the determinations described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, premium adjustments may be made prospectively for any calendar year to reflect any significant program changes or any actual experience in the costs of administering TRICARE Reserve Select.

    (3) Survivor premiums. A surviving family member of a Reserve Component service member who qualified for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section will pay premium rates as follows. The premium amount shall be at the member-only rate if there is only one surviving family member to be covered by TRICARE Reserve Select and at the member and family rate if there are two or more survivors to be covered.

    (d) Procedures. The Director, Healthcare Operations in the Defense Health Agency, may establish procedures for the following.

    (1) Purchasing coverage. Procedures may be established for a qualified member to purchase one of two types of coverage: Member-only coverage or member and family coverage. Immediate family members of a qualified member as specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section may be included in such family coverage. To purchase either type of TRICARE Reserve Select coverage for effective dates of coverage described below, members and survivors qualified under either paragraph (b)(1) or (2) of this section must submit a request in the appropriate format, along with an initial payment of the applicable premium required by paragraph (c) of this section in accordance with established procedures.

    (i) Continuation coverage. Procedures may be established for a qualified member or qualified survivor to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage with an effective date immediately following the date of termination of coverage under another TRICARE program.

    (ii) Qualifying life event. Procedures may be established for a qualified member or qualified survivor to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage on the occasion of a qualifying life event that changes the immediate family composition (e.g., birth, adoption, divorce, etc.) that is eligible for coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select. The effective date for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage will coincide with the date of the qualifying life event. It is the responsibility of the member to provide personnel officials with the necessary evidence required to substantiate the change in immediate family composition. Personnel officials will update DEERS in the usual manner. Appropriate action will be taken upon receipt of the completed request in the appropriate format along with an initial payment of the applicable premium in accordance with established procedures.

    (iii) Open enrollment. Procedures may be established for a qualified member to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage at any time. The effective date of coverage will coincide with the first day of a month.

    (iv) Survivor coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select. Procedures may be established for a surviving family member of a Reserve Component service member who qualified for TRICARE Reserve Select coverage as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section to purchase new TRICARE Reserve Select coverage or continue existing TRICARE Reserve Select coverage for up to six months beyond the date of the member's death. The effective date of coverage will be the day following the date of the member's death.

    (2) Changing type of coverage. Procedures may be established for TRICARE Reserve Select members to request to change type of coverage during open enrollment as described in paragraph (d)(1)(iii) of this section or on the occasion of a qualifying life event that changes immediate family composition as described in paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section by submitting a completed request in the appropriate format.

    (3) Suspension and termination. Suspension/termination of coverage for the TRS member/survivor will result in suspension/termination of coverage for the member's/survivor's family members in TRICARE Reserve Select, except as described in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section. Procedures may be established for coverage to be suspended or terminated as follows.

    (i) Coverage shall terminate when members or survivors no longer qualify for TRICARE Reserve Select as specified in paragraph (b) of this section, with one exception. If a member is involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve under other than adverse conditions, as characterized by the Secretary concerned, and is covered by TRICARE Reserve Select on the last day of his or her membership in the Selected Reserve, then TRICARE Reserve Select coverage may terminate up to 180 days after the date on which the member was separated from the Selected Reserve. This applies regardless of type of coverage. This exception expires December 31, 2018.

    (ii) Coverage may terminate for members, former members, and survivors who gain coverage under another TRICARE program.

    (iii) Coverage may be suspended and finally terminated for members/survivors who fail to make premium payments in accordance with established procedures.

    (iv) Coverage may be suspended and finally terminated for members/survivors upon request at any time by submitting a completed request in the appropriate format in accordance with established procedures.

    (v) Under paragraph (d)(3)(iii) or (iv) of this section, TRICARE Reserve Select coverage may first be suspended for a period of up to one year followed by final termination. Procedures may be established for the suspension to be lifted upon request before final termination is applied.

    (4) Processing. Upon receipt of a completed request in the appropriate format, enrollment actions will be processed into DEERS in accordance with established procedures.

    (5) Periodic revision. Periodically, certain features, rules or procedures of TRICARE Reserve Select may be revised. If such revisions will have a significant effect on members' or survivors' costs or access to care, members or survivors may be given the opportunity to change their type of coverage or terminate coverage coincident with the revisions.

    (f) Administration. The Director, Healthcare Operations in the Defense Health Agency may establish other rules and procedures for the effective administration of TRICARE Reserve Select, and may authorize exceptions to requirements of this section, if permitted by law.

    (g) Terminology. The following terms are applicable to the TRICARE Reserve Select program.

    (1) Coverage. This term means the medical benefits covered under the TRICARE Standard or Extra programs as further outlined in other sections of 32 CFR part 199 whether delivered in military treatment facilities or purchased from civilian sources.

    (2) Immediate family member. This term means spouse (except former spouses) as defined in § 199.3(b)(2)(i), or child as defined in § 199.3(b)(2)(ii).

    (3) Qualified member. This term means a member who has satisfied all the criteria that must be met before the member is authorized for TRS coverage.

    (4) Qualified survivor. This term means an immediate family member who has satisfied all the criteria that must be met before the survivor is authorized for TRS coverage.

    Dated: September 4, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-22815 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P00
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2015-0873] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Snake River, Burbank, WA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Bridge across the Snake River, mile 1.5, at Burbank, WA. The deviation is necessary to accommodate maintenance to replace movable rail joints. This deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position during maintenance activities.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 7 a.m. on September 28, 2015 until 7 p.m. on October 1, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, [USCG-2015-0873] is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Mr. Steven Fischer, Bridge Administrator, Thirteenth Coast Guard District; telephone 206-220-7282, email [email protected] If you have questions on viewing the docket, call Cheryl Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    BNSF has requested that the BNSF Snake River Bridge across the Snake River, mile 1.5, remain in the closed-to-navigation position to vessel traffic to perform railroad bridge maintenance. During this maintenance period, movable rail joints will be replaced at both ends of the lift span. The BNSF Snake River Bridge, mile 1.5, provides 14.1 feet of vertical clearance above Columbia River Datum 0.0 while in the closed position. The normal operating schedule for the BNSF Snake River Bridge 3.08 operates in accordance with 33 CFR 117.1058, and is automated and is normally maintained in the fully open-to-navigation position.

    The deviation allows the lift span of the BNSF Snake River Bridge across the Snake River, mile 1.5, to remain in the closed-to-navigation position, and need not open for maritime traffic from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on September 28, 2015; from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on September 29, 2015; from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on September 30, 2015; and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on October 1, 2015. During the active maintenance, BNSF will lower the lift span in closed-to-navigation position. Waterway usage on this part of the Snake River includes vessels ranging from commercial tug and tow vessels to recreational pleasure craft including cabin cruisers and sailing vessels.

    Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed-to-navigation position may do so at any time. The span will be able to open for maritime emergencies, but any time lost to emergency openings will necessitate a time extension added to the approved dates. No immediate alternate route for vessels to pass is available on this part of the river. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessels can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

    In accordance with 33 CFR 117.35(e), the drawbridge must return to its regular operating schedule immediately at the end of the designated time period. This deviation from the operating regulations is authorized under 33 CFR 117.35.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Steven M. Fischer, Bridge Administrator, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23141 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2014-0002] RIN 1625-AA11 Regulated Navigation Area, Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay; Bayonne, NJ, NY AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Coast Guard is establishing a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) on the navigable waters of Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay surrounding the Bayonne Bridge. In response to a planned Bayonne Bridge construction project, this rule will establish a speed restriction in the waters surrounding the Bayonne Bridge. This rule will allow the Coast Guard to prohibit vessel traffic through the RNA when necessary to safeguard people and vessels from the hazards associated with bridge construction.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from October 15, 2015 until December 31, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents mentioned in this preamble are part of docket [USCG-2014-0002]. To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rulemaking. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, contact BMC Craig Lapiejko, Coast Guard First District Waterways Management Branch, telephone (617) 223-8381, email [email protected]; or Mr. Jeff Yunker, Coast Guard Sector New York Waterways Management Division, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 718-354-4195, email [email protected] If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Acronyms DHS Department of Homeland Security NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking FR Federal Register A. Regulatory History and Information

    On January 9, 2015, we published a NPRM entitled Regulated Navigation Area, Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay; Bayonne, NJ, NY in the Federal Register. We received no comments on the proposed rule.

    No public meeting was requested and none was held.

    B. Basis and Purpose

    Under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, the Coast Guard has the authority to establish Regulated Navigation Areas in defined water areas that are hazardous or in which hazardous conditions are determined to exist. See 33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; and Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    The purpose of this rulemaking is to ensure the safety of vessels and workers from hazards associated with construction on the Bayonne Bridge. The current Bayonne Bridge was built in 1931 and carries the NY/NJ Route 440. The Port Authority New York/New Jersey (PANYNJ) has contracted Skanska-Koch Inc. and Kiewit Infrastructure for this project.

    Construction operations are sensitive to water movement, and wake from passing vessels could pose significant risk of injury or death to construction workers. In order to minimize such unexpected or uncontrolled movement of water, the RNA will limit vessel speed and wake of all vessels operating in the vicinity of the bridge construction zone. This will be achieved by implementing a five (5) knot speed limit and “NO WAKE” zone in the vicinity of the construction as well as providing a means to suspend all vessel traffic for emergent situations that pose imminent threat to waterway users in the area.

    After consulting with PANYNJ, Skanska-Koch Inc., and Kiewit Infrastructure, the Coast Guard has determined that certain aspects of the construction project can only be completed in the channel and will require closing the waterway. For instance, barges are expected to be used at times while portions of the bridge are being raised and the barges' presence might limit maneuverability in the waterway. Also, the Coast Guard anticipates that crane and cutting operations may create the potential for falling debris into the waterway. It is expected that the construction efforts that might require waterway closures will not take place until the summer of 2016.

    C. Discussion of Comments, Changes and the Final Rule

    No comments were received concerning this rule. Due to schedule delays, the overall timeline of the project has changed. Waterway closures are now expected during the summer of 2016. Completion of the entire project is now slated for 2017.

    D. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on these statutes and executive orders.

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review

    This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders. The Coast Guard expects the economic impact of this rule to be minimal as this RNA will not necessarily prohibit vessel traffic in the affected waterways. Rather, this RNA will primarily establish a speed and wake restriction along the waters surrounding the Bayonne Bridge. There may be times that the Coast Guard will prohibit vessel traffic through the RNA, but such closures are expected to take place during off peak hours. Moreover, even when the Coast Guard generally prohibits vessel traffic through the RNA, specific vessels may still obtain permission to transit through the RNA. Additionally, the Coast Guard will provide the public with advanced notification of waterway closures so that mariners may plan accordingly. Such notifications will be made through various means, including, but not limited to, Local Notice to Mariners and at http://homeport.uscg.mil/newyork. For all of these reasons, the Coast Guard has determined that this rule would not be a significant regulatory action.

    2. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard received no comments from the Small Business Administration on this rule. For all of the reasons discussed in the Regulatory Planning and Review section, the Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    3. Assistance for Small Entities

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above.

    Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247). The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

    4. Collection of Information

    This rule will not call for a new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

    5. Federalism

    A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and determined that this rule does not have implications for federalism.

    6. Protest Activities

    The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places or vessels.

    7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. Though this rule will not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

    8. Taking of Private Property

    This rule will not cause a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

    9. Civil Justice Reform

    This rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

    10. Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks

    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may disproportionately affect children.

    11. Indian Tribal Governments

    This rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.

    12. Energy Effects

    This action is not a “significant energy action” under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use.

    13. Technical Standards

    This rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

    14. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves restricting vessel movement within a regulated navigation area. This rule is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. An environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination and a Categorical Exclusion Determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

    Harbors, Marine safety, Navigation (water), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Security measures, and Waterways.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard is amending 33 CFR part 165 as follows:

    PART 165—REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREA 1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    2. Add § 165.T01-0002 to read as follows:
    § 165.T01-0002 Regulated Navigation Area; Kill Van Kull and Newark Bay; Bayonne, NJ, NY Regulated Area.

    (a) Location. The following area is a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA): All waters of Bergen Point East and West Reaches in the Kill Van Kull, and all waters of Newark Bay South Reach, bound by the following approximate positions: 40°38′51.93″ N., 074°06′47.90″ W.; thence to 40°38′41.53″ N., 074°07′18.54″ W.; thence to 40°38′38.20″ N., 074°07′41.30″ W.; thence to 40°38′40.47″ N., 074°08′01.61″ W.; thence to 40°38′34.20″ N., 074°08′41.71″ W.; thence to 40°38′39.67″ N., 074°08′51.86″ W.; thence to 40°38′50.20″ N., 074°08′55.19″ W.; thence to 40°39′17.54″ N., 074°08′38.20″ W.; thence to 40°39′19.00″ N., 074°08′53.09″ W.; thence to 40°39′07.94″ N., 074°08′59.04″ W.; thence to 40°38′46.87″ N., 074°09′23.03″ W.; thence to 40°38′33.40″ N., 074°09′19.87″ W.; thence to 40°38′24.86″ N., 074°09′02.71″ W.; thence to 40°38′23.93″ N., 074°08′52.56″ W.; thence to 40°38′31.40″ N., 074°08′07.56″ W.; thence to 40°38′31.80″ N., 074°07′55.66″ W.; thence to 40°38′30.06″ N., 074°07′41.13″ W.; thence to 40°38′33.80″ N., 074°07′14.86″ W.; thence to 40°38′43.93″ N., 074°06′45.45″ W.; thence to the point of origin (NAD 83).

    (b) Regulations. (1) The general regulations contained in 33 CFR 165.10, 165.11, and 165.13 apply within the RNA.

    (2) Any vessel transiting through the RNA must make a direct passage. No vessel may stop, moor, anchor or loiter within the RNA at any time unless they are working on the bridge construction. Movement within the RNA is subject to a “Slow-No Wake” speed limit. All vessels may not produce a wake and may not attain speeds greater than five (5) knots unless a higher minimum speed is necessary to maintain bare steerageway.

    (3) There may be times that the First District Commander or the Captain of the Port (COTP) New York finds it necessary to close the RNA to vessel traffic. All closures will be limited to specific hours of the day. Mariners will be advised of all closure dates and times via Local Notice to Mariners and Broadcast Notice to Mariners in advance of closure times. During such closures, persons and vessels may request permission to enter the RNA by contacting the COTP or the COTP's on-scene representative on VHF-16 or via phone at 718-354-4353 (Sector New York Command Center).

    (4) Vessels in the RNA must comply with directions given to them by the COTP or the COTP's on-scene representative. An “on-scene representative” of the COTP is any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been designated by the COTP to act on the COTP's behalf. An on-scene representative may be on a Coast Guard vessel; or other designated craft; or on shore and communicating with a Vessel Traffic Service New York Watchstander or vessels via VHF-FM radio or loudhailer. Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary may be present to inform vessel operators of this regulation.

    (5) All other relevant regulations, including but not limited to the Rules of the Road, as codified in 33 CFR Subchapter E, Inland Navigational Rules, remain in effect within the RNA and must be strictly followed at all times.

    (c) Enforcement period. This regulation will be enforced from 8:00 a.m. on February 1, 2016, until December 31, 2017. This RNA's speed restrictions are enforceable 24 hours a day as long as this RNA is in place. The Coast Guard will enforce waterway closures only when necessary to protect people and vessels from hazards associated with bridge construction.

    (d) Notification. The Coast Guard will rely on the methods described in 33 CFR 165.7 to notify the public of the time and duration of any closure of the RNA. Violations of this RNA may be reported to the COTP at 718-354-4353 or on VHF-Channel 16.

    Dated: August 31, 2015. L.L. Fagan, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, First Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23171 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service 36 CFR Part 7 [NPS-LAMR-18708; PPWONRADE2, PMP00EI05.YP0000] RIN 1024-AD86 Special Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Off-Road Motor Vehicles AGENCY:

    National Park Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Park Service is amending its special regulations for Lake Meredith National Recreation Area to require permits to operate motor vehicles off roads, designate areas and routes where motor vehicles may be used off roads, create management zones that will further manage this activity, and establish camping, operational, and vehicle requirements. These changes will allow off-road vehicle use for recreation while reducing associated impacts to resources. Unless authorized by special regulation, operating a motor vehicle off roads within areas of the National Park System is prohibited.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective October 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Maguire, Superintendent, Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, P.O. Box 1460, Fritch, Texas 79036-1460, by phone at 806-857-3151, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Purpose and Significance of Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

    Congress established Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (LAMR or recreation area) in 1990 “to provide for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment of the lands and waters associated with Lake Meredith in the State of Texas, and to protect the scenic, scientific, cultural, and other values contributing to the public enjoyment of such lands and waters. . . .” 16 U.S.C. 460eee.

    Situated approximately 35 miles north of Amarillo, Texas, within Potter, Moore, Hutchinson, and Carson counties, LAMR is approximately 45,000 acres in size and is the largest public landmass in the Texas Panhandle. LAMR includes a variety of habitats that are uncommon in the region, including aquatic, wetland, and riparian areas, and one of the few areas in the region with trees. The natural and geologic resources of the area have enabled a continuum of human presence in the area for more than 13,000 years. The exposed geologic features on the walls of the Canadian River valley (i.e., the “breaks”) reveal active geologic processes that are easily visible to an extent not present elsewhere in the region. The recreation area is also home to the Arkansas River shiner (Notropis girardi), a fish species that is federally listed as threatened.

    Authority To Promulgate Regulations

    The National Park Service (NPS) manages LAMR under the statute commonly known as the NPS Organic Act of 1916 (Organic Act) (54 U.S.C. 100101 et seq.), which gives the NPS broad authority to regulate the use of the park areas under its jurisdiction. The Organic Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, acting through NPS, to “prescribe such regulations as the Secretary considers necessary or proper for the use and management of [National Park] System units.” 54 U.S.C. 100751(a).

    Executive Order 11644, Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public Lands, issued in 1972 and amended by Executive Order 11989 in 1977, requires federal agencies to issue regulations designating specific areas and routes on public lands where the use of off-road vehicles may be used. The NPS implemented these Executive Orders in 36 CFR 4.10.

    Under 36 CFR 4.10, the use of motor vehicles off established roads is not permitted unless routes and areas are designated for off-road motor vehicle use by special regulation. Under 36 CFR 4.10(b), such routes and areas “may be designated only in national recreation areas, national seashores, national lakeshores and national preserves.” The rule will designate routes and areas where motor vehicles may be used off roads in compliance with 36 CFR 4.10 and Executive Orders 11644 and 11989. The rule will replace regulations promulgated in 1975 that designate areas for off-road vehicle (ORV) use.

    Off-Road Motor Vehicle Use at LAMR Designated ORV Use Areas

    LAMR provides a variety of visitor experiences, including the use of ORVs. In 1975, the NPS promulgated a special regulation (40 FR 762, January 3, 1975) at 36 CFR 7.57(a) designating two ORV use areas at LAMR: (i) Blue Creek, with 275 acres for ORV use in the creek bottom between the cutbanks; and (ii) Rosita, with approximately 1,740 acres for ORV use below the 3,000-foot elevation line. These two areas remain the only areas designated for ORV use in the recreational area.

    The Blue Creek ORV area is in the Blue Creek riparian area at the northern end of the recreational area that empties into Lake Meredith. ORV use at Blue Creek is allowed only in the creek bottom along both sides from cutbank to cutbank. Cutbanks, also known as river-cut cliffs, are the outside banks of a water channel and are located at the base of the hills at the edges of the creek bed.

    The Rosita ORV area is a riparian area of the Canadian River at the southern end of the recreation area. ORV use at Rosita is in the Canadian River bed as well as the surrounding hills, in some cases out to a mile or more. Although the authorized area is below the 3,000-foot elevation line, and ORV use outside the authorized area is prohibited, it is difficult for ORV users to determine the exact location of the 3,000-foot elevation line.

    Changes in ORV Use at LAMR

    ORV use at Blue Creek and Rosita has changed considerably since the areas were designated by special regulation in 1975, both in intensity and the types of vehicles used. ORV use has taken place at Blue Creek and Rosita since at least the 1950s. Throughout the 1960s, ORVs primarily consisted of a small number of “river buggies” crafted from old automobiles to operate in the Canadian River bottom. A few people used dirt bikes, motorcycles, or surplus military vehicles to access the area. Standard four-wheel-drive vehicles were rarely seen.

    Today, visitors use a variety of vehicle types, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), utility task vehicles (UTVs), dune buggies, rock crawlers, and standard four-wheel-drive vehicles. Regardless of the vehicle type, the majority of ORV use at LAMR has been and continues to be for recreation, rather than transportation. ORV users are both local and from urban areas, especially at Rosita. ORV use is often, but not always, family focused. In February, an annual three-day event called Sand Drags is held just outside the recreation area north of Rosita. This locally sponsored racing event draws approximately 30,000 visitors to the area, including hundreds of motorcycles, four wheelers, sand rails, and river buggies. This event results in the highest annual visitation to the recreation area with a notable increase in recreational ORV use.

    Changes in the intensity and type of ORV use at LAMR have impacted natural and cultural resources and raised concerns about visitor experience, health, and safety. Impacted resources include soils, vegetation, water, soundscapes, wildlife and wildlife habitat, threatened species, and archeological sites. These impacts are described in the January 2015 Final Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that is discussed below.

    Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement

    The rule will implement the preferred alternative (Alternative D) for the recreation area described in the FEIS. On June 26, 2015, the Regional Director of the Intermountain Region signed a Record of Decision (ROD) identifying the preferred alternative as the selected action. The FEIS, which describes the purpose and need for taking action, the alternatives considered, the scoping process and public participation, the affected environment and environmental consequences, and consultation and coordination, and the ROD may be viewed on the recreation area's planning Web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/lamr, by clicking the link entitled “ORV Management Plan and Regulation” and then clicking “Document List.”

    Final Rule Fee Permit System

    The rule will require a special use permit to operate a motor vehicle off road in the recreation area. With each permit the NPS will issue a decal that must be affixed to each vehicle in a manner and location determined by the superintendent. Decals will be required for each ORV operating in the recreation area or transported into the recreation area on a trailer. Families may submit a single application for special use permits for multiple vehicles that are registered or titled to members of that family. Annual permits will be valid for the calendar year the permit is issued; three-day and one-day permits will also be available and valid from the date designated on the permit. There will be no limit to the number of annual or other permits issued.

    Permits will be issued after the applicant reads educational materials and acknowledges in writing that he or she has read, understood, and agrees to abide by the terms in the permit governing ORV use in the recreation area. The permittee who signs the permit will be the responsible party for all vehicles listed on the permit, and must keep a hard copy of the permit with them on-site when the permittee or another person is operating the vehicle in the recreation area. The permittee is responsible for the actions of all operators of a permitted vehicle, including compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit. Permit applications (NPS Form 10-933, “Application for Special Use Permit—Vehicle/Watercraft Use”) will be available at headquarters (419 E. Broadway, Fitch, TX 79036) and on the recreation area's Web site. Completed permit applications may be submitted in person at headquarters or mailed to the recreation area at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, P.O. Box 1460, Fritch, TX 79036. The NPS will process completed permit applications and provide a permit, or mail a permit, with instructions and educational materials to the applicant. After the applicant receives the permit, he or she will sign the permit and submit it to the park or mail it back to the park at the P.O. Box address. After the NPS receives the signed permit, it will provide or send a copy of the signed permit and a decal (to be affixed to the ORV) to the permit-holder. Violating the terms or conditions of any permit or failing to properly display the decal will be prohibited and may result in the suspension or revocation of the permit.

    The NPS intends to recover the costs of administering the special use permit program under 54 U.S.C. 103104. In order to obtain a special use permit to operate a motor vehicle off roads in the recreational area, the rule will require applicants to pay a permit fee to allow the NPS to recover these costs. The NPS will post a fee schedule at the recreation area and on the recreation area's Web site. The initial fee will be $40.00 per application, no matter how many vehicles are included in the application.

    Designated Routes and Areas

    The rule will prohibit ORV use in the recreation area except for designated areas, routes, and access points. These locations will be identified on maps located at headquarters (419 E. Broadway, Fitch, TX 79036) and on the recreation area's Web site, and will be marked on the ground with signs, posts, or cables.

    At Blue Creek, the rule will designate the following areas, routes, and access points for ORV use:

    Designated locations for ORV use Part of a management zone? Blue Creek Approximately 133.5 acres on the river bottom Low Speed Zone (partial overlap). Approximately one linear mile of routes and access points to the river bottom No.

    At Rosita, the rule will designate the following areas, routes, and access points for ORV use:

    Designated locations for ORV use Part of a management zone? Rosita Approximately 170.2 acres south of the Canadian River (currently denuded of vegetation) at the western border of LAMR where HWY 287 nears the recreation area No. Approximately 65.2 acres south of the Canadian River and on the east side of Bull Taco Hill Hunting Zone (complete overlap). Approximately 119.3 acres on the river bottom Resource Protection Zone (partial overlap). Approximately 15.1 linear miles of routes and access points to the river bottom Resource Protection Zone (partial overlap).
  • Hunting Zone (complete overlap) Approximately one linear mile of routes south of the Canadian River near HWY 287 Beginner Zone (complete overlap). Management Zones

    As indicated in the tables above, the rule will also establish management zones at Blue Creek and Rosita. In some locations, the areas, routes, and access points designated for ORV use will enter into one or more of these management zones. When this occurs, special restrictions will apply to ORV use. These zones are designed to separate types of ORV use in the recreation area to avoid visitor conflict, protect the health and safety of visitors, and minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources. Zones will be identified on maps located at headquarters (419 E. Broadway, Fitch, TX 79036) and on the recreation area's Web site. The special restrictions for each management zone are described in the table below:

    Management zone Special restrictions ORV use location Beginner Zone Speed limit: 20 mph (unless otherwise posted) Rosita. Routes marked for beginner ORV operators only Camping Zone Speed limit: 15 mph (unless otherwise posted).
  • ORVs may only be used to access the campground; recreational use prohibited.
  • Blue Creek.
  • Rosita.
  • ORVs may not be used from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. (unless otherwise posted), except that state-registered vehicles may be used during this time Hunting Zone ORVs may be used only for hunting during the Texas general white-tailed deer season Rosita. Low-Speed Zone Speed limit: 15 mph (unless otherwise posted) Blue Creek. Resource Protection Zone ORVs with a wheel width greater than 65 inches are prohibited Rosita.
    Camping

    In addition to conditions for camping established by the Superintendent in the recreation area's compendium, the rule will establish rules related to camping at Blue Creek and Rosita. Camping will be prohibited in designated ORV areas, routes, and access points and within 100 feet of these locations, except for marked camping zones where camping will be allowed in or next to a motor vehicle, including a tent trailer, RV, or van.

    Operational and Vehicle Requirements

    ORV use will be prohibited on vegetation anywhere in the recreation area. Driving through isolated pools of water will be prohibited at Rosita regardless of time or season for the protection of the Arkansas River shiner. Isolated pools of water means water that is not connected to or touching flowing water. ORVs will be allowed to cross flowing river water if they enter and exit the river bottom via designated access points. The decibel limit for all ORVs in the recreation area will be 96 dba. NPS personnel will enforce this rule by stopping and testing the decibel level of any ORV suspected of exceeding the noise limit. Noise level will be measured using the SAE J1287 standard. The rule will require ATVs to have a whip—a pole, rod, or antenna—securely mounted to the vehicle that extends at least eight feet from the surface of the ground with an orange colored safety flag at the top. The rule will define ATVs using the definition currently found in Texas Transportation Code 502.001. The rule will require that ORVs have a functioning muffler system and functioning headlights and taillights if the ORV is operating at night. Operators will be required to use headlights and taillights starting one half hour before sunset and ending one half hour after sunrise. Glass containers (e.g., cups and bottles) will be prohibited in designated areas, routes, and access points, and in camping zones at Blue Creek and Rosita. Except for management zones with a slower speed limit, the speed limit will be 35 mph (unless otherwise posted) on ORV routes and 55 mph (unless otherwise posted) on the river bottom at Blue Creek and Rosita. Speed limits will be implemented for visitor safety and to reduce driving that may damage resources.

    The provisions of 36 CFR part 4 (Vehicles and Traffic Safety), including state laws adopted by 36 CFR 4.2, will continue to apply within the recreation area. Currently, Texas law includes, but is not limited to, the following rules about ORVs:

    • ORVs must have an off-highway vehicle (OHV) use decal issued by the State of Texas.

    • ATV operators must wear eye protection and helmets approved by the Texas Department of Transportation.

    • ATV operators must possess valid safety certificates issued by the State of Texas under Section 663.031 of the Texas Transportation Code.

    • ATV operators under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

    • ATV operators may not carry passengers unless the vehicle is designed by the manufacturer for carrying passengers.

    Superintendent's Discretionary Authority

    The rule will allow the superintendent to open or close designated areas, routes, or access points to motor vehicle use, or portions thereof, or impose conditions or restrictions for off-road motor vehicle use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and objectives. The superintendent will provide public notice of all such actions through one or more of the methods listed in 36 CFR 1.7.

    Summary of Public Comments

    The NPS published the proposed rule at 80 FR 11968 (March 5, 2015). The NPS accepted comments through the mail, hand delivery, and through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments were accepted through May 4, 2015. The NPS received one comment on the proposed rule. A summary of this comment and the NPS responses are provided below. After considering the public comments and after additional review, the NPS did not make any substantive changes to the proposed rule. The final rule contains the following clarifications:

    • All designated ORV locations will be marked on the ground by signs, posts, or cables.

    • Provides the linear mileage of designated routes in the beginner zone.

    • Clarifies that the restrictions in the hunting zone apply during the Texas general white-tailed deer season, rather than the more general rifle hunting season.

    Comment: The commenter suggested that, due to the proposed speed limits, the overnight camping zone in Rosita can be used by beginner riders and therefore the beginner zone is unnecessary.

    NPS Response: For the safety of all campers including children, the NPS determined that recreational ORV use should occur outside of the camping zones. In the camping zones, ORVs will be allowed only to access the campground; recreational ORV use will be prohibited. The beginner zone was requested by the public during the scoping process for the EIS and will be established so that beginners have a safe environment to learn how to drive for recreation without potential collisions with campers who are likely to be outside of their vehicles, or ORVs traveling at fast speeds.

    Comment: The commenter stated that education on signs and on the recreation area Web site, and the requirement to obtain a permit and decal is better than requiring ORVs to stay on designated trails. This comment also stated that ORVs should be allowed to cross or ride on the river bed at Rosita, especially when the water level is low.

    NPS Response: There are designated ORV areas in Rosita where ORVs will not have to stay on designated routes or access points. The designated areas will be delineated on the ground by signs, posts or cables. Education through signs, Web sites, written materials, or the permit system is an important tool for informing visitors about the importance of staying on designated routes, access points, and within the designated ORV areas. ORVs will be permitted to enter and exit the river bottom in Rosita only at designated access points. Designated access points are necessary to protect the Arkansas river shiner and shoreline vegetation and to reduce erosion. ORV use within the river bottom, including through flowing water but excluding isolated pools of water, will be permitted because the river bottom is a designated ORV route.

    Comment: The commenter suggested that, in Rosita, recreational ORVs be allowed in the hunting zone in the afternoon and at night during hunting season when there will no longer be an opportunity to harvest game.

    NPS Response: Hunters may be using weapons within the hunting zone throughout the general white-tailed deer season during daylight hours. For visitor protection and to avoid confusion about when ORVs may be used for recreational purposes in the hunting zone, the rule will prohibit recreational ORV use in the hunting zone only during the general white-tailed deer season, but at all times of day or night.

    Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders, and Department Policy Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public Lands (Executive Orders 11644 and 11989)

    Executive Order 11644, as amended by Executive Order 11989, was adopted to address impacts on public lands from ORV use. The Executive Order applies to ORV use on federal public lands that is not authorized under a valid lease, permit, contract, or license. Section 3(a)(4) of Executive Order 11644 provides that ORV “[a]reas and trails shall be located in areas of the National Park System, Natural Areas, or National Wildlife Refuges and Game Ranges only if the respective agency head determines that off-road vehicle use in such locations will not adversely affect their natural, aesthetic, or scenic values.” Since the Executive Order clearly was not intended to prohibit all ORV use everywhere in these units, the term “adversely affect” does not have the same meaning as the somewhat similar terms “adverse impact” and “adverse effect” used in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). In analyses under NEPA, a procedural statute that provides for the study of environmental impacts, the term “adverse effect” includes minor or negligible effects.

    Section 3(a)(4) of the Executive Order, by contrast, concerns substantive management decisions and must be read in the context of the authorities applicable to such decisions or applicable to the nature of the land management unit. LAMR is an area of the National Park System. NPS interprets the Executive Order term “adversely affect” consistent with its NPS Management Policies 2006. Those policies require that the NPS only allow “appropriate use” of parks and avoid “unacceptable impacts.”

    This rule is consistent with those requirements. It will not impede attainment of the recreation area's desired future conditions for natural and cultural resources as identified in the FEIS. NPS has determined that this rule will not unreasonably interfere with the atmosphere of peace and tranquility or the natural soundscape maintained in natural locations within the recreation area. Therefore, within the context of the resources and values of the recreation area, motor vehicle use on the routes and areas designated by this rule will not cause an unacceptable impact to the natural, aesthetic, or scenic values of the recreation area.

    Section 8(a) of the Executive Order requires agency heads to monitor the effects of ORV use on lands under their jurisdictions. On the basis of information gathered, agency heads may from time to time amend or rescind designations of areas or other actions as necessary to further the policy of the Executive Order. The preferred alternative in the EIS includes monitoring and resource protection procedures and periodic review to provide for the ongoing evaluation of impacts of motor vehicle use on protected resources. The superintendent has authority to take appropriate action as needed to protect the resources of the recreation area.

    Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. OIRA has determined that this rule is not significant.

    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    This rule will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). This certification is based on the cost-benefit and regulatory flexibility analyses found in the report entitled “Benefit-Cost Analysis of ORV Use Regulations in Lake Meredith National Recreation Area” that can be viewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/lamr, by clicking the link entitled “ORV Management Plan and Regulation” and then clicking “Document List.” According to that report, no small entities will be directly regulated by the rule, which will only regulate visitor use of ORVs.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the SBREFA. This rule:

    (a) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic regions.

    (c) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S. based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on state, local or tribal governments or the private sector. The designated ORV routes and areas are located entirely within the recreation area, and will not result in direct expenditure by state, local, or tribal governments. This rule addresses public use of NPS lands, and imposes no requirements on other agencies or governments. A statement containing the information required by the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

    Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    This rule does not affect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630. Access to private property adjacent to the recreation area will not be affected by this rule. A takings implication assessment is not required.

    Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism summary impact statement. The rule is limited in effect to federal lands managed by the NPS and will not have a substantial direct effect on state and local government. A Federalism summary impact statement is not required.

    Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. Specifically, this rule:

    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be written to minimize litigation; and

    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal standards.

    Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes through a commitment to consultation with Indian Tribes and recognition of their right to self-governance and tribal sovereignty. We have evaluated this rule under the criteria in Executive Order 13175 and under the Department's tribal consultation policy and have determined that tribal consultation is not required because the rule will have no substantial direct effect on federally recognized Indian tribes.

    During scoping for the EIS, recreational area staff sent letters to the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, Comanche Nation, Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma, Delaware Nation of Oklahoma, Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Jicarilla Apache Nation, Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Wichita & Affiliated Tribes requesting information on any historic properties of religious or cultural significance to the Tribes that will be affected by the FEIS. The same tribes were contacted when the recreation area released the Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement in January 2013. These tribes have not informed NPS staff of any concerns over historic properties of religious or cultural significance.

    Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. OMB has approved the information collection requirements associated with NPS Special Park Use Permits and has assigned OMB Control Number 1024-0026 (expires 08/31/16). 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.

    National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

    This rule constitutes a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. We have prepared the FEIS and the ROD under the NEPA. The FEIS and ROD are summarized above and available online at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/lamr, by clicking on the link entitled “ORV Management Plan and Regulation” and then clicking “Document List.”

    Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects is not required.

    Drafting Information

    The primary authors of this regulation are Lindsay Gillham, NPS Environmental Quality Division, and Jay Calhoun, NPS Regulations Program Specialist.

    List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 7

    National parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 36 CFR part 7 as follows:

    PART 7—SPECIAL REGULATIONS, AREAS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM 1. The authority citation for part 7 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    54 U.S.C. 100101, 100751, 320102; Sec. 7.96 also issued under D.C. Code 10-137 and D.C. Code 50-2201.07.

    2. In § 7.57, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 7.57 Lake Meredith National Recreation Area.

    (a)(1) What terms do I need to know? In addition to the definitions found in § 1.4 of this chapter, the following definition applies to this § 7.57 only.

    All-terrain vehicle or ATV means a motor vehicle that is:

    (i) Equipped with a seat or seats for the use of the rider and a passenger, if the motor vehicle is designed by the manufacturer to transport a passenger;

    (ii) Designed to propel itself with three or more tires in contact with the ground;

    (iii) Designed by the manufacturer for off-highway use;

    (iv) Not designed by the manufacturer primarily for farming or lawn care; and

    (v) Not more than 50 inches wide.

    (2) Off-road motor vehicle use. Operating a motor vehicle is allowed within the boundaries of Lake Meredith National Recreation Area off roads under the conditions in this paragraph (a).

    (3) Permit requirement. (i) A special use permit issued and administered by the superintendent is required to operate a motor vehicle off roads at designated locations in the recreation area. There is no limit to the number of permits that the Superintendent may issue.

    (ii) The NPS charges a fee to recover the costs of administering the special use permits. Permit applicants must pay the fee charged by the NPS in order to obtain a special use permit.

    (iii) Annual permits are valid for the calendar year for which they are issued. Three-day permits are valid on the day designated on the permit and the following two days. One-day permits are valid on the day designated on the permit.

    (iv) A permit applicant must acknowledge in writing that he or she understands the rules governing off-road vehicle use in the recreation area.

    (v) Each motor vehicle permitted to operate off roads must display an NPS decal issued by the superintendent. The NPS decal must be affixed to the vehicle in a manner and location specified by the superintendent.

    (vi) Permits may be requested from the recreation area headquarters in Fritch, Texas, or on the recreation area Web site.

    (4) Designated locations. (i) The operation of a motor vehicle off roads within the recreation area is prohibited except at the locations designated by this paragraph (a). Designated locations are identified on maps available at the recreation area headquarters and on the recreation area Web site, and are marked on the ground with signs, posts, or cables.

    (ii) Permitted motor vehicles may be used off roads at the following locations at Blue Creek, an area at the northern end of the recreational area that empties into Lake Meredith:

    Designated locations for off-road motor vehicle use Part of a management zone? Blue Creek Approximately 133.5 acres on the river bottom Low Speed Zone (partial overlap). Approximately one linear mile of routes and access points to the river bottom No.

    (iii) Permitted motor vehicles may be used off roads at the following locations at Rosita, an area of the Canadian River at the southern end of the recreation area:

    Designated locations for off-road motor vehicle use Part of a management zone? Rosita Approximately 170.2 acres south of the Canadian River (currently denuded of vegetation) at the western border of LAMR where HWY 287 nears the recreation area No. Approximately 65.2 acres south of the Canadian River and on the east side of Bull Taco Hill Hunting Zone (complete overlap). Approximately 119.3 acres on the river bottom Resource Protection Zone (partial overlap). Approximately 15.1 linear miles of routes and access points to the river bottom Resource Protection Zone (partial overlap). Hunting Zone (complete overlap). Approximately one linear mile of routes south of the Canadian River near HWY 287 Beginner Zone (complete overlap).

    (5) Management zones. Some of the designated locations for off-road motor vehicle use enter into or abut one or more management zones that further manage this activity. These zones are identified on maps available at headquarters and on the recreation area Web site. Each zone has special restrictions governing off-road motor vehicle use as set forth in the following table:

    Zone Special restrictions Location Beginner Zone Speed limit: 20 mph (unless otherwise posted) Routes marked for beginner operators of off-road vehicles only Rosita. Camping Zone Speed limit: 15 mph (unless otherwise posted) Off-road vehicles may only be used to access the campground; recreational use prohibited Rosita.
  • Blue Creek.
  • Off-road vehicles that are not registered in a state may not be used from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. (unless otherwise posted) Hunting Zone Off-road vehicles may be used only for hunting during the Texas general white-tailed deer season Rosita. Low-Speed Zone Speed limit: 15 mph (unless otherwise posted) Located approximately 1/2 mile on either side of the FM 1913 bridge Blue Creek. Resource Protection Zone Off-road vehicles with a wheel width greater than 65 inches are prohibited Rosita.

    (6) Camping at Blue Creek and Rosita. Camping is prohibited in designated ORV areas, routes, and access points and within 100 feet of these locations, except for marked camping zones where camping is allowed in or next to a motor vehicle, including a tent trailer, RV, or van.

    (7) Operational and vehicle requirements. The following requirements apply to the use of motor vehicles off roads in the recreation area:

    (i) At Rosita, operating a motor vehicle in an isolated pool of water that is not connected to or touching flowing water is prohibited.

    (ii) Operating a motor vehicle on vegetation is prohibited.

    (iii) Glass containers are prohibited in designated areas, routes, and access points, and in camping zones.

    (iv) Operating a motor vehicle in excess of 35 mph (unless otherwise posted) on designated routes and access points at Blue Creek and Rosita is prohibited.

    (v) Operating a motor vehicle in excess of the speed limits identified in paragraph (a)(5) (unless otherwise posted) in specific management zones is prohibited.

    (vi) Operating a motor vehicle in excess of 55 mph (unless otherwise posted) in the designated areas that are not part of a Low-Speed Zone on the river bottoms at Blue Creek and Rosita is prohibited.

    (vii) All ATVs must be equipped with a whip—a pole, rod, or antenna—that is securely mounted on the vehicle and stands upright at least eight feet from the surface of the ground when the vehicle is stopped. This whip must have a solid red or orange safety flag with a minimum size of six inches by twelve inches that is attached no more than ten inches from the top of the whip. Flags must have a pennant, triangle, square, or rectangular shape.

    (viii) A motor vehicle must display lighted headlights and taillights during the period from one-half hour before sunset to one half hour after sunrise.

    (ix) Motor vehicles must have a functioning muffler system. Motor vehicles that emit more than 96 decibels of sound (using the SAE J1287 test standard) are prohibited.

    (x) Operating a motor vehicle with a wheel width greater than 65 inches in a Resource Protection Zone is prohibited.

    (8) Prohibited acts. Violating any provision of this paragraph (a), including the special restrictions for each management zone, or the terms, conditions, or requirements of an off-road vehicle permit is prohibited. A violation may also result in the suspension or revocation of the applicable permit by the superintendent.

    (9) Superintendent's authority. The superintendent may open or close designated areas, routes, or access points to motor vehicle use, or portions thereof, or impose conditions or restrictions for off-road motor vehicle use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and objectives. The superintendent will provide public notice of all such actions through one or more of the methods listed in § 1.7 of this chapter. Violating any such closure, condition, or restriction is prohibited.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23168 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-EJ-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0270; FRL-9932-78-Region 7] Partial Approval and Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans (SIP); State of Nebraska; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to partially approve and disapprove elements of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submission from the State of Nebraska addressing the applicable requirements of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110 for the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone (O3), which requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP to support implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective September 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0270. All documents in the electronic docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically at http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Interested persons wanting to examine these documents should make an appointment with the office at least 24 hours in advance.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Gregory Crable, Air Planning and Development Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, KS 66219; telephone number: (913) 551-7391; fax number: (913) 551-7065; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document, the terms “we,” “us,” or “our” refer to EPA. This section provides additional information by addressing the following:

    I. Background II. Summary of SIP Revision III. Final Action IV. Statutory and Executive Order Review I. Background

    On June 19, 2015, (80 FR 35284), EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) for the State of Nebraska. The NPR proposed partial approval and disapproval of Nebraska's submission that provides the basic elements specified in section 110(a)(2) of the CAA, or portions thereof, necessary to implement, maintain, and enforce the 2008 O3 NAAQS.

    II. Summary of SIP Revision

    On February 11, 2013, EPA received a SIP submission from the state of Nebraska that addressed the infrastructure elements specified in section 110(a)(2) for the 2008 O3 NAAQS. The submission addressed the following infrastructure elements of section 110(a)(2): (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M). Specific requirements of section 110(a)(2) of the CAA and the rationale for EPA's proposed action to approve and disapprove the SIP submissions are explained in the NPR and will not be restated here.

    During the public comment period for the NPR one comment was received. The commenter stated that EPA must disapprove 110(a)(2)(C) and (D)(i)(II) (prong 3), unless Nebraska has the PM2.5 increments approved into its PSD SIP and its PSD program treats NOX as a precursor for ozone. The PM2.5 increments and the inclusion of NOX as a precursor to ozone was approved by EPA into the Nebraska SIP on August 4, 2014. See 79 FR 45108, Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; State of Nebraska; Fine Particulate Matter New Source Review Requirements.

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving Nebraska's February 11, 2013 submission addressing the requirements of the CAA sections 110(a)(1) and (2) as applicable to the 2008 O3 NAAQS. Specifically, EPA approves the following infrastructure elements, or portions thereof: 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II) (prong 3), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) which are necessary to implement, maintain, and enforce the 2008 O3 NAAQS, as a revision to the Nebraska SIP. As discussed in each applicable section of the NPR, EPA is not taking action on section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) (prongs 1 and 2) and section 110(a)(2)(I), Nonattainment Area Plan or Plan Revisions, under part D. And finally, EPA is disapproving section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) (prong 4) as it relates to the protection of visibility.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Review

    Under the CAA the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

    • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

    • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

    • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

    • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

    • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

    • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; and

    • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    The SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this action and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by November 16, 2015. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2)).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: August 12, 2015. Mark Hague, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, EPA amends 40 CFR part 52 as set forth below:

    PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart CC—Nebraska 2. Amend § 52.1420 by adding and reserving an entry for “(28)”, and by adding an entry for “(29)” in numerical order under paragraph (e), in the table entitled “EPA-Approved Nebraska Nonregulatory Provisions”.

    The addition reads as follows:

    § 52.1420 Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Nebraska Nonregulatory Provisions Name of nonregulatory SIP provision Applicable geographic or nonattainment area State submittal date EPA approval date Explanation *         *         *         *         *         *         * (28) [Reserved] (29) Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 O3 NAAQS Statewide 2/11/13 9/15/15, [Insert Federal Register citation] [EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0270; Region 7] This action addresses the following CAA elements 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M).
    [FR Doc. 2015-20619 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0565; FRL-9932-84-Region 7] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; State of Nebraska; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve revisions to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the State of Nebraska in a letter dated March 30, 2015. This SIP revision provides Nebraska's state-determined allowance allocations for existing electric generating units (EGUs) in the State for the 2016 control periods and replaces the allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods established by EPA under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The CSAPR addresses the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) that requires states to reduce the transport of pollution that significantly affects downwind air quality. In this final action EPA is approving Nebraska's SIP revision, incorporating the state-determined allocations for the 2016 control periods into the SIP, and amending the regulatory text of the CSAPR Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to reflect this approval and inclusion of the state-determined allocations. EPA is taking direct final action to approve Nebraska's SIP revision because it meets the requirements of the CAA and the CSAPR requirements to replace EPA's allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods. This action is being taken pursuant to the CAA and its implementing regulations. EPA's allocations of CSAPR trading program allowances for Nebraska for control periods in 2017 and beyond remain in place until the State submits and EPA approves state-determined allocations for those control periods through another SIP. The CSAPR FIPs for Nebraska remain in place until such time as the State decides to replace the FIPs with a SIP revision.

    DATES:

    This direct final rule will be effective October 26, 2015, without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 15, 2015. If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0565, by one of the following methods:

    1. www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.

    2. Email: [email protected].

    3. Mail or Hand Delivery: Lachala Kemp, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0565. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or at the Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:30 excluding legal holidays. The interested persons wanting to examine these documents should make an appointment with the office at least 24 hours in advance.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lachala Kemp, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at 913-551-7214 or by email at [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document “we,” “us,” or “our” refer to EPA. This section provides additional information by addressing the following:

    I. What is being addressed in this document? II. 2016 CSAPR SIPs III. What is EPA's analysis of Nebraska's submission? IV. Final Action I. What is being addressed in this document?

    EPA is taking direct final action to approve revisions to the SIP submitted by the State of Nebraska in a letter dated March 30, 2015, that modifies the allocations of allowances established by EPA under the CSAPR FIPs for existing EGUs for the 2016 control periods.1 The CSAPR allows a subject state, instead of EPA, to allocate allowances under the SO2 annual, NOX annual, and NOX ozone season trading programs to existing EGUs in the State for the 2016 control periods provided that the state meets certain regulatory requirements.2 EPA issued the CSAPR on August 8, 2011, to address CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) requirements concerning the interstate transport of air pollution and to replace the Clean Air Interstate Rule 3 (CAIR), which the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) remanded to EPA for replacement.4 EPA found that emissions of SO2 and NOX in 28 eastern, midwestern, and southern states 5 contribute significantly to nonattainment or interfere with maintenance in one or more downwind states with respect to one or more of three air quality standards—the annual PM2.5 NAAQS promulgated in 1997 6 (15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3)), the 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS promulgated in 2006 7 (35 µg/m3), and the 8-hour ozone NAAQS promulgated in 1997 8 (0.08 parts per million). The CSAPR identified emission reduction responsibilities of upwind states, and also promulgated enforceable FIPs to achieve the required emission reductions in each of these states through cost effective and flexible requirements for power plants.

    1 Federal Implementation Plans: Interstate Transport of Fine Particulate Matter and Ozone and Correction of SIP Approvals; August 8, 2011 (76 FR 48208).

    2 The CSAPR is implemented in two Phases (I and II) with Phase I referring to 2015 and 2016 control periods, and Phase II consisting of 2017 and beyond control periods.

    3 Rule To Reduce Interstate Transport of Fine Particulate Matter and Ozone (Clean Air Interstate Rule); Revisions to Acid Rain Program; Revisions to the NOX SIP Call; May 12, 2005 (70 FR 25162).

    4North Carolina v. EPA, 531 F.3d 896 (D.C. Cir. 2008), modified on reh'g, 550 F.3d 1176 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

    5 The CSAPR obligations related to ozone-season NOX emissions for five states were established in a separate rule referred to here as the Supplemental Rule. Federal Implementation Plans for Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin and Determination for Kansas Regarding Interstate Transport of Ozone; December 27, 2011 (76 FR 80760).

    6 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter; July 18, 1997 (62 FR 36852).

    7 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter; October 17, 2006 (71 FR 61144).

    8 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone; July 18, 1997 (62 FR 38856).

    Nebraska is subject to the FIPs that implement the CSAPR and require certain EGUs to participate in the EPA-administered federal SO2 annual and NOX annual cap-and trade programs.9 Nebraska's March 30, 2015, SIP revision allocates allowances under the CSAPR to existing EGUs in the State for the 2016 control periods only. Nebraska's SIP revision includes state-determined allocations for the CSAPR NOX annual and SO2 Group 2 annual trading programs, and complies with the 2016 NOX allocation and SO2 allocation SIP requirements set forth at 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39, respectively. Pursuant to these regulations, a state may replace EPA's CSAPR allowance allocations for existing EGUs for the 2016 control periods provided that the state submits a timely SIP revision containing those allocations to EPA that meets the requirements in 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39.

    9 On July 28, 2015, the D.C. Circuit, issued an opinion upholding CSAPR, but remanding without vacatur certain state emissions budgets to EPA for reconsideration. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, No. 11-1302, slip op. CSAPR implementation at this time remains unaffected by the court decision, and EPA will address the remanded emissions budgets in a separate rulemaking. Moreover, Nebraska's emissions budgets were not among those remanded to EPA for reconsideration.

    Through this action, EPA is approving Nebraska's March 30, 2015, SIP revision, incorporating the allocations into the SIP, and amending the CSAPR FIP's regulatory text for Nebraska at 40 CFR 52.1428 and 52.1429 to reflect this approval and inclusion of the state-determined allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods. EPA's allocations of CSAPR trading program allowances for Nebraska for control periods in 2017 and beyond remain in place until the State submits and EPA approves state-determined allocations for those control periods through another SIP revision. EPA is not making any other changes to the CSAPR FIPs for Nebraska in this action. The CSAPR FIPs for Nebraska remain in place until such time the State decides to replace the FIPs with a SIP revision. EPA is taking direct final action to approve Nebraska's March 30, 2015, SIP submission because it complies with the CAA and the CSAPR regulations. Below is a summary of the provisions allowing a state to submit SIP revisions to EPA to modify the 2016 allowance allocations. For more detailed information on the CSAPR, refer to the August 8, 2011, preamble and other subsequent related rulemakings referenced throughout this rulemaking.

    II. 2016 CSAPR SIPs

    The CSAPR allows states to determine allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods through submittal of a complete SIP revision that is narrower in scope than an abbreviated or full SIP submission that states may use to replace the FIPs and/or to determine allocations for control periods in 2017 and beyond. Pursuant to the CSAPR, a state may adopt and include in a SIP revision for the 2016 control period a list of units and the amount of allowances allocated to each unit on the list, provided the list of units and the allocations meet specific requirements set forth in 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3) and (b)(3) for NOX and 52.39(d) and (g) for SO2. If these requirements are met, the Administrator will approve the allowance allocation provisions as replacing the comparable provisions in 40 CFR part 97 for the State. SIP revisions under this expedited process may only allocate the amount of each state budget minus the new unit set-aside and the Indian country new unit set-aside. For states subject to multiple trading programs, options are available to submit 2016 state-determined allocations for one or more of the applicable trading programs while leaving unchanged the EPA-determined allocations for 2016 in the remaining applicable trading programs.10

    10 States can also submit SIP revisions to replace EPA-determined, existing-unit allocations with state-determined allocations for control periods after 2016 via a separate process described at 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4), (a)(5), (b)(4), and (b)(5) and 52.39(e), (f), (h), and (i).

    In developing this procedure, EPA set deadlines for submitting the SIP revisions for 2016 allocations and for recordation of the allocations that balanced the need to record allowances sufficiently ahead of the control periods with the desire to allow state flexibility for 2016 control periods. These deadlines allow sufficient time for EPA to review and approve these SIP revisions, taking into account that EPA approval must be final and effective before the 2016 allocations can be recorded and the allowances are available for trading. The CSAPR, as revised, set a deadline of October 17, 2011 or March 6, 2015 (in the case of allocations of ozone season NOX allowances for states covered by the Supplemental Rule) for states to notify EPA of their intent to submit these SIP revisions.11 See 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39.

    11 For the five states (Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin) covered in the Supplemental Rule in the case of ozone season NOX, March 6, 2012, was originally the date by which notifications of intentions to submit state allocations were due to the Administrator, but that date was later delayed to March 6, 2015. See 76 FR 80760 and 79 FR 71671.

    Twelve states, including Nebraska, notified EPA by the applicable deadlines of their intentions to submit SIP revisions affecting 2016 allocations.12 Pursuant to EPA's December 3, 2014, Interim Final Rule,13 the deadlines to submit these SIPs were delayed by three years, making the deadline for these twelve states to submit a 2016 allocation SIP revision April 1, 2015, or October 1, 2015, (in the case of allocations of ozone season NOX allowances for states covered by the Supplemental Rule). Each state may submit a SIP to allocate allowances for the 2016 control periods provided it meets the following requirements pursuant to 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39:

    12 The docket for today's action contains Nebraska's October 17, 2011, letter notifying EPA of its intention to submit a SIP revision with respect to allocations of both annual NOX allowances and annual SO2 allowances.

    13 Rulemaking to Amend Dates in Federal Implementation Plans Addressing Interstate Transport of Ozone and Fine Particulate Matter; December 3, 2014 (79 FR 71663).

    • Notify the EPA Administrator by October 17, 2011 or March 6, 2015 (in the case of allocations of ozone season NOX allowances for states covered by the Supplemental Rule) of intent to submit state allocations for the 2016 control periods in a format specified by the Administrator. See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(v)(A), 52.38(b)(3)(v)(A), 52.39(d)(5)(i), and 52.39(g)(5)(i).

    • Submit to EPA the SIP revision modifying allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods no later than April 1, 2015, or October 1, 2015 (in the case of allocations of ozone season NOX allowances for states covered by the Supplemental Rule). See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(v)(B), 52.38(b)(3)(v)(B), 52.39(d)(5)(ii), and 52.39(g)(5)(ii).

    • Provide 2016 state-determined allocations only for units within the State that commenced commercial operation before January 1, 2010. See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(i), 52.38(b)(3)(i), 52.39(d)(1), and 52.39(g)(1).

    • Ensure that the sum of the state-determined allocations is equal to or less than the amount of the total state budget for 2016 minus the sum of the new unit set-aside and the Indian country new unit set-aside. See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(ii), 52.38(b)(3)(ii), 52.39(d)(2), and 52.39(g)(2).

    • Submit the list of units and the 2016 state-determined allowance allocations as a SIP revision electronically to EPA in the format specified by the Administrator. See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(iii), 52.38(b)(3)(iii), 52.39(d)(3), and 52.39(g)(3).

    • Confirm that the SIP revision does not provide for any changes to the listed units or allocations after approval of the SIP revision by EPA and does not provide for any change to any allocation determined and recorded by the Administrator under subpart AAAAA, BBBBB, CCCCC, or DDDDD of 40 CFR part 97. See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(iv), 52.38(b)(3)(iv), 52.39(d)(4), and 52.39(g)(4).

    Additionally, these limited SIP revisions for the 2016 state-determined allocations are required to comply with SIP completeness elements set forth in 40 CFR part 51, appendix V (i.e., conduct adequate public notice of the submission, provide evidence of legal authority to adopt SIP revisions, and ensure that the SIP is submitted to EPA by the State's Governor or his/her designee). If a state submits to EPA a 2016 CSAPR SIP revision meeting all the above-described requirements, including compliance with the applicable notification and submission deadlines, and EPA approves the SIP submission by October 1, 2015 (or April 1, 2016, in the case of allocations of ozone season NOX allowances for states covered by the Supplemental Rule), EPA will record state-determined allocations for 2016 by October 1, 2015 (or April 1, 2016) into the Allowance Management System (AMS). Nebraska's March 30, 2015 SIP submission addresses the aforementioned requirements allowing a state to allocate 2016 CSAPR allowances for the annual NOX and Group 2 SO2 trading programs. EPA's analysis of Nebraska's SIP submission is explained below in section III.

    III. What is EPA's analysis of Nebraska's SIP submission?

    On March 30, 2015, Nebraska submitted a SIP revision intended to replace the CSAPR FIP allocations of the CSAPR NOX annual and SO2 Group 2 allowances for the 2016 control periods. For approval, this SIP revision must meet the specific requirements found in 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3) and 52.39(g) described above. The following is a list of criteria under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3) and (b)(3) and 52.39(d) and (g), described in section II in this document, and the results of EPA's analysis of Nebraska's SIP revision:

    A. Notification from a State to EPA must be received by October 17, 2011, or March 6, 2015, in the case of ozone season NOX SIP revisions for states covered by the December 27, 2011 Supplemental Rule (76 FR 80760), of its intent to submit a complete SIP revision for 2016 existing unit allocations (40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(v)(A), 52.38(b)(3)(v)(A), 52.39(d)(5)(i), and 52.39(g)(5)(i)).

    On October 17, 2011, Nebraska notified EPA via a letter of the State's intent to submit complete SIP revisions for allocating TR NOX Annual and TR SO2 Group 2 allowances 14 to existing units (i.e., units that commenced commercial operation before January 1, 2010) for the second implementation year of the CSAPR trading programs.

    14 The abbreviation “TR” in certain legal terms used in the CSAPR trading programs, including the legal terms for the trading program allowances, stands for “Transport Rule,” an earlier name for the CSAPR.

    B. A complete SIP revision must be submitted to EPA no later than April 1, 2015, or October 1, 2015, in the case of ozone season NOX SIP revisions for states covered by the December 27, 2011 Supplemental Rule (76 FR 80760) (40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(v)(B), 52.38(b)(3)(v)(B), 52.39(d)(5)(ii), and 52.39(g)(5)(ii)).

    EPA has reviewed the March 30, 2015 submittal from Nebraska and found it to be complete. This submittal satisfies the applicable elements of SIP completeness set forth in appendix V to 40 CFR part 51.

    C. The SIP revision should include a list of TR NOX Annual, TR NOX Ozone Season, TR SO2 Group 1 or Group 2 units, whichever is applicable, that are in the State and commenced commercial operation before January 1, 2010 (40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(i), 52.38(b)(3)(i), 52.39(d)(1), and 52.39(g)(1)).

    As part of Nebraska's SIP revision, the State submitted a list of units to be allocated TR NOX Annual and TR SO2 Group allowances for the 2016 control periods. The list identifies the same units as were identified in the notice of data availability (NODA) published by EPA on December 3, 2014 (79 FR 71674). Hence, EPA has determined that each unit on the list submitted by Nebraska as part of the SIP revision is located in the State of Nebraska and had commenced commercial operation before January 1, 2010.

    D. The total amount of TR NOX Annual, TR NOX Ozone Season, or TR SO2 Group 1 or Group 2 allowance allocations, whichever is applicable, must not exceed the amount, under 40 CFR 97.410(a), 97.510(a), 97.610(a), or 97.710(a), whichever is applicable, for the State and the control periods in 2016, of the TR NOX Annual, TR NOX Ozone Season, TR SO2 Group 1 or Group 2 trading budget minus the sum of the new unit set-aside and Indian country new unit set-aside (40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(ii), 52.38(b)(3)(ii), 52.39(d)(2), and 52.39(g)(2)).

    As amended, the CSAPR established the NOX annual budget, new unit set-aside, and Indian country new unit set-aside for Nebraska for the 2016 control periods as 30,039 tons, 1,772 tons, and 30 tons, respectively, and established the SO2 Group 2 budget, new unit set-aside, and Indian country new unit set-aside as 68,162 tons, 2,658 tons, and 68 tons, respectively. Nebraska's SIP revision, for approval in this action, does not affect these budgets, which are total amounts of allowances available for allocation for the 2016 control periods under the EPA-administered cap-and-trade programs under the CSAPR FIPs. In short, the abbreviated SIP revision only affects allocations of allowances under the established state budgets.

    The Nebraska SIP revision allocating TR NOX Annual allowances for the 2016 control period establishes allocations exceeding, by one (1) allowance due to rounding,15 the amount of the budget under § 97.410(a) minus the sum of the new unit set-aside and the Indian county new unit set aside (30,039 tons−(1,772 tons + 30 tons)) = 28,237 tons). The Nebraska SIP revision allocates 28,238 TR NOX annual allowances to existing units in the State. However, EPA notes that proportionately, one allowance is a tiny fraction of the overall new unit set-aside budget for new TR NOX annual units in Nebraska (approximately 0.06%). In addition, for 2015, the number of TR NOX annual allowances allocated from Nebraska's 2015 new unit set-aside to new units is well below the total number of allowances available in that set-aside,16 and it appears highly likely this will be the case again in 2016. EPA therefore does not believe the extra allowance allocated to Nebraska's existing CSAPR units in 2016 should weigh negatively in EPA's evaluation of the State's 2016 CSAPR SIP submittal, and will enter 1,771 allowances from the Nebraska CSAPR 2016 budget (instead of 1,772 allowances) into the TR NOX annual new unit set-aside for the 2016 control period.17

    15 The total of the state-determined TR NOX Annual allowance allocations to existing units for 2016 under Nebraska's SIP revision (28,238 allowances) equals the total of the EPA-determined TR NOX Annual allowance allocations to existing units for 2016 under the CSAPR as amended. This total differs by one allowance from the amount of the state's 2016 NOX annual budget minus the sum of the new unit set-aside and the Indian country new unit set-aside due to rounding, as noted in the December 3, 2014, Notice of Data Availability regarding the EPA-determined allocations. See 79 FR 71674.

    16See Allocations of Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Allowances From New Unit Set-Asides for the 2015 Compliance Year; July 28, 2015 (80 FR 44882).

    17 The quantities of allowances to be allocated through the new unit set-aside (NUSA) process may differ slightly from the NUSA amounts set forth in 40 CFR 97.410(a), 97.510(a), 97.610(a), and 97.710(a) because of rounding in the spreadsheet of CSAPR FIP allowance allocations to existing units.

    The Nebraska SIP revision allocating TR SO2 Group 2 allowances for the 2016 control period does not establish allocations exceeding the amount of the budget under § 97.710(a) minus the sum of the new unit set-aside and Indian County new unit set-aside (68,162 tons−(2,658 tons + 68 tons)) = 65,436 tons). The Nebraska SIP revision allocates 65,432 TR SO2 Group 2 allowances to existing units in the State. EPA will place the four unallocated allowances from the Nebraska CSAPR 2016 budget into the TR SO2 Group 2 new unit set-aside for the 2016 control period.

    E. The list should be submitted electronically in the format specified by the EPA (40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(iii), 52.38(b)(3)(iii), 52.39(d)(3), and 52.39(g)(3)).

    On March 30, 2015, EPA received an email submittal from Nebraska in the EPA-approved format.

    F. The SIP revision should not provide for any changes to the listed units or allocations after approval of the SIP revision and should not provide for any change to any allocation determined and recorded by the Administrator under subpart AAAAA, BBBBB, CCCCC, or DDDDD of 40 CFR part 97 (40 CFR 52.38(a)(3)(iv), 52.38(b)(3)(iv), 52.39(d)(4), and 52.39(g)(4)).

    The Nebraska SIP revision does not provide for any changes to the listed units or allocations after approval of the SIP revision and does not provide for any change to any allocation determined and recorded by the Administrator under subpart AAAAA, BBBBB, CCCCC, or DDDDD of 40 CFR part 97.

    For the reasons discussed above, Nebraska's SIP revision complies with the 2016 allowance allocation SIP requirements established in the CSAPR FIPs as codified at 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39. Through this action, EPA is approving Nebraska's March 30, 2015, SIP revision, incorporating the allocations into the SIP, and amending the CSAPR FIPs' regulatory text for Nebraska at 40 CFR 52.1428 and 52.1429 to reflect this approval and inclusion of the state-determined allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods. EPA is not making any other changes to the CSAPR FIPs for Nebraska in this action. EPA is taking final action to approve Nebraska's March 30, 2015, SIP revision because it is in accordance with the CAA and its implementing regulations.

    IV. Final Action

    EPA is taking final action to approve Nebraska's March 30, 2015, CSAPR SIP revisions that provide Nebraska's state-determined allowance allocations for existing EGUs in the State for the 2016 control periods to replace the allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods established by EPA under the CSAPR. Consistent with the flexibility given to states in the CSAPR FIPs at 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39, Nebraska's SIP revision allocates allowances to existing EGUs in the State under the CSAPR's NOX annual and SO2 Group 2 trading programs. Nebraska's SIP revision meets the applicable requirements in 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39 for allocations for the 2016 control periods of NOX annual allowances and SO2 Group 2 allowances, respectively. EPA is approving Nebraska's SIP revision because it is in accordance with the CAA and its implementing regulations.

    EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. However, in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register publication, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should adverse comments be filed. This rule will be effective October 26, 2015 without further notice unless the Agency receives adverse comments by October 15, 2015. If EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule will not take effect. All public comments received will then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Parties interested in commenting should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on October 26, 2015 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule.

    Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

    • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

    • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

    • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

    • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

    • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

    • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; and

    • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    The SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this action and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by November 16, 2015. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See CAA section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides.

    Dated: August 12, 2015. Mark Hague, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, EPA amends 40 CFR part 52 as set forth below:

    PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart CC—Nebraska 2. In § 52.1420(e) the table is amended by adding a new entry (28) at the end of the table to read as follows:
    § 52.1420 Identification of Plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Nebraska Nonregulatory Provisions Name of nonregulatory SIP provision Applicable geographic area or nonattainment area State submittal date EPA approval date Explanation *         *         *         *         *         *         * (28) Cross State Air Pollution Rule—State-Determined Allowance Allocations for the 2016 control periods Statewide 3/30/15 9/15/15 [Insert Federal Register citation]
    3. Section 52.1428 is amended by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:
    § 52.1428 Interstate pollutant transport provisions; What are the FIP requirements for decreases in emissions of nitrogen oxides?

    (c) Pursuant to § 52.38(a)(3), Nebraska's state-determined TR NOX Annual allowance allocations established in the March 30, 2015, SIP revision replace the unit-level TR NOX Annual allowance allocation provisions of the TR NOX Annual Trading Program at 40 CFR 97.411(a) for the State for the 2016 control period with a list of TR NOX Annual units that commenced operation prior to January 1, 2010, in the State and the state-determined amount of TR NOX Annual allowances allocated to each unit on such list for the 2016 control period, as approved by EPA on September 15, 2015.

    4. Section 52.1429 is amended by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:
    § 52.1429 Interstate pollutant transport provisions; What are the FIP requirements for decreases in emissions of sulfur dioxide?

    (c) Pursuant to § 52.39(g), Nebraska's state-determined TR SO2 Group 2 allowance allocations established in the March 30, 2015, SIP revision replace the unit-level TR SO2 Group 2 allowance allocation provisions of the TR SO2 Group 2 Trading Program at 40 CFR 97.711(a) for the State for the 2016 control period with a list of TR SO2 Group 2 units that commenced operation prior to January 1, 2010, in the State and the state-determined amount of TR SO2 Group 2 allowances allocated to each unit on such list for the 2016 control period, as approved by EPA on September 15, 2015.

    [FR Doc. 2015-20631 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    80 178 Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3630; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-253-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 747-400F series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by an analysis of the production methods used to increase fatigue resistance of the upper closure fittings at the nose cargo door portal's C-3 frame, which indicated that cracking could start too early to be caught in a timely manner by the inspection or maintenance program. This proposed AD would require inspections of the upper closure fitting and connected strap and doubler at the nose cargo door portal for cracking, and related investigative and corrective actions if necessary. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct such cracking, which could result in sudden decompression and loss of the airplane's structural integrity.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by October 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3630.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3630; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bill Ashforth, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6432; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-3630; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-253-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    We have received a report indicating that an analysis of the production methods used to increase fatigue resistance of the upper closure fittings at the nose cargo door portal's C-3 frame showed that cracking could start too early to be caught in a timely manner by the inspection or maintenance program. The upper closure fittings used in the nose cargo door portal C-3 frame were shot peened to increase fatigue resistance. However, an analysis showed that the increase in fatigue resistance was still not enough to ensure that cracking would be caught by the inspection program specified in the Boeing 747-400 maintenance planning data (MPD) document. This condition, if not detected and corrected, could result in sudden decompression and loss of the airplane's structural integrity.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014. This service information describes procedures for a detailed inspection of the upper closure fitting and connected strap and doubler, a surface high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection of the upper closure fitting for cracking, and related investigative and corrective actions. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously, except as discussed under “Differences Between this Proposed AD and the Service Information.” Refer to this service information for information on the procedures and compliance times. For information on the procedures and compliance times, see this service information at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-3630.

    The phrase “related investigative actions” is used in this proposed AD. “Related investigative actions” are follow-on actions that (1) are related to the primary actions, and (2) further investigate the nature of any condition found. Related investigative actions in an AD could include, for example, inspections.

    The phrase “corrective actions” is used in this proposed AD. “Corrective actions” are actions that correct or address any condition found. Corrective actions in an AD could include, for example, repairs.

    Differences Between This Proposed AD and the Service Information

    Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014, specifies to contact the manufacturer for instructions on how to repair certain conditions, but this proposed AD would require repairing those conditions in one of the following ways:

    • In accordance with a method that we approve; or

    • Using data that meet the certification basis of the airplane, and that have been approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) whom we have authorized to make those findings.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 38 airplanes of U.S. registry. We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Cost on U.S. operators Inspections 9 work-hours × $85 per hour = $765 per inspection cycle $0 $765 per inspection cycle $29,070 per inspection cycle.

    We estimate the following costs to do any necessary repairs or replacements that would be required based on the results of the proposed inspection. Parts costs could be up to $42,930 per airplane. We have no way of determining the number of work hours (because the type of repair will vary depending on findings) or the number of aircraft that might need the repairs or replacements.

    Explanation of “RC” Steps in Service Information

    The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), to enhance the AD system. One enhancement was a new process for annotating which steps in the service information are required for compliance with an AD. Differentiating these steps from other tasks in the service information is expected to improve an owner's/operator's understanding of crucial AD requirements and help provide consistent judgment in AD compliance. The steps identified as Required for Compliance (RC) in any service information identified previously have a direct effect on detecting, preventing, resolving, or eliminating an identified unsafe condition.

    For service information that contains steps that are labeled as RC, the following provisions apply: (1) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD, and an AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures; and (2) steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    We determined that this proposed AD would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

    (2) Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979),

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

    (4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2015-3630; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-253-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by October 30, 2015.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all The Boeing Company Model 747-400F series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in paragraph 1.A., “Effectivity,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53, Fuselage.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by a report that an analysis of the production methods used to increase fatigue resistance of the upper closure fittings at the nose cargo door portal's C-3 frame showed that cracking could still start too early to be caught in a timely manner by the inspection or maintenance program. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct such cracking, which could result in sudden decompression and loss of the airplane's structural integrity.

    (f) Compliance

    Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

    (g) Inspections and Corrective Actions

    Except as required by paragraph (h) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014: Do a detailed inspection of the upper closure fitting, strap, and doubler and a surface high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection of the upper closure fitting at the nose cargo door portal for cracking, and do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014. Repeat the inspections at the time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014. Do the applicable investigative and corrective actions at the times specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014.

    (h) Exceptions to the Service Information

    (1) Where paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014, refers to a compliance time “after the original issue date of this service bulletin,” this AD requires compliance within the specific compliance time after the effective date of this AD.

    (2) If any crack is found during any inspection required by this AD, and Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-53A2880, dated December 3, 2014, specifies to contact Boeing for appropriate action: Before further flight, repair the cracking using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (i) of this AD.

    (i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

    (2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO, to make those findings. For a repair method to be approved, the repair must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (4) Except as required by paragraph (h)(2) of this AD: For service information that contains steps that are labeled as Required for Compliance (RC), the provisions of paragraphs (i)(4)(i) and (i)(4)(ii) apply.

    (i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

    (ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    (j) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Bill Ashforth, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6432; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 2, 2015. Jeffrey E. Duven, Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-22926 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-1834; Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-8] Proposed Revocation and Establishment of Class E Airspace; Bowman, ND AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    This action proposes to establish Class E airspace at Bowman, ND. Controlled airspace is necessary to accommodate new Standard Instrument Approach Procedures at Bowman Regional Airport, for the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations. Class E airspace would be removed at Bowman Municipal Airport, Bowman, ND, due to closure of the air traffic control tower.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before October 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001, telephone (202) 366-9826. You must identify the docket number FAA-2015-1834; Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-8, at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Office (telephone 1-800-647-5527), is on the ground floor of the building at the above address.

    FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy and Regulations Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: 202-267-8783. The order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_offederal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA order 7400.9, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points is published yearly and effective on September 15.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca Shelby, Central Service Center, Operations Support Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone: 817-868-2914.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it would amend controlled airspace for the Bowman, ND, area.

    Comments Invited

    Interested parties are invited to participate in this proposed rulemaking by submitting such written data, views, or arguments, as they may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal. Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, aeronautical, economic, environmental, and energy-related aspects of the proposal. Communications should identify both docket numbers and be submitted in triplicate to the address listed above. Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments on this notice must submit with those comments a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. FAA-2015-1834/Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-8.” The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

    Availability of NPRMs

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Recently published rulemaking documents can also be accessed through the FAA's Web page at http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/air_traffic/publications/airspace_amendments/.

    You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office (see ADDRESSES section for address and phone number) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. An informal docket may also be examined during normal business hours at the office of the Central Service Center, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

    Persons interested in being placed on a mailing list for future NPRMs should contact the FAA's Office of Rulemaking (202) 267-9677, to request a copy of Advisory Circular No. 11-2A, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Distribution System, which describes the application procedure.

    Availability and Summary of Documents Proposed for Incorporation by Reference

    This document proposes to amend FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014. FAA Order 7400.9Y is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this proposed rule. FAA Order 7400.9Y lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Proposal

    This action proposes to amend Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), Part 71 by establishing Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.0-mile radius of Bowman Regional Airport, Bowman, ND, to accommodate new standard instrument approach procedures. Controlled airspace is needed for the safety and management of IFR operations at the airport. This action also would remove Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Bowman Municipal Airport, Bowman, ND. The closing of the air traffic control tower at Bowman Municipal Airport has made this action necessary for continued safety within the NAS.

    Class E airspace areas are published in Paragraph 6005 of FAA Order 7400.9Y, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designation listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    The FAA has determined that this proposed regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. It, therefore, (1) is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a Regulatory Evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal.

    Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    Environmental Review

    This proposal will be subject to an environmental analysis in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1E, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures” prior to any FAA final regulatory action.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    The Proposed Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.9Y, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 6, 2014, and effective September 15, 2014, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth AGL ND E5 Bowman, ND [New] Bowman Regional Airport, ND (Lat. 46°09′56″ N., long. 103°18′03″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.0-mile radius of Bowman Regional Airport.

    AGL ND E5 Bowman, ND [Removed] Bowman Municipal Airport, ND
    Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on August 27, 2015. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2015-22972 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0671] RIN 1625-AA08 Special Local Regulation, Tennessee River, Mile 255.0 to 256.5; Florence, AL AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is proposing to establish a special local regulation for all waters of the Tennessee River, beginning at mile marker 255.0 and ending at mile marker 256.5 on October 3, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. This proposed special regulation is necessary to provide safety for the participants in the “Shoals Dragon Boat Festival,” an event which will involve non-high speed boat races. Entry into this area will be prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley or designated representative.

    DATES:

    Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before September 22, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number using any one of the following methods:

    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

    (2) Fax: 202-493-2251.

    (3) Mail or Delivery: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Deliveries accepted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

    See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for further instructions on submitting comments. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these three methods.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Petty Officer Vera Max, MSD Nashville, Nashville, TN, at 615-736-5421 or at [email protected] If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl F. Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Acronyms DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking A. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related materials. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided.

    1. Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking, indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material online at http://www.regulations.gov, or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. If you submit a comment online, it will be considered received by the Coast Guard when you successfully transmit the comment. If you fax, hand deliver, or mail your comment, it will be considered as having been received by the Coast Guard when it is received at the Docket Management Facility. We recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a telephone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission.

    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type the docket number (USCG-2015-0671) in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on “Submit a Comment” on the line associated with this rulemaking.

    If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period and may change the rule based on your comments.

    2. Viewing Comments and Documents

    To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type the docket number (USCG-2015-0671) in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rulemaking. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    3. Privacy Act

    Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act notice regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008, issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

    4. Public Meeting

    We do not plan to hold a public meeting. But you may submit a request for one, using one of the methods specified under ADDRESSES. Please explain why you believe a public meeting would be beneficial. If we determine that one would aid this rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a later notice in the Federal Register.

    B. Basis and Purpose

    The Kilby Laboratory School PTO is holding the “Shoals Dragon Boat Festival” on October 3, 2015. This event is planned to take place at McFarland Park on the waters of the Tennessee River mile marker 255.0 through mile marker 256.5, at Florence, AL. The Captain of the Port Ohio Valley has determined that additional safety measures are necessary to protect participants, spectators, and waterway users during this event. Therefore, the Coast Guard proposes to establish a special local regulation on specified waters of the Tennessee River. This proposed regulation would be in effect on October 3, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

    The legal basis and authorities for this proposed rulemaking establishing a special local regulation are found in 33 U.S.C. 1233, which authorizes the Coast Guard to establish and define special local regulations for regattas under 33 CFR part 100.

    C. Discussion of Proposed Rule

    The Captain of the Port Ohio Valley is proposing to establish a special local regulated area for all waters of the Tennessee River beginning at mile marker 255.0 and ending at mile marker 256.5. Vessels or persons would not be able to enter into, depart from, or move within this area without permission from the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley or designated representative. Persons or vessels requiring entry into or passage through the proposed special local regulated area will be required to request permission from the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley, or designated representative. They could be contacted on VHF-FM Channel 13 or 16, or through Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley at 1-800-253-7465. This proposed rule would be effective from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on October 3, 2015. The Captain of the Port Ohio Valley would inform the public through broadcast notices to mariners of the enforcement period for the special local regulated area as well if any changes in the planned schedule.

    E. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes or executive orders.

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review

    This proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders. This proposed special local regulation restricts transit on the Tennessee River from mile marker 255.0 to mile marker 256.5, for a short duration of nine hours; Broadcast Notices to Mariners and Local Notices to Mariners will also inform the community of this special local regulation so that they may plan accordingly for this short restriction on transit. Vessel traffic may request permission from the COTP Ohio Valley or a designated representative to enter the restricted area.

    2. Impact on Small Entities

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered the impact of this proposed rule on small entities. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule will affect the following entities, some of which may be small entities: The owners or operators of vessels intending to transit mile marker 255.0 to mile marker 256.5 on the Tennessee River, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on October 3, 2015. This proposed special local regulated area will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as it will be enforced for a short period of time. Additionally, although the proposed special local regulated area will apply to the entire width of the river, traffic will be allowed to pass through the area with the permission of the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley or designated representative. Broadcast Notices to Mariners will also inform the community of this special local regulation so that they may plan accordingly for temporary restrictions on transit.

    If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this rule would have a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and how and to what degree this rule would economically affect it.

    3. Assistance for Small Entities

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this proposed rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

    4. Collection of Information

    This proposed rule will not call for a new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

    5. Federalism

    A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this proposed rule under that Order and determined that this rule does not have implications for federalism.

    6. Protest Activities

    The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places or vessels.

    7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. Though this proposed rule would not result in such expenditures, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

    8. Taking of Private Property

    This proposed rule would not cause a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

    9. Civil Justice Reform

    This proposed rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

    10. Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks

    We have analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and would not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might disproportionately affect children.

    11. Indian Tribal Governments

    This proposed rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it would not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.

    12. Energy Effects

    This proposed rule is not a “significant energy action” under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

    13. Technical Standards

    This proposed rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

    14. Environment

    We have analyzed this proposed rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This proposed rule involves the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley establishing a special local regulation for all waters of the Tennessee River beginning at mile marker 255.0 and ending at mile marker 256.5 to provide safety for the participants of the “Shoals Dragon Boat Festival.” This rule is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. A preliminary environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination and a Categorical Exclusion Determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this proposed rule.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 100

    Marine safety, Navigation (water), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Waterways.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the U.S. Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 100 as follows:

    PART 100—SAFETY OF LIFE ON NAVIGABLE WATERWAYS 1. The authority citation for part 100 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1233.

    2. A new special local regulation 100.801T01-0671 is added to read as follows:
    § 100.801T01-0671 Special Local Regulation; Tennessee River Mile 255.0 to River Mile 256.5, Florence, AL.

    (a) Location. All waters of the Tennessee River beginning at mile marker 255.0 and ending at mile marker 256.5 at Florence, AL.

    (b) Periods of enforcement. This proposed rule will be enforced from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on October 3, 2015. The Captain of the Port Ohio Valley or a designated representative will inform the public through broadcast notice to mariners of the enforcement period for the special local regulation.

    (c) Regulations. (1) In accordance with the general regulations in § 100.801 of this part, entry into this area is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley or a designated representative.

    (2) Persons or vessels requiring entry into or passage through the area must request permission from the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley or a designated representative. U.S. Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley may be contacted on VHF Channel 13 or 16, or at 1-800-253-7465.

    (3) All persons and vessels shall comply with the instructions of the Captain of the Port Ohio Valley and designated U.S. Coast Guard patrol personnel. On-scene U.S. Coast Guard patrol personnel include commissioned, warrant, and petty officers of the U.S. Coast Guard.

    Dated: August 13, 2015. R.V. Timme, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Ohio Valley.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23169 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0565; FRL-9932-85-Region 7] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; State of Nebraska; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve revisions to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the State of Nebraska in a letter dated March 30, 2015. This SIP revision provides Nebraska's state-determined allowance allocations for existing electric generating units (EGUs) in the State for the 2016 control periods and replaces the allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods established by EPA under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The CSAPR addresses the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) that requires states to reduce the transport of pollution that significantly affects downwind air quality. In this action EPA is proposing approval of Nebraska's SIP revision, incorporating the state-determined allocations for the 2016 control periods into the SIP, and amending the regulatory text of the CSAPR Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to reflect this approval and inclusion of the state-determined allocations. EPA is proposing to approve Nebraska's SIP revision because it meets the requirements of the CAA and the CSAPR requirements to replace EPA's allowance allocations for the 2016 control periods. This action is being proposed pursuant to the CAA and its implementing regulations. EPA's allocations of CSAPR trading program allowances for Nebraska for control periods in 2017 and beyond remain in place until the State submits and EPA approves state-determined allocations for those control periods through another SIP. The CSAPR FIPs for Nebraska remain in place until such time as the State decides to replace the FIPs with a SIP revision.

    DATES:

    Comments on this proposed action must be received in writing by October 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2015-0565, by mail to Lachala Kemp, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219. Comments may also be submitted electronically or through hand delivery/courier by following the detailed instructions in the ADDRESSES section of the direct final rule located in the rules section of this Federal Register.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lachala Kemp, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at (913) 551-7214 or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the final rules section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the state's SIP revision as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial revision amendment and anticipates no relevant adverse comments to this action. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no relevant adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated in relation to this action. If EPA receives relevant adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed action. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on part of this rule and if that part can be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those parts of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment. For additional information, see the direct final rule which is located in the rules section of this Federal Register.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur dioxides.

    Dated: August 12, 2015. Mark Hague, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.
    [FR Doc. 2015-20630 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R10-OAR-2015-0600: FRL-9934-07-Region 10] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Washington: Additional Regulations for the Benton Clean Air Agency Jurisdiction AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve revisions to the Washington State Implementation Plan (SIP) that were submitted by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) in coordination with Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA) on August 25, 2015. In the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015, the EPA approved numerous revisions to Ecology's general air quality regulations. However, our approval of the updated Ecology regulations applied only to geographic areas where Ecology, and not a local air authority, has jurisdiction, and statewide to source categories over which Ecology has sole jurisdiction. Under the Washington Clean Air Act local clean air agencies, such as BCAA, have the option of adopting equally stringent or more stringent standards or requirements in lieu of Ecology's general air quality regulations, if they so choose. Therefore, the EPA stated that we would evaluate the general air quality regulations as they apply to local jurisdictions in separate, future actions. If finalized, this proposed action would allow BCAA to rely primarily on Ecology's general air quality regulations for sources within BCAA's jurisdiction, including implementation of the minor new source review and nonattainment new source review permitting programs. This action also proposes approval of a small set of BCAA regulatory provisions that replace or supplement parts of Ecology's general air quality regulations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before October 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R10-OAR-2015-0600, by any of the following methods:

    A. www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.

    B. Mail: Jeff Hunt, EPA Region 10, Office of Air, Waste and Toxics (AWT-150), 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, WA 98101.

    C. Email: [email protected]

    D. Hand Delivery: EPA Region 10 Mailroom, 9th Floor, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, WA 98101. Attention: Jeff Hunt, Office of Air, Waste and Toxics, AWT-150. Such deliveries are only accepted during normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R10-OAR-2015-0600. The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, the EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If the EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the electronic docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy during normal business hours at the Office of Air, Waste and Toxics, EPA Region 10, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeff Hunt at (206) 553-0256, [email protected], or by using the above EPA, Region 10 address.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document wherever “we”, “us” or “our” are used, it is intended to refer to the EPA.

    Table of Contents I. Background for Proposed Action II. Washington SIP Revisions III. The EPA's Proposed Action A. Regulations To Approve and Incorporate by Reference Into the SIP B. Regulations To Approve But Not Incorporate by Reference C. Regulations To Remove From the SIP D. Scope of Proposed Action IV. Incorporation by Reference V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background for Proposed Action

    On January 27, 2014, Ecology submitted revisions to update the general air quality regulations contained in Chapter 173-400 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) that apply to sources under Ecology's direct jurisdiction. On October 3, 2014 (79 FR 59653), November 7, 2014 (79 FR 66291), and April 29, 2015 (80 FR 23721), the EPA approved updates to Chapter 173-400 WAC as they apply to geographic areas and source categories under Ecology's direct jurisdiction. Under the EPA-approved provisions of WAC 173-400-020, local clean air agencies have the authority to adopt equally stringent or more stringent standards or requirements in lieu of the provisions of Chapter 173-400 WAC. Local clean air agencies also have the option to rely on parts of Chapter 173-400 WAC, but substitute local standards or requirements for other corresponding provisions. For this reason, the EPA stated that we would address the applicability of Chapter 173-400 WAC in local clean air agency jurisdictions on a case-by-case basis in separate, future actions.

    II. Washington SIP Revisions

    On August 25, 2015, the Director of the Washington Department of Ecology, as the Governor's designee for SIP revisions, submitted a request to update the general air quality regulations as they apply to the jurisdiction of BCAA. See 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4. As shown in Attachment 1 of the SIP revision, included in the docket for this action, BCAA relies primarily on the recently updated provisions of Chapter 173-400 WAC for sources within their jurisdiction in Benton County, including minor new source review permitting and major source nonattainment new source review (if necessary at some point in the future). Attachment 2 of the SIP revision contains a small set of BCAA regulations that either supplement or substitute for provisions of Chapter 173-400 WAC that address regulatory authority, definitions of specific terms, and fugitive emissions. These provisions fall in two categories. The first category includes BCAA Regulation 1, sections: 1.01, Name of Agency; 2.01, Powers and Duties of the Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA); 2.03, Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors; 2.05, Severability; and 2.06, Confidentiality. These provisions are generally administrative in nature, are adopted nearly verbatim from the Washington Clean Air Act (Revised Code of Washington 70.94), and have no direct corollaries in Chapter 173-400 WAC. The second category includes BCAA Regulation 1, sections: 1.02, Policy and Purpose; 1.03, Applicability; 2.02, Requirements for Board of Directors Members; 4.01(A), Definitions—Fugitive Dust; 4.02(B), Particulate Matter Emissions—Fugitive Emissions; 4.02(C)(1), Particulate Matter Emissions—Fugitive Dust; and 4.02(C)(3), Particulate Matter Emissions—Fugitive Dust. This second category of BCAA regulations adopt parts of Chapter 173-400 WAC nearly verbatim with minor changes for readability and clarity. The EPA is proposing to determine that these changes are consistent with our prior approvals of Chapter 173-400 WAC and meet Clean Air Act requirements.

    III. The EPA's Proposed Action A. Regulations To Approve and Incorporate by Reference Into the SIP

    The EPA proposes to approve and incorporate by reference into the Washington SIP at 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4, Additional Regulations Approved for the Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA) Jurisdiction, the BCAA and Ecology regulations listed in the tables below for sources within BCAA's jurisdiction.

    Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA) Regulations for Proposed Approval State/local citation Title/subject State/local
  • effective date
  • Explanation
    Regulation 1 1.01 Name of Agency 12/11/14 1.02 Policy and Purpose 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-010. 1.03 Applicability 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-020. 4.01(A) Definitions—Fugitive Dust 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-030 (38). 4.01(B) Definitions—Fugitive Emissions 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-030 (39). 4.02(B) Particulate Matter Emissions—Fugitive Emissions 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-040(4). 4.02(C)(1) Particulate Matter Emissions—Fugitive Dust 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-040(9)(a). 4.02(C)(3) Particulate Matter Emissions—Fugitive Dust 12/11/14 Replaces WAC 173-400-040(9)(b).
    Washington State Department of Ecology Regulations for Proposed Approval State/local citation Title/subject State/local
  • effective date
  • Explanation
    Chapter 173-400 WAC, General Regulations for Air Pollution Sources 173-400-030 Definitions 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-030(38); 173-400-030(39); 173-400-030(91). 173-400-036 Relocation of Portable Sources 12/29/12 173-400-040 General Standards for Maximum Emissions 4/1/11 Except: 173-400-040(2)(c); 173-400-040(2)(d); 173-400-040(3); 173-400-040(4); 173-400-040(5); 173-400-040(7), second paragraph; 173-400-040(9)(a); 173-400-040(9)(b). 173-400-050 Emission Standards for Combustion and Incineration Units 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-050(2); 173-400-050(4); 173-400-050(5). 173-400-060 Emission Standards for General Process Units 2/10/05 173-400-070 Emission Standards for Certain Source Categories 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-070(7); 173-400-070(8). 173-400-081 Startup and Shutdown 4/1/11 173-400-091 Voluntary Limits on Emissions 4/1/11 173-400-105 Records, Monitoring and Reporting 12/29/12 173-400-110 New Source Review (NSR) for Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-110(1)(c)(ii)(C); 173-400-110(1)(e); 173-400-110(2)(d);
  • —The part of WAC 173-400-110(4)(b)(vi) that says, “not for use with materials containing toxic air pollutants, as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC,”;
  • —The part of 400-110(4)(e)(iii) that says, “where toxic air pollutants as defined in chapter 173-460 WAC are not emitted”; —The part of 400-110(4)(e)(f)(i) that says, “that are not toxic air pollutants listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; —The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xviii) that says, “, to the extent that toxic air pollutant gases as defined in chapter 173-460 WAC are not emitted”; —The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxiii) that says, “where no toxic air pollutants as listed under chapter 173-460 WAC are emitted”; —The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxiv) that says, “, or ≤1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; —The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxv) that says, “or ≤1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants”; —The part of 400-110(4)(h)(xxxvi) that says, “or ≤1% (by weight) toxic air pollutants as listed in chapter 173-460 WAC”; 400-110(4)(h)(xl), second sentence; —The last row of the table in 173-400-110(5)(b) regarding exemption levels for Toxic Air Pollutants. 173-400-111 Processing Notice of Construction Applications for Sources, Stationary Sources and Portable Sources 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-111(3)(h);
  • —The part of 173-400-111(8)(a)(v) that says, “and 173-460-040,”; 173-400-111(9).
  • 173-400-112 Requirements for New Sources in Nonattainment Areas—Review for Compliance with Regulations 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-112(8). 173-400-113 New Sources in Attainment or Unclassifiable Areas—Review for Compliance with Regulations 12/29/12 Except: 173-400-113(3), second sentence. 173-400-117 Special Protection Requirements for Federal Class I Areas 12/29/12 Except facilities subject to the applicability provisions of WAC 173-400-700. 173-400-118 Designation of Class I, II, and III Areas 12/29/12 173-400-131 Issuance of Emission Reduction Credits 4/1/11 173-400-136 Use of Emission Reduction Credits (ERC) 12/29/12 173-400-151 Retrofit Requirements for Visibility Protection 2/10/05 173-400-171 Public Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment 12/29/12 Except:
  • —The part of 173-400-171(3)(b) that says, “or any increase in emissions of a toxic air pollutant above the acceptable source impact level for that toxic air pollutant as regulated under chapter 173-460 WAC”; 173-400-171(12).
  • 173-400-175 Public Information 2/10/05 173-400-200 Creditable Stack Height & Dispersion Techniques 2/10/05 173-400-560 General Order of Approval 12/29/12 Except:
  • —The part of 173-400-560(1)(f) that says, “173-460 WAC”.
  • 173-400-800 Major Stationary Source and Major Modification in a Nonattainment Area 4/1/11 173-400-810 Major Stationary Source and Major Modification Definitions 12/29/12 173-400-820 Determining if a New Stationary Source or Modification to a Stationary Source is Subject to these Requirements 12/29/12 173-400-830 Permitting Requirements 12/29/12 173-400-840 Emission Offset Requirements 12/29/12 173-400-850 Actual Emissions Plantwide Applicability Limitation (PAL) 12/29/12 173-400-860 Public Involvement Procedures 4/1/11
    B. Regulations To Approve But Not Incorporate by Reference

    In addition to the regulations proposed for approval and incorporation by reference above, the EPA reviews and approves state and local clean air agency submissions to ensure they provide adequate enforcement authority and other general authority to implement and enforce the SIP. However, regulations describing such agency enforcement and other general authority are generally not incorporated by reference so as to avoid potential conflict with the EPA's independent authorities. The EPA has reviewed and is proposing to approve BCAA, Regulation 1, Article 2, General Provisions, as having adequate enforcement and other general authority for purposes of implementing and enforcing its SIP, but is not incorporating this section by reference into the SIP codified in 40 CFR 52.2470(c). Instead, the EPA is proposing to include sections 2.01, Powers and Duties of the Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA); 2.02, Requirements for Board of Directors Members (replaces WAC 173-400-220); 2.03, Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors; 2.04, Powers and Duties of the Control Officer; 2.05, Severability; and 2.06, Confidentiality of Records and Information, in 40 CFR 52.2470(e), EPA Approved Nonregulatory Provisions and Quasi-Regulatory Measures, as approved but not incorporated by reference regulatory provisions. Finally, for the reasons discussed above, the EPA is proposing to move WAC 173-400-230, Regulatory Actions; WAC 173-400-240, Criminal Penalties; WAC 173-400-250, Appeals; and WAC 173-400-260, Conflict of Interest, currently incorporated by reference in 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4, to the list of provisions in 40 CFR 52.2470(e) that are approved but not incorporated by reference.

    C. Regulations To Remove From the SIP

    The regulations contained in Washington's SIP at 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4 were last approved by the EPA on June 2, 1995 (60 FR 28726). The EPA is proposing to remove from this table WAC 173-400-010 and 173-400-020 because these provisions will be replaced by the BCAA corollaries 1.02, Policy and Purpose and 1.03, Applicability, as shown in Attachment 2 of the SIP revision. We are also proposing to remove WAC 173-400-100, because this outdated provision is no longer part of the EPA-approved SIP for Ecology's direct jurisdiction under CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 2 and BCAA has requested that it be removed from the BCAA's jurisdiction under CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4. For more information please see the EPA's proposed (79 FR 39351, July 10, 2014) and final (79 FR 59653, October 3, 2014) actions on the general provisions of Chapter 173-400 WAC.

    D. Scope of Proposed Action

    This proposed revision to the SIP applies specifically to the BCAA jurisdiction incorporated into the SIP at 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4. As discussed in the EPA's proposed (79 FR 39351, July 10, 2014) and final (79 FR 59653, October 3, 2014) actions on the general provisions of Chapter 173-400 WAC, jurisdiction is generally defined on a geographic basis (Benton County); however there are exceptions. By statute, BCAA does not have authority for sources under the jurisdiction of the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). See Revised Code of Washington Chapter 80.50. Under the applicability provisions of WAC 173-405-012, WAC 173-410-012, and WAC 173-415-012, BCAA also does not have jurisdiction for kraft pulp mills, sulfite pulping mills, and primary aluminum plants. For these sources, Ecology retains statewide, direct jurisdiction. Ecology also retains statewide, direct jurisdiction for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program. Therefore, the EPA is not approving into 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4 those provisions of Chapter 173-400 WAC related to the PSD program. Specifically, these provisions are WAC 173-400-116 and WAC 173-400-700 through 750.

    As described in the EPA's April 29, 2015 final action, jurisdiction to implement the visibility permitting program contained in WAC 173-400-117 varies depending on the situation. Ecology retains authority to implement WAC 173-400-117 as it relates to PSD permits (80 FR 23721). However for facilities subject to nonattainment new source review (NNSR) under the applicability provisions of WAC 173-400-800, we are proposing that BCAA would be responsible for implementing those parts of WAC 173-400-117 as they relate to NNSR permits. See 80 FR 23726.

    Lastly, the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian reservations in the State, except for non-trust land within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation (also known as the 1873 Survey Area), or any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is proposing to revise our incorporation by reference of 40 CFR 52.2470(c)—Table 4 “Additional Regulations Approved for the Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA) Jurisdiction” to reflect the regulations shown in the tables in section III.A. Regulations to Approve and Incorporate by Reference into the SIP and the rules proposed for removal from the SIP in section III.C. Regulations to Remove from the SIP. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the Clean Air Act, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, the EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the Clean Air Act. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

    • Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

    • does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

    • is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

    • does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

    • does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

    • is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

    • is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

    • is not subject to the requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because this action does not involve technical standards; and

    • does not provide the EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    In addition, this rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. As discussed above, the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian reservations in the state, except for non-trust land within the exterior boundaries of the Puyallup Indian Reservation (also known as the 1873 Survey Area), or any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: September 2, 2015. Dennis J. McLerran, Regional Administrator, Region 10.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23144 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 42 CFR Parts 405, 431, 447, 482, 483, 485, and 488 [CMS-3260-N] RIN 0938-AR61 Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities; Reopening of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    This document reopens the comment period for the July 16, 2015 proposed rule entitled “Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities”. The comment period for the proposed rule, which ends on September 14, 2015, is reopened for 30 days.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule published on July 16, 2015 (80 FR 42168), is reopened and ends on October 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    In commenting, please refer to file code CMS-3260-P. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

    You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

    1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “Submit a comment” instructions.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3260-P, P.O. Box 8010, Baltimore, MD 21244.

    Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.

    3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3260-P, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written comments ONLY to the following addresses prior to the close of the comment period:

    a. For delivery in Washington, DC— Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.

    (Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without federal government identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being filed.)

    b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD— Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, call telephone number (410) 786-9994 in advance to schedule your arrival with one of our staff members.

    Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received after the comment period.

    For information on viewing public comments, see the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ronisha Blackstone, (410) 786-6633.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 16, 2015, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (80 FR 42168) entitled, “Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities” that would revise the requirements that long-term care facilities must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The proposed provisions include updating obsolete language, improving clarity, addressing ongoing healthcare priorities, and implementing certain Affordable Care Act provisions. These proposed changes are necessary to reflect the substantial advances that have been made over the past several years in the theory and practice of service delivery and safety. These proposals are also an integral part of our efforts to achieve broad-based improvements both in the quality of health care furnished through federal programs, and in patient safety, while at the same time reducing procedural burdens on providers.

    We have received inquiries from Hospital Associations and national industry organizations regarding the 60 day period to submit comments regarding this proposed rule. The organizations stated that they needed additional time to respond to the rule due to the scope and complexity of the proposal. Because of the scope of the proposed rule, and since we have specifically requested the public's comments on various aspect of the rule, we believe that it is important to allow ample time for the public to prepare comments on this proposed rule. Therefore, we have decided to reopen the comment period for an additional 30 days. This document announces the reopening of the public comment period to end on October 14, 2015.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Andrew M. Slavitt, Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23110 Filed 9-11-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration [Docket No. FRA-2009-0038] 49 CFR Part 271 RIN 2130-AC11 Risk Reduction Program AGENCY:

    Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; notice of comment period reopening.

    SUMMARY:

    On February 27, 2015, FRA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would require certain railroads to develop a Risk Reduction Program (RRP). On August 27, 2015, FRA held a public hearing to provide interested persons an opportunity to provide oral comments on the proposal. FRA is reopening the comment period for this proceeding to allow additional time for interested parties to submit written comments in response to views or information provided at the public hearing.

    DATES:

    The comment period for this proceeding, consisting of the proposed rule published February 27, 2015, at 80 FR 10950, and the August 27, 2015, hearing, announced at 80 FR 45500, July 30, 2015, is reopened. Written comments must be received by September 18th, 2015. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible without incurring additional expense or delay.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments related to Docket No. FRA-2009-0038 may be submitted by any of the following methods:

    Web site: The Federal eRulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the Web site's online instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: (202) 493-2251.

    Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name, docket name, and docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this rulemaking. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for Privacy Act information related to any submitted comments or materials.

    Docket: FRA has posted a transcript of the August 27, 2015, public hearing to the public docket in this proceeding. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, Room W-12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Miriam Kloeppel, Staff Director, Risk Reduction Program Division, Office of Safety Analysis, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Mail Stop 25, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-6224, [email protected]; or Elizabeth Gross, Trial Attorney, Office of Chief Counsel, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Mail Stop 10, Washington, DC 20590, (202) 493-1342, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires the development and implementation of railroad safety risk reduction programs. Risk reduction is a comprehensive, system-oriented approach to safety that (1) determines an operation's level of risk by identifying and analyzing applicable hazards and (2) involves the development of plans to mitigate that risk. Each RRP is statutorily required to be supported by a risk analysis and a Risk Reduction Program Plan, which must include a Technology Implementation Plan and a Fatigue Management Plan.

    FRA held a public hearing on August 27, 2015, to receive oral comments in response to an NPRM requesting public comment on a proposed risk reduction rulemaking. See 80 FR 10950, Feb. 27, 2015 and 80 FR 45500, July 30, 2015. FRA also reopened the comment period to allow time for interested parties to submit written comments after the public hearing, and comments were due September 10, 2015. To afford interested parties additional time and opportunity to submit written comments in response to views or information provided at the public hearing, FRA is again reopening the comment period in this proceeding. Written comments must be received by September 18th, 2015.

    Privacy Act Statement

    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 11th, 2015. Patrick T. Warren, Acting Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23233 Filed 9-11-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4910-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2015-0136; 4500030113] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the New England Cottontail as an Endangered or Threatened Species AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of 12-month petition finding.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) as an endangered or threatened species and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the New England cottontail is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to the New England cottontail or its habitat at any time.

    DATES:

    The finding announced in this document was made on September 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R5-ES-2015-0136. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New England Field Office, 70 Commercial Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the above address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas R. Chapman, Field Supervisor, New England Field Office (see ADDRESSES); by telephone at 603-223-2541; or by facsimile at 603-223-0104. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or commercial information that listing the species may be warranted, we make a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of the petition. In this finding, we will determine that the petitioned action is: (1) Not warranted, (2) Warranted, or (3) Warranted, but the immediate proposal of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other pending proposals to determine whether species are endangered or threatened, and expeditious progress is being made to add or remove qualified species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that we treat a petition for which the requested action is found to be warranted but precluded as though resubmitted on the date of such finding, that is, requiring a subsequent finding to be made within 12 months. We must publish these 12-month findings in the Federal Register. Until now, making a 12-month finding that listing is warranted or not warranted for the New England cottontail was precluded by other higher priority national listing actions (71 FR 53756, September 12, 2006; 72 FR 69034, December 6, 2007; 73 FR 75176, December 10, 2008; 74 FR 57804, November 9, 2009; 75 FR 69222, November 10, 2010; 76 FR 66370, October 26, 2011; 77 FR 69993, November 21, 2012; 78 FR 70103, November 22, 2013; 79 FR 72449, December 5, 2014).

    Previous Federal Actions

    On December 30, 1982, we published our notice of review classifying the New England cottontail as a Category 2 species (47 FR 58454). Category 2 status included those taxa for which information in the Service's possession indicated that a proposed rule may be appropriate, but for which sufficient data on biological vulnerability and threats were not available to support a proposed rule at that time. This classification remained valid for the species in subsequent review publications for animals that occurred on September 18, 1985 (50 FR 37958), January 6, 1989 (54 FR 554), November 21, 1991 (56 FR 58804), and November 15, 1994 (59 FR 58982). In the February 28, 1996, candidate notice of review (CNOR) (61 FR 7596), we discontinued the designation of Category 2 species as candidates; therefore, the New England cottontail was no longer a candidate species.

    On August 30, 2000, we received a petition dated August 29, 2000, from the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Conservation Action Project, Endangered Small Animals Conservation Fund and Defenders of Wildlife, requesting that the New England cottontail be listed under the Act and critical habitat be designated. We acknowledged the receipt of the petition in a letter to The Biodiversity Legal Foundation, dated September 14, 2000, and stated that, due to funding constraints in fiscal year (FY) 2000, we would not be able to begin processing the petition in a timely manner. Those funding constraints persisted into FY 2001.

    On December 19, 2000, Defenders of Wildlife sent a Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue the Service for violating the Act by failing to make a timely 90-day finding on the August 2000 petition. On February 8, 2002, Defenders of Wildlife sent another NOI to sue in response to the Service's failure to make a timely 12-month finding on the August 2000 petition. On May 14, 2002, we advised Defenders of Wildlife that we would begin action on the petition in FY 2002.

    On June 30, 2004, the Service published in the Federal Register a 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that listing the New England cottontail as endangered may be warranted (69 FR 39395). We also announced the initiation of a status review to determine if listing the species was warranted and requested additional information and data regarding this species. On September 12, 2006, the Service published a finding that the petition presented substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that listing the New England cottontail as threatened or endangered was warranted, but precluded (71 FR 53756). The Service has annually reviewed the status of the New England cottontail and reaffirmed the 2006 finding that listing of the species remained warranted but precluded with a Listing Priority Number of 2 in our CNORs published in 2007 (72 FR 69034; December 6, 2007), 2008 (73 FR 75176; December 10, 2008), 2009 (74 FR 57804; November 9, 2009), 2010 (75 FR 69222; November 10, 2010), 2011 (76 FR 66370; October 26, 2011), 2012 (77 FR 69993; November 21, 2012), 2013 (78 FR 70103; November 22, 2013), and 2014 (79 FR 72449; December 5, 2014).

    Subsequent to the 2006 petition finding, the Service developed a national multi-year listing work plan associated with a multidistrict settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians (In re Endangered Species Act Section 4 Deadline Litigation, No. 1-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D.D.C. May 20, 2011)). The work plan represents a systematic process for the Service to make determinations as to whether the 250 identified candidate species still warrant listing as either threatened or endangered pursuant to the Act, and if so, proceed with appropriate rulemakings. Conversely, if the Service was to determine that listing of any candidate species is no longer warranted, candidate status would be withdrawn. Through the aforementioned work plan, we agreed to complete a final listing determination for the New England cottontail by September 30, 2015. This document constitutes the 12-month finding on the August 29, 2000, petition to list the New England cottontail as an endangered or threatened species and fulfills the aforementioned settlement agreement.

    For additional previous Federal actions, see the New England cottontail's species' profile page at: http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A09B.

    Species Information Species Description and Taxonomy

    The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a medium-large-sized cottontail rabbit that may reach 1,000 grams (g) (2.2 pounds (lb)) in weight and is the only endemic cottontail in New England (Bangs 1894, p. 411; Allen 1904, entire; Nelson 1909, pp. 169, 170-171). Sometimes called the gray rabbit, brush rabbit, wood hare, or cooney, it can usually be distinguished from the sympatric (similar, but different, species that occur in the same area and are able to encounter each other) eastern cottontail (S. floridanus) and snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) by several features. In general, the New England cottontail can be distinguished by its shorter ear length, slightly smaller body size, presence of a black spot between the ears, absence of a white spot on the forehead, and a black line on the anterior edge of the ears (Litvaitis et al. 1991, p. 11). Like the congeneric (separate species of the same genus) eastern cottontail, the New England cottontail can be distinguished from the snowshoe hare by its lack of seasonal variation in pelage (mammal's coat consisting of fur, hair, etc.) coloration.

    New England and eastern cottontails can be difficult to distinguish in the field by external characteristics (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, p. 106). However, cranial (referring to the skull) differences, specifically the length of the supraorbital process (elongated bony structure located posterior (behind) to the eye) and the pattern of the nasal frontal suture (the junction between the nasal and frontal bones), are a reliable means of distinguishing the two cottontail species (Johnston 1972, pp. 6-11).

    Prior to 1992, the New England cottontail was described as occurring in a mosaic pattern from southeastern New England, south along the Appalachian Mountains to Alabama (Bangs 1894, pp. 405 and 411; Nelson 1909, p. 196; Hall 1981, p. 305). However, Ruedas et al. (1989, p. 863) questioned the taxonomic status of Sylvilagus transitionalis based upon the presence of two distinct chromosomal races (genetically differentiated populations of the same species) within its geographic range. Individuals north and east of the Hudson River Valley in New York had diploid (a cell containing two sets of chromosomes (structure that contains genetic material) counts of 52, while individuals west and south of the Hudson River had counts of 46. Ruedas et al. (1989, p. 863) stated, “To date, Sylvilagus transitionalis represents the only chromosomally polymorphic taxon within the genus Sylvilagus,” and suggested that the two forms of S. transitionalis be described as distinct species.

    Chapman et al. (1992, pp. 841-866) conducted a review of the systematics and biogeography of the species and proposed a new classification. Based upon morphological variation and earlier karyotypic (pertaining to the characteristics of a species' chromosomes) studies, Chapman et al. (1992, p. 848) reported clear evidence for two distinct taxa within what had been regarded as a single species. Accordingly, Chapman et al. (1992, p. 858) defined a new species, the Appalachian cottontail (Sylvilagus obscurus), with a range south and west of the Hudson River in New York. Thus, the New England cottontail (S. transitionalis) was defined as that species east of the Hudson River through New England. No subspecies of the New England cottontail are recognized (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, p. 106).

    Litvaitis et al. (1997, entire) studied the variation of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, genetic material inherited from the mother) in the Sylvilagus complex occupying the northeastern United States. They found no evidence to suggest that hybridization is occurring between the New England cottontail and the eastern cottontail that was introduced into the New England cottontail's range, supporting the conclusions of others that the New England cottontail and the eastern cottontail have maintained genetic distinction (Wilson 1981, p. 99). Also, the limited variation observed in mtDNA led Litvaitis et al. (1997, p. 602) to conclude that the reclassification of S. obscurus as a distinct species was not supported. However, the more recent scientific view urges caution in interpreting the results of earlier mtDNA-based studies. Litvaitis et al. (1997, p. 597) sampled 25 individual S. transitionalis/obscurus across 15 locations in a geographic area that extended from southern Maine to Kentucky. The number of individuals sampled ranged from one to seven per site with a mean sample size of 1.7 individuals per location (Litvaitis et al. 1997, p. 598).

    Allendorf and Luikart (2006, p. 391) warn that, “many early studies that used mtDNA analysis included only a few individuals per geographic location, which could lead to erroneous phylogeny inferences” regarding interpretations of descent and relationship among evolutionary species or groups. Furthermore, their analysis concentrated on the “proline tRNA and the first 300 base pairs of the control region,” which represents a relatively small fragment of mtDNA that can result in a failure to detect significant genetic differentiation when used to delineate taxonomic separation (Litvaitis et al. 1997, p. 599; King et al. 2006, p. entire). Strict adherence to the requirement of reciprocal monophyly (a genetic lineage where all members of the lineage share a more recent common ancestor with each other than with any other lineage on the evolutionary tree) in mtDNA as the sole delineating criterion for making taxonomic decisions often ignores important phenotypic, adaptive, and behavioral differences that are important (Allendorf and Luikart 2006, p. 392; Knowles and Carstens 2007, pp. 887-895; Hickerson et al. 2006, pp. 729-739).

    Notwithstanding the analyses discussed above, the results from Chapman et al. (1992) have been accepted by the scientific community (Wilson and Reeder 2005, pp. 210-211). The Service accepts the recognized taxonomic reclassification provided by Chapman et al. 1992 (p. 848) and concludes that Sylvilagus transitionalis and S. obscurus are valid taxa and are two separate species. Consequently, we find that the New England cottontail meets the definition of a species, as provided in section 3 of the Act, and is a listable entity.

    Life History

    The New England cottontail, like all cottontails, is primarily an herbivore and feeds on a wide variety of grasses and herbs during spring and summer and the bark, twigs, and buds of woody plants during winter (Dalke and Sime 1941, p. 216; Todd 1927, pp. 222-228). Cottontails are short-lived (usually less than 3 years), with predation being the cause of death of most individuals (Chapman and Litvaitis 2003, p. 118). Reproduction in cottontails begins at an early age with some juveniles breeding their first season (Chapman et al. 1982, p. 96). Litters probably contain three to five altricial (born in an underdeveloped state and requiring parental care) young, which are born in fairly elaborate nests where they receive maternal care (Chapman et al. 1982, p. 96). The number of litters produced by wild New England cottontails is unknown, but may attain a maximum of seven, based on the number of litters produced by other cottontail species (Chapman et al. 1982, p. 96). Young grow rapidly and are weaned by 26 days from birth (Perrotti, in litt. 2014). Female New England cottontails have a high incidence of post partum breeding (ability to mate soon after giving birth) (Chapman et al. 1982, p. 96). The reproductive capacity of cottontails remains relatively stable across population densities and is not believed to be a significant factor in regulating cottontail populations. Instead, survival, influenced mainly by predation, is believed to be the primary factor in regulating populations (Edwards et al. 1981, pp. 761-798; Chapman and Litvaitis 2003, p. 118). Consequently, habitat that provides abundant shelter is crucial to cottontail abundance (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, p. 96).

    Metapopulation Dynamics

    The relationship between habitat and survival of wild New England cottontails in New Hampshire was investigated by Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, entire). Their study revealed that the survival rate of cottontails occupying small patches was lower (0.35) than in larger patches (0.69) (Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 325). Subsequent research found that by late winter rabbits in smaller patches were subsisting on a poorer diet, had lower body weights, were presumably less fit, and experienced greater predation rates, most likely as a result of the need to forage in areas of sparse cover (Villafuerte et al. 1997, p. 148). Based on the poor survival of cottontails on the smaller habitat patches, Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 326) considered patches less than 2.5 hectares (ha) (less than 6.2 acres (ac)) in size to be “sink habitats” where mortality exceeds recruitment (reproduction and immigration). As a consequence of the variable quality of habitat patches and their ability to maintain occupancy, New England cottontail populations are believed to function as metapopulations; that is, a set of local populations comprising individuals moving between local patches (Hanski and Gilpin 1991, p. 7; Litvaitis and Villafuerte 1996, p. 686). Therefore, the spatial structure of a species' populations in addition to the species' life-history characteristics must be considered when formulating management systems for the species' viability (Hanski 1998, p. 41).

    In metapopulations, population extinction and colonization at the patch-specific scale are recurrent rather than unique events (Hanksi 1998, p. 42). As with many metapopulations, local extinctions in New England cottontail populations are likely the result of demographic, environmental, and genetic stochasticities (Gaggiotti and Hanski 2004, pp. 337-366). For example, New England cottontails exhibit indicators of demographic stochasticity influencing local populations, because individuals on small patches are predominantly male (Barbour and Litvaitis 1993, entire). While there are no examples of genetic stochasticity that have led to inbreeding depression, recent analysis of gene flow among extant populations of New England cottontails in southeastern New Hampshire and Maine revealed evidence of genetic drift and population isolation due to geographic distance and fragmentation (Fenderson et al. 2014, entire), which may be a predictor of ongoing or future effects of genetic stochasticity (Gaggiotti and Hanski 2004, pp. 347-353).

    Winter snow depth and persistence is an example of a stochastic environmental factor that could cause a local extinction. However, we recognize that winter severity operates at a regional scale that is not easily addressed. Therefore, the most effective means of addressing the effects of snow depth and persistence on New England cottontail is to ensure (1) representation of population diversity across the historical range; (2) resiliency of populations by ensuring enough individuals exist at local and patch scales to buffer environmental, demographic, and genetic stochasticity; and (3) redundancy of populations, because multiple populations will help guard against unexpected catastrophes such as disease outbreaks (Shaffer et al. 2002, p. 138). See Fuller and Tur (2012, pp. 32-41) for more information about the metapopulation dynamics of the New England cottontail.

    Habitat Characteristics

    New England cottontails occupy native shrublands associated with sandy soils or wetlands and regenerating forests associated with small-scale disturbances that set back forest succession. New England cottontails are considered habitat specialists, as they are dependent upon these early successional habitats, frequently described as thickets (Litvaitis 2001, p. 466). Suitable habitats for the New England cottontail contain dense (approximately greater than 9,000 woody stems per ha (greater than 3,600 stems per ac)), primarily deciduous understory cover (Litvaitis et al. 2003a, p. 879), with a particular affinity for microhabitats containing greater than 50,000 stem-cover units/hectare (ha) (20,234 stem-cover units/acre (ac)) (Barbour and Litvaitis 1993, p. 324; Gottfried 2013, p. 20). New England cottontails are also associated with areas containing average basal area (area occupied by trees) values of 53.6 square meters (m2) per ha (233.6 square feet (ft2) per ac), which indicates that tree cover is an important habitat component for the New England cottontail (Gottfried 2013, pp. 20-21). In addition to demonstrating a strong affinity for habitat patches of heavy cover, New England cottontails generally do not venture far from the patches (Smith and Litvaitis 2000, p. 2134). Smith and Litvaitis (2000, p. 2136) demonstrated via a winter experiment using animals in an enclosed pen that, when food was not available within the cover of thickets, New England cottontails were reluctant to forage in the open, lost a greater proportion of body mass, and succumbed to higher rates of predation compared to eastern cottontails in the same enclosure. Consequently, New England cottontail populations decline rapidly as understory habitat thins during the processes of forest stand maturation (Litvaitis 2001, p. 467).

    Today, New England cottontail habitats are typically associated with beaver (Castor canadensis) flowage wetlands, idle agricultural lands, power line corridors, coastal barrens, railroad rights-of-way, recently harvested forest, ericaceous thickets comprising Kalmia and Rhododendron; invasive-dominated shrublands comprising Rosa multiflora, Lonicera spp., and others; forest understories dominated by Smilax spp.; and pine barrens (Litvaitis 1993b, p. 869; Tash and Litvaitis 2007, p. 594). In contrast, eastern cottontails appear to have relatively generalized habitat requirements, and although they sometimes co-occur with the New England cottontail, they can also be found in residential areas, where they utilize lawns and golf courses, and in active agriculture areas, where relatively small patches of thick cover are insufficient to support New England cottontails (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, p. 102).

    Range and Distribution Historical Distribution

    In our previous assessments we described the historical distribution of the New England cottontail (71 FR 53756; 72 FR 69034; 73 FR 75176; 74 FR 57804; 75 FR 69222; 76 FR 66370; 77 FR 69993; 78 FR 70103; 79 FR 72449) as following the circa 1960 range delineation presented by Litvaitis et al. (2006, entire). This range description included the area east of the Hudson River in New York (excepting Long Island); all of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; and much of Vermont, New Hampshire, and southwestern Maine (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1191). We have reanalyzed existing information as well as previously unavailable information regarding land use and predator patterns (see Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors—Factor A and Factor C, respectively, below). Based on this more thorough analysis, we conclude that the 1960 range of the New England cottontail was a product of extensive land use changes that led to a substantial increase in the availability of habitat and human pressure that altered ecological processes (Bernardos et al. 2004, p. 150; Ahn et al. 2002, p. 1). For the New England cottontail, these changes led to an artificially inflated abundance and distribution (Foster et al. 2002, p. 1345).

    Lacking a description of the species' distribution prior to this range expansion, we relied on information pertaining to the distribution of habitat in the pre-European landscape and our understanding of the ecological factors (e.g., competition with snowshoe hare and eastern cottontail (see Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors—Factor C below) related to the species. Based on our review, we surmise that the historical distribution of the New England cottontail was confined to areas from the Hudson River in New York through southern New England to southeastern New Hampshire, with occurrences being confined to areas in close proximity to coastal areas, perhaps extending no farther inland than 100 kilometers (km) (60 miles (mi)), with occurrences also found on several offshore islands, including Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, and Long Island, New York (Cardoza, pers. comm.. 1999; Nelson 1909, pp. 196-199; A. Tur, pers. comm., 2015).

    Our full analysis of the historical distribution of the New England cottontail can be found at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Current Distribution and Status

    For the New England cottontail and other early-successional species, abundance and distribution increased with land clearing that peaked by the mid-19th century and persisted into the early 20th century, but then subsequently declined (Bernardos et al. 2004, pp. 142-158; Foster et al. 2002, pp. 1345-1346). By the mid-1900s, afforestation was progressing, and the abundant shrubby young growth that had fostered the expanded distribution of the New England cottontail's range was beginning to age. Decreases in the abundance of the New England cottontail were reported in the Champlain Valley, which may have been attributed to increases in red fox (Vulpes vulpes) or the increased mechanization that resulted in “clean” farming practices, such as drainage of wetlands and the removal of old rail fences that had favored shrubby field edges (Foote 1946, p. 37).

    By the 1970s, contraction of the range of the New England cottontail was well underway. In Massachusetts, those declines were evident by the mid-1950s when Fay and Chandler (1955, entire) documented the distribution of cottontails within that State. Declines were also reported in Connecticut (Linkkila 1971, p. 15; Johnston 1972, p. 17). Jackson (1973, p. 21) conducted an extensive analysis of the distribution of cottontails in northern New England and stated that declines were ongoing in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire.

    A systematic comprehensive survey consisting of standardized sampling units comprising U.S. Geological Survey 7.5-minute topographic quarter quadrangles and field collection protocols to determine the current distribution of the New England cottontail within its recent (1990 to 2004) historical range was conducted during the 2000-2001 through 2003-2004 winter seasons (Litvaitis et al. 2006, pp. 1190-1197). The results indicated that the range had declined substantially from the 1960 maximum historical distribution, estimated at 90,000 square kilometers (km2) (34,750 square miles (mi2)) to approximately 12,180 km2 (4,700 mi2), representing a reduction of approximately 86 percent (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1192). Contraction of the New England cottontail's distribution occurred primarily toward the southern and eastern coastal regions, as well as interior landscapes associated with the Hudson, Housatonic, and Merrimack River valleys and associated uplands located respectively in New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1193). This contraction was attributed primarily to habitat loss and fragmentation (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1193). See Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors—Factor A below for more information.

    In addition to the observed range contraction, Litvaitis et al. (2006, p. 1193) stated that the range had been fragmented into five geographic areas, ranging in size from 1,260 to 4,760 km2 (487 to 1,840 mi2). These areas and their sizes are: (1) The seacoast region of southern Maine and New Hampshire, 3,080 km2 (1,190 mi2); (2) The Merrimack River Valley of New Hampshire, 1,260 km2 (490 mi2); (3) A portion of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 980 km2 (376 mi2); (4) Eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island, 2,380 km2 (920 mi2); and (5) Portions of western Connecticut, eastern New York, and southwestern Massachusetts, 4,760 km2 (1,840 mi2). These acreage figures, however, substantially exceed the actual area occupied by the species because the calculations were based on the total area within each 7.5 minute USGS quadrangle map where one or more sites with an extant occurrence of the New England cottontail was recorded, rather than the total area of the actual habitat patches.

    Since the 2000 to 2004 comprehensive rangewide survey, numerous efforts to determine the presence of New England cottontails have been expended throughout the species' range. Because those efforts involve wide variation in search intensity and methodology (e.g., fecal pellet collection, hunter surveys, live trapping, and road mortality), direct comparison with the results of Litvaitis et al. (2006, pp. 1190-1197) is not appropriate for the purpose of determining trends in the species' status. Despite this shortcoming, the results of these various survey efforts provide useful information, including the detection of New England cottontails in a few notable areas previously considered vacant (e.g., Cape Cod National Seashore and Nantucket Island, Massachusetts) (Beattie, in litt. 2013; Scarpitti, in litt. 2013). However, some biologists involved in these survey efforts conclude that the New England cottontail has declined since the early 2000s, particularly along the middle Merrimack River valley in New Hampshire, extending northward from the City of Manchester to Concord, and in the region of northern Rhode Island (Tur, in litt. 2005; Holman et al., in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in litt. 2014).

    Obtaining population estimates for species such as the New England cottontail, that are cryptic and subject to wide population fluctuations within relatively broad geographic areas occupied by similar species, is challenging. Nevertheless, wildlife biologists estimated New England cottontail population sizes for each State within the species' range by utilizing area-specific information that included factors such as the extent of potential habitat, the occurrence of sympatric eastern cottontail populations and local New England cottontail survey results. When totaled, these 2014 local estimates yield a rangewide population estimate of approximately 17,000 individual New England cottontails, consisting of: (1) Fewer than 100 rabbits in Rhode Island (Tefft et al., in litt. 2014); (2) Approximately 10,000 in Connecticut (Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014); (3) As many as 4,600 in Massachusetts (Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014); (4) 700 in Maine (Boland et al., in litt. 2014); (5) 180 or fewer in New Hampshire (Holman et al., in litt. 2014); and (6) Approximately 1,600 in New York (Novak et al., in litt. 2014).

    Rangewide, some of the occupied areas are quite small and support few New England cottontails. For example, two-thirds of the occupied habitat patches in Maine are less than 2.5 ha (6.2 ac) in size and are considered population sinks (Barbour and Litvaitis 1993, p. 326; Litvaitis and Jakubas 2004, p. 41) because these patches do not contain the necessary forage and shelter components for long-term occupancy. In New Hampshire, more than half of the 23 sites occupied by the New England cottontail are less than 3 ha (7.4 ac) (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1194). Litvaitis et al. (2006, p. 1194) report that sampled patches in eastern Massachusetts, as well as the majority of those constituting the largest extant New England cottontail population (western Massachusetts, southeastern New York, and western Connecticut), are less than 3 ha (7.4 ac), probably supporting no more than three to four New England cottontails per site.

    In 2014, State biologists estimated that there was: (1) More than 180 km2 (46,000 ac) of potential habitat in Connecticut (Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014); (2) Approximately 6 km2 (1,500 ac) in Maine (Boland et al., in litt. 2014); (3) 1.8 km2 (450 ac) in New Hampshire (Holman et al., in litt. 2014); (4) 87 km2 (21,000 ac) in New York (Novak et al., in litt. 2014); and (5) 30 km2 (7,600 ac) in Rhode Island (Tefft et al., in litt. 2014). Estimates for Massachusetts are not available. However, there are several large habitat expanses in Massachusetts, such as at the 60 km2 (15,000 ac) of unfragmented habitat found at the Massachusetts Military Reservation and a 2.4-km2 (600-ac) or larger patch within Myles Standish State Forest in the southeastern part of the State (Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014). While these population estimates are encouraging, it is not yet known whether they are sustainable due to their current distribution and quality of habitat. The population estimates in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York consist of areas where the species is likely secure because the populations are large enough to be self-sustaining and the habitat supporting those self-sustaining populations is being managed to maintain its suitability.

    EP15SE15.000

    Summary of Range and Distribution—In summary, the distribution of the species at the time of European contact is unknown; however, the species was most likely found in greatest abundance in coastal areas where shrublands were concentrated and suitable habitat patches are presumed to have been relatively large. New England cottontail occurrence likely progressively diminished inland where suitable habitat patches tend to be smaller and relatively short lived. The presence of the snowshoe hare, a potential competitor, along with climatic conditions that favor the hare, likely naturally contributed to the foreshortened distribution of the New England cottontail. However, these natural control processes were disrupted when the land use patterns that accompanied European settlement changed. The land use patterns altered the abundance and distribution of shrublands, particularly in interior New England, and thus artificially inflated the amount of suitable habitat available to the New England cottontail. This artificial increase in suitable habitat offset the naturally controlling factors of climate and competition, thereby allowing the New England cottontail to disperse in more northerly and inland directions.

    Despite the spatial and temporal gaps in the species' distribution records, analysis of the best available information documents the changes in the historical distribution of the New England cottontail over time. The evidence clearly indicates that the distribution greatly increased during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when regionwide conversion of mature forest to young forest habitat within the interior uplands was at its peak and shifts in snowshoe hare abundance provided ample expansion opportunities for the New England cottontail. In the case of the Hudson River and Lake Champlain valleys, the best available information indicates that over a 107-year period the species extended its range northward from Troy, New York, to the Canadian border, a distance of approximately 257 km (160 mi), at a rate of approximately 2.4 km (1.5 mi) per year (Bachman 1837, p. 328; Foote 1946, p. 39). In the latter half of the 20th century, harvesting of interior upland forests waned, and young forest habitat capable of maintaining New England cottontail populations and the distribution of the species contracted southward and eastward toward coastal areas. This contraction, however, is not representative of the species' pre-Columbian baseline distribution, because extensive amounts of the intervening landscape have been converted to other land uses that have degraded habitat for the species and contributed to its currently disjunct distribution.

    Rangewide Conservation Efforts

    Beginning in 2008, State and Service biologists began organizing a conservation effort for the New England cottontail. A governance structure was formalized in 2011 to enhance cooperation between the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFGD), the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Service (hereafter referred to as the Parties). The Parties established an Executive Committee, facilitated by the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), and adopted bylaws (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 4) “to promote recovery, restoration, and conservation of the New England cottontail and its associated habitats so that listing is not necessary” (New England cottontail Executive Committee, in litt. 2011). This Executive Committee comprises high-level agency representatives, capable of making staffing and funding decisions.

    The Executive Committee established a Technical Committee, comprising staff-level biologists with biological and conservation planning expertise, and delegated eight initial charges to advance the work of New England cottontail conservation, including preparation of a multifaceted conservation strategy with quantifiable objectives to measure conservation success (New England cottontail Executive Committee, in litt. 2011). The Technical Committee drafted, and the Executive Committee approved, the 2012 peer-reviewed Conservation Strategy for the New England Cottontail (Conservation Strategy) (Fuller and Tur 2012, available at http://www.newenglandcottontail.org (accessed March 18, 2015)). This Conservation Strategy describes: (1) An assessment of the conservation status of and threats facing the New England cottontail; (2) The process used to develop a conservation design that includes those landscapes, hereafter referred to as Focus Areas, where conservation actions will be taken to achieve a series of explicit conservation goals; (3) The objectives related to achieving those goals; (4) Important conservation actions needed to protect and manage habitat; (5) Communications needed to ensure implementation; (6) Research needed to improve understanding of the ecology of the New England cottontail; (7) Monitoring techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented actions and identify any changes needed to increase their effectiveness; (8) The commitment of the participating agencies to carry out the conservation effort; and (9) The process for modifying the Conservation Strategy in the future, if necessary, in light of any new and relevant information (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 4). The Conservation Strategy focuses on securing New England cottontail within its current distribution (see figure 1). The Conservation Strategy includes an implementation plan through 2030.

    Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors:

    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

    (C) Disease or predation;

    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms;

    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

    In making this finding, information pertaining to the New England cottontail in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is discussed below. In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual effects to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely affected could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could affect a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Although this language focuses on impacts negatively affecting a species, section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act requires us to consider efforts by any State, foreign nation, or political subdivision of a State or foreign nation to protect the species. Such efforts would include measures by Federal agencies, Native American Tribes, businesses, organizations, and individuals that positively affect the species' status. Also, Federal, Tribal, State, and foreign recovery actions (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)), and Federal consultation requirements (16 U.S.C. 1536) constitute conservation measures.

    Read together, sections 4(a)(1) and 4(b)(1)(A), as reflected in our regulations at 50 CFR 424.119(f), require us to take into account those factors that either positively or negatively affect a species status so that we can determine whether a species meets the definition of threatened or endangered. In so doing, we analyze a species' risk of extinction by assessing its status (i.e., is it in decline or at risk of decline and at what rate) and consider the likelihood that current and future conditions and actions will promote or threaten a species' persistence by increasing, eliminating, or adequately reducing one or more threats to the species. This determination requires us to make a prediction about the future persistence of a species.

    In making our 12-month finding on the petition, we considered and evaluated the best available scientific and commercial information.

    Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    The New England cottontail requires thicket habitat and is frequently associated with shrublands and other ephemeral stages of forest regeneration after a disturbance such as fire, forest insect outbreak, timber harvesting, or beaver activity (Litvaitis 2001, p. 466). Because early successional species require habitats that generally persist only for a short time, continual turnover of mature forest somewhere on the landscape is necessary for the species to maintain its distribution and abundance.

    The amount of early successional forest cover is limited in the States where the New England cottontail occurs. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate that the area of early successional forest cover in the southern New England States (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) declined from 36 percent of the total timber land area in the early 1950s to 5 percent in the late 1990s (Brooks 2003, p. 68). Jackson (1973, p. 21) reported a decline in New England cottontails in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and attributed the decline to changes in habitat, primarily to the reduction of cover on a landscape scale.

    Inventories from the U.S. Forest Service reveal that the extent of forest in the seedling-sapling stage (thickets favorable to the New England cottontail) declined by more than 80 percent in New Hampshire from 845,425 ha (2,089,091 ac) to 131,335 ha (324,536 ac) during the period 1960 to 1983 (R. Brooks, personal communication, in Litvaitis and Villafuerte 1996, p. 689) and by 14 percent in New York from 1980 to 1993 (Askins 1998, p. 167). While the forest inventory results reported by Brooks (2003, p. 68) found an increase in the early successional forest component of northern New England States, most of the increase occurred in the industrial forest land of northern Maine, well north of the historical and current range of the New England cottontail. Maine's southernmost counties (York and Cumberland) that still support populations of New England cottontails, have experienced declines in young forest stands, from about 38 percent in 1971 to 11 percent in 1995 (Litvaitis et al. 2003b, p. 881). Litvaitis et al. (1999, p. 106) reported that remaining shrub-dominated and early successional habitats in the northeast continue to decline in both coverage and suitability to the wildlife species dependent upon them.

    The decline of early successional forest in the Northeast is primarily due to forest maturation (Litvaitis 1993b, p. 870), which is a natural process. However, other influences are compounding the situation. Habitat destruction and modification are occurring as a result of human population growth and development (Brooks 2003, p. 65). The three southern New England States, Connecticut (greater than 270 inhabitants per km2 (700 inhabitants per mi2)), Rhode Island (greater than 380 inhabitants per km2 (1,000 inhabitants per mi2)), and Massachusetts (greater than 300 inhabitants per km2 (800 inhabitants per mi2)), which constitute the center of the New England cottontail's range, are among the most densely populated areas in the United States, with only New Jersey and the District of Columbia being more densely populated (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Similarly, New York, at greater than 150 inhabitants per km2 (400 inhabitants per mi2), ranks eighth among the 50 States in population density, though much of this density is centered around a few urban areas, especially New York City. Rhode Island is most developed to the east of Narragansett Bay; the largest forest patches remain along the less developed western edge of the State. Connecticut is most developed in the southwestern corner and up the Connecticut River Valley. Notably, the most densely human-populated areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island are relatively devoid of New England cottontails. In association with human populations, early successional habitats that once supported New England cottontails have been converted to a variety of uses that make them unsuitable for the cottontail, thereby contributing to habitat loss and fragmentation (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1194). In the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire and Maine, the effects of habitat fragmentation are having a deleterious effect on remnant populations of the New England cottontail, such that enhancing gene flow by improving habitat or conducting translocations may be required to maintain populations in those landscapes (Fenderson et al. 2014, pp. 1-23). Among shrub-dominated plant communities, scrub oak and pitch pine barrens that provide cottontail habitat have been heavily modified or destroyed by development (Patterson 2002, unpublished presentation abstract).

    Litvaitis et al. (1999, p. 106) concluded that shrub-dominated and early successional habitat may be the most altered and among the most rapidly declining communities in the Northeast. Based on changes in human populations and associated development, without intervention, this trend will likely continue. For example, U.S. Census Bureau data for the New England States indicate a 3.8-percent population growth, equating to an increase of 522,348 people, during the period 2000 to 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau 2011). Analyses of U.S. Census data demonstrates that, in 1982, the number of acres developed for every new person was 0.68 in New England (http://wrc.iewatershed.com (accessed May 2006)), but in 1997, the number of acres developed for every new person was 2.33, an almost four-fold increase. Given the 1997 rate of development for each additional resident (0.94 ha (2.33 ac) per person) and the measured population growth for New England, 491,007 additional ha (1.2 million additional ac) of wildlife habitat would have been converted and fragmented during the period 2000 to 2010 (adapted from U.S. Census Bureau 2011, (http://wrc.iewatershed.com (accessed May 2006)), and it is highly likely that this included habitat that was suitable and supported New England cottontails.

    As an example, The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire's Forests (Sundquist and Stevens 1999, p. entire) estimated that New Hampshire will lose approximately 80 percent of its forest land to various types of development by the year 2020. Further, this analysis predicted that the greatest loss of forest lands, approaching 24,281 ha (60,000 ac), would occur in the southeastern portion of the State, principally in Rockingham, Hillsborough, and Strafford Counties. These counties account for all known New England cottontail occurrences in the State. In fact, observations by Service biologists in 2005 confirmed that 2 of the 23 New Hampshire cottontail sites known to be occupied at some time from 2001 to 2003 had been lost to development, and 5 other sites were posted “for sale.”

    Noss and Peters (1995, p. 10) consider eastern barrens to be among the 21 most endangered ecosystems in the United States. Some eastern barrens, such as the pitch pine and scrub oak barrens of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, are suitable habitat for the New England cottontail. It is unclear to what extent barrens in other States also supported occurrences of New England cottontails; however, as of 2014 the barrens of southeastern Massachusetts are known to be occupied by the New England cottontail (Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014).

    Within the historical range of the New England cottontail, the abundance of early successional habitats continues to decline (Litvaitis et al. 1999, p. 106; Brooks 2003, p. 65), and for the most part, remaining patches are small and located in substantially modified landscapes (Litvaitis and Villafuerte 1996, p. 687; Litvaitis 2003, p. 115; Litvaitis et al. 2008, p. 179). The fragmentation of remaining suitable habitats into smaller patches separated by roads and residential and other types of development can have profound effects on the occupancy and persistence of New England cottontail populations. Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 321) found that New England cottontails occupying small patches of habitat less than or equal to 2.5 ha (approximately 6 ac) were predominantly males, had lower body mass, consumed lower quality forage, and had to feed farther from protective cover than rabbits in larger patches (5 ha or greater than 12 ac). This study also demonstrated that New England cottontails in the smaller patches had only half the survival rate of those in the larger patches due to increased mortality from predation. Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 321) state that the skewed sex ratios (or single occupant) and low survival among rabbits on small patches may effectively prevent reproduction from occurring on small patches. Due to skewed sex ratios and low survival rates, the presence of New England cottontails in these small patches is dependent on the dispersal of individuals from source populations (Barbour and Litvaitis 1993, p. 326). Litvaitis et al. (2008, p. 179) and Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 321) view these small patches as sink habitats. The relationship between winter survival and food resources is supported by a 2010 study on eastern cottontail, the results of which could be extrapolated to New England cottontail, which concluded supplemental feeding of animals in small habitat patches enhanced winter survival (Weidman 2010, p. 20).

    Natural or anthropogenic disturbances that create small, scattered openings may no longer provide habitats capable of sustaining New England cottontail populations because, in contemporary landscapes, generalist predators effectively exploit prey restricted to such patches (Brown and Litvaitis 1995, p. 1005; Villafuerte et al. 1997, p. 148). Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 321) concluded that local populations of New England cottontails may be vulnerable to extinction if large patches of habitat are not maintained. The Service concludes this likely explains why 93 percent of the apparently suitable habitat patches that were searched by Litvaitis et al. (2006, pp. 1190-1197) were found to be unoccupied.

    Human population growth has had another effect, in addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, on forests within the New England cottontail range. Between 1950 and 2000, the human population increased 44 percent in southern New England and 71 percent in northern New England (Brooks 2003, p. 70). With the increase in human population, an increase in the parcelization (i.e., the fragmentation of ownership) of northeastern forests into smaller and smaller parcels followed. The majority of private northeastern forest owners, excluding industrial forest owners, own less than 4 ha (10 ac) each; about 12 percent of timberland in the Northeast is publicly owned (Brooks 2003, p. 69). An increasingly urbanized landscape, with many small, partially forested residential parcels, imposes societal and logistical restrictions on forest management options (Brooks 2003, p. 65). Shrublands, clear cuts, and thickets are “unpopular habitats” among the public (Askins 2001, p. 407), and private forest owners are resistant to managing for this type of habitat (Trani et al. 2001, p. 418; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014). Timber harvesting and fire or other disturbance regimes that would maintain or regenerate early successional habitat for thicket-dependent species like the New England cottontail are less likely to occur in a landscape with many small landowners.

    Based on computer simulations demonstrating that populations dominated by small patches were likely to go extinct (Livaitis and Villafuerte 1996, entire), Litvaitis et al. (2006, p. 1194) conclude that the five remaining disjunct populations of the New England cottontail, as currently configured, do not represent a stable condition for long-term persistence. More recently, genetic analysis of New England cottontail populations in Maine and Seacoast New Hampshire corroborated the negative effects of fragmentation (Fenderson et al. 2014, pp. 13 and 17). Fenderson et al.'s (2014, p. 17) findings of isolated populations with low effective population sizes and low genetic diversity suggest that populations in the study area were vulnerable to extirpation.

    In summary, the best available information indicates that in parts of the species' range, New England cottontails occur on small parcels, where food quality is low and winter mortality to predators (see Factor C below) is unsustainably high (Barbour and Litvaitis 1993, p. 321; Brown and Litvaitis 1995, p. 1005). In contrast, several large habitat tracts occur in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, western Connecticut, and eastern New York, and those populations are likely secure (Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014). Further, the current distribution of the species is discontinuous, being divided by expanses of unsuitable habitat that separate the range into five population clusters.

    Among the factors contributing to the long-term and rangewide reduction in habitat, habitat succession was considered by Litvaitis (1993b, p. 866) to be the most important. However, at a local or individual patch scale, loss or modification of habitat due to development is also significant. In general, the range of the New England cottontail has contracted by 86 percent since 1960 (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1190), and current land use trends in the region indicate that the rate of change, about 2 percent range loss per year, is likely to continue if conservation actions to address the decline are not implemented (Litvaitis and Johnson 2002, p. 4; Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1195; Fenderson et al. 2014, p. 17). This is supported by results from various State surveys conducted since 2004 (Tefft et al., in litt. 2014; Holman et al., in litt. 2014; Boland et al., in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014).

    Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Range

    As described above, the Conservation Strategy (Fuller and Tur 2012, entire) guides the New England cottontail's rangewide conservation and was specifically developed to consider the species' life-history traits or resource needs. These traits commonly include morphological, developmental, and behavioral characteristics such as body size; growth patterns; size and age at maturity; reproductive effort; mating success; the number, size, and sex of offspring; and rate of senescence (Ronce and Olivieri 2004, p. 227). Factors addressing habitat quality and quantity were also considered. Given the species' life history characteristics, the key to its viability is ensuring that ample resources are available to support population increases, as opposed to maximizing the survival of individuals. In addition, we also recognize that the landscape-level alterations occurring throughout the species' range have fragmented New England cottontail populations and substantially increased the risk of extinction (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1195; Fenderson et al. 2014, p. 17).

    The Conservation Strategy (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 19) contains a summary of the information contained in the Service's 2013 Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Form (Service 2013, entire) and concluded that the primary threat to the species was habitat modification resulting, in part, from: (1) Forest maturation; (2) Disruption of disturbance regimes that set back succession; and (3) Habitat modification, fragmentation, and destruction resulting from development (Fuller and Tur 2015, pp. 19, 21-23). The Conservation Strategy prescribes forest management practices on public and private lands to reverse forest maturation and increase habitat capable of supporting the New England cottontail (Fuller and Tur 2012, pp. 20-21) and identifies potential landscapes (e.g., Focus Areas) where conservation actions would be implemented. The Conservation Strategy identified 41 separate Focus Areas distributed across all 6 States within the species' current range and containing a total habitat area in excess of 20,000 ha (50,000 ac). Each individual Focus Area will contain populations ranging from 100 to 2,500 animals, as appropriate (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 30).

    The Conservation Strategy specifies that conservation of the species will be achieved by implementing rangewide conservation actions that establish:

    ○ 1 New England cottontail landscape capable of supporting 2,500 or more individuals;

    ○ 5 landscapes each capable of supporting 1,000 or more individuals; and

    ○ 12 landscapes each capable of supporting 500 or more individuals.

    Each New England cottontail landscape/Focus Area should comprise a network of 15 or more habitat patches, each 10 ha (25 ac) or greater in size, and situated within dispersal distance (less than 1 km (0.6 miles)) to other patches of suitable habitat (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 43). This dispersal distance was based on Litvaitis and Villafuerte's (1996, p. 689) conclusion that dispersal of New England cottontail fits a geometric distribution, with a maximum distance of 3 km (1.9 mi). Recent analysis of gene flow confirms the accuracy of this distance, as evidenced by Fenderson et al.'s (2014, p. 15) conclusion that New England cottontails have difficulty traversing distances greater than 5 km (3 mi).

    The Conservation Strategy Landscape planning further specifies that actions should take into account the habitat matrix (condition of the landscape surrounding habitat patches), because areas with numerous anthropogenic features or substantial natural barriers are likely to be highly fragmented and form barriers to dispersal that may otherwise encumber conservation efforts (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 43). The Technical Committee addressed the habitat matrix conditions by building in redundancy as expressed in the creation of the 41 Focus Areas—not all 41 Focus Areas will be needed to achieve the landscape goals specified above. The Conservation Strategy identifies a suite of implementation objectives, many of which are intended to reduce the threat of habitat destruction, modification, and curtailment of the New England cottontail's range (Fuller and Tur 2012, pp. 44-87).

    The Conservation Strategy's 2014 Annual Performance Report documents previous and ongoing implementation actions that have and are addressing loss of habitat for the New England cottontail (Fuller and Tur 2015, entire). For example, by the autumn of 2013, approximately 14,000 ac (5,666 ha) of habitat were under evaluation or contract for appropriate management actions, and by the end of 2014, specific habitat treatments were estimated to be complete on more than 6,700 ac (2,711 ha) of State, other public, or private land (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 55). In addition, more than 10,000 ac (4,047 ha) of self-sustaining New England cottontail habitat has been identified (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 55). However, although we have evidence of demonstrated implementation success, not all of the actions implemented have yet to show full effectiveness for the species (see Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below). The 2014 Annual Performance Report acknowledges that suitable habitat is not equally distributed across the Focus Areas and that due to the ephemeral nature of most of the species' habitat, additional management and maintenance actions are necessary to keep the habitat in suitable condition (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 55).

    Summary of Factor A—We identified a number of threats to New England cottontail habitat that have resulted in the destruction and modification of habitat and a concomitant curtailment in the species' range. Although implementation of the Conservation Strategy is underway, the population and habitat levels specified have not yet been attained (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 18). Consequently, despite previous and ongoing conservation actions, we conclude that the destruction, modification, or curtailment of the New England cottontail's range continues to be a threat. In the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below we further evaluate the Conservation Strategy to determine if the threat is expected to persist into the future.

    Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes Recreational Hunting

    The New England cottontail is considered a small game animal by the northeastern States' wildlife agencies. It is legally hunted within season and with bag limitations in four of the six States known to have extant populations: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Maine closed its cottontail season in 2004, and it remains closed (MEDIFW 2004, MEDIFW 2015). New Hampshire has modified its hunting regulations to prohibit the take of cottontails in those portions of the State where the New England cottontail is known to occur (NHFG 2004, NHFG 2015).

    One turn-of-the-century account relative to hunting New England cottontails (Fisher 1898, p. 198) states that “although hundreds are killed every winter nevertheless they appear to be just as common at the present time as 20 years ago.” Tracy (1995, p. 12) reported extensive hunting as a possible cause for the lack of cottontails at one Connecticut site, but provided no supporting data.

    Carlton et al. (2000, p. 46) suggest that overhunting of New England cottontails led to their decline in the mid-20th century, and that this decline indirectly contributed to the deleterious introduction of eastern cottontails by hunters seeking to compensate for the lost opportunity to hunt rabbits. The Service concurs that the introduction of eastern cottontails, a nonnative competitor, has been a factor in the decline of New England cottontail populations (see Factor C below) because eastern cottontails are now the predominant rabbit throughout all of the former range of the New England cottontail, except southern Maine. The prevailing view indicates the primary determinant of cottontail abundance is habitat (Chapman et al. 1982, p. 114). Available evidence suggests that habitat loss through forest maturation and other causes (Jackson 1973, p. 21; Brooks and Birch 1988, p. 85; Litvaitis et al. 1999, p. 101), rather than hunting pressure, was the primary reason for the decline of New England cottontail populations in the mid-20th century.

    Although hunting of New England cottontails occurs, hunting pressure is low relative to the overall abundance of eastern and New England cottontails and not a significant source of mortality compared to other factors. State wildlife biologists postulate that hunting has a minimal effect on the New England cottontail population in those States where hunting is legal (Parker, in litt. 2004; Stolgitis, in litt. 2000; Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in. litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014, Novak et al., in litt. 2014). Most States now have fewer rabbit and other small game hunters than in earlier decades (S. Cabrera, in litt. 2003; J. Organ, in litt. 2002; U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Commerce 2002), and the New England cottontail is not the rabbit species harvested by most small game hunters. For example, in a 54-month study of eastern and New England cottontails in Connecticut, approximately 87 percent of the 375 rabbits killed by hunters and examined by the State were identified as eastern cottontails, and approximately 13 percent were New England cottontails (adapted from Goodie et al. 2005, p. 4 and Table 2). Similarly, in Rhode Island, most rabbit hunting occurs on farm lands, where the eastern cottontail is most often the targeted species and New England cottontails are absent (Stolgitis, in litt. 2000; Tefft et al., in litt. 2014). In a New Hampshire study prior to the closing of cottontail hunting, of 50 collared New England cottontails monitored, only 1 was taken by a hunter (J. Litvaitis, pers. comm., 2000).

    In addition to level of hunter effort, the New England cottontail's behavior also influences its risk of exposure to hunting mortality. For example, New England cottontails forage within or close to dense cover (Smith and Litvaitis 2000, p. 2134), and typically hold in safe areas when disturbed. They also tend to remain in dense habitat and are, therefore, not as easily run by hounds and taken by hunters as eastern cottontails or snowshoe hares (Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014). Research shows that New England cottontails are more vulnerable to mortality from predation in smaller patches of habitat than in larger ones (Barbour and Litvaitis 1993, p. 321). This pattern may hold true for hunting mortality as well because rabbits on small patches eventually exploit food available in the best cover, and venture farther from shelter to feed where there is less escape cover in which to hide.

    Pest Management

    Rabbits may be regarded as pests and killed by gardeners and farmers. However, because of differences in habitat preference of the two cottontail species, most farmers and homeowners are more likely to encounter eastern cottontails, which occur in the more open habitats of farms and residential lawns, than New England cottontails. Therefore, targeted pest management of rabbits is unlikely to be a significant source of mortality of New England cottontails.

    In summary, based on the best available information, we concur with Litvaitis' (1993a, p. 11) previous assessment that hunting restrictions or other nonhabitat-based management will likely have no influence on current or future populations of the species, and we conclude that current hunting pressure is a stressor for only a very limited number of individual New England cottontails and does not appear to be a significant mortality factor or threat for the species as a whole. While the best available information indicates the hunting is not a threat now or likely to be in the future, should the New England cottontail's population decline to substantially low levels in the future such that the viability of individual animals become substantially important to the species as a whole, the current stressor of hunting mortality may rise to the level of a threat. In addition, we have no information to indicate that pest management actions are affecting New England cottontails.

    Conservation Efforts To Reduce Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes

    As discussed above, New Hampshire does not allow cottontail hunting in areas where the New England cottontail is known to occur, and Maine does not allow cottontail hunting at all. We are unaware of any other conservation efforts to eliminate the very limited hunting mortality occurring in the species' range. However, as discussed above, increasing habitat patch size (Factor A) may further reduce the limited exposure that individual New England cottontails have to hunting mortality.

    Summary of Factor B—We conclude based on the best scientific and commercial information available that overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes does not currently pose a threat to the New England cottontail, nor is it likely to become a threat in the future.

    Factor C. Disease or Predation Disease

    Cottontails are known to contract a number of different diseases, such as tularemia, and are naturally afflicted with both ectoparasites such as ticks, mites, and fleas and endoparasites such as tapeworms and nematodes (Eabry 1968, pp. 14-15). Disease has been attributed to population declines in rabbits over numerous areas (Nelson 1909, p. 35); however, there is little evidence to suggest disease is currently a limiting factor for the New England cottontail. DeVos et al. (1956) in Eabry (1983, p. 15) stated that the introduced eastern cottontail on the Massachusetts islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard probably competed with the native New England cottontail and introduced tularemia to the islands. However, it is not known whether tularemia played a role in the disappearance of New England cottontail from the islands. Chapman and Ceballos (1990, p. 96) do not identify disease as an important factor in the dynamics of contemporary cottontail populations. Rather, they indicate that habitat is key to cottontail abundance and that populations are regulated through mortality and dispersal (see the Life History and Factor A sections above for further discussion regarding the importance of habitat).

    Three efforts are currently underway involving research and monitoring of disease and parasites in the New England cottontail. First, wild New England cottontails obtained as breeding stock for the captive-breeding effort at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, receive a complete veterinary exam (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 50). Additionally, researchers at Brown University are studying the disease ecology of New England and eastern cottontails (Smith, in litt. 2014). And lastly, in New York, researchers are studying parasites (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 54). To date, no incidences of disease or parasites have been reported from these three monitoring efforts or from other sources. The best available information indicates that disease is not a threat to the New England cottontail.

    Predation

    Brown and Litvaitis (1995, p. 1007) found that mammalian predators accounted for the loss of 17 of 40 New England cottontails in their study. Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, p. 325) determined that coyotes (Canis latrans) and red foxes were the primary predators of New England cottontails in New Hampshire. Coyotes first appeared in New Hampshire and Maine in the 1930s, in Vermont in the 1940s, and in southern New England in the 1950s (Foster et al. 2002, p. 1348; DeGraaf and Yamasaki 2001, p. 341). Since then, coyote populations have increased throughout the Northeast (Foster et al. 2002, p. 1348; Litvaitis and Harrison 1989, p. 1180), and they even occur on many offshore islands. Further, coyotes have become especially abundant in human-dominated habitats (Oehler and Litvaitis 1996, p. 2070). Litvaitis et al. (1984, p. 632) noted that cottontails were a major prey of bobcats (Felis rufus) in New Hampshire during the 1950s, and were recorded in the stomachs of 43 percent of the bobcats examined; later, it was determined that the cottontails found in the bobcat study were most likely all New England cottontails (Litvaitis, in litt. 2005). In addition to coyotes and bobcats, other mammalian predators of cottontail rabbits in New England include weasels (Mustela sp.) and fishers (Martes pennanti). Avian predation is also considered a source of mortality for New England cottontails (Smith and Litvaitis 1999, p. 2136), and both barred owls (Strix varia) and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) took cottontails in a New Hampshire study, where an enclosure prevented losses to mammalian predators. Litvaitis et al. (2008, p. 180) conclude that the abundance of hunting perches for red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) and other raptors reduces the quality of habitat afforded cottontails along power lines.

    Winter severity, measured by persistence of snow cover, is believed to affect New England cottontail survival because it increases the rabbits' vulnerability to predation, particularly in low-quality habitat patches (Brown and Litvaitis 1995, pp. 1005-1011). Compared to snowshoe hares, New England cottontails have proportionately heavier foot loading (i.e., feet sink farther into the snow) and do not turn white in winter (pelage color contrasts with snow making the species more visible to predators). Villafuerte et al. (1997, p. 151) found that snow cover reduces the availability of high-quality foods, and likely results in rabbits becoming weakened nutritionally. In a weakened state, rabbits are more vulnerable to predation. Brown and Litvaitis (1995, pp. 1005-1011) found that, during winters with prolonged snow cover, a greater proportion of the cottontails in their study were killed by predators. Eighty-five percent of the current occurrences of the New England cottontail are within 50 miles of the coast, and 100 percent are within 75 miles of the coast. Litvaitis and Johnson (2002, p. 21) hypothesize that snow cover may explain this largely coastal distribution of this species in the Northeast (generally less snow falls and fewer snow cover days occur in coastal versus interior areas) and may be an important factor defining the northern limit of its range. The preceding studies suggest that a stochastic event, such as a winter or consecutive winters with unusually persistent snowfall (see Factor E—Climate Change), will reduce the number and distribution of New England cottontails due to predation. This effect would not have been a concern under historical conditions. However, with the current level of habitat fragmentation and the number of small patches of habitat (Factor A), coupled with vulnerability to predation in these small patches, winter severity could affect the persistence of local populations and could contribute to further reductions in the range of the species.

    New England cottontails are known or expected to be killed by domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and cats (Felis catus) (Walter et al. 2001, p. 17; Litvaitis and Jakubas 2004, p. 15; Kays and DeWan 2004, p. 4). The significance of the domestic cat as a predator on numerous species is well known (Coleman et al. 1997, pp. 1-8). The domestic cat has been identified as a significant predator of the endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri), and is considered the single biggest threat to the recovery of that species (Forys and Humphrey 1999, p. 251). According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (2002), cats occur in 31.6 percent of homes in the United States, and the average number of cats per household is 2.1. We do not have direct evidence regarding the role of domestic cats in influencing New England cottontail populations; however, Rhode Island biologists hypothesize that cats may be a threat to New England cottontails in that State (Tefft et. al., in litt. 2014). Given the high human population and housing densities found throughout the range of the New England cottontail, the domestic cat may be a predator of the species, though the lack of specific information makes it impossible to determine the extent of the possible predation.

    Predation is a natural source of mortality for all rabbits. Under historical circumstances predation would not have been a factor that posed a risk to the New England cottontail's survival. However, the majority of present-day thicket habitats supporting New England cottontails are of an insufficient size to provide adequate cover and food to sustain the species' populations amid high predation rates from today's more diverse set of natural and human-induced mid-sized carnivores (Brown and Litvaitis 1995, pp. 1005-1011; Villafuerte et al. 1997, pp. 148-149).

    The best available information suggests that land use patterns influence predation rates and New England cottontail survival in several ways. Brown and Litvaitis (1995, pp. 1005-1011) compared the survival of transmitter-equipped New England cottontails with habitat features in surrounding habitat patches. They found that the extent of developed lands, coniferous cover, and lack of surface water features were associated with an increase in predation rates. In addition, Oehler and Litvaitis (1996, pp. 2070-2079) examined the effects of contemporary land uses on the abundance of coyotes and foxes and concluded that the abundance of these generalist predators doubled as forest cover decreased and agricultural land use increased. Thus, the populations of predators on the New England cottontail increased substantially at the times prior to the regeneration of agricultural and other lands to more mature forests, which further depressed New England cottontail populations.

    The abundance of food and risk of predation are highly influential in determining the persistence of small- and medium-sized vertebrates such as the New England cottontail. Barbour and Litvaitis (1993, pp. 321-327) found that, as food in the most secure areas was depleted, New England cottontails were forced to utilize lower quality forage or feed farther from cover where the risk of predation was greater and that, as a result, New England cottontails on small patches of habitat were killed at twice the rates and earlier in winter than cottontails on larger habitat patches. Furthermore, Villafuerte et al.'s (1997, pp. 149-150) study of New England cottontail urea nitrogen:creatinine ratios demonstrated that New England cottontails on small patches exhibited reduced ratios that were indicative of nutrient deprivation and that may have led individuals to forage in suboptimal cover where they experienced higher predation rates than individuals occupying larger patches (Villafuerte et al. 1997, pp. 149-150). Villafuerte et al. (1997, p. 151) concluded that forage limitations imposed by habitat fragmentation determine the viability of local populations of New England cottontails by influencing their vulnerability to predation.

    Thus, as landscapes become more fragmented, vulnerability of New England cottontails to predation increases not only because there are more predators, but also because cottontail habitat quantity and quality (forage and escape cover) are reduced (Smith and Litvaitis 2000, pp. 2134-2140). Individuals on larger patches were less vulnerable to predation; therefore, large patches of habitat may be essential for sustaining populations of this species in a human-altered landscape.

    Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation

    As discussed above, disease is not known to be a threat to the New England cottontail. Therefore, no conservation measures to manage disease have been planned or implemented (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 55). Nevertheless, as described above, three conservation efforts are underway to monitor and investigate new instances of disease should they occur within the species.

    Predation is considered to be a stressor, in that small New England cottontail populations occupying landscapes containing insufficient amounts of high-quality habitat are particularly vulnerable. Currently, there are no efforts in place to suppress predator numbers to increase New England cottontail survival (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 65; Boland et al., in litt. 2014; Holman et al., in litt. 2014; Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014). Instead, conservation efforts to increase habitat availability, as described in the Conservation Actions to Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Range section above, are being implemented that indirectly reduce New England cottontail vulnerability to predation.

    Summary of Factor C—Disease does not appear to be an important factor affecting New England cottontail populations and is not considered a threat to the species, nor is it expected to become a threat in the future. Predation is a routine aspect of the life history of most species, and under natural conditions (i.e., prior to settlement by Europeans in the Northeast and the substantial habitat alteration that has followed) predation was likely not a threat to the persistence of the New England cottontail. Today, however, the diversity of predators has increased, the amount of suitable cottontail habitat has decreased, and the remaining habitat is highly fragmented with remnant habitat patches often small in size. The best available information strongly suggests that most cottontails occupying small habitat patches will be killed by predators, as few rabbits that disperse into or are born in those areas live long enough to breed; thus, most small thicket habitat patches are unoccupied by cottontails. Since predation is strongly influenced by habitat quantity and quality, we conclude that the primary threat to the species is the present destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat and range (Factor A), and that predation is a contributing threat to the New England cottontail's viability. In the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below we further evaluate the Conservation Strategy to determine if the threat of predation is expected to persist into the future.

    Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    There are only limited regulatory mechanisms available to address the destruction or modification of New England cottontail habitat, especially on private lands. Local governments regulate development through zoning ordinances; we are unaware of any locally developed regulatory mechanisms that specifically address threats to New England cottontail habitat. Some New England cottontail occurrences are associated with sites that contain or are adjacent to riparian vegetation, such as borders of lakes, beaver wetlands, and rivers. However, the New England cottontail is primarily an upland, terrestrial species that sometimes occurs along the margins of these wetland types. Federal and State laws, such as section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (86 Stat. 816) and Maine's Natural Resources Protection Act (Title 38, section 435-449), that provide protection to wetlands and upland buffers offer protection to only a small number of New England cottontail occurrences.

    State wildlife agencies in the Northeast have the authority to regulate hunting of the New England cottontail by setting hunting seasons and bag limits. However, most northeastern States cannot restrict the take of New England cottontails without also reducing hunting opportunities for the eastern cottontail, a common species, because the two species are similar in appearance and cannot be easily distinguished at a distance, and sometimes occur within the same habitat patches (Walter et al. 2001, p. 21). In Maine, where the only cottontail species is the New England cottontail, cottontail hunting has been prohibited since 2004 (MEDIFW 2004; MEDIFW 2014). In recognition of the declining status of the New England cottontail, New Hampshire similarly closed the eastern cottontail hunting season in 2004/2005 in those portions of the State where New England cottontails are known to occur, and it has remained closed (NHFG 2004; NHFG 2014). Harvest of New England cottontail is legal in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York (see discussion under Factor B). Under Factor B, above, we concluded that hunting, by itself, is not a threat to the New England cottontail at the species level, but may be a concern for small localized populations where hunting mortality may contribute to further declines in those areas.

    The New England cottontail is currently listed under State endangered species laws in Maine and New Hampshire (Boland et al., in litt. 2014; Holman et al., in litt. 2014). No other State currently lists the New England cottontail as a threatened or endangered species. The Endangered Species Conservation Act (ESCA) of New Hampshire prohibits the export, take, and possession of State species that have been identified as endangered or threatened (Revised Statutes Annotated [RSA] 212-A:7). However, the executive director of NHFGD may permit certain activities, including those that enhance the survival of the species. Penalties for violations of RSA 212-A:7 of the ESCA are identified (RSA 212-A:10, II). The Maine Endangered Species Act (MESA) prohibits the export, take, and possession of State species that have been identified as endangered or threatened (12 MRS sections 12801-12810). Under MESA's endangered designation, the State agencies have the ability to review projects that are carried out or funded by State and Federal agencies and assess those projects for effects to the New England cottontail. In some cases, projects may be modified or mitigated to ensure that deleterious effects to the New England cottontail are minimized. However, the existing statutes cannot require the creation and maintenance of suitable habitat at the spatial scales described under Factor A; consequently, the loss of habitat due to natural forest succession is likely to proceed.

    Since the State listing of the species, the distribution of the New England cottontail has continued to decline in Maine (Fenderson 2010, p. 104), while in New Hampshire the distribution declined, but is now improving at some locations where active management is occurring (Fenderson 2014, p. 12; H. Holman, pers. comm., 2015). This slight improvement, however, is likely attributed to implementation of voluntary conservation measures to improve habitat and population augmentation efforts described under Factor A (H. Holman, pers. comm., 2015), and not to regulatory processes. The New England cottontail has been identified as a “Species of Greatest Conservation Concern” (SGCN) in all seven State Comprehensive Conservation Strategies throughout the species' historical and current range. Species of Greatest Conservation Concern are defined as species that are rare or imperiled or whose status is unknown. As a result, the New England cottontail is receiving additional attention by State managers. For example, New Hampshire suggests development of early successional habitat networks in landscapes currently occupied by the species(http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Wildlife/wildlife_plan.htm (accessed March 2015)). However, the identification of the New England cottontail as an SGCN is intended to convey concern so as to draw conservation attention to the species and provides no regulatory function.

    Conservation Efforts To Increase Adequacy of Existing Regulations

    While there are conservation efforts to raise awareness of the species' habitat needs, these are not regulatory in nature. We are unaware of any ongoing conservation efforts to increase the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.

    Summary of Factor D—We conclude that the best available information indicates hunting is not a limiting factor for the species and the existing regulatory mechanism to control the legal take of New England cottontails through hunting is adequate. Conversely, we are unaware of any locally developed regulatory mechanisms, such as local zoning ordinances, specifically designed to address the threat of habitat destruction, modification, or curtailment for this species. While we cannot consider non-regulatory mechanisms here under Factor D, we acknowledge in Factor A above and the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts section below that the threat of habitat destruction, modification, or curtailment is being managed now and is likely to continue to be managed into the future.

    Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence Competition

    The eastern cottontail was released into much of the range of the New England cottontail, and the introduction and spread of eastern cottontails have been a factor in reducing the range and distribution of the New England cottontail. Prior to their introduction, the eastern cottontail extended northeast only as far as the lower Hudson Valley (Bangs 1894, p. 412). By 1899, tens of thousands of individuals of four or five different subspecies of the eastern cottontail were introduced to the New England cottontail's range, beginning on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts (Johnston 1972, p. 3). By the 1930s, eastern cottontails were known to occur in western Connecticut (Goodwin 1932, p. 38), most likely as a result of introductions (Hosley 1942, p 18). Large-scale introductions of eastern cottontails to New Hampshire (Silver 1957, p. 320), Rhode Island (Johnston 1972, p. 6), Massachusetts (Johnston 1972, pp. 4-5), and possibly Vermont (Kilpatrick, in litt. 2002) have firmly established the eastern cottontail throughout most of New England where it remains common. The exception is Maine, where the New England cottontail remains the only Sylvilagus species (Litvaitis et al. 2006, p. 1193; Boland et al., in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014).

    The eastern cottontail is larger (1,300 gm (2.9 lb)) than the New England cottontail (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, p. 96). Probert and Litvaitis (1996, p. 289) found that eastern cottontails, though larger, were not physically dominant over New England cottontails and concluded that interference competition did not explain the change in the distribution and abundance of the latter. In a follow-up investigation, Smith and Litvaitis (2000, entire) assessed winter foraging strategies used by the two species by monitoring the response of eastern and New England cottontails to variations in food and cover within large enclosures. Smith and Litvaitis (2000, p. 239) found that the eastern cottontail was able to maintain physical condition when food resources in cover were low by venturing into open areas to feed from feeders supplied with commercially available rabbit forage. In contrast, New England cottontails were reluctant to venture into open areas to exploit these resources, and their physical condition declined (Smith and Litvaitis 2000, p. 2138). Smith and Litvaitis (2000, pp. 2138-2139) also found that when New England cottontails did venture into open areas for forage, they experienced higher rates of predation by owls than did eastern cottontails.

    Smith and Litvaitis (2000, p. 2139) suggest that the increased survival of eastern cottontails foraging in low cover areas is made possible by their enhanced predator detection ability. In a companion study, Smith and Litvaitis (1999, p. 57) reported that the eastern cottontail had a larger exposed surface area of the eye and consequently had a greater reaction distance to a simulated owl than did New England cottontails. Consequently, eastern cottontails have the ability to use a wider range of habitats, including relatively open areas such as meadows and residential back yards, compared to the New England cottontail, and may be able to exploit newly created habitats sooner than New England cottontails (Litvaitis et al. 2008).

    In addition to the morphological and behavioral differences between the two species, there are important physiological differences that may influence competition between the two species. Tracy (1995, pp. 65-67) compared the metabolic physiology of the two species and found that the eastern cottontail had a significantly higher basal metabolism (the amount of energy expended while at rest). Based on the findings, Tracy (1995, pp. 68-75) suggested that the difference in metabolic rate may confer a competitive advantage on eastern cottontails, by affording eastern cottontails an increased reproductive capacity and predator avoidance capability, and to displace the New England cottontail from areas containing high quality food resources. Conversely, eastern cottontails may be unable to meet their metabolic demands in habitats characterized by relatively nutrient poor food resources such as ericaceous (related to the heath family) forests, whereas the New England cottontail may be able to persist. The ability to maintain winter body condition while occupying small habitat patches may be the reason the eastern cottontail is more fecund (capable of producing offspring) than the New England cottontail (Chapman and Ceballos 1990, p. 96) and the reason eastern cottontails, once established, are not readily displaced by New England cottontails (Probert and Litvaitis 1996, p. 292).

    The competitive advantage of eastern cottontails, however, may be lost in nutrient-deficient sites, such as in pine barrens and ericaceous shrublands, where resources to meet the higher energy demands of this species are lacking but may be adequate to support the resource needs of the New England cottontail (Tracy 1995, p. 69). These nutrient-deficient sites are relatively stable and persistent through time in comparison to other disturbance-generated habitats, such as young forests. Litvaitis et al. (2008, p 176) suggested that relatively stable shrublands may allow New England cottontails to coexist with eastern cottontails. This ability to persist in stable habitats may explain why habitats occupied by the New England cottontail in Connecticut are characterized by greater canopy cover and basal area than sites occupied by eastern cottontails (Gottfried 2013, p. 18).

    Throughout most of the New England cottontail's range, conservationists consider the presence of eastern cottontails among the most substantial conservation issues to be addressed if efforts to restore the New England cottontail are to be successful (Probert and Litvaitis 1996, p. 294; Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 20; Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014). Uncertainty remains, however, regarding the best approaches to managing New England and eastern cottontail populations to ensure that the former persists (Fuller and Tur 2012, pp. 20-21). The best available information strongly suggests that competition with eastern cottontails has been a factor in the decline of the New England cottontail and that the effect is greatest in landscapes comprising small habitat patches. Therefore, we conclude that the primary threat to the species is the present destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat and range (Factor A), and that competition with eastern cottontails is a contributing threat to the New England cottontail's viability.

    White-Tailed Deer Herbivory

    In our previous CNORs (71 FR 53756; 72 FR 69034), we concluded that competition with, and habitat degradation by, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) may be a risk factor to the New England cottontail as a result of the deer's effect on forest regeneration. This earlier conclusion was based on the white-tailed deer's high population densities (J. McDonald, in litt. 2005), their similar food habits to cottontails (Martin et al. 1951, pp. 241-242, 268-270), and their documented negative direct and indirect effects on forest vegetation in many areas of the eastern United States (Latham et al. 2005, pp. 66-69, 104; deCalesta 1994, pp. 711-718). While it was reasonable to conclude at the time that white-tailed deer may be competing with New England cottontail for food because the two species overlapped in areas of occurrence and it was the best available information, we had no direct evidence that deer herbivory was having an actual effect on New England cottontail. Since then, we requested specific information from State wildlife agencies indicating that the presence of deer is affecting the status of the New England cottontail. The State wildlife agencies responded that they had no information indicating deer herbivory was affecting New England cottontail (Boland et al., in litt. 2014; Holman et al., in litt. 2014; Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014). Furthermore, we have no such information from any other source that this one-time potential risk factor is presently having negative effects on New England cottontail. Consequently, lacking direct evidence that herbivory by white-tailed deer is currently compromising habitat quality and quantity for the New England cottontail, we conclude that excessive herbivory by white-tailed deer is currently not a threat to the species.

    Road Mortality

    State wildlife agencies report that road kills are an important source for obtaining specimens of rabbits, including the New England cottontail. Road-killed rabbits were second only to hunting mortality as a source for cottontail specimens for a distributional study in Connecticut: Of 108 cottontail specimens obtained, 3 were identified as New England cottontails (Walter et al. 2001, pp. 13-19). Although road mortality does result in the death of a few individuals, New England cottontail populations are not considered to be significantly affected by vehicular mortality (Boland et al., in litt. 2014; Holman et al., in litt. 2014; Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Tefft et al., in. litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014).

    Small Population Size

    As provided in the Life History section, extant populations of New England cottontails are believed to function as metapopulations with local extinction events likely the result of demographic, environmental, and genetic stochasticity. Existing populations in Maine likely contain fewer than 700 individuals scattered across four separate areas (Boland et al., in litt. 2014). Similarly, in New Hampshire the current population is thought to contain fewer than 200 individuals located within two distinct areas (Holman et al., in litt. 2014). As a consequence of habitat fragmentation and loss, these populations exhibit the effects of small population size, as evidenced by the presence of genetic drift (change in the frequency of alleles (gene variants) in a population due to random sampling of individuals) and critically low effective population sizes (number of individuals who contribute offspring to the next generation) (Fenderson et al. 2014, entire). For these populations, Fenderson et al. (2014, p. 17) suggested that habitat creation alone may be insufficient to improve their status and that translocations may be necessary to augment existing populations. The effect of small population size is likely exhibited in Rhode Island's remaining population, since current estimates indicate that there are fewer than 100 individuals within the State (Tefft et al., in litt. 2014). In the remainder of the New England cottontail's range, populations are generally larger and presumed to be less affected by fragmentation (Scarpitti and Piche, in litt. 2014; Kilpatrick et al., in litt. 2014; Novak et al., in litt. 2014); consequently, the effects of small population size are not anticipated to be a significant biological consequence throughout the species' range. However, if the total number of New England cottontail populations continues to decline, the remaining populations may experience the deleterious effects of small population size.

    Climate Change

    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of observed or likely environmental effects related to ongoing and projected changes in climate. As defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “climate” refers to average weather, typically measured in terms of the mean and variability of temperature, precipitation, or other relevant properties over time, and “climate change” thus refers to a change in such a measure that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, due to natural conditions (e.g., solar cycles) or human-caused changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use (IPCC 2013, p. 1450). Detailed explanations of global climate change and examples of various observed and projected changes and associated effects and risks at the global level are provided in reports issued by the IPCC (2014 and citations therein); information for the United States at national and regional levels is summarized in the National Climate Assessment (Melillo et al. 2014 entire and citations therein; see Melillo et al. 2014, pp. 28-45 for an overview). Because observed and projected changes in climate at regional and local levels vary from global average conditions, rather than using global-scale projections we use “downscaled” projections when they are available and have been developed through appropriate scientific procedures, because such projections provide higher resolution information that is more relevant to spatial scales used for analyses of a given species and the conditions influencing it (see Melillo et al. 2014, Appendix 3, pp. 760-763 for a discussion of climate modeling, including downscaling). In our analysis, we use our expert judgment to weigh the best scientific and commercial information available in our consideration of relevant aspects of climate change and related effects.

    Downscaled climate change models for the Northeastern United States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) indicate that temperatures will increase in the future, more so in summer than in winter (Hayhoe et al. 2008, p. 433). Overall, the region is expected to become drier overall, but average seasonal precipitation is expected to shift toward winter increases of 20 to 30 percent with slightly drier summers (Hayhoe et al. 2008, p. 433). Variations across the region are also expected, with northern portions of the region drying out more than southern areas, with a “hot spot” developing over coastal southern Maine (Hayhoe et al. 2008, p. 433). Although the New England cottontail is a habitat specialist that is reliant upon dense shrublands (see Life History section), sites occupied by the species are variable and range from droughty (e.g., pitch pine-scrub oak) to wet (e.g., shrub wetlands). Given the range of habitats occupied by the species, predicting the effects of climate change is complicated.

    Climate change is anticipated to alter the frequency, intensity, duration, and timing of forest disturbance (Dale et al. 2001, entire), which is likely to positively influence habitat for the species. Climate change is also expected to affect invasive species disproportionately to native species (Hellmann et al. 2008, entire), which is likely to influence the distribution and abundance of the eastern cottontail, as well as those habitats comprising exotic invasive shrubs (e.g., Rosa multiflora and Lonicera spp.), and, therefore, may affect the New England cottontail. Consequently, accurately predicting climate change effects to the New England cottontail is not easily disentangled. That said, the bioclimatic envelope (species distribution as predicted by climate) for the New England cottontail is predicted to increase by 110 percent by the end of the century and shift approximately 1 degree poleward (Leach et al. 2014, p. 126), which suggests that the species' distribution may increase with climate change.

    Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence Competition

    As previously described under Conservation Actions to Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Range, there are many previous and ongoing conservation efforts to increase and maintain suitable habitat. Increased habitat patch size and connectivity will reduce the effects of eastern cottontail competition. However, there remain uncertainties regarding the best approaches to managing sympatric populations; therefore, research and monitoring has been identified as a top-priority need to address the conservation needs of the New England cottontail (Fuller and Tur 2012, pp. 20, 53, 77-80, 114-120). For example, a study to determine the efficacy and benefits of managing eastern cottontails for the benefit of the New England cottontail is underway, and the results will be integrated into the Conservation Strategy's adaptive management process so that it may inform future management actions (Tur and Eaton, in litt. 2013; Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 114) (see the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below for additional information).

    Small Population Size

    To address the threat of small population size, the Conservation Strategy identifies the need for specific population management objectives, including captive breeding and relocation of New England cottontails (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 61-67), which is further corroborated by Fenderson et al. (2014, entire) for populations in New Hampshire and Maine. A captive-breeding pilot program has been initiated at the Roger Williams Park Zoo (RWPZ) to evaluate and refine husbandry, captive propagation, and reintroduction protocols for the New England cottontail. A Technical Committee Captive-breeding Working Group facilitates and monitors implementation of this conservation tool. Since 2011, approximately 131 young have been produced at the RWPZ, and individually marked New England cottontails are released at sites in Rhode Island and New Hampshire (Fuller and Tur 2015, pp. 49-53). Success of these efforts is indicated by the presence of unmarked animals, which suggests that released animals are successfully breeding (Fuller and Tur 2015, pp. 51-52).

    Through these efforts, populations of New England cottontails may be increasing and less susceptible to demographic and environmental stochastic events. Since these introductions involve the descendants from numerous geographic areas (Perrotti, in litt. 2014), we anticipate that genetic drift has been ameliorated and the possibility of genetic stochasticity affecting remnant populations in Rhode Island and New Hampshire has been reduced or eliminated. Nevertheless, genetic monitoring to determine the genetic health of these populations will be conducted (Fuller and Tur 2012, p. 54) (see the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below). In contrast, plans to implement population augmentation in Maine may not occur until 2030 (Boland et al., in litt. 2014). Given the critically low effective population sizes in Maine, however, habitat creation alone may be insufficient (Fenderson et al. 2014, p. 17).

    Summary of Factor E—In summary, habitat modification resulting from high densities of white-tailed deer was once thought to be a threat to the New England cottontail, but is no longer a concern. The best available information indicates that climate change and road mortality are not threats: In fact, climate change may benefit the species. Eastern cottontails compete with New England cottontails for food and space and may be suppressing New England cottontail populations. Since the effects of small population size and competition with eastern cottontails are inextricably linked to habitat quality, quantity, and connectivity, we conclude that the primary threat to the species throughout most of its range is the present destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat and range (Factor A), and that small population size is a contributing threat to the New England cottontail's viability. In the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below we further evaluate the Conservation Strategy to determine if the threat of small population size and eastern cottontails is expected to persist into the future, as required by section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act.

    Cumulative Effects From Factors A Through E

    As discussed above, habitat loss (Factor A) is the most significant threat to the New England cottontail. This directly affects the species through insufficient resources to feed, breed, and shelter and indirectly affects the species by amplifying the effects of predation (Factor C), competition with eastern cottontails (Factor E), and small population size (Factor E). In our analysis of these threats, we discussed previous and ongoing conservation efforts addressing these rangewide threats, which will be further analyzed in the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section below.

    Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis

    As presented in the Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors above, section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and our regulations at 50 CFR 424.119(f) require us to consider efforts by any State, foreign nation, or political subdivision of a State or foreign nation to protect the species. Such efforts would include measures by Native American Tribes and organizations. Also, Federal, Tribal, State, and foreign recovery actions (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)) and Federal consultation requirements (16 U.S.C. 1536) constitute conservation measures.

    In addition to identifying such efforts under the Act and our policy implementing this provision, known as the Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts (PECE) (68 FR 15100; March 28, 2003), we must, at the time of the listing determination, evaluate whether formalized conservation efforts provide sufficient certainty of effectiveness on the basis of whether the effort or plan establishes specific conservation objectives; identifies the necessary steps to reduce threats or factors for decline; includes quantifiable performance measures for the monitoring of compliance and effectiveness; incorporates the principles of adaptive management; and is likely to improve the species' viability by eliminating or adequately reducing one or more of the threats identified in our section 4(a)(1) analysis. We must also evaluate the conservation efforts to determine the certainty that they will be implemented on the basis of the availability of resources necessary to carry out the effort; the authority of the parties to carry out the identified actions; the regulatory and procedural requirements necessary to carry out the action are in place; the schedule for completing and evaluating the efforts; and the extent of voluntary participation necessary to achieve the conservation goals has been identified and will be secured. The criteria for PECE are not considered comprehensive evaluation criteria for evaluating certainty of the formalized conservation effort, and consideration of species, habitat, location, and effort is provided when it is appropriate. To satisfy the requirements of PECE, conservation plans should, at a minimum, report data on existing populations, describe activities taken toward conservation of the species, demonstrate either through data collection or best available science how these measures will alleviate threats, provide a mechanism to integrate new information (adaptive management), and provide information regarding certainty of implementation.

    An integral part of determining whether a species meets the definition of threatened or endangered requires us to analyze a species' risk of extinction. Central to this risk analysis is an assessment of the status of the species (i.e., is it in decline or at risk of decline, and what is the rate of decline or risk of decline) and consideration of the likelihood that current or future conditions or actions will promote or threaten a species' persistence. This determination requires us to make a prediction about the future persistence of a species, including consideration of both future negative and positive effects of anticipated human actions. For formalized conservation efforts that are not fully implemented, or where the results have not been demonstrated, we will consider PECE criteria in our evaluation of whether, and to what extent, the formalized conservation efforts affect the species' status under the Act. The results of our analysis may allow us to conclude that the threats identified in the section 4(a)(1) analysis have been sufficiently reduced or eliminated to such an extent that the species does not meet the definition of threatened or endangered, or is threatened rather than endangered.

    An agreement or plan intended to improve a species' status may contain numerous conservation objectives, not all of which are sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective. Those conservation efforts that are not sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective cannot contribute to a determination that listing is unnecessary, or a determination to list as threatened rather than endangered. Further, it is important to note that a conservation plan is not required to have absolute certainty of implementation and effectiveness to contribute to a listing determination. Rather, we need to be certain that the conservation objectives identified within the plan will be implemented and effective, such that the threats to the species are expected to be sufficiently reduced or eliminated. Regardless of the adoption of a conservation agreement or plan, if the best scientific and commercial information indicates that the species meets the definition of endangered or threatened on the day of the listing decision, then we must proceed with appropriate rulemaking under section 4 of the Act.

    Because the certainty of implementation and effectiveness of formalized conservation efforts may vary, PECE specifies that each effort will be evaluated individually (68 FR 15114). In the Rangewide Conservation Efforts section above, we introduced the development of a conservation planning effort beginning in 2008, which was later formalized in 2011 and resulted in the development of the Conservation Strategy (Fuller and Tur 2012, entire). This Conservation Strategy represents the Parties' planning process and guides actions intended to improve and maintain populations of New England cottontails throughout the species' current range. There are a number of other formalized actions interrelated to the Conservation Strategy, some of which precede its completion but were integral to its development and implementation. Since these interrelated formalized actions contribute to the overall Conservation Strategy and its goal of addressing the New England cottontail's primary threat—loss of habitat—we conclude that they can be batched as a single conservation effort, and that we are not required to analyze each agreement separately; rather, we briefly describe in our full PECE analysis (available at http://www.regulations.gov) those actions, such as the two Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances for Maine and New Hampshire, as contributing to the collective effort.

    Using the criteria in PECE, we evaluated the degree of certainty to which the Conservation Strategy would be effective at minimizing or eliminating threats to the New England cottontail. Our evaluation was facilitated by a recent report, entitled New England Cottontail Conservation Progress, 2014 Annual Performance Report (Fuller and Tur 2015, entire, available at www.newenglandcottontail.org), hereafter referred to as the Performance Report. In addition to our review of performance, we assessed the status of the New England cottontail, the specific threats to New England cottontail populations, and conservation actions planned and implemented to address those threats, at the local or Focus Area-specific scale. This information was provided in individual Focus Area Status Screening Templates (FASSTs) that were prepared for most of the Focus Areas identified in the Conservation Strategy (Fuller and Tur 2012, pp. 90-113). We used this information to determine if the conservation actions planned within the Focus Areas would maintain or increase populations to the extent that they might contribute to the goals of the Conservation Strategy. Further, in October 2014, we convened a meeting of the Parties, with facilitation support provided by WMI, to assess the Parties' commitment to implementing the Conservation Strategy and its individual components.

    PECE Analysis Summary

    Using the criteria in PECE, we evaluated the certainty of implementation and effectiveness of the Conservation Strategy. We have determined that the conservation objectives described therein have a high certainty of being implemented, based on the Parties' previous actions and commitments (Fuller and Tur 2015, entire) and the recent reaffirmation to its continuation (Sparks et al., in litt. 2014; Riexinger et al., in litt. 2014; Hyatt et al., in litt. 2014; Connolly, in litt. 2014; MacCallum, in litt. 2014; Ellingwood and Kanter, in litt. 2014; Weber, pers. comm. 2014; Weller, pers. comm. 2014). We have determined that the Conservation Strategy provides a high degree of certainty that it will be effective. This is supported, in part, by the identification of all known threats, the development of actions to ameliorate them, monitoring, and application of the principles of adaptive management. Specifically, we find that the Conservation Strategy presents an effective approach that establishes a network of habitats of sufficient quality and quantity that is likely to compensate for the destruction, modification, and curtailment of the New England cottontail's habitat and range, the primary threat to the species. For example, the Conservation Strategy identifies 3,310 ha (8,179 ac) for land management activities to create, restore, or maintain suitable habitat; these management activities have been planned, initiated or completed and the initiated or completed projects have demonstrated examples of populations that have increased within specific patches (Fuller and Tur 2015, entire). Based on our evaluation of the conservation effort described in the Conservation Strategy and associated documents, we find that the conservation effort provides a high degree of certainty of implementation and effectiveness.

    Our full analysis of the New England cottontail conservation effort pursuant to PECE can be found at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Finding

    As required by the Act, we considered the five factors in assessing whether the New England cottontail is endangered or threatened throughout all of its range. We examined the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by the New England cottontail. We reviewed the petition, information available in our files, and other available published and unpublished information, and we consulted with recognized species and habitat experts and other Federal, State, and Tribal agencies. Based on our evaluation of the threats to the New England cottontail, we find that the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range (Factor A) is the most significant threat to the species. This directly affects the species through insufficient resources to feed, breed, and shelter and indirectly affects the species by amplifying the effects of predation (Factor C), competition with eastern cottontails (Factor E), and small population size (Factor E). Without the ongoing and planned implementation of the conservation measures described in the Conservation Strategy, these identified threats would remain at a level that would warrant listing of the New England cottontail.

    Thus, we next considered conservation efforts pursuant to section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and our regulations at 50 CFR 424.119(f). This consideration includes an evaluation under the PECE policy of those conservation efforts within the Conservation Strategy, including commitments of funding and other resources, that have been implemented and not yet shown to be effective and those actions proposed for the future (see the Policy for the Evaluation of Conservation Efforts Analysis section above). Based on our evaluation of the conservation effort, as described in the Conservation Strategy and associated documents, we find that sufficient certainty of implementation and effectiveness is provided and the conservation effort forms part of the basis for our final listing decision for the New England cottontail. We find those actions taken under the auspices of the Conservation Strategy have yet to completely remove the threats specified above, but have been successful, and are anticipated to be fully successful in the future, in ameliorating the threats. For example, as of January 2015, the NRCS created or maintained approximately 3,700 ac (1,497 ha) of New England cottontail habitat under the Working Lands for Wildlife program (Fuller and Tur 2015, p. 59), and the agency anticipates implementing management actions on additional habitat as part of NRCS' 5-year plan. In addition, the 2,107 ac (852 ha) of scrub oak shrublands found on the Camp Edwards Training Site owned by the MDFW and leased to the Massachusetts Army National Guard are considered a stronghold for the New England cottontail, and conservation efforts to maintain and expand habitats are ongoing primarily through the use of prescribed fire (McCumber, in litt. 2015). Therefore, we conclude that the conservation efforts have reduced or eliminated current and future threats to the New England cottontail to the point that the species no longer is in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

    Additionally, although the current rangewide estimate suggests there are approximately 17,000 New England cottontails, we estimate that only 10,500 individuals currently occupy landscapes where persistence of the species is anticipated. This estimate falls short of the population goal of 13,500 individuals. Nevertheless, the conservation actions implemented have demonstrably improved the population status of the New England cottontail at some locations, and that improvement is expected to continue through the Conservation Strategy's 2030 planning period, based on a high degree of certainty that the conservation effort will continue to be implemented and effective.

    On the basis of the best scientific and commercial information available, we find that the current and future threats are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the New England cottontail is in danger of extinction (endangered), or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened). Therefore, the New England cottontail does not meet the definition of a threatened or endangered species, and we are withdrawing our previous “warranted, but precluded findings” and removing the species from the list of “candidate” species.

    Significant Portion of the Range

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act defines “endangered species” as any species which is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” and “threatened species” as any species which is “likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The term “species” includes “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” We published a final policy interpreting the phrase “Significant Portion of its Range” (SPR) (79 FR 37578). The final policy states that (1) if a species is found to be endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range, the entire species is listed as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively, and the Act's protections apply to all individuals of the species wherever found; (2) a portion of the range of a species is “significant” if the species is not currently endangered or threatened throughout all of its range, but the portion's contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without the members in that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range; (3) the range of a species is considered to be the general geographical area within which that species can be found at the time FWS or NMFS makes any particular status determination; and (4) if a vertebrate species is endangered or threatened throughout an SPR, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies. As stated above, we find the New England cottontail does not warrant listing throughout its range. Therefore, we must consider whether there are any significant portions of the range of the New England cottontail.

    The SPR policy is applied to all status determinations, including analyses for the purposes of making listing, delisting, and reclassification determinations. The procedure for analyzing whether any portion is an SPR is similar, regardless of the type of status determination we are making. The first step in our analysis of the status of a species is to determine its status throughout all of its range. If we determine that the species is in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range, we list the species as an endangered (or threatened) species and no SPR analysis will be required. If the species is neither in danger of extinction nor likely to become so throughout all of its range, we determine whether the species is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range. If it is, we list the species as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively; if it is not, we conclude that listing the species is not warranted.

    When we conduct an SPR analysis, we first identify any portions of the species' range that warrant further consideration. The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to analyzing portions of the range that are not reasonably likely to be significant and endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial information indicating that (1) the portions may be significant and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction in those portions or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. We emphasize that answering these questions in the affirmative is not a determination that the species is endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range—rather it is a step in determining whether a more detailed analysis of the issue is required. In practice, a key part of this analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species are affecting it uniformly throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats apply only to portions of the range that clearly do not meet the biologically based definition of “significant” (i.e., the loss of that portion clearly would not be expected to increase the vulnerability to extinction of the entire species), those portions will not warrant further consideration.

    If we identify any portions that may be both (1) significant and (2) endangered or threatened, we engage in a more detailed analysis to determine whether these standards are indeed met. The identification of an SPR does not create a presumption, prejudgment, or other determination as to whether the species in that identified SPR is endangered or threatened. We must go through a separate analysis to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened in the SPR. To determine whether a species is endangered or threatened throughout an SPR, we will use the same standards and methodology that we use to determine if a species is endangered or threatened throughout its range.

    Depending on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it may be more efficient to address the “significant” question first, or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a portion of the range is not “significant,” we do not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is “significant.”

    The threats currently affecting the New England cottontail, without consideration for the planned or implemented conservation efforts, are occurring throughout the species' range. Habitat loss, predation, and the effects of small population size are affecting the species relatively uniformly across its range. In addition, the Conservation Strategy and its specific actions will continue to be implemented throughout the species' range, and we have a high level of certainty that those efforts will be effective in addressing the species' rangewide threats. Therefore, we find that factors affecting the species are essentially uniform throughout its range, indicating no portion of the range warrants further consideration of possible endangered or threatened status under the Act.

    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the New England cottontail is not in danger of extinction (endangered) nor likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened), throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing the New England cottontail as an endangered or threatened species under the Act is not warranted at this time.

    We request that you submit any new information concerning the status of, or threats to, the New England cottontail to our New England Field Office (see ADDRESSES section) whenever it becomes available. New information will help us monitor the New England cottontail and encourage its conservation. If an emergency situation develops for the New England cottontail, we will act to provide immediate protection.

    References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R5-ES-2015-0136 and upon request from the New England Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

    Author(s)

    The primary author(s) of this document are the staff members of the New England Field Office.

    Authority

    The authority for this section is section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: August 26, 2015. Daniel M. Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-22885 Filed 9-11-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0129; 4500030113] RIN 1018-BA93 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Platanthera integrilabia (White Fringeless Orchid) AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to list Platanthera integrilabia (white fringeless orchid), a plant species from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act's protections to this species.

    DATES:

    We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 16, 2015. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by October 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2015-0129, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2015-0129; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

    We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Public Comments, below, for more information).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Jennings, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, TN 38501; by telephone 931-528-6481; or by facsimile 931-528-7075. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, if we determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our proposal within 1 year. Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species and designations and revisions of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule.

    This rule proposes the listing of Platanthera integrilabia (white fringeless orchid) as a threatened species. The white fringeless orchid is a candidate species for which we have on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to support preparation of a listing proposal, but for which development of a listing regulation has been precluded by other higher priority listing activities. This rule reassesses all available information regarding status of and threats to the white fringeless orchid.

    This rule does not propose critical habitat for white fringeless orchid. We have determined that designation of critical habitat would not be prudent for this species because:

    • Designation would increase the likelihood and severity of illegal collection of white fringeless orchid and thereby make enforcement of take prohibitions more difficult.

    • This threat outweighs the benefits of designation.

    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We have determined that the threats to white fringeless orchid consist primarily of destruction and modification of habitat (Factor A) resulting in excessive shading, soil disturbance, altered hydrology, and proliferation of invasive plant species; collecting for recreational or commercial purposes (Factor B); herbivory (Factor C); and small population sizes and dependence on specific pollinators and fungi to complete its life cycle (Factor E). Existing regulatory mechanisms have not led to a reduction or removal of threats posed to the species from these factors (see Factor D discussion).

    We will seek peer review. We will seek comments from independent specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We will invite these peer reviewers to comment on our listing proposal.

    Information Requested Public Comments

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:

    (1) The white fringeless orchid's biology, range, and population trends, including:

    (a) Biological or ecological requirements of the species, including habitat requirements for germination, growth, and reproduction;

    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;

    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;

    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and

    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its habitat, or both.

    (2) Factors that may affect the continued existence of the species, which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, or other natural or manmade factors.

    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and existing regulations that may be addressing those threats.

    (4) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as “critical habitat” under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), including whether there are threats to the species from human activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the designation, and whether that increase in threat outweighs the benefit of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent.

    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include.

    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.”

    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES section.

    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 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. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.

    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Because we will consider all comments and information received during the public comment period, our final determinations may differ from this proposal.

    Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. We will schedule public hearings on this proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, and places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing.

    Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure that our listing determination is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. The peer reviewers have expertise with the white fringeless orchid's biology, habitat, physical or biological factors, distribution, and status, or have general botanical and conservation biology expertise.

    Previous Federal Action

    The Act requires the Service to identify species of wildlife and plants that are endangered or threatened, based on the best available scientific and commercial data. Section 12 of the Act directed the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to prepare a report on endangered and threatened plant species, which was published as House Document No. 94-51. The Service published a notice in the Federal Register on July 1, 1975 (40 FR 27824), in which we announced that more than 3,000 native plant taxa named in the Smithsonian's report and other taxa added by the 1975 notice would be reviewed for possible inclusion in the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. The 1975 notice was superseded on December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82480), by a new comprehensive notice of review for native plants that took into account the earlier Smithsonian report and other accumulated information. On November 28, 1983 (48 FR 53640), a supplemental plant notice of review noted the status of various taxa. Complete updates of the plant notice were published on September 27, 1985 (50 FR 39526), February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6184), and September 30, 1993 (58 FR 51144).

    White fringeless orchid was first listed as a Category 1 candidate in the December 15, 1980, review. Category 1 candidates included taxa for which the Service had sufficient information on hand to support the biological appropriateness of listing as endangered or threatened species. The species was reclassified as a Category 2 candidate in the November 28, 1983, review. Category 2 candidates included taxa for which the Service had information indicating that proposing to list the species as endangered or threatened was possibly appropriate, but for which sufficient data on biological vulnerability and threat were not available. Further biological research and field study usually was necessary to ascertain the status of taxa in this category.

    In 1996, the Service eliminated candidate categories (February 28, 1996; 61 FR 7596), and white fringeless orchid was no longer a candidate until it was again elevated to candidate status on October 25, 1999 (64 FR 57534). The species was also included in subsequent candidate notices of review on October 30, 2001 (66 FR 54808), June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40657), May 4, 2004 (69 FR 24876), May 11, 2005 (70 FR 24870), September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53756), December 6, 2007 (72 FR 69034), December 10, 2008 (73 FR 75176), November 9, 2009 (74 FR 57804), November 10, 2010 (75 FR 69222), October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), November 21, 2012 (77 FR 69994), November 22, 2013 (78 FR 70104), and December 5, 2014 (79 FR 72450).

    The 2011 Multi-District Litigation (MDL) settlement agreement specified that the Service will systematically, over a period of 6 years, review and address the needs of 251 candidate species to determine if they should be added to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The white fringeless orchid was on that list of candidate species. Therefore, the Service is making this proposed listing determination in order to comply with the conditions outlined in the MDL agreement.

    Background Species Information Taxonomy and Species Description

    White fringeless orchid was first recognized as a distinct taxon when D.S. Correll (1941, pp. 153-157) described it as a variety of Habenaria (Platanthera) blephariglottis. C.A. Luer (1975, p. 186) elevated the taxon to full species status. The currently accepted binomial for the species is Platanthera integrilabia (Correll) Luer. The description of this taxon at the full species level used the common name of “monkey-face” (Luer 1975, p. 186), as have some other publications (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 212; Zettler 1994, p. 686; Birchenko 2001, p. 9). A status survey report for the species recognized both “white fringeless orchid” and “monkeyface” as common names (Shea 1992, p. 1). The Service used the common name “white fringeless orchid” when the species was first recognized as a candidate for listing, and we retain usage of this common name here.

    White fringeless orchid is a perennial herb with a light green, 60-centimeters (cm) (23-inches (in)) long stem that arises from a tuber (modified underground stem of a plant that is enlarged for nutrient storage). The leaves are alternate with entire margins and are narrowly elliptic to lanceolate (broadest below the middle and tapering toward the apex) in shape. The lower leaves are 20 cm (8 in) long and 3 cm (1 in) wide. The upper stem leaves are much smaller. The white flowers are borne in a loose cluster at the end of the stem. The upper two flower petals are about 7 millimeters (mm) (0.3 in) long, and the lower petal (the lip) is about 13 mm (0.5 in) long. The epithet “integrilabia” refers to the lack of any prominent fringe on the margin of the lip petal (Luer 1975, p. 186). The plants flower from late July through September, and the small narrow fruiting capsule matures in October (Shea 1992, p. 23).

    Distribution

    To determine the current distribution of white fringeless orchid, we used data provided by Natural Heritage Programs (NHP), housed in State agencies or universities in each of the States in the species' geographic range: Alabama Natural Heritage Program at Auburn University (ANHP 2014); Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR 2014); Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC 2014); Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP 2014); North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR 2014); South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR 2012); and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC 2014). In addition to NHP data, we used Shea's (1992, entire) Status Survey Report on Platanthera integrilabia to determine the species' historical distribution.

    In most cases, a mapped occurrence in the databases maintained by the NHPs represented a single group of plants growing together in a patch of suitable habitat. However, the Kentucky NHP combined multiple groups of plants (i.e., sub-occurrences), growing in distinct habitat patches in close proximity to one another, into single occurrences. In two instances, the Tennessee NHP also grouped several sub-occurrences into a single occurrence, where they were all located in separate stream heads draining into a single headwater stream. In describing the current range and distribution of white fringeless orchid, we have adopted these groupings in those instances where all of the sub-occurrences were located within the drainage of a single headwater stream. In two instances, where Kentucky NHP grouped sub-occurrences from drainages of separate headwater streams into a single occurrence, we split the sub-occurrences into two separate occurrences by grouping together only those that were located within a single headwater drainage.

    Historical Distribution—As of 1991, there were 30 extant occurrences and 13 with uncertain status, distributed among 20 counties in 5 southeastern States (see Table 1, below). Shea (1992, pp. 14-17) also reported on six locations with historical occurrences and six from which the species had been extirpated.

    As of 2015, there are records for 13 historical and 12 extirpated occurrences in NHP databases. Accounting for two locations that Shea (1992, pp. 11-14) reported as extirpated and a third reported as uncertain but now considered to be historical, none of which is included in NHP databases, there are 28 occurrences that currently are considered historical or extirpated. In 1991, five of these were extant and the status of five was uncertain (Shea 1992, pp. 7-14). Based on these data, the species' historical range included Cobb County, Georgia; Henderson County, North Carolina; and Roane County, Tennessee, in addition to the 35 counties listed below in Table 1 for the species' range as of 2014. The species has been extirpated completely from North Carolina.

    Shea (1992, pp. 17-18) lists additional records from Butler County, Alabama; Cherokee County, North Carolina; Hamilton County, Tennessee; and Lee County, Virginia, whose validity she could neither verify nor refute based on available data. Lacking sufficient data to document the collection of white fringeless orchid from Lee County, the authors of the Flora of Virginia did not include the species (Townsend 2012, pers. comm.). Lacking any substantive data for white fringeless orchid's historical presence in the other three counties above, we also consider them to not be part of the species' historical range.

    Current Distribution—Using available data, we categorized the current status of each occurrence as extant, extirpated, historical, or uncertain. Extant occurrences are those for which recent (i.e., since ca. 2000) observations of flowering plants are available to confirm the species' persistence at a given site, or from which material was collected and cultivated in a greenhouse to produce flowering specimens confirming the identification of vegetative plants that were observed in the field. Because white fringeless orchid commonly occurs with three congeners (species belonging to the same genus) that share similar leaf characteristics, conclusive identification in the absence of flowering specimens is not possible. Extirpated occurrences are those where the species' absence is considered to be certain due to lack of recent observations of flowering white fringeless orchids, or vegetative plants of any species of Platanthera, associated with modification of the habitat to an unsuitable condition for white fringeless orchid. White fringeless orchid was last seen flowering at one extirpated occurrence as recently as 2004, but habitat in this former transmission line right-of-way is no longer maintained and has become unsuitable due to woody vegetation encroachment. Similarly, recent observation of flowering white fringeless orchids or vegetative plants of any species of Platanthera is lacking for historical occurrences, but the habitat has not been visibly altered at these locations. We have assigned uncertain status to occurrences where recent observation of flowering white fringeless orchids is lacking, but where basal leaves of non-flowering Platanthera spp. orchids typically have been observed during one or more recent visits. In addition, we have assigned uncertain status to one Mississippi occurrence, where a single white fringeless orchid was seen flowering in 2011, because the hydrology at this site was subsequently altered by a drainage ditch and the species' persistence at this site is now questionable.

    The white fringeless orchid's distribution is concentrated in the Cumberland Plateau section of the Appalachian Plateaus physiographic province, with isolated populations scattered across the Blue Ridge, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain provinces (Fenneman 1938, pp. 68, 134-137, 172, 333-334). The species is currently extant at 58 occurrences distributed among 32 counties, spanning 5 southeastern States (Table 1). There are an additional 22 occurrences (Table 1) whose current status is uncertain, which include one additional State and three additional counties. We consider the species' current distribution to include the 6 States and 35 counties where NHP database records for these extant and uncertain occurrences exist (Table 1). We included records of uncertain status in defining the species' current distribution to ensure that all relevant State and local governments and private stakeholders are aware of white fringeless orchid's potential presence and opportunities for conserving the species and its habitat.

    Table 1—County-Level Distribution of Extant and Uncertain Status White Fringeless Orchid Occurrences, Circa 1991 (Shea 1992) and 2014 (ANHP 2014, GDNR 2014, KSNPC 2014, MDWFP 2014, NCDENR 2014, SCDNR 2012, TDEC 2014) State County 1991 Extant Uncertain 2014 Extant Uncertain Alabama Calhoun 2 Clay 1 1 Cleburne 1 DeKalb 1 Jackson 1 Marion 1 1 2 Tuscaloosa 1 1 Winston 1 1 Georgia Bartow 1 Carroll 2 2 Chatooga 1 Cobb 1 Coweta 1 1 Forsyth 1 1 Pickens 1 Rabun 1 1 Stephens 1 1 Kentucky Laurel 2 2 McCreary 4 2 1 Pulaski 1 1 2 Whitley 1 Mississippi Alcorn 1 Itawamba 2 1 Tishomingo 1 1 South Carolina Greenville 1 1 Tennessee Bledsoe 2 2 1 Cumberland 1 Fentress 2 Franklin 3 2 5 5 Grundy 5 5 4 4 Marion 2 8 McMinn 1 1 Polk 1 Scott 1 Sequatchie 2 1 1 1 Van Buren 2 5 1 Total 30 13 58 22

    More occurrences are included in the species' current distribution than were historically known to exist, likely as a result of increased survey effort having been devoted to white fringeless orchid due to its status as a candidate for Federal listing. However, low numbers of flowering plants have been observed at most sites (Figure 1). For example, fewer than 50 flowering plants have ever been observed at one time at 45 (64 percent) of the 70 extant and uncertain occurrences for which data are available. At 26 (37 percent) of these occurrences, fewer than 10 flowering plants have ever been recorded.

    EP15SE15.001

    There are 32 extant occurrences that are located entirely, or in part, on lands owned or managed by local, State, or Federal government entities (Table 2). In addition, there are seven uncertain, five extirpated, and two historical occurrences that are similarly situated. Two additional occurrences, one extant and one uncertain, are located on private lands that are protected by conservation easements.

    Table 2—Status and Number of White Fringeless Orchid Occurrences on Publicly Owned or Managed Lands [Note: One site is on privately owned lands that GDNR leases for use as a wildlife management area] Ownership Extant Uncertain Extirpated Historical National Park Service 3 U.S. Forest Service 9 3 3 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2 Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 1 Georgia Department of Natural Resources 2 Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission 1 1 Mississippi Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 1 North Carolina Plant Conservation Program 1 South Carolina State Parks 1 Tennessee Department of Transportation 1 Tennessee Division of Forestry 7 Tennessee State Parks 5 1 1 Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency 1 1 Forsyth County, Georgia 1 Total 31 8 5 2 Habitat

    In Correll's (1941, pp. 156-157) description of white fringeless orchid as a distinct variety, he included notes from herbarium specimens that describe the species' habitat variously as “bog,” “boggy sphagnum ravine,” “sphagnum bog,” “grassy swamps,” and “marshy ground.” Luer (1975, p. 186) described the habitat as “. . . the deep shade of damp deciduous forests . . . in the thick leaf litter and sphagnum moss along shallow wet ravines and depressions.” Zettler and Fairey (1990, p. 212) observed the species growing in “shaded and level bogs, swamps or seepage slopes usually containing Sphagnum.” Shea (1992, p. 19) described the habitat as “wet, flat, boggy areas at the head of streams or on seepage slopes . . . with Sphagnum . . . usually grows in partial shade.”

    Hoy (2012, p. 53) demonstrated that precipitation was the primary hydrologic source for three wetlands at a white fringeless orchid site on the Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky, which was commonly referred to as a seep. Thus, describing many of the sites where white fringeless orchid occurs as “seeps” or “seepage slopes” may contradict the typical characterization of seeps as wetlands where water from subsurface sources emerges at the surface (Soulsby et al. 2007, p. 200). The term “bogs” refers to a specific wetland type that accumulates peat, lacks significant inflow or outflow, and harbors mosses adapted to acidic environments, particularly Sphagnum (Mitsch and Gosselink 2000, p. 41). Peat is fibric organic soil material, meaning that some plant forms incorporated into the soil are identifiable (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service 2006, p. 32). However, despite the common usage of the terms “bog” or “boggy” to describe them and the nearly ubiquitous presence of Sphagnum spp. (sphagnum moss) in them, the wetlands that white fringeless orchid inhabits occur on mineral soils and do not accumulate peat. Further, they often are located at stream heads and connected to ephemeral streams via dispersed sheet flow or concentrated surface flow in incipient channels.

    Weakley and Schafale (1994, pp. 164-165) commented on the discrepancy between regional use of the terms “bogs” and “fens” to describe non-alluvial wetlands of the Southern Blue Ridge in which sphagnum moss is prominently featured and their more traditional usage in peatland classifications. Noting that most of the region's non-alluvial wetlands lacked organic soils, these authors nonetheless chose to maintain the regional usage of these terms in their classification, to emphasize differences in sources of hydrology and their effects on water chemistry (nutrient-poor precipitation in “bogs” versus mineral-rich groundwater seepage in “fens”). Similar to the non-alluvial wetlands of the Southern Blue Ridge, further study is needed to characterize the range of variation in soils, hydrology, physicochemistry, and origin of wetlands throughout the range of white fringeless orchid.

    Most sites where white fringeless populations exist are on soils formed over sandstone bedrock, which usually are low in fertility and organic matter content and are acidic (Shea 1992, p. 20). The species often occurs in swamps dominated by Acer rubrum (red maple) and Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum), where common shrubs and woody vines include Alnus serrulata (smooth alder), Decumaria barbara (climbing hydrangea), Smilax spp. (greenbrier), and Viburnum nudum (possumhaw). Common herbaceous associates of white fringeless orchid include Doellingeria umbellata (parasol flat-top white aster), Gymnadeniopsis clavellata (green woodland orchid), Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower), Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed), Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern), O. regalis (royal fern), Oxypolis rigidior (stiff cowbane), Parnassia asarifolia (kidneyleaf grass of parnassus), Platanthera ciliaris (yellow fringed orchid), P. cristata (crested yellow orchid), Sphagnum spp. (sphagnum moss), Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern), Viola primulifolia (primrose-leaf stemless white violet), and Woodwardia areolata (chainfern) (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 213; Shea 1992, p. 22; Patrick 2012, pers. comm.). Sites located in powerline rights-of-way share many of the herbaceous taxa listed above, but lack a canopy or well-developed shrub stratum due to vegetation management. Nomenclature follows the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (retrieved on January 16, 2015, from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System online database, http://www.itis.gov).

    Biology

    Orchid seeds are dust-like and lack an endosperm (the tissue produced inside seeds of most flowering plants that provides nutrient reserves) making them dependent upon acquiring carbon from an external source (Yoder et al. 2010, p. 7). Like most terrestrial orchids, white fringeless orchid depends on a symbiotic (interdependent) relationship with mycorrhizal fungi (an association of a fungus and a plant in which the fungus lives within or on the outside of the plant's roots) to enhance seed germination and promote seedling development and establishment (Zettler and McInnis 1992, pp. 157-160; Rasmussen and Whigham 1993, p. 1374). In addition to providing a carbon source for seedling development, mycorrhizal fungi enhance germination by promoting increased water uptake by orchid seeds (Yoder et al. 2000, 149). Their small size permits dispersal of orchid seeds to new environments via wind currents; however, very few of the seeds likely encounter suitable habitats where host fungi are present (Yoder et al. 2010, pp. 14-16). This likelihood is further reduced in the case of species such as white fringeless orchid, which may rely on a single fungal host species, Epulorhiza inquilina, to complete its life cycle (Currah et al. 1997, p. 340).

    White fringeless orchid has a self-compatible breeding system, allowing individuals to produce seed using their own pollen; however, the proportions of fruits produced through self-pollination versus cross-pollination are not known (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 214). Rates of fruit set, measured as the proportion of individual flowers that produced capsules, varied in studies of populations in Georgia (6.9 percent), South Carolina (20.3 percent) (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 214), and Tennessee (56.9 percent) (Zettler et al. 1996, p. 20). While these observations were made at these populations in different years, the Tennessee population, where pollination was observed, is considerably larger than the Georgia or South Carolina populations, where no pollination was observed. Zettler et al. (1996, p. 22) reasoned that inbreeding depression was a likely cause for the lower fruit set in the smaller populations, noting that in a separate study both germination rates and propagation success were greater in white fringeless orchid seeds collected from the largest of these populations (Zettler and McInnis 1992, p. 160). They speculated that higher rates of fruit set were probably more typical historically, when larger populations provided greater opportunities for cross-pollination to occur.

    White fringeless orchid is capable of prodigious seed production, which might help to compensate for the likely dispersal of many seeds into unsuitable habitats. In the Tennessee population studied by Zettler et al. (1996, p. 20), more than half of the flowers on inflorescences (the complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers) set fruit, resulting in a mean of 4.7 capsules per plant. The capsules produced an average of 3,433 seeds each, indicating that each inflorescence averaged over 16,000 seeds. With 577 inflorescences counted in the study area, Zettler et al. (1996, p. 20) estimated that over 9,000,000 seeds were produced. However, in separate studies of in vitro and in situ seedling development, even with fungal inoculation less than 3 percent of seeds developed into protocorms (young seedlings) that could be established on soil (Zettler and McInnis 1992, pp. 157-160; Zettler 1994, pp. 65).

    Known pollinators for white fringeless orchid include three diurnal species from two families of butterflies (Lepidoptera): Silver spotted skipper (Hesperiidae: Epargyreus clarus), spicebush swallowtail (Papilionidae: Papilio troilus), and eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilionidae: P. glaucus) (Zettler et al. 1996, p. 16). Based on floral characteristics, including white flowers and a long nectiferous (nectar bearing) spur, as well as pollinaria morphology in relation to potential pollinator morphology, it is likely that more effective pollinators for white fringeless orchid exist in the nocturnal sphingid moth family (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) (Zettler et al. 1996, pp. 17-18); however, this has not been confirmed. Pollinaria are the pollen-bearing structure on orchids, consisting of pollen masses (pollinia) attached to a stalk that has a sticky pad (viscidium), which attaches the pollinaria to pollinators (Argue 2012, p. 5). Despite the fact that nectar concentrations in white fringeless orchid flowers did not fluctuate significantly over a 24-hour observation period, Zettler et al. (1996, p. 20) noticed the floral fragrance produced by a large Tennessee population intensified between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., suggesting the species possesses adaptions for attracting nocturnal pollinators.

    Genetics

    Birchenko (2001, pp. 18-23, 47-48) analyzed genetic structure among 25 white fringeless orchid populations, distributed across Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Her “populations” corresponded to specific NHP occurrences. The majority (79 percent) of the genetic variation was present as variation within populations, while 21 percent of the variation was attributable to differences between populations (Birchenko 2001, p. 29). While these results alone do not demonstrate that genetic variability in white fringeless orchid populations has been eroded by restricted gene flow, Birchenko (2001, pp. 34-40) cautioned that interactions between demographic and ecological factors could be a cause for some observed population declines and could ultimately cause declines in the species' genetic variation and increase differentiation among white fringeless orchid populations.

    Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in combination.

    Information pertaining to white fringeless orchid in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is discussed below. In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat, and we then attempt to determine if that factor rises to the level of a threat, meaning that it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as an endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Act.

    Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    Habitat modification caused by development, silvicultural practices, invasive plant species, disturbance by feral hogs, shading due to understory and canopy closure, altered hydrology, and right-of-way maintenance have impacted the range and abundance of white fringeless orchid.

    Development

    One white fringeless orchid occurrence was extirpated from a site in Henderson County, North Carolina, which Shea (1992, p. 15) reported had been nearly completely destroyed by construction of a building. Another occurrence in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, was extirpated from a site that was disturbed by construction of the Yellow Creek Nuclear Power Plant (Shea 1992, p. 15). A third site from which the species is considered extirpated, in Roane County, Tennessee, was severely disturbed during highway construction (Shea 1992, p. 15). One extant occurrence in Carroll County, Georgia, is located within a subdivision where restrictions have been put in place to protect the wetland habitat. Another extant occurrence in Pickens County, Georgia, is located within a subdivision, but the wetland habitat where white fringeless orchid occurs is located within an area protected by a conservation easement held by the North American Land Trust. There is one occurrence of uncertain status that is located on an as yet undeveloped lot in a subdivision in Grundy County, Tennessee. Potential future residential development at this site could directly impact white fringeless orchid due to habitat conversion or ground disturbance, or could indirectly affect the species by altering hydrology, increasing shading, or introducing invasive, nonnative plants.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, development is a threat of low magnitude with potential to affect few white fringeless orchid populations in the foreseeable future.

    Silvicultural Practices

    Direct and indirect effects of silvicultural practices have adversely affected habitat conditions and abundance of many white fringeless orchid populations. Incompatible silviculture has taken the form of clearcutting, both of swamps occupied by the species and of surrounding upland forests. Shea (1992, p. 15) reported that white fringeless orchid had been extirpated from two Alabama sites where logging had disturbed the habitat. At one of these sites, the loss was attributed to impacts from logging and removal of beaver dams.

    While white fringeless orchid has sometimes shown short-term increases in flower production following canopy removal, the longer-term response typically is a decline in abundance as vegetation succession ensues (Shea 1992, pp. 26, 96; Birchenko 2001, p. 33). Forests have been clearcut at nine extant occurrences and two of uncertain status in Tennessee, two extant sites and one of uncertain status in Alabama, and one extant site in Georgia. Of these, there is evidence for declines in white fringeless orchid abundance following timber harvests at five extant occurrences and two of uncertain status in Tennessee (TDEC 2014) and one extant occurrence in Alabama (Birchenko 2001, p. 33; ANHP 2014). At some sites, the timber harvests were too recent to know yet how white fringeless orchid will respond.

    In many cases, native forests surrounding white fringeless orchid sites have been clearcut and replaced by intensively managed pine plantations, often consisting solely of Pinus taeda (loblolly pine), where intensive mechanical or chemical site preparation before planting occurs in order to reduce seedling competition with other tree species (Clatterbuck and Ganus 1999, p. 4). Plantation forestry generally causes reductions in streamflow as compared to native forest vegetation (Scott 2005, p. 4204), and research from the Cumberland Plateau comparing calcium stores in soils and trees of native hardwood forests to mature pine on converted hardwood sites revealed calcium loss from the system after a single pine rotation that could impede future regrowth of the native oak-hickory forest (McGrath et al. 2004, p. 21). The fact that plantation forests are implicated in reduced streamflow suggests that they could reduce the hydroperiod (seasonal pattern of the water level that results from the combination of the water budget and the storage capacity of a wetland) in wetlands located at the heads of streams, such as those typically occupied by white fringeless orchids, when they are embedded in a matrix of pine plantations. While more information on indirect effects of pine plantations on hydroperiods of wetlands occupied by white fringeless orchid is needed, evidence suggests that restoring native hardwood forest vegetation may be needed to restore wetland hydrology in some sites, and that this would be a challenging and long-term process.

    At least four extant occurrences in Alabama, two in Georgia, and four in Tennessee are located in wetlands that are either located in pine plantations or bordered by them in surrounding uplands; one Tennessee occurrence of uncertain status is similarly situated. Fourteen percent of native forest, in seven counties of the southern Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee that are occupied by white fringeless orchid, was lost between 1981 and 2000. The majority (74 percent) of this lost native forest was converted to nonnative loblolly pine plantations, and the annual rate of conversion doubled during the last 3 years (1997-2000) (McGrath et al. 2004, p. 13). Given that there are three extant Tennessee occurrences and two of uncertain status that are located on private industrial forest lands, which have not yet been converted to nonnative pine plantations, conversion of lands surrounding additional white fringeless orchid occurrences represents a foreseeable future threat to the species.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, silvicultural practices are a threat of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid populations.

    Invasive Plant Species

    The presence of invasive, nonnative plant species, including Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass), Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet), and Perilla frutescens (beefsteak plant), has been documented at 10 extant white fringeless orchid occurrences and one of unknown status (U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 2008, p. 53; Richards 2013, pers. comm.; KSNPC 2014; TDEC 2014). Chinese privet has been negatively correlated with cover, abundance, and richness of native herbaceous species in riparian wetlands of the Piedmont physiographic province (Greene and Blossey 2012, p. 143). Japanese stiltgrass has been shown to increase pH and phosphorous availability in Cumberland Plateau forest soils (McGrath and Binkley 2009, pp. 145-153) and to increase abundance of vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM; mycorrhizal fungi that grow into the roots of host plants and form specialized structures called arbuscules and vesicles) in other sandstone-derived soils (Kourtev et al. 2002, p. 3163) as compared to native vegetation. While the effect of these soil alterations on white fringeless orchid has not been investigated, the species is associated with acidic (i.e., lower pH) soils (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 213) and is dependent upon a specific mycorrhizal fungus that is not a VAM (Currah et al. 1997, p. 340). To the extent that increases in VAM might lead to decreases in abundance of the orchid's mycorrhizal fungus, Epulorhiza inquilina, negative effects on germination and growth would be expected for white fringeless orchid.

    In addition to threats posed by nonnative plant species, at two extant white fringeless orchid sites, a native species, Lygodium palmatum (American climbing fern), has demonstrated invasive tendencies. Both sites are on public lands, and USFS attempts to control spread of the species at one of the sites met limited success. At the site on National Park Service lands, American climbing fern blankets vegetation along both sides of a dirt road that is in close proximity to a white fringeless orchid site, and the fern vines have spread into adjacent forests, including the wetland where white fringeless orchid occurs. Left unmanaged, encroachment of nonnative plants and American climbing fern could reduce potential for exposure of seeds to light before being incorporated into the soil, which enhances germination rates (Zettler and McInnis 1994, p. 137).

    Based on available data, encroachment by native and nonnative invasive plants is a threat of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid populations.

    Feral Hogs

    Ground disturbance by rooting of feral hogs has been observed at 13 extant white fringeless orchid occurrences, in Georgia and Tennessee, including two of the largest known occurrences, both on protected lands (Zettler 1994, p. 687; USFS 2008, p. 54; Richards 2013 pers. comm.; Richards 2014, pers. comm.; Tackett 2015, pers. comm.). These disturbances have affected specific microsites where white fringeless orchid had previously been observed growing, as well as surrounding wetland habitat. Disturbance by feral hogs has been shown to affect plant communities by causing decreases in plant cover, diversity, and regeneration; effects to fungi from feral hogs are also known to occur (Barrios-Garcia and Ballari 2012, p. 2295), suggesting potential for adverse effects to white fringeless orchid via disruption of the symbiotic interactions with mycorrhizal fungi that enhance seed germination and promote seedling development and establishment (Zettler and McInnis 1992, pp. 157-160; Rasmussen and Whigham 1993, p. 1374).

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, feral hogs are a threat of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid populations.

    Excessive Shading

    Despite the fact that white fringeless orchid habitat has been described as shaded (Luer 1975, p. 186; Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 212; Shea 1992, p. 19), excessive shading due to vegetation succession has been recognized as a factor associated with population declines (Shea 1992, pp. 26, 55, 61, 69; Richards 2013, pers. comm.; Schotz 2015, p. 4), and succession of woody vegetation has been named as the primary factor in the decline of Tennessee populations (TDEC 2012, p. 3). One Tennessee occurrence was extirpated due to woody vegetation succession in a right-of-way that occurred following removal of a powerline (TDEC 2014). Available data indicate that this threat has been noted at 19 extant occurrences and 5 of uncertain status across the species' geographic range (Richards 2013, pers. comm.; Sullivan 2014, pers. comm.; KSNPC 2014; TDEC 2014; Schotz 2015, pp. 10-35). The threat of shading has been most often noted in instances where woody succession followed logging in or adjacent to sites occupied by white fringeless orchid. As noted above, white fringeless orchid occurrences often exhibit short-term increases in flower production following canopy removal, but the longer-term response typically is a decline in abundance as woody vegetation succession ensues (Shea 1992, pp. 26, 96; Birchenko 2001, p. 33; TDEC 2012, pp. 2-3). It has been suggested that fire could play a role in regulating woody vegetation growth in uplands surrounding white fringeless orchid habitats, allowing greater light penetration into swamps where the species grows (Schotz 2015, p. 4).

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, excessive shading is a threat of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid populations.

    Altered Hydrology

    Several factors have been identified as causes for altered hydrology in white fringeless orchid habitat, including pond construction (TDEC 2008, p. 4), ditching (Sullivan 2014, pers. comm.), development, logging (Shea 1992, p. 26; Taylor 2014, pers. comm.), and woody vegetation succession following logging (Hoy 2012, p. 13). In Tennessee, three white fringeless orchid sites have been destroyed by pond construction, one as recently as 2006 (TDEC 2008, p. 4). One site in Cobb County, Georgia, was destroyed by pond construction (Richards 2014, pers. comm.). In Winston County, Alabama, hydrology was altered by the removal of beaver dams to facilitate a logging operation, causing the extirpation of a white fringeless orchid occurrence (Shea 1992, p. 25).

    Altered hydrology has been noted as a threat at five extant occurrences and four of unknown status (Taylor 2014, pers. comm.; Sullivan 2014, pers. comm.; GDNR 2014; KSNPC 2014; TDEC 2014). Conversion of surrounding uplands to a pine plantation was noted as the cause for hydrologic alteration at one extant site in Georgia (GDNR 2014), and as noted above, is a condition that is present at nine other extant occurrences and one of unknown status. Logging in surrounding uplands is suspected of contributing to altered hydrology at two Kentucky occurrences, one extant and one of uncertain status (Taylor 2014, pers. comm.; KSNPC 2014), by causing increased surface runoff during heavy precipitation events and accelerating channel development in wetlands at stream heads. In addition to loss of white fringeless orchid habitat and occurrences due to pond construction at the three Tennessee sites discussed above, hydrology has been altered in wetland habitats down slope of ponds at two other Tennessee sites, where white fringeless orchid's status is now uncertain (TDEC 2014). In Mississippi, ditching has altered hydrology at a site where white fringeless orchid was discovered in 2011, leaving the species' status uncertain at this location (Sullivan 2014, pers. comm.). Ditching has also altered hydrology at an extant occurrence located adjacent to a State highway in Tennessee. Disturbance by heavy equipment in an adjacent powerline right-of-way is thought to have altered hydrology at an extant site in Kentucky, by causing rutting of soils and hastening channel development at the stream head (Taylor 2014, pers. comm.).

    While most observations of threats related to logging activity have concerned habitat disturbance or increased shading caused by woody vegetation regrowth, Hoy (2012, p. 26) suggests that high stem densities that occur during succession following canopy removal shorten the hydroperiod of wetlands at an extant white fringeless orchid site in Kentucky. This results from increased evapotranspiration, due to greater leaf surface area, causing faster rates of water loss. While only empirically documented in wetlands where a single white fringeless orchid occurrence is located, this process likely has affected numerous other sites where canopy removal has occurred due to logging.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, altered hydrology is a threat of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid populations.

    Right-of-Way Maintenance

    Eleven extant white fringeless orchid occurrences and one of uncertain status are located in transportation or utility rights-of-way (Richards 2013, pers. comm.; KSNPC 2014; TDEC 2014). Vegetation management practices in such habitats prevent advanced succession of woody vegetation, which can benefit white fringeless orchid by periodically reducing shading. On the other hand, mechanical clearing in these habitats can alter hydrology by causing rutting of soils and hastening channel development, as discussed in the preceding section (Taylor 2014, pers. comm.). Mowing during the flowering period for white fringeless orchid is detrimental, given the low flowering rates that have been observed in this species and the fact that individual plants will not regenerate flowers during a growing season once they are lost to herbivory or other causes (Sheviak 1990, p. 195). Also, it is likely that indiscriminate herbicide application would cause mortality of white fringeless orchid plants. However, we have knowledge of one event in which the species responded favorably following selective herbicide application to control woody plant succession in a Tennessee Valley Authority transmission line right-of-way, reaching record numbers of flowering plants documented at the site within 2 years following the herbicide treatment. The lack of adverse effect to white fringeless orchid in this instance is likely attributable to the targeted application of herbicides to woody plants only.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, right-of-way maintenance is a threat of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid populations.

    Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or Curtailments of Its Range

    The USFS has undertaken efforts to restore or protect habitat at a number of white fringeless orchid sites located on National Forest (NF) lands. At the Cherokee NF, the USFS constructed fences to exclude feral hogs at two sites, one of which is the largest known occurrence of the species. These fences are effective when maintained; however, only the main concentration of plants is protected at the site where the largest occurrence is present. At the Daniel Boone NF, the installation of check dams (small, often temporary, dam constructed across a swale, drainage ditch, or waterway to counteract erosion by reducing water flow velocity) in 2005 has been somewhat effective in restoring suitable conditions for white fringeless orchid at a site where wetland hydrology had been altered. Efforts to control invasion by Japanese stiltgrass by repeatedly weeding at one site on Daniel Boone NF have been hampered by a seed source that exists on private lands upslope of the site (Taylor 2014, pers. comm.).

    Efforts have been made to restore suitable habitat conditions at one site on KSNPC lands, by reducing woody stem encroachment in 2012, following a timber harvest, and by placing log dams to slow surface runoff and minimize channel development. To date, white fringeless orchid has not shown a measureable response to this management effort; despite large numbers of vegetative Platanthera spp. leaves being present, fewer than 30 flowering plants per year have been observed in recent years at this site, where 530 plants were observed flowering in 1998 (KSNPC 2014).

    Summary of Factor A

    The threats to white fringeless orchid from habitat destruction and modification are occurring throughout much of the species' range. These threats include development, silvicultural practices, invasive plant species, disturbance by feral hogs, shading due to understory and canopy closure, altered hydrology, and right-of-way maintenance. While the species is present in a number of sites on conservation lands, few conservation actions have been undertaken to address these threats to the species' habitat, and those that are described above have met with limited success. The population-level impacts of habitat destruction and modification are expected to continue. Threats related to silvicultural practices could increase in the future, given that some occurrences are located on private industrial forest lands, where logging and future conversion of native hardwood forests to pine plantation are likely to occur. In addition to physical disturbances that alter hydrology, predicted changes in precipitation and drought frequency and severity (see Factor E, below) may contribute to increased loss of suitable habitat in the future.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, we conclude that the present or threatened destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat or range is currently a threat to white fringeless orchid and is expected to continue and possibly increase in the future.

    Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes

    White fringeless orchid was first collected from a site in McCreary County, Kentucky, but had disappeared from the site by the 1940s, apparently due to the collection of hundreds of specimens to be deposited in herbaria (Ettman and McAdoo 1979 cited in Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 212). Shea (1992, p. 27) cites personal communications from R. Smartt and P. Somers, the latter of whom was a botanist with Tennessee's Natural Heritage Program, reporting that two nurseries in Tennessee had collected white fringeless orchid plants for resale. While we are not able to independently verify these historical reports, they suggest that collecting for various purposes has long been a threat to white fringeless orchid. Evidence of recent plant collecting (for unknown purposes), at two separate locations, is presented below.

    The first of these occurred in 2004, alongside a State highway in Chattooga County, Georgia. Botanists discovered many flowering plants at the site, but when they later returned to the site they found that most of the plants had been dug out and removed. During 2014, only a single non-flowering white fringeless orchid was seen at this site (Richards 2014, pers. comm.). The second incident took place during 2014, alongside a State highway in Sequatchie County, Tennessee. A Service biologist observed 83 flowering white fringeless orchids at this site on August 13, 2014, but 2 weeks later only 31 plants bearing flowers or fruiting capsules were found during a survey with TDEC botanists. In the location where the greatest concentration of flowering plants had been observed on August 13, there were areas where mats of sphagnum moss and roots of woody plants had been scraped away from the surface and shallow depressions were present in the mineral soil beneath. Because no wildlife tracks were present in the area where the surface disturbance had occurred and no partial stems were present to indicate that the loss resulted from herbivory, the Service and TDEC botanists concluded that the plants had been collected.

    While the fate of plants that have been collected is not known, we received information about white fringeless orchids having been purchased via an online vendor in 2004 (Richards 2014, pers. comm.). The plants were sold as nursery grown Platanthera blephariglottis (white fringed orchid), a taxon of which white fringeless orchid was once treated as a variety (Correll 1941, pp. 153-157); however, when the plants later flowered in a greenhouse, it was apparent they were white fringeless orchids. When the seller was questioned about the origin of the plants, she initially insisted they had come from a friend's private lands. The seller later refused to respond to additional inquiries from the buyer. A recent online search for commercially available, native Platanthera orchids revealed that three species, which often co-occur with white fringeless orchid, were being offered for sale on the online auction and shopping Web site eBay (www.ebay.com, accessed on September 17, 2014). The unintended purchase of white fringeless orchid from an online vendor, combined with the offering of three other Platanthera orchids for sale via eBay, provides additional evidence that demand exists for native orchids of this genus.

    Due to the species' rarity, the small sizes of most known populations, and the fact that most of the populations are located in remote sites that are infrequently monitored by conservation organizations or law enforcement, collection is a threat to P. integrilabia. In small populations, the collection of even a few individuals would diminish reproductive output and likely reduce genetic diversity.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, overutilization for commercial, scientific, or recreational purposes is currently a threat of low magnitude to white fringeless orchid and is expected to continue in the future. If the Service were to publish a proposal to designate critical habitat for this species, which would include detailed maps and descriptions of locations where the species is present, the magnitude and severity of this activity would increase, and it would become a threat of moderate to high magnitude.

    Factor C. Disease or Predation

    Zettler and Fairey (1990, p. 214) reported that both herbivory and disease affected two white fringeless orchid populations they studied in Georgia and South Carolina. At the Georgia site, 16.5 percent of the white fringeless orchids suffered from herbivory and 11.5 percent from disease; at the South Carolina site, herbivory and disease were evident on 22.5 and 23.9 percent of the plants, respectively. The specific herbivores were not discussed, but disease was attributed to pathogenic fungi that were isolated from necrotic tissue, including species of Alternaria, Pestalotia, Nigrospora, and Cercospora (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 214).

    Zettler (1994, p. 687) also reported observations of tuber herbivory by feral hogs at the largest white fringeless orchid occurrence in McMinn County, Tennessee. The USFS constructed fences to exclude hogs from the greatest concentration of plants at this site and at a smaller occurrence in Polk County, but found the fence at the McMinn County site in need of repair in 2002, when they discovered that approximately half of the flowering white fringeless orchids and many vegetative orchids had been uprooted (USFS 2008, p. 54). As noted above, evidence of feral hog disturbance has been observed at 10 extant white fringeless orchid sites.

    Numerous observers have reported herbivory by deer as a threat to white fringeless orchids, specifically removal of inflorescences from white fringeless orchid plants (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 212; Shea 1992, pp. 27, 61, 71-77, 95-97; TDEC 2012, p. 3; KSNPC 2014; TDEC 2014). From these sources, we found observations of inflorescence herbivory at 21 extant occurrences and 5 where the status is now uncertain. It is likely that this threat affects most white fringeless orchid occurrences (TDEC 2012, p. 3), despite not having been specifically documented in every instance.

    Using material supplied by the Service, TDEC biologists installed plastic deer control fencing around two areas with concentrations of white fringeless orchids at a site on Tennessee State Park lands in 2013. During 2014, there were 105 flowering plants at the site, plus 31 plants with browsed inflorescences found outside of the fenced enclosures and one browsed plant inside one of the enclosures where the fence had partially collapsed. Inside of the enclosures were 45 flowering plants that were unharmed. Approximately one-third of the flowering plants outside of the fenced areas suffered inflorescence herbivory.

    The high frequency at which inflorescence herbivory has been observed at white fringeless orchid occurrences likely contributes to population declines in this species. Orchid growth is initiated each spring from overwintered buds, similar to most perennial plants; however, orchids differ from most other plants by lacking the capacity to replace tissues lost to herbivory or other causes until the following year. In addition, in several species of Platanthera, the usual response to loss of the shoot is death of the plant (Sheviak 1990, p. 195).

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, predation is a threat of moderate to high magnitude to white fringeless orchid and is expected to continue in the future. Pathogenic fungi have been documented in only two populations, though their presence has likely been overlooked by most observers, and therefore they are a low magnitude threat.

    Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act requires the Service to take into account “those efforts, if any, being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species. . . .” In relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal laws, plans, regulations, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of the threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four factors, or otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations and to management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. An example would be State governmental actions enforced under a State statute or constitution, or Federal action under statute.

    Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the specific threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified threats. In this section, we review existing State and Federal regulatory mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or remove threats to the white fringeless orchid.

    The white fringeless orchid is listed as special concern, with historical status, by the State of North Carolina, as threatened by the State of Georgia, and as endangered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and State of Tennessee.

    The North Carolina Plant Protection and Conservation Act (NCPPCA; North Carolina General Statutes 106-202) authorizes the North Carolina Plant Conservation Board, within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to among other things: Maintain a list of protected plant species; adopt regulations to protect, conserve, or enhance protected plant species; and regulate the sale or distribution of protected plant species. The NCPPCA forbids any person from uprooting, digging, taking or otherwise disturbing or removing protected plant species from the lands of another without a written permit and prescribes penalties for violations.

    The law that provides official protection to designated species of plants in Georgia is known as the Wildflower Preservation Act of 1973. Under this State law, no protected plant may be collected without written landowner permission. No protected plant may be transported within Georgia without a transport tag with a permit number affixed. Permits are also used to regulate a wide array of conservation activities, including plant rescues, sale of protected species, and propagation efforts for augmenting natural populations and establishing new ones. No protected plants may be collected from State-owned lands without the express permission of the GDNR. The Georgia Environmental Policy Act (GEPA), enacted in 1991, requires that impacts to protected species be addressed for all projects on State-owned lands, and for all projects undertaken by a municipality or county if funded half or more by State funds, or by a State grant of more than $250,000. The provisions of GEPA do not apply to actions of non-governmental entities. On private lands, the landowner has ultimate authority on what protection efforts, if any, occur with regard to protected plants (Patrick et al. 1995, p. 1 of section titled “Legal Overview”).

    The Kentucky Rare Plants Recognition Act, Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS), chapter 146, sections 600-619, directs the KSNPC to identify plants native to Kentucky that are in danger of extirpation within Kentucky and report every 4 years to the Governor and General Assembly on the conditions and needs of these endangered or threatened plants. This list of endangered or threatened plants in Kentucky is found in Kentucky Administrative Regulations, title 400, chapter 3:040. The statute (KRS 146:600-619) recognizes the need to develop and maintain information regarding distribution, population, habitat needs, limiting factors, other biological data, and requirements for the survival of plants native to Kentucky. This statute does not include any regulatory prohibitions of activities or direct protections for any species included in the list. It is expressly stated in KRS 146.615 that this list of endangered or threatened plants shall not obstruct or hinder any development or use of public or private land. Furthermore, the intent of this statute is not to ameliorate the threats identified for the species, but it does provide information on the species.

    The Tennessee Rare Plant Protection and Conservation Act of 1985 (TRPPCA; Tennessee Code Annotated 11-26-201) authorizes the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to, among other things: Conduct investigations on species of rare plants throughout the State of Tennessee; maintain a listing of species of plants determined to be endangered, threatened, or of special concern within the State; and regulate the sale or export of endangered species via a licensing system. The TRPPCA forbids persons from knowingly uprooting, digging, taking, removing, damaging, destroying, possessing, or otherwise disturbing for any purpose, any endangered species from private or public lands without the written permission of the landowner, lessee, or other person entitled to possession and prescribes penalties for violations. The TDEC may use the list of threatened and special concern species when commenting on proposed public works projects in Tennessee, and the department encourages voluntary efforts to prevent the plants on this list from becoming endangered species. This authority is not, however, to be used to interfere with, delay, or impede any public works project.

    Thus, despite the fact that the white fringeless orchid is listed as special concern, threatened, or endangered by the States of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, these designations confer no guarantee of protection to the species' habitat, whether on privately owned or State-owned lands, unless such protections are voluntarily extended to the species, and only prohibit unauthorized collection in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

    Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA; 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) establishes a Federal program for regulating the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. Additionally, section 401 of the CWA forbids Federal agencies from issuing a permit or license for activities that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States until the State or Tribe where the discharge would originate has granted or waived certification. All of the States where white fringeless orchid occurs maintain regulatory programs providing a framework for issuance of section 401 certifications related to applications for section 404 permits. This legislation does not prohibit the discharge of these materials into wetlands; rather, it provides a regulatory framework that requires permits prior to such action being taken. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) reviews individual permits for potentially significant impacts; however, most discharges are considered to have minimal impacts and may be covered by a general permit that does not require individual review.

    Due to their typical position in non-navigable heads of streams located remotely from traditional navigable waters, where flow is ephemeral or intermittent and channels are poorly defined, if present at all, wetlands where white fringeless orchid occurs have been considered to not exhibit a significant nexus with traditional navigable waters. Therefore, these types of wetlands typically do not meet the definition of waters of the United States given in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Corps joint memorandum Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Following the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in Rapanos v. United States & Carabell v. United States (December 2, 2008). However, on June 29, 2015, the EPA and Corps published a final rule (80 FR 37054) that revises the definition of “Waters of the United States.” Specific guidance on implementation of this revised definition is currently lacking, but it appears that the revised definition now includes the habitats where white fringeless orchid occurs among waters of the United States.

    While the wetland habitats occupied by white fringeless orchid are now likely to be included within the definition of waters of the United States, as noted above, section 404 of the CWA does not necessarily prevent degradation to such habitats from the discharge of dredge or fill material. It simply provides a regulatory program for permitting activities that would result in such a discharge. Further, discharges associated with normal farming, ranching, and forestry activities, such as plowing, cultivating, minor drainage, and harvesting for the production of food, fiber, and forest products are exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit. Thus, potential impacts to wetland habitats from silvicultural activities such as those described above in the Factor A discussion are not regulated under section 404 of the CWA.

    Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence Small Population Size

    The low number of individuals that have been seen at most white fringeless orchid occurrences (Figure 1, above) increases the species' vulnerability to threats, discussed under Factors A through D, above, by diminishing its resilience to recover from demographic reductions caused by habitat disturbance or modification, collecting, or herbivory. Despite the fact that white fringeless orchid has been shown to be self-compatible, higher rates of fruit set have been observed in larger populations, presumably due to higher rates of cross-pollination (Zettler and Fairey 1990, p. 214; Zettler et al. 1996, p. 20). Zettler et al. (1996, p. 22) attributed the lower fruiting rates in the smaller populations to inbreeding depression, noting that in a separate study both germination rates and propagation success were greater in white fringeless orchid seeds collected from the largest of the three populations they studied (Zettler and McInnis 1992, p. 160). Johnson et al. (2009, p. 3) found that higher proportions of self-pollination occurred in smaller populations of a moth-pollinated orchid, Satyrium longicauda (no common name), presumably due to pollinators visiting more flowers per plant in smaller populations and more frequently transferring pollen among flowers within a single inflorescence, rather than frequently moving among separate inflorescences on different individuals. To the extent that rates of cross-pollination, fruit set, germination, and propagation success are lower for white fringeless orchid populations of small size, demographic reductions resulting from other threats place the species at greater risk of localized extinctions.

    While the results of genetic analyses did not demonstrate that genetic variability in populations of white fringeless orchid has been eroded by restricted gene flow, Birchenko (2001, pp. 34-40) cautioned that interactions between demographic and ecological factors could be a cause for some of the declines in white fringeless orchid population sizes and could ultimately cause declines in the species' genetic variation and increase differentiation among its populations. The ability of populations to adapt to environmental change is dependent upon genetic variation, a property of populations that derives from its members possessing different forms (i.e., alleles) of the same gene (Primack 1998, p. 283). Small populations occurring in isolation on the landscape can lose genetic variation due to the potentially strong influence of genetic drift, i.e., the random change in allele frequency from generation to generation (Barrett and Kohn 1991, p. 8). Smaller populations experience greater changes in allele frequency due to drift than do larger populations (Allendorf and Luikart 2007, pp. 121-122). Loss of genetic variation due to genetic drift heightens susceptibility of small populations to adverse genetic effects, including inbreeding depression and loss of evolutionary flexibility (Primack 1998, p. 283). Deleterious effects of loss of genetic variation through drift have been termed drift load, which is expressed as a decline in mean population performance of offspring in small populations (Willi et al. 2005, p. 2260).

    Climate Change

    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and projected changes in climate. The terms “climate” and “climate change” are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Climate” refers to the mean and variability of different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical period for such measurements, although shorter or longer periods also may be used (IPCC 2014, pp. 119-120). The term “climate change” thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures of climate (e.g., temperature or precipitation) that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, whether the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 2014, pp. 119-120). A recent compilation of climate change and its effects is available from reports of the IPCC (IPCC 2014, entire).

    Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative and they may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant considerations, such as the effects of interactions of climate with other variables (e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-19). Projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., IPCC 2014, pp. 11-13). Therefore, we use “downscaled” projections when they are available and have been developed through appropriate scientific procedures (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a discussion of downscaling). In our analyses, we use our expert judgment to weigh relevant information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of climate change.

    The IPCC concluded that evidence of warming of the climate system is unequivocal (IPCC 2014, pp. 2, 40). Numerous long-term climate changes have been observed including changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, and aspects of extreme weather including heavy precipitation and heat waves (IPCC 2014, pp. 40-44). While continued change is certain, the magnitude and rate of change is unknown in many cases. Species that are dependent on specialized habitat types, are limited in distribution, or have become restricted to the extreme periphery of their range will be most susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

    Estimates of the effects of climate change using available climate models lack the geographic precision needed to predict the magnitude of effects at a scale small enough to discretely apply to the range of white fringeless orchid (i.e., there are no “downscaled” projections available). However, data on recent trends and predicted changes for the Southeast United States (Karl et al. 2009, pp. 111-122) provide some insight for evaluating the potential threat of climate change to the species. White fringeless orchid's geographic range lies within the geographic area included by Karl et al. (2009, pp. 111-116) in their summary of regional climate impacts affecting the Southeast region.

    Since 1970, the average annual temperature across the Southeast has increased by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (°F), with the greatest increases occurring during winter months. The geographic extent of areas in the Southeast region affected by moderate to severe spring and summer drought has increased over the past three decades by 12 and 14 percent, respectively (Karl et al. 2009, p. 111). These trends are expected to increase. Rates of warming are predicted to more than double in comparison to what the Southeast has experienced since 1975, with the greatest increases projected for summer months. Depending on the emissions scenario used for modeling change, average temperatures are expected to increase by 4.5 °F to 9 °F by the 2080s (Karl et al. 2009, p. 111). While there is considerable variability in rainfall predictions throughout the region, increases in evaporation of moisture from soils and loss of water by plants in response to warmer temperatures are expected to contribute to increased frequency, intensity, and duration of drought events (Karl et al. 2009, p. 112).

    Depending on timing and intensity of drought events, white fringeless orchid occurrences could be adversely affected by increased mortality rates, reduced reproductive output due to loss or reduced vigor of mature plants, and reduced rates of seed germination and seedling recruitment. Further, white fringeless orchid's dependence upon a limited number of large Lepidoptera for pollination (Zettler et al. 1996, pp.16-22) and, potentially, on a single species of mycorrhizal fungi to complete its life cycle (Currah et al. 1997, p. 340) place the species at higher risk of extinction due to environmental changes that could diminish habitat suitability for it or the other species upon which it depends (Swarts and Dixon 2009, p. 546).

    While climate has changed in recent decades in the southeastern United States and the rate of change likely will continue to increase into the future, we do not have data to determine specifically how the habitats where white fringeless orchid occurs will be affected by, or how the species will respond to, these changes. However, the potential for adverse effects to white fringeless orchid, either through changes in habitat suitability or by affecting populations of pollinators or mycorrhizal fungi, is likely to increase as climate continues to change at an accelerating rate.

    Based on our review of the best commercial and scientific data available, diminished resilience of many occurrences due to small population sizes and the species' dependence on a limited number of Lepidoptera and a single species of fungi to complete its life cycle are currently threats of moderate magnitude to white fringeless orchid. These threats are expected to continue and, in light of climate change projections, possibly increase in the future.

    Proposed Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the white fringeless orchid. Habitat destruction and modification (Factor A) from development, silvicultural practices, excessive shading, and altered hydrology (i.e., pond construction, beaver dam removal) have resulted in extirpation of the species from 10 sites. These threats, in addition to invasive plant species, feral hogs, and right-of-way maintenance, are associated with habitat modifications affecting dozens of other occurrences that are extant or of uncertain status. Collecting for scientific, recreational, or commercial purposes (Factor B) has been attributed as the cause for extirpation of white fringeless orchid at its type locality, and recent evidence demonstrates that this activity remains a threat to this species. Fungal pathogens have been identified as a threat to white fringeless orchid, but a threat with potentially greater impact associated with Factor C is inflorescence herbivory, presumably by deer, which has been reported at over one-third of extant occurrences and likely is a factor threatening most white fringeless orchid occurrences, especially where low numbers of plants are present. Tuber herbivory by feral hogs has been reported at the largest known white fringeless orchid occurrence. The effects of these threats are intensified by the small population sizes that characterize a majority of occurrences throughout the species' geographic range (Factor E), due to their diminished resilience to recover from demographic reductions caused by loss of individuals or low reproductive output from other threats. Further, the species' dependence on a limited number of Lepidoptera and a single species of fungi to complete its life cycle, make it vulnerable to disturbances that diminish habitat suitability for these taxa as well (Factor E). Existing regulatory mechanisms have not led to a reduction or removal of threats posed to the species from these factors (see Factor D discussion).

    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a threatened species as any species “that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future.” We find that white fringeless orchid is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future based on the low to moderate threats currently impacting the species. The species is known to be extant at 58 locations, but low numbers of individuals have been observed at more than half of these (see Figure 1, above), distributed across the species' range, and their persistence into the future is uncertain. Furthermore, the threats of habitat destruction or modification and herbivory are present throughout the species' geographic range. Left unmanaged, these threats will likely lead to further reductions in the species' geographic range and abundance at individual sites, increasing the risk of extinction to the point of endangerment. Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we propose listing the white fringeless orchid as threatened in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. The species does not currently meet the definition of endangered, because a sufficient number of robust populations are present on publicly owned or managed lands. Conservation efforts have been initiated that could be effective in reducing threats by increasing population sizes and improving habitat conditions across much of the species' geographic range.

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The threats to the survival of white fringeless orchid occur throughout the species' range and are not restricted to any particular significant portion of that range. Accordingly, our assessment and proposed determination applies to the species throughout its entire range. Therefore, because we have determined that white fringeless orchid is threatened throughout all of its range, no portion of its range can be “significant” for purposes of the definitions of “endangered species” and “threatened species.” See the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase “Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of “Endangered Species” and “Threatened Species” (79 FR 37578; July 1, 2014).

    Critical Habitat and Prudency Determination

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:

    (1) The specific areas within the geographic area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features:

    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and

    (b) Which may require special management considerations or protection; and

    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary.

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following situations exist:

    (1) The species is threatened by taking, collection, or other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species, or

    (2) Such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.

    We have determined that white fringeless orchid is threatened by taking, collection, or other human activity and that identification of critical habitat would be expected to increase this threat. We also have determined that little measurable benefit to the species would result from designation of critical habitat. This determination involves weighing the expected increase in threats associated with a critical habitat designation against the benefits gained by a critical habitat designation. An explanation of this “balancing” evaluation follows.

    Increased Threat to the Species by Designating Critical Habitat

    Designation of critical habitat requires publication of maps and a narrative description of specific critical habitat areas in the Federal Register. The degree of detail in those maps and boundary descriptions is far greater than the general location descriptions provided in this listing proposal. Also, while general location data (e.g., names of administrative units of the National Park Service (NPS), USFS, or State conservation agencies where the species occurs) concerning white fringeless orchid are available, maps or detailed descriptions are not found in scientific or popular literature, current agency management plans, or other readily available sources. One exception is the availability online of a now expired management plan for a site in Alabama with maps depicting two locations of the species. Location information can also be found in a journal article for a site in North Carolina, where the species is no longer extant. Designation of critical habitat would more widely announce the exact location of the white fringeless orchid to poachers, collectors, and vandals and further facilitate unauthorized collection. Due to its rarity (low numbers of individuals in most populations), this orchid is highly vulnerable to collection. Removal of individuals from extant populations would have devastating consequences in terms of reducing their viability, if not causing outright extirpation. These threats would be exacerbated by the publication of maps and descriptions outlining the specific locations of this imperiled orchid in the Federal Register and local newspapers. Maps and descriptions of critical habitat, such as those that would appear in the Federal Register if critical habitat were designated, are not now available to the general public.

    We have discussed evidence related to poaching and commercial sale of white fringeless orchid and other congeners above (see Factor B, above). Due to the species' rarity, the small sizes of most known populations, and the fact that most of the populations are located in remote sites that are infrequently monitored by conservation organizations or law enforcement, collection is a threat to white fringeless orchid. In small populations, the collection of even a few individuals would diminish reproductive output and likely reduce genetic diversity. Identification of critical habitat would increase the magnitude and severity of this threat by spatially depicting exactly where the species may be found and widely publicizing this information, exposing these fragile populations and their habitat to greater risks. We have reviewed management plans and other documents produced by Federal and State conservation agencies and scientific literature, and detailed information on the specific locations of white fringeless orchid sites is not currently available.

    Benefits to the Species From Critical Habitat Designation

    It is true that designation of critical habitat for endangered or threatened species could have some beneficial effects. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the Service, to ensure that actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of that species' critical habitat. Critical habitat only provides protections where there is a Federal nexus, that is, those actions that come under the purview of section 7 of the Act. Critical habitat designation has no application to actions that do not have a Federal nexus. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act mandates that Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, evaluate the effects of its proposed action on any designated critical habitat. Similar to the Act's requirement that a Federal agency action not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species, Federal agencies have the responsibility not to implement actions that would destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. Critical habitat designation alone, however, does not require that a Federal action agency implement specific steps toward species recovery.

    Available data indicate that white fringeless orchid is known from 58 extant occurrences and from 22 others whose current status is uncertain. Of these 80 occurrences, 17 are located on Federal lands managed by the USFS (12), NPS (3), and the Service (2), where they currently receive protection from adverse effects of management actions and, in some cases, receive management specifically to benefit the species and its habitat. Management efforts have taken place to control feral hogs and invasive plants, increase light availability by reducing woody vegetation cover, and restore hydrology. In addition, the USFS recently entered a Master Stewardship Agreement with the Atlanta Botanical Garden to provide for habitat management, captive propagation, and reintroduction or augmentation of populations on USFS lands, where appropriate. Some of the populations on Federal lands are the largest known, and any future activity involving a Federal action that would destroy or adversely modify critical habitat at these sites would also likely jeopardize the species' continued existence. Consultation with respect to critical habitat would provide additional protection to a species only if the agency action would result in the destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat but would not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. In the absence of a critical habitat designation, areas that support white fringeless orchid will continue to be subject to conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act and to the regulatory protections afforded by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy standard, as appropriate.

    Another possible benefit to white fringeless orchid from designating critical habitat would be that it could serve to educate landowners; State and local government agencies; visitors to National Forests, National Parks, and National Wildlife Refuges; and the general public regarding the potential conservation value of the areas. However, through the process of recognizing white fringeless orchid as a candidate for Federal listing, much of this educational benefit has already been realized and designating critical habitat would do little to increase awareness about the species' presence and need for conservation among affected land managers. Agencies, organizations, and stakeholders are actively engaged in efforts to raise awareness for the orchid and its conservation needs. For example, the Atlanta Botanical Garden received a Five Star Urban Habitat Restoration grant to improve habitat at several white fringeless orchid sites in Georgia, propagate the species for reintroductions or augmentations, and establish educational bog gardens at Chattahoochee Nature Center and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This project, which is separate from the USFS agreement discussed above, involves seven official partners, including two local high schools and Georgia State University. In addition, designation of critical habitat could inform State agencies and local governments about areas that could be conserved under State laws or local ordinances. However, as awareness and education involving white fringeless orchid is already well underway and the species currently receives protection from adverse effects of management activities where it occurs on public and privately owned conservation lands, designation of critical habitat would likely provide only minimal incremental benefits.

    Increased Threat to the Species Outweighs the Benefits of Critical Habitat Designation

    Upon reviewing the available information, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat would increase the threat to white fringeless orchid from unauthorized collection and trade. At the same time, designation of critical habitat is likely to confer little measurable benefit to the species beyond that provided by listing. Overall, the risk of increasing significant threats to the species by publishing detailed location information in a critical habitat designation greatly outweighs the benefits of designating critical habitat.

    In conclusion, we find that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent, in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1), because white fringeless orchid is threatened by collection, and designation can reasonably be expected to increase the degree of this threat to the species and its habitat. However, we seek public comment on our determination that designation of critical habitat is not prudent.

    Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and other countries and calls for recovery actions to be carried out for listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.

    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act calls for the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems.

    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. The recovery plan also identifies recovery criteria for review of when a species may be ready for downlisting or delisting, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. If the species is listed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan, when completed, would be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands. If this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State(s) of Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Kentucky would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the white fringeless orchid. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.

    Although the white fringeless orchid is only proposed for listing under the Act at this time, please let us know if you are interested in participating in conservation efforts for this species. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for conservation planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the Service.

    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USFS, and NPS; issuance of section 404 CWA permits by the Corps; powerline right-of-way construction and maintenance by the Tennessee Valley Authority; and construction and maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal Highway Administration.

    With respect to threatened plants, 50 CFR 17.71 provides that all of the provisions at 50 CFR 17.61 shall apply to threatened plants. These provisions make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to import or export, transport in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity, sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce, or to remove and reduce to possession any such plant species from areas under Federal jurisdiction. In addition, the Act prohibits malicious damage or destruction of any such species on any area under Federal jurisdiction, and the removal, cutting, digging up, or damaging or destroying of any such species on any other area in knowing violation of any State law or regulation, or in the course of any violation of a State criminal trespass law. However, there is the following exception for threatened plants. Seeds of cultivated specimens of species treated as threatened shall be exempt from all the provisions of 50 CFR 17.61, provided that a statement that the seeds are of “cultivated origin” accompanies the seeds or their container during the course of any activity otherwise subject to these regulations. Exceptions to these prohibitions are outlined in 50 CFR 17.72.

    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving threatened plants under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.72. With regard to threatened plants, a permit issued under this section must be for one of the following: Scientific purposes, the enhancement of the propagation or survival of threatened species, economic hardship, botanical or horticultural exhibition, educational purposes, or other activities consistent with the purposes and policy of the Act.

    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species proposed for listing.

    Based on the best available information, the following activities may potentially result in a violation of section 9 the Act; this list is not comprehensive:

    (1) Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, or transporting of white fringeless orchid, including import or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for properly documented antique specimens of this species at least 100 years old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act;

    (2) Unauthorized removal, damage, or destruction of white fringeless orchid plants from populations located on Federal land (USFS, NPS, and Service lands); and

    (3) Unauthorized removal, damage, or destruction of white fringeless orchid plants on private land in violation of any State regulation, including criminal trespass.

    At this time, we are unable to identify specific activities that would not be considered to result in a violation of section 9 of the Act because white fringeless orchid occurs in a variety of habitat conditions across its range and it is likely that site-specific conservation measures may be needed for activities that may directly or indirectly affect the species.

    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Required Determinations Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must:

    (1) Be logically organized;

    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;

    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;

    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and

    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.

    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

    References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Authors

    The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

    PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, unless otherwise noted.

    2. In § 17.12(h), add an entry for Platanthera integrilabia (white fringeless orchid) to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants in alphabetical order under FLOWERING PLANTS to read as follows:
    § 17.12 Endangered and threatened plants.

    (h) * * *

    Species Scientific name Common name Historic range Family Status When listed Critical
  • habitat
  • Special rules
    Flowering Plants *         *         *         *         *         *         * Platanthera integrilabia White fringeless orchid U.S.A. (AL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN) Orchidaceae T NA NA *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Dated: August 14, 2015. Stephen Guertin, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-22973 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
    80 178 Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Economic Research Service Notice of Intent To Request New Information Collection AGENCY:

    Economic Research Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Economic Research Service (ERS) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on a proposed new information collection, the Generic Clearance for Survey Research Studies.

    DATES:

    Comments on this notice must be received by November 16, 2015 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    Address all comments concerning this notice to Pheny Weidman, ERS Clearance Officer, Economic Research Service, Room 4-163B, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Mail Stop 1800, Washington, DC 20050-1800. Submit electronic comments to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Pheny Weidman at the address in the preamble. Tel. 202-694-5013.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Generic Clearance for Survey Research Studies.

    OMB Number: 0536-NEW.

    Expiration Date of Approval: Three years from the date of approval.

    Type of Request: New collection.

    Abstract: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13) and OMB regulations at 5 CFR part 1320 (60 FR 44978, August 29, 1995), this notice announces the ERS' intention to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for a generic clearance that will allow ERS to rigorously develop, test, and evaluate its survey methodologies, instruments, and administration. The mission of ERS is to provide economic and other social science information and analysis for public and private decisions on agriculture, food, natural resources, and rural America. This request is part of an on-going initiative to improve ERS data product quality, as recommended by both its own guidelines and those of OMB.

    The purpose of this generic clearance is to allow ERS to evaluate, adopt, and use state-of-the-art and multi-disciplinary research to improve and enhance the quality of its current data collections. This clearance will also be used to aid in the development of new surveys. It will help to ensure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed.

    ERS envisions using a variety of survey improvement techniques, as appropriate to the individual project under investigation. These include focus groups, cognitive and usability laboratory and field techniques, exploratory interviews, behavior coding, and respondent debriefing.

    Following standard OMB requirements, ERS will inform OMB individually in writing of the purpose, scope, time frame, and number of burden hours used for each survey improvement or development project it undertakes under this generic clearance. ERS will also provide OMB with a copy of the data collection instrument (if applicable), and all other materials describing the project.

    Authority:

    These data will be collected under the authority of 7 U.S.C. 2204(a).

    ERS intends to protect respondent information under the Privacy Act of 1974, Section 1770 of the Food Security Act of 1985, and 7 U.S.C. 2276. ERS has decided not to invoke the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA). The complexity and cost necessary to invoke CIPSEA is not justified given the nature of the collection; the collections would generally be conducted by ERS' contractors and designed to be hosted in non-government owned computer systems, where CIPSEA compliance could not be assured.

    Specific details regarding information handling will be specified in individual submissions under this generic clearance.

    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for these collections of information is estimated to average from 1 to 2 hours per respondent, depending upon the information collection and the technique used to test for that particular collection.

    Respondents: Individuals or households, farms, and businesses or other for-profits.

    Estimated Total Number of Respondents: 3,500.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 5,600 hours. Public reporting burden for these collections of information is estimated to average from 1 to 2 hours per respondent, dependent upon the survey and the technique used to test for that particular survey.

    Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Pheny Weidman at the address in the preamble.

    Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to 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. Comments should be sent to the address in the preamble. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Dated: September 3, 2015. Mary Bohman, Administrator, Economic Research Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23123 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Shasta-Trinity National Forest; California; Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

    SUMMARY:

    With the Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project (Highway 89 project), the Shasta-Trinity National Forest (Forest) is proposing to improve public safety along California State Highway 89 (Highway 89) and restore forest health throughout approximately 13,514 acres of forest by:

    Addressing infrastructure needs (National Forest System roads and helispot, developed recreation areas);

    Reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire by reducing fuel loads, thinning overstocked stands, and gradually returning fire to the landscape both along the highway corridor and within the surrounding forest; and

    Restoring resilient forest structures, patterns, and disturbance regimes by reducing stand densities, retaining and releasing larger trees, increasing under-represented forest vegetation such as aspen and oak, and providing forest structural diversity across the landscape.

    The 13,514 acre project area is located in Siskiyou County, California, north and south of Highway 89, from near the junction of Highway 89 with Interstate 5 (Mount Shasta, California area), east to the Cattle Camp turnoff (Forest Roads 43N19 and 40N44). The project boundary extends up to 2.5 miles from the highway and is bounded by the McCloud River, private property, and major Forest roads. The large landscape selected encompasses both complex natural forest stands that retain more spatial heterogeneity combined with simplified forest stands that are typically homogeneous in structure and include uniform stands of small and medium-sized trees within plantations. Using logical landscape boundaries, including the river, private property, roads, and other restored landscapes (Algoma Vegetation Management Project) fosters restoration of resilient forest structures, patterns, and disturbance regimes which are lacking.

    The legal location is: Township 39 North, Range 1 West, Sections 2-10, 17-18; Township 39 North, Range 2 West, Sections 1-3, 12; Township 40 North, Range 1 West, Sections 27, 28, 31-34; Township 40 North, Range 2 West, Sections 34-36; Township 40 North, Range 3 West, Sections 32-33; Township 40 North, Range 4 West, Sections 22-26, 34, Mt. Diablo Meridian. Elevations range from 3,200 to 4,400 feet.

    Project treatments include thinning along the Highway 89 corridor, thinning in plantations and in natural forest stands throughout the 13,514 acres, hazard tree removal, prescribed burning, Forest road management, and developing a helispot.

    DATES:

    Comments concerning this scope of the analysis must be received by October 15, 2015. The draft environmental impact statement is expected in December, 2015 and the final environmental impact statement is expected in May 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send written comments to Carolyn Napper, District Ranger, Shasta-McCloud Management Unit, 204 W. Alma St., Mt. Shasta, California 96067, Attn. Heather McRae. Comments may also be sent via email to: [email protected], or via facsimile to (530) 926-5120.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Heather McRae, Fuels Specialist, at (530) 964-3770 or [email protected], or Ann Glubczynski, Natural Resource Planner, at (530) 964-3717 or [email protected]

    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The project purpose and need for action is generated by looking at the difference between the existing conditions and the desired conditions [as identified in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Land Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan)] in the project area.

    Highway 89 Corridor

    Existing Conditions: The Highway 89 corridor is defined as the area that extends up to 275 feet out from the edge of the pavement on both sides of the two-lane highway. This corridor is composed of three sections between Interstate 5 (I-5) and Cattle Camp (Forest roads 43N19 and 40N44), for a total of 10.2 miles. The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) right of way (ROW) along the highway varies from 80 to 200 feet from the roadway centerline through the project area.

    The vegetation along portions of the Highway 89 corridor includes tall, dense forest stands that are close to the road shoulder and cast shadows on the pavement. During the winter months, the shade on the roadway keeps snow and ice from melting for up to several weeks following a storm. Trees immediately adjacent to the highway with overhanging branches can drop snow loads onto the highway and passing vehicles. These branches collect snow, until the snow becomes too heavy, and drops onto the roadway. Snow from overhanging branches has been known to hit the windshields of vehicles as it falls, even breaking some windshields. In many areas, the trees and brush are very dense, growing within the ROW, which makes snow removal from the paved traffic lanes difficult.

    During the entire year, vegetation along the highway also limits visibility for drivers to see wildlife moving from the forest onto the highway. Numerous animal and vehicle collisions have occurred along the highway in the project area, because drivers are not able to see animals entering the roadway until they are so close that it is difficult to stop or even slow down.

    Dense vegetation, tree mortality, and large amounts of dead vegetation and debris along Highway 89 have increased the likelihood that a fire starting or burning along the highway could spread quickly to threaten surrounding forests and communities, or allow for a fire to cross the highway, and be difficult to control during dry summer conditions. Highway 89 also serves as an evacuation route for residents to leave and emergency personnel to access the area.

    Desired Future Conditions: Sunlight is able to reach the Highway 89 road surface during winter months, enabling snow and ice to melt from the roadway more quickly. There are fewer trees with branches hanging over Highway 89.

    Drivers along Highway 89 have adequate sight distance and an open view of wildlife entering the roadway to respond as necessary.

    Sufficient gaps in vegetation exist along Highway 89 to allow for efficient snow removal during heavy snowfalls.

    Vegetation conditions and predicted fire behavior along Highway 89 are such that a wildfire during summer months is less likely to spread along or across the highway, is less likely to threaten surrounding forests and communities, and would not limit access for firefighters, or egress for citizens.

    Forest Roads, Powerline Corridors and Helispot

    Existing Conditions: There are many Forest roads within the project area. The conditions of these roads vary, from well maintained to nearly undrivable. Brush and trees encroach on some roadways making them undrivable or difficult to drive on and therefore unsafe for users. Many Forest roads are used frequently by Forest visitors to access areas where they recreate, or for recreation activities such as biking, horse-back riding, or driving off highway vehicles (OHVs). Some of these roads have reduced access for recreational opportunities due to their poor condition or being overgrown.

    Some roads that are open are not heavily used, nor are they needed for resource management activities. There are many user-created routes in the project area that are not part of the Forest transportation system (unauthorized routes) and not needed for resource management activities. But several Forest Transportation System roads and one unauthorized route in the project area that are currently closed or inaccessible do provide critical access for resource management activities.

    Powerlines crossing through the project area are maintained by the power companies, who currently remove vegetation within the power line corridor ROW. However, in some areas, such as near the community of Mount Shasta, dense forest stands on NFS lands are growing right up to the powerline corridors. The safety of firefighters responding to a fire near these powerlines is at risk. There is no break in the vegetation sufficient to safely put firefighters near the powerlines during a wildfire to protect them.

    There is an existing helispot located behind the Ash Creek Guard Station where trees are obstructing the take-off and landing paths for helicopters. These trees are part of a seed orchard of specially bred trees. Cutting these trees would result in the loss of valuable genetic research. The effectiveness of the helispot is increasingly hazardous due to the height of adjacent trees, and we expect that within 10 years the helispot will no longer be usable. There is currently no other suitable landing spot for helicopters in the general vicinity.

    Desired Future Conditions: Roads on the Forest transportation system that are needed for current and future resource management or recreation access have been maintained to provide safe access for forest management and recreation activities, including: OHV riding, horseback riding, and biking (activities the public has indicated are important to them). Forest transportation system roads used for Forest resource management are closed when not in use. Unauthorized routes that do not meet management needs are decommissioned and become revegetated. Forest system roads and trails that access rivers and streams for water-oriented recreation activities are improved, and roads and trails to hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing areas are maintained at an appropriate maintenance level.

    Vegetation on both sides of the powerline ROW is managed to reduce potential impacts during wildfire. Overstory, ladder, and surface fuels would be reduced such that the potential for crown fire during summer conditions is unlikely. Anticipated fire behavior during summer conditions is such that firefighters can safely manage a fire in the vicinity of the powerlines.

    A new helispot is located east of McCloud, with sufficient clearance to allow a medical evacuation (medevac) helicopter to land and transport a patient. This helispot is also available to support fire operations.

    Developed Recreation Areas

    Existing Conditions: Developed recreation areas within the project boundary include those within the McCloud River Loop area, specifically: Fowlers, Cattle Camp and Camp 4 Campgrounds, Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls picnic areas, Lakin Dam and Cattle Camp Swimming Hole day use sites, the McCloud River Trail, and the Vista Point along Highway 89.

    Many of the forest stands in the recreation areas are overly dense and at risk of density-related mortality. Evidence of root disease and insect damage has been observed, and high fuel loading from mortality is present throughout the area, increasing the likelihood of undesirable effects in the event of a wildfire.

    In the Cattle Camp Campground, there has been an increase in tree mortality over the past five years. Within the developed campgrounds and other recreation sites in the McCloud River corridor, hazard trees continue to be a concern for public safety. Excessive hazardous fuel accumulations can increase the potential for intense wildfires.

    Vegetation is blocking views of the McCloud River from many of the developed recreation sites such as Fowlers Campground and views of Mount Shasta from the Vista Point.

    Desired Future Conditions: Hazardous fuels are reduced to the standards under the Forest Plan, allowing fire managers to effectively protect life, property, and natural resources during a wildfire. Hazard trees in developed recreation sites, along trails, and in campgrounds are removed for forest health and public safety. Forest stands within and surrounding campgrounds are healthy. Opportunities exist to view the McCloud River within the developed recreation sites and trails, and to view Mount Shasta from the Vista Point on Highway 89.

    Wildland Urban Interface Defense Zones (Defined as Areas Up to 1/4 Mile From Structures)

    Existing Conditions: Fuels have been reduced in a portion of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) in recent years around the communities of McCloud and Mount Shasta. However, there are numerous forest stands and brushy areas where fuels have not been reduced. Some of the treated stands are still in a condition that could sustain a wildfire with potential impacts to homes and private property, especially in the WUI defense zones near Mount Shasta and on Snowman's Hill.

    Desired Future Conditions: In the WUI defense zones around the community of Mt. Shasta and Snowman's Hill, fuel loading has been managed and reduced to the Forest Plan standards. Vegetation is managed to achieve 4-foot flame lengths or less during 97th percentile weather conditions. There is sufficient ingress/egress clearance and limited chances of crown fire.

    Forest Ecosystem Health

    Existing Conditions: The project area is a combination of plantations and natural (non-plantation) forest stands. The primarily ponderosa pine plantations range in age from less than 10 years to over 70 years. Some of the plantations have had recent treatments (brush mastication, thinning, pruning). Others have not and are overstocked, with interlocking tree crowns and decadent woody shrubs, making them vulnerable to mortality from insects and fire. Mortality has occurred within some of the plantations, resulting in pockets of dead trees. The plantations lack age, structure, and species diversity, and some were subject to windrowing (a site preparation method which resulted in piles of topsoil) and mechanical planting in the past.

    Most of the natural forest stands are overly dense and at risk of density-related mortality. Mortality pockets are starting to occur across the project area. Root diseases, such as black stain and Heterobasidion, along with evidence of insect damage, have been observed in many locations. Dense and dying knobcone pine stands are far outside of their natural range of variation both in overall numbers as well as percent composition and are creating unnaturally large fuel loads.

    Windrows were created in several plantations prior to planting as a way to remove competing vegetation. Windrowing reduced overall soil productivity by scalping and piling nutrient rich topsoil, which displaced nutrients and soil organic matter in the piles and left poorer quality subsoil exposed for tree planting.

    Areas dominated by bitterbrush, individual black oak trees, and stands of aspen and oak (important for vegetative diversity and wildlife habitat) are being encroached on by conifers, which are shading out these shrubs/trees. Due to a lack of disturbance, forest stands have followed a process of succession in which conifers grow taller than aspen and oak, blocking the sunlight these species need. Conifers are competing for soil nutrients and water with the other tree and shrub species. Aspen stands are declining at a rapid rate due to past management such as fire suppression, timber management (removing aspen and planting conifers), livestock grazing and site conversion. Bitterbrush stands are mostly even-aged and decadent with limited regeneration or new growth, and there are encroaching conifers at the edges of and within the bitterbrush stands.

    Some Riparian Reserve areas located within the McCloud River corridor (inner gorge) contain dense pockets of young conifers encroaching on the riparian vegetation as well as dead and dying trees. Some of these areas are adjacent to trails, such as the McCloud River Trail, and recreation sites.

    Effective fire suppression in the last century has greatly reduced the total area burned when compared to pre-historic levels. Approximately 73% of the project area historically experienced a high frequency (0-35 year return interval), low to mixed severity fire regime. Approximately 6% of the project area historically experienced a high frequency (0-35 year return interval), high severity fire regime, while 6% of the project area evolved under a low frequency (35-100 year) high severity fire regime (non-burnable area accounts for the remaining 15%).

    Based on the historic fire return intervals and fire history data, the project area is outside the historical range for fire occurrence. Approximately 80% of the project area is designated as a high departure from the historical fire return interval range. These areas have missed multiple fire return intervals. The remaining 4% of burnable area is at a moderate departure, missing one or more return intervals. This departure has resulted in changes to vegetation characteristics (species composition, structural stages, stand age, canopy closure, and mosaic pattern); fuel composition; fire frequency, severity, and pattern; and insect and disease activity. The risk of losing key ecosystem components is high.

    Desired Future Conditions: Plantations with trees primarily 10 inches diameter at breast height (dbh) or greater have a more multi-aged structure with variable sizes and spacing, and plantations with trees primarily less than 10 inches dbh are moving toward stands with larger sized trees. Natural stands have densities at levels that improve and protect forest health and vigor. The stands have structural diversity with varied species, multiple canopy layers, other types of vegetation, and appropriate levels of coarse woody debris and snags. Plantations and natural stands are resilient to epidemic insect or disease attack. Knobcone pine dominated stands more closely resemble their historic conditions of other species such as ponderosa pine, incense cedar and white fir mixed in with the knobcone.

    In plantations with windrows, the windrows have been respread, redistributing the topsoil and nutrients throughout the plantation. Overall soil quality and productivity are improved in the plantations providing more nutrients to the trees.

    Hardwoods, especially oaks and aspen, remain a healthy and vigorous component of forest stands where they are naturally located. In hardwood-dominated stands, there are fewer conifers competing for resources (sunlight, nutrients, water) with the hardwoods. Bitterbrush stands have a mix of age and condition classes and also have limited competition from conifers. In riparian areas, the species composition and structural diversity of the native vegetation maintain a healthy riparian ecosystem, without excess competition for resources from conifers.

    All stands and vegetation types experience fires at intervals that are historic to the area, have appropriate coarse woody debris and snag levels, but do not have excess fuel loads. Wildfires that occur within the project area during dry summer conditions are beneficial to the ecosystem, as occurred historically.

    Purpose and Need

    For the Highway 89 corridor, there is a need to:

    (1) Cut vegetation throughout the highway corridor, so that the forest canopy is more open, allowing increased winter sunlight on the roadway and faster melting of snow and ice on the pavement.

    (2) Manage vegetation along the highway for increased driver sight distance to reduce the risk of vehicle-wildlife collisions.

    (3) Remove vegetation along the road shoulders for space to place plowed/blown snow during storms.

    (4) Reduce fuels along Highway 89 to allow for a more effective fire response during summer conditions.

    For Forest roads, powerline corridors and helispot facilities, there is a need:

    (1) To ensure that roads needed for Forest resource management are maintained or repaired to meet Forest standards and closed when not in use. Roads needed fror recreation access are maintained and repaired to meet Forest standards and public safety needs. Roads not needed for Forest management or recreation access are decommissioned. Roads are added or removed from the Forest transportation system as appropriate.

    (2) For a helispot east of McCloud to facilitate a medical evacuation and an appropriate fire management response.

    (3) To reduce hazardous fuels levels (surface fuel loadings, ladder fuels, and vegetation densities) along powerlines, to increase firefighter safety during a wildfire.

    For developed recreation areas, there is a need to:

    (1) Increase visitor safety from hazard trees and the risk of wildfires, including along the McCloud River Trail, and improve access within and surrounding the developed recreation sites.

    (2) Improve the views throughout the project area, including Mt. Shasta, the McCloud River, and the natural landscape.

    For the WUI defense zones, there is a need to:

    (1) Reduce hazardous fuel levels (surface fuel loadings, ladder fuels, and vegetation densities) within the defense zones to achieve 4-foot flame lengths or less during 97th percentile weather conditions.

    For forest and ecosystem health, there is a need to:

    (1) Increase the diversity of species composition, age, and structure in plantations and natural forest stands.

    (2) Increase resilience to fire, insects and disease in all stands.

    (3) Reduce competition by conifers in hardwood stands, bitterbrush areas, and riparian vegetation to ensure their growth and vigor.

    (4) Respread existing windrowed topsoil in several plantations to redistribute soil nutrients and organic matter and improve overall soil productivity.

    (5) Restore the natural role of fire in the ecosystem to facilitate vegetative and other fire-related processes.

    Proposed Alternative 3

    The project area was divided into treatment areas based on vegetation type, use, and areas with special conditions. Activities include Forest road management, and construction of a new helispot for medical air evacuation and firefighting support. Silviculture treatments such as tree thinning, sanitation thinning and hazard tree removal, along with fuels treatments such as underburning, hand or machine piling, and mastication will be implemented to improve resilience and health in forest stands, and improve safety along the Highway 89 corridor, in WUI defense zones and in developed recreation areas.

    A complete description of alternative 3, including resource protection measures and treatment maps, can be found in the Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project Scoping Document on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43770.

    In summary, to meet the purpose and need the following treatments have been identified (all acreages and miles are approximate, some treatments will overlap, occurring in the same areas).

    Thinning (variable density across all diameter classes, including understory vegetation) of trees will be implemented throughout the project area to reduce relative stand densities and meet other objectives. In some areas thinning will create small gaps/openings in the canopy (such as the WUI defense zone). In other areas, clumps of trees with wildlife sheltering structure will be retained.

    Sanitation (removing dead and dying clumps of trees) will be implemented in areas of disease, insect damage, and ongoing mortality. Group selections will be installed in larger areas of mortality to try and slow rate of progression.

    Hazard tree removal will occur throughout the project area. Encroaching conifers will be removed to release riparian vegetation along the McCloud River Corridor and from bitterbrush fields.

    These treatments will occur in:

    • 3,376 acres of plantations with trees 10 inches or greater,

    • 617 acres of plantations with trees less than 10 inches dbh,

    • 1,241 acres of mixed conifer natural stands,

    • 3,794 acres of pine dominated natural stands,

    • 653 acres of knobcone pine dominated stands,

    • 212 acres of the McCloud River Corridor area,

    • 212 acres of the Big Canyon Creek area,

    • 61 acres of bitterbrush fields, and

    • 16 acres of black oak stands.

    Fuels treatments will include mastication, machine and hand piling and pile burning, and thinning for fuel reduction. The entire project area (with the exception of specific sensitive areas) will be underburned.

    The treatments will yield renewable forest by-products of both sawtimber (logs) and biomass (chips), firewood, and special forest products. Treatments will be accomplished through a variety of methods including service contacts, force account, commercial timber harvest, and stewardship contracts.

    In addition to vegetation treatments, a 550-foot x 550-foot helispot will be constructed across the highway from the Ash Creek Work Station (total area of approximately 14 acres). Forest road management activities will include 78 miles of road maintenance, 2.8 miles of reconstruction, 4 miles of new temporary road construction, 7.9 miles road/route decommissioning, 11.25 miles of road closures, 3 miles of road openings, and 0.25 miles of road (access to the new helispot) added to the Forest Transportation System.

    Highway 89 is designated as a Forest Service Scenic Byway. Visual quality objectives for the highway corridor through National Forest land call for retention, meaning human activities are not visually evident to the casual forest visitor. Trees will be removed along the highway in view of the roadway and the resulting changes in vegetation will be visually evident. Depending on the results of the scenery analysis, a Forest Plan amendment may be required for the project activities along the Highway 89 corridor.

    Responsible Official

    Forest Supervisor, Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

    Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor will decide whether to implement the proposed alternative 3, take an alternative action that meets the purpose and need, or take no action.

    Permits or Licenses Required

    A permit would be required from the State of California prior to burning piles. The appropriate regulatory agencies will be consulted regarding national or state required permits associated with roads used during project implementation. All rquired permits will be obtained prior to implementation.

    Scoping Process

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement.

    Early in the project development process, meetings were held with local stakeholders, including representatives from the California Department of Transportation, the local timber industry and American Forest Resources Council, local fire safe and watershed councils, environmental and citizens' organizations, and the Pit River Tribe. It was anticipated at that time that an environmental assessment would be written for the project.

    The project was originally scoped in June, 2014. The project was posted on the Forest Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) On June 30, 2014. The Legal Notice was published in the newspaper of record (Record Searchlight, Redding, California) on June 30, 2014. A notice was also published in the Mount Shasta Herald (Mount Shasta, California). A scoping letter was mailed or emailed to 168 individuals, organizations, and government agencies. The scoping document and was posted to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Web site. The scoping period was 30 days. Comments were received from nine individuals, organizations, and agencies.

    In addition to the written request for comments, the scoping phase included two public meetings and field trips for interested members of the public and other government agencies. A public meeting/field trip was held on October 4, 2014 with 11 attendees. A field trip with representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was held on October 31, 2014. The comments from the scoping period and public meetings/field trips have become part of the Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project record, and were considered when developing this new alternative (alternative 3), which is referred to as alternative 3 in this notice of intent.

    Based on the public involvement since scoping as well as new information, the line officer has chosen to evaluate and document project effects on the environment in an environmental impact statement.

    For the scoping period initiated by this notice of intent, it is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer's concerns and contentions. Comments submitted during the first scoping period will continue to be considered and need not be resubmitted. This project would implement the Forest Plan and is subject to 36 CFR 218 subparts A and B. All persons who provided comment in past designated comment periods associated with this project will have standing to object on comment issues previously provided however, those interested in the project are encouraged to review the scoping package and provide comments. Please note that to object per 36 CFR 218, a commenter must have provided specific written comments regarding the proposed project or activity during scoping or another designated opportunity for public comment (in other words objection issues must be based on previously submitted specific written comments except for issues that arose after the opportunities for comment). Please refer to 36 CFR 218.

    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered, however anonymous comments will not provide the Agency with the ability to provide the respondent with subsequent environmental documents and may preclude their ability to object.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. David R. Myers, Forest Supervisor.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23157 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-11-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service Information Collection Activity; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35, as amended), the Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture invites comments on the following information collections for which the Agency intends to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    DATES:

    Comments on this notice must be received by November 16, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas P. Dickson, Acting Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., STOP 1522, Room 5164, South Building, Washington, DC 20250-1522. Telephone: (202) 690-4492. Fax: (202) 720-8435.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) regulation (5 CFR part 1320) implementing provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13) requires that interested members of the public and affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on information collection and recordkeeping activities [see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)]. This notice identifies information collections that RUS is submitting to OMB for extension.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether this collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to Thomas P. Dickson, Acting Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 1522, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20250-1522. (202) 690-4492. Fax: (202) 720-8435.

    Title: Request for Approval to Sell Capital Assets.

    OMB Control Number: 0572-0020.

    Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Abstract: A borrower's assets provide the security for a government loan. The selling of assets reduces the security and increases the risk to the government. RUS Form 369 allows the borrower to seek agency permission to sell some of its assets. The form collects detailed information regarding the proposed sales of a portion of the borrower's systems. USDA Rural Development electric utility borrowers complete this form to request USDA Rural Development approval in order to sell capital assets when the fair market value exceeds 10 percent of the borrower's net utility plant.

    Estimate of Burden: Public Reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 3 hours per response.

    Respondents: Not-for-profit institutions; Business or other for profit.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 5.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 15 hours.

    Dated: September 5, 2015. Brandon McBride, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23087 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE [Docket No.: 150720626-5831-02] Privacy Act of 1974, Amended System of Records AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Proposed Amendment to Privacy Act System of Records: COMMERCE/NOAA-19, Permits and Registrations for United States Federally Regulated Fisheries.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce publishes this notice to announce the effective date of a Privacy Act System of Records notice entitled Notice of Proposed Amendment to Privacy Act System of Records: COMMERCE/NOAA-19, Permits and Registrations for United States Federally Regulated Fisheries.

    DATES:

    The system of records becomes effective on September 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    For a copy of the system of records please mail requests to: Sarah Brabson, NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer, Room 9856, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Erin Steiner, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, FRAM Division, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 98112.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 7, 2015 (80 FR 47457), the Department of Commerce published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on a proposed new Privacy Act System of Records notice entitled Notice of Proposed Amendment to Privacy Act System of Records: COMMERCE/NOAA-19, Permits and Registrations for United States Federally Regulated Fisheries. No comments were received in response to the request for comments. By this notice, the Department of Commerce is adopting the proposed new system as final without changes effective September 15, 2015.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Michael J. Toland, Department of Commerce, Acting Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23131 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE [Docket No.: 150720624-5832-02] Privacy Act of 1974, New System of Records AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Privacy Act System of Records: “COMMERCE/NOAA-23; Economic Data Collection Program for West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California.”

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce publishes this notice to announce the effective date of a Privacy Act System of Records notice entitled COMMERCE/NOAA-23; Economic Data Collection Program for West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California.

    DATES:

    The system of records becomes effective on September 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    For a copy of the system of records please mail requests to: Sarah Brabson, NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer, Room 9856, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Erin Steiner, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, FRAM Division, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 98112.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 7, 2015 (80 FR 47454), the Department of Commerce published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on a proposed new Privacy Act System of Records notice entitled COMMERCE/NOAA-23; Economic Data Collection Program for West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. No comments were received in response to the request for comments. By this notice, the Department of Commerce is adopting the proposed new system as final without changes effective September 15, 2015.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Michael J. Toland, Department of Commerce, Acting Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23127 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-552-802] Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 2013-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On March 9, 2015, the Department of Commerce (“Department”) published in the Federal Register the Preliminary Results of the ninth administrative review of the antidumping duty Order1 on certain warmwater shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (“Vietnam”).2 Based upon our analysis of the comments and information received, we determine that Minh Phu Group 3 and Thuan Phuoc 4 sold subject merchandise at less than normal value (“NV”) during the period of review (“POR”), February 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014. The Department determines that sales of subject merchandise by Fimex VN 5 were not made below NV.

    1See Notice of Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Antidumping Duty Order: Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 70 FR 5152 (February 1, 2005) (“Order”).

    2See Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014, 80 FR 12441 (March 9, 2015) (“Preliminary Results”).

    3 Minh Phu Seafood Export Import Corporation (and affiliated Minh Qui Seafood Co., Ltd. and Minh Phat Seafood Co., Ltd.); Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, Minh Phu Seafood Corp., Minh Qui Seafood Co., Ltd., Minh Qui Seafood, Minh Phat Seafood Co., Ltd., Minh Phat Seafood, and Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Joint Stock Company Co., Ltd. (collectively, the “Minh Phu Group”).

    4 Thuan Phuoc Seafoods and Trading Corporation (“Thuan Phuoc”).

    5 Sao Ta Foods Joint Stock Company (“Fimex VN”).

    DATES:

    Effective Date: September 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bob Palmer, Irene Gorelik, or Alexis Polovina, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-9068, (202) 482-6905, (202) 482-3927, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On March 9, 2015, the Department published the Preliminary Results. On March 10, 2015, VASEP 6 filed surrogate value information rebutting certain surrogate values we applied in the Preliminary Results. Between April 20, 2015, and May 4, 2015, the Department conducted verification of Fimex VN and Thuan Phuoc. On June 5, 2015, the Department extended the time limit for these final results by 60 days. We gave interested parties an opportunity to comment on the Preliminary Results. On June 8, 2015, Petitioner 7 and VASEP submitted their case briefs. On June 13, 205, Petitioner, Domestic Processors,8 and VASEP filed their rebuttal briefs.

    6 Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (“VASEP”)

    7 The Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee (“Petitioner”).

    8 American Shrimp Processors Association (“Domestic Processors”).

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise subject to the order is certain frozen warmwater shrimp. The product is currently classified under the following Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States item numbers: 0306.17.00.03, 0306.17.00.06, 0306.17.00.09, 0306.17.00.12, 0306.17.00.15, 0306.17.00.18, 0306.17.00.21, 0306.17.00.24, 0306.17.00.27, 0306.17.00.40, 1605.21.10.30, and 1605.29.10.10. The written description of the scope of the order is dispositive. A full description of the scope of the Order is available in the accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum.9

    9See Memorandum to Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, From Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Results, (“Issues and Decision Memorandum”) dated concurrently and hereby adopted by this notice.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs by parties to this review are addressed in the accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum.10 A list of the issues which parties raised, and to which we respond in the Issues and Decision Memorandum is attached to this notice as an Appendix. The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov and in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly on the internet at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Issues and Decision Memorandum and electronic versions of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    10Id.

    Final Determination of No Shipments

    In the Preliminary Results, the Department determined the following companies did not have any reviewable transactions during the POR: (1) Bien Dong Seafood Co., Ltd.; (2) BIM Foods Joint Stock Company; (3) Cafatex Fishery Joint Stock Corporation; (4) Camau Seafood Processing and Service Joint-stock Corporation; (5) Camranh Seafoods Co., Ltd.; (6) Nhat Duc Co., Ltd.; (7) Phu Cuong Jostco Seafood Corporation; and (8) Seavina Joint Stock Company. As we have not received any information to contradict this determination, the Department determines that the above-named companies did not have any reviewable entries of subject merchandise during the POR, and will issue appropriate instructions that are consistent with our “automatic assessment” clarification, for these final results.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Results

    The Department has made changes to a surrogate value and to the company-specific margin calculation programs since the Preliminary Results. For detailed information, see the Issues and Decision Memorandum and the company-specific final results analysis memoranda.

    Separate Rates

    In the Preliminary Results, we determined that 32 companies 11 (“Separate Rate Respondents”) in addition to Minh Phu Group, Fimex VN, and Thuan Phuoc met the criteria for separate rate status. We have not received any information since the issuance of the Preliminary Results that provides a basis for reconsidering this preliminary determination. Therefore, the Department continues to find that these companies meet the criteria for a separate rate for the final results.

    11See Issues and Decision Memorandum at Appendix I.

    Rate for Non-Selected Companies

    For the final results, the calculated rates for the mandatory respondents have changed from the Preliminary Results. Therefore, we recalculated the sample rate assigned to the Separate Rate Respondents for the final results of this review, and we continue to determine that a “reasonable method for determining the weighted-average dumping margins for the non-selected respondents in this review is to average the weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the mandatory respondents,” as noted in the Preliminary Results. 12

    12See Preliminary Results, and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Final Results of Review

    In the Preliminary Results, we found that 56 companies for which a review was requested have not established eligibility for a separate rate and, thus, we considered them to be part of the Vietnam-wide entity.13 The Department's change in policy regarding conditional review of the Vietnam-wide entity applies to this administrative review.14 Under this policy, the Vietnam-wide entity will not be under review unless a party specifically requests, or the Department self-initiates, a review of the entity. Because no party requested a review of the Vietnam-wide entity, the entity is not under review and the entity's rate is not subject to change. For companies for which a review was requested and that have established eligibility for a separate rate, the Department determines that the following weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    13See Preliminary Results, 80 FR 12442 and Appendix II for a full list of the 56 companies; see also Preliminary Decision Memorandum, at 9-10.

    14See Antidumping Proceedings: Announcement of Change in Department Practice for Respondent Selection in Antidumping Duty Proceedings and Conditional Review of the Nonmarket Economy Entity in NME Antidumping Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 65963 (November 4, 2013).

    Exporter 15 Weighted-average margin
  • (percent)
  • Minh Phu Group: 16 Minh Phu Seafood Corp., aka Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, aka Minh Phu Seafood Pte, aka Minh Phat Seafood Co., Ltd., aka Minh Qui Seafood Co., Ltd., aka Minh Qui Seafood, aka Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Joint Stock Company 1.39 Sao Ta Foods Joint Stock Company (“Fimex VN”), aka Sao Ta Foods Joint Stock Company, aka Fimex VN aka Sao Ta Seafood Factory aka Saota Seafood Factory 0.00 Thuan Phuoc Seafoods and Trading Corporation, aka Thuan Phuoc Corp., aka Frozen Seafoods Factory No. 32, aka Seafoods and Foodstuff Factory, aka Seafoods and Foodstuff Factory Vietnam, aka My Son Seafoods Factory 1.16 Bac Lieu Fisheries Joint Stock Company, aka Bac Lieu Fisheries Company Limited, aka Bac Lieu Fisheries Co., Ltd., aka Bac Lieu Fisheries Limited Company, aka Bac Lieu Fis 0.91 Bentre Forestry and Aquaproduct Import-Export Joint Stock Company, aka FAQUIMEX 0.91 Camau Frozen Seafood Processing Import Export Corporation, aka Camimex, aka Camau Seafood Factory No. 4, aka Camau Seafood Factory No. 5, aka Camau Frozen Seafood Processing Import Export Corp. (CAMIMEX-FAC 25), aka Frozen Factory No. 4 0.91 C.P. Vietnam Corporation, aka C.P. Vietnam Livestock Corporation, aka C.P. Vietnam Livestock Company Limited, aka C.P. Vietnam 0.91 Cadovimex Seafood Import-Export and Processing Joint Stock Company, aka Cai Doi Vam Seafood Import-Export Company, aka Caidoivam Seafood Company (Cadovimex), aka Cadovimex-Vietnam 0.91 Can Tho Import Export Fishery Limited Company, aka CAFISH 0.91 Fine Foods Co., aka FFC 0.91 Cuu Long Seaproducts Company, aka Cuulong Seaproducts Company Cuu Long Seaproducts Limited, aka Cuulong Seapro aka Cuu Long Seapro 0.91 Gallant Ocean (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. 0.91 Gallant Dachan Seafood Co., Ltd. 0.91 Goldenquality Seafood Corporation 0.91 Hai Viet Corporation, aka HAVICO 0.91 Investment Commerce Fisheries Corporation, aka Investment Commerce Fisheries Corp., aka Investment Commerce Fisheries, aka Incomfish, aka Incomfish Corp., aka Incomfish Corporation 0.91 Kim Anh Company Limited, aka Kim Anh Co, Ltd. 0.91 Minh Cuong Seafood Import Export Frozen Processing Joint Stock Co, aka Minh Cuong Seafood Import- Export Processing, aka MC Seafood 0.91 Minh Hai Export Frozen Seafood Processing Joint-Stock Company, aka Minh Hai Jostoco 0.91 Minh Hai Joint-Stock Seafoods Processing Company, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai, aka Sea Minh Hai, aka Seaprodex Min Hai, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai-Factory No. 78, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai (Minh Hai Joint Stock Seafoods Processing Co.), aka Seaprodex Minh Hai Workshop 1, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai Factory No. 69 0.91 Minh Hai Sea Products Import Export Company, aka Ca Mau Seafood Joint Stock Company, aka Seaprimexco Vietnam, aka Seaprimexco 0.91 Nha Trang Fisheries Joint Stock Company, aka Nha Trang Fisco aka Nhatrang Fisco, aka Nha Trang Fisheries, Joint Stock 0.91 Nha Trang Seafoods Group: Nha Trang Seaproduct Company, aka Nha Trang Seafoods, aka NT Seafoods Corporation, aka NT Seafoods, aka Nha Trang Seafoods—F89 Joint Stock Company, aka Nha Trang Seafoods—F89, aka NTSF Seafoods Joint Stock Company, aka NTSF Seafoods 0.91 Ngoc Tri Seafood Joint Stock Company, aka Ngoc Tri Seafood Company 0.91 Phuong Nam Foodstuff Corp. aka Phuong Nam Co., Ltd., aka Phuong Nam Foodstuff Product Processing Joint Stock Corporation, aka Phuong Namco-Ltd 0.91 Quoc Viet Seaproducts Processing Trading and Import-Export Co., Ltd. 0.91 Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company, aka Stapimex, aka Soc Trang Aquatic Products and General Import Export Company, aka Soc Trang Aquatic Products and General Import Export Company (“Stapimex”), aka Stapmex 0.91 Tacvan Frozen Seafood Processing Export Company, aka Tacvan Seafoods Co. 0.91 Tan Phong Phu Seafoods Co., Ltd. 0.91 Thong Thuan Company Limited, aka T&T Co., Ltd 0.91 UTXI Aquatic Products Processing Corporation, aka UT XI Aquatic Products Processing Corporation, aka UTXI Aquatic Products Processing Company, aka UT XI Aquatic Products Processing Company, aka UTXI Co. Ltd., aka UTXI, aka UTXICO, aka Hoang Phuong Seafood Factory, aka Hoang Phong Seafood Factory 0.91 Viet Foods Co., Ltd., aka Nam Hai Foodstuff and Export Company Ltd. 0.91 Vietnam Clean Seafood Corporation, aka Vina Cleanfood 0.91 Viet Hai Seafood Co., Ltd., aka Vietnam Fish One Co., Ltd. 0.91 Viet I-Mei Frozen Foods Co., Ltd. 0.91
    Disclosure and Public Comment

    We will disclose the calculations performed within five days of the date of publication of this notice to parties in this proceeding in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    15 Due to the issues we have had in the past with variations of exporter names related to this Order, we remind exporters that the names listed below are the exact names, including spelling and punctuation which the Department will provide to CBP and which CBP will use to assess POR entries and collect cash deposits.

    16 The Department previously collapsed the companies within the Minh Phu Group in the sixth administrative review. See Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Preliminary Results of Administrative Review, 77 FR 13547, 13549 (March 7, 2012), unchanged in Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Final Results and Final Partial Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 77 FR 55800 (September 11, 2012). In the Preliminary Results, the Department reevaluated the collapsed entity based on a corporate structure and name change of one of the collapsed companies, Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Co., Ltd. See “Memorandum to the File, through Catherine Bertrand, Program Manager, Office V, from Irene Gorelik, Senior Analyst, Office V, re; Collapsing Determination for the Minh Phu Seafood Corporation and its Affiliates, with Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Joint Stock Company,” dated March 2, 2015. We have made no changes since the Preliminary Results with respect to Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Joint Stock Company being part of the Minh Phu Group single entity. Thus, for the final results, we continue to find that Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Joint Stock Company is affiliated with the Minh Phu Group group of companies, and that they comprise a single entity, to which we will assign a single rate. The company name and trade names formerly used by Minh Phu Hau Giang Seafood Joint Stock Company have not been included above, for cash deposit purposes, based on the information submitted on the record. However, the former names will be included for liquidation purposes.

    Assessment Rates

    Pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“the Act”) and 19 CFR 351.212(b), the Department will determine, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries of subject merchandise in accordance with the final results of this review. The Department intends to issue assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the date of publication of these final results of review.

    For any individually examined respondent whose weighted-average dumping margin is above de minimis (i.e., 0.50 percent), the Department will calculate importer-specific assessment rates on the basis of the ratio of the total amount of dumping calculated for the importer's examined sales and the total entered value of sales. Where we do not have entered values for all U.S. sales to a particular importer/customer, we calculate a per-unit assessment rate by aggregating the antidumping duties due for all U.S. sales to that importer (or customer) and dividing this amount by the total quantity sold to that importer (or customer).17 To determine whether the duty assessment rates are de minimis, in accordance with the requirement set forth in 19 CFR 351.106(c)(2), we calculated importer- (or customer-) specific ad valorem ratios based on the estimated entered value. Where either a respondent's weighted average dumping margin is zero or de minimis, or an importer- (or customer-) specific ad valorem rate is zero or de minimis, we will instruct CBP to liquidate appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties.18

    17See 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).

    18See 19 CFR 352.106(c)(2); Antidumping Proceeding: Calculation of the Weighted-Average Dumping Margin and Assessment Rate in Certain Antidumping Proceedings; Final Modification, 77 FR 8101, 8103 (February 14, 2012) (“Final Modification for Reviews”).

    Additionally, consistent with its assessment practice in non-market economy (NME) cases, if the Department continues to determine that an exporter under review had no shipments of the subject merchandise, any suspended entries that entered under that exporter's case number (i.e., at that exporter's rate) will be liquidated at the NME-wide rate.19

    19 For a full discussion of this practice, see Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694 (October 24, 2011).

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of the final results of this administrative review for shipments of the subject merchandise from Vietnam entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the publication date, as provided by sections 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) For the companies listed above, which have a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be that established in the final results of this review (except, if the rate is zero or de minimis, then zero cash deposit will be required); (2) for previously investigated or reviewed Vietnam and non-Vietnam exporters not listed above that received a separate rate in a prior segment of this proceeding, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the existing exporter-specific rate; (3) for all Vietnam exporters of subject merchandise that have not been found to be entitled to a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be that for the Vietnam-wide entity; and (4) for all non-Vietnam exporters of subject merchandise which have not received their own rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the Vietnam exporter that supplied that non-Vietnam exporter. These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Reimbursement of Duties

    This notice also serves as a reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this POR. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    Administrative Protective Orders

    This notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (“APO”) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305, which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials, or conversion to judicial protective order, is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction.

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.221(b)(4).

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I I. Summary II. Background III. Scope of the Order IV. Discussion of the Issues General Issues Comment 1: Differential Pricing A. Whether the Department's Interpretation of Section 777A(d)(1)(B) of the Act is Reasonable and Permissible B. Whether the Cohen's d Coefficient Is a Measure of Whether Prices Differ Significantly C. Whether the Department's “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach to Determine If Prices Differ Significantly Reflects the Purpose of the Law or Is Consistent With the Legislative History D. Whether the Department Failed to Explain Why the Average-to-Average Method Cannot Account for “Target Dumping” E. Whether the Department Should Use an Approach Based on Actual Price Differences Rather Than on Standard Deviation F. Whether the Department Should Disaggregate the Results of Cohen's d and make Separate Determinations Based on Customer, Region, and Period G. Whether the Department Correctly Includes Both Lower- and Higher-Priced U.S. Sales As Contributing To a Pattern of Prices That Differ Significantly H. Exclusion of U.S. Sales in the Test Group From the U.S. Sales in the Comparison Group as Part of the Cohen's d Test I. Whether the Department Incorrectly Determines Variance Based on Simple or Weighted Average J. Whether the Department has the Information Necessary to Make and Average-to-Transaction Comparison Comment 2: Treatment of Frozen Shrimp Purchases Comment 3: Treatment of Ocean Freight Expenses Comment 4: Bangladeshi Inflator Data Surrogate Value Issues Comment 5: Ice Surrogate Value Comment 6: Carbon Surrogate Value Comment 7: Byproduct Surrogate Value Comment 8: Brokerage and Handling Surrogate Value Comment 9: Labor Surrogate Value Company-Specific Issues Comment 10: Corrections from Verification of Fimex VN Comment 11: Separate Rate Status for Cofidec and Seaprodex Danang Comment 12: Separate Rate Status for Camimex Seafood Company Limited Comment 13: Separate Rate Status for Additional Trade Names A. Minh Phu Group B. Thuan Phuoc C. Bac Lieu Fisheries Joint Stock Company D. Cadovimex Seafood Import-Export and Processing Joint Stock Company E. Can Tho Import Export Fishery Limited Company F. Minh Hai Export Frozen Seafood Processing Joint Stock Company G. Nha Trang Fisheries Joint Stock Company H. Tan Phong Phu Seafoods Co., Ltd. I. UTXI Aquatic Products Processing Corporation J. Vietnam Clean Seafood Corporation Appendix II Companies Subject to Review Determined To Be Part of the Vietnam-Wide Entity 1. An Giang Coffee JSC 2. Agrex Saigon 3. Amanda Foods (Vietnam) Ltd., Amanda Seafood Co., Ltd. 4. Amanda Foods (Vietnam) Ltd. Ngoc Tri Seafood Company (Amanda's affiliate) 5. Anvifish Joint Stock Co. 6. Binh An Seafood Joint Stock Company 7. Camimex Seafood Company Limited 8. Ca Mau Foods and Fishery Export Joint Stock Company 9. Can Tho Agricultural and Animal Products Import Export Company, aka, Can Tho Agricultural Products, aka, Can Tho Agricultural and Animal Products Imex Company, aka, CATACO, aka, Can Tho Agricultural and Animal Product Import Export Company (“CATACO”), aka, Can Tho Agricultural and Animal Product Import Export Company (“CATACO”) and/or Can Tho Agricultural and Animal Products Import Export Company (“CATACO'”), aka, Can Tho Agricultural & Animal Product Import Export Company (“CATACO'”) and/or Can Tho Agricultural and Animal Products Import Export Company (“CATACO”) 10. Can Tho Import Export Seafood Joint Stock Company, aka, CASEAMEX 11. Cau Tre Enterprise (C.T.E.) 12. Cautre Export Goods Processing Joint Stock Company 13. Chang Shin Vietnam Co., Ltd. 14. CL Fish Co., Ltd. (Cuu Long Fish Company) 15. Cautre Export Goods Processing Joint Stock Company 16. Coastal Fisheries Development Corporation, Coastal Fisheries Development Corporation (“COFIDEC”), Coastal Fisheries Development Corporation (“Cofidec”), Coastal Fishery Development, COFIDEC 17. D & N Foods Processing (Danang Company Ltd.) 18. Danang Seaproduct Import-Export Corporation (“Seaprodex Danang”) (and its affiliates), Danang Seaproducts Import Export Corporation, Danang Seaproducts Import Export Corporation (“Seaprodex Danang”), Danang Seaproducts Import-Export Corporation (and its affilliate, Tho Quang Seafood Processing and Export Com-pany) (collectively “Seaprodex Danang”), Tho Quang, Tho Quang Co., Tho Quang Seafood Processing and Export Company, Tho Quang Seafood Processing & Export Company, Seaprodex Danang 19. Duy Dai Corporation 20. Gallant Ocean (Quang Ngai) Co., Ltd. 21. Gn Foods 22. Hai Thanh Food Company Ltd. 23. Hai Vuong Co., Ltd. 24. Hoa Phat Aquatic Products Processing And Trading Service Co., Ltd. 25. Hoang Hai Company Ltd. 26. Hua Heong Food Industries Vietnam Co. Ltd. 27. Interfood Shareholding Co. 28. Khanh Loi Seafood Factory 29. Kien Long Seafoods Co. Ltd. 30. Luan Vo Fishery Co., Ltd. 31. Lucky Shining Co., Ltd. 32. Minh Chau Imp. Exp. Seafood Processing Co., Ltd. 33. Mp Consol Co., Ltd. 34. Ngoc Chau Co., Ltd. and/or Ngoc Chau Seafood Processing Company 35. Ngoc Sinh, Ngoc Sinh Seafoods Processing and Trading Enterprise, Ngoc Sinh Fisheries, Ngoc Sinh Private, Ngoc Sinh Private Enterprises, Ngoc Sinh Seafood Processing Company, Ngoc Sinh Seafood Trading & Processing, Ngoc Sinh Seafood Trading & Processing Enterprise, Ngoc Sinh Seafoods, Ngoc Sinh Seafoods (Private Enterprise), Ngoc Sinh Seafoods Processing and Trading Enterprises 36. Ngo Bros Seaproducts Import-Export One Member Company Limited (“Ngo Bros”) 37. Quang Ninh Export Aquatic Products Processing Factory 38. Quang Ninh Seaproducts Factory 39. S.R.V. Freight Services Co., Ltd. 40. Sustainable Seafood 41. Tai Kim Anh Seafood Joint Stock Company 42. Tan Thang Loi Frozen Food Co., Ltd. 43. Thanh Doan Seaproducts Import & Export Processing Joint-Stock Company (THADIMEXCO) 44. Thanh Hung Frozen Seafood Processing Import Export Co., Ltd. 45. Thanh Tri Seafood Processing Co. Ltd. 46. The Quang Co. 47. The Quang Seafood Processing & Export Company 48. Thong Thuan-Cam Ranh Seafood Joint Stock Company 49. Tien Tien Garment Joint Stock Company 50. Tithi Co., Ltd. 51. Trang Corporation 52. Viet Cuong Seafood Processing Import Export Joint-Stock Company, Viet Cuong Seafood Processing Import Export 53. Vietnam Northern Viking Technologies Co. Ltd. 54. Vinatex Danang 55. Vinh Hoan Corp. 56. Vinh Loi Import Export Company (“Vimexco”), aka, Vinh Loi Import Export Company (“VIMEX”), aka, VIMEXCO aka, VIMEX aka, Vinh Loi Import/Export Co., aka, Vinhloi Import Export Company aka, Vinh Loi Import-Export Company, Vinh Loi Import Export Company (“Vimexco”) and/or Vinh Loi Import Export Company (“VIMEX”)
    [FR Doc. 2015-23159 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 a.m.] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-533-810] Stainless Steel Bar From India: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On March 9, 2015, the Department of Commerce (Department) published the preliminary results of the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on stainless steel bar (SSB) from India.1 The period of review (POR) is February 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014. Based on comments received from Bhansali Bright Bars Pvt. Ltd., (Bhansali) and the petitioner,2 we have made certain changes to our preliminary results. The final dumping margin for this review is listed in the “Final Results of the Review” section below.

    1See Stainless Steel Bar From India: Preliminary Results, and Rescission, in Part, of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014, 80 FR 12439 (March 9, 2015) (Preliminary Results).

    2 The petitioner is Valbruna Slater Stainless, Inc.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: September 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joseph Shuler, AD/CVD Operations, Office I, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone (202) 482-1293.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Following the Preliminary Results, the Department issued an additional supplemental questionnaire to Bhansali, the only respondent in this administrative review, on March 20, 2015, and received a response on April 2, 2015. We received timely filed case and rebuttal briefs from Bhansali and the petitioner.

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise subject to the order is SSB. The SSB subject to the order is currently classifiable under subheadings 7222.10.00, 7222.11.00, 7222.19.00, 7222.20.00, 7222.30.00 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes. The written description is dispositive.3

    3 For a full description of the scope of the order, see the memorandum from Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, to Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review of Stainless Steel Bar from India” dated concurrently with this notice (Issues and Decision Memorandum), which is hereby adopted by this notice.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, which is incorporated herein by reference. A list of the issues which parties raised, and to which we respond in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, is attached to this notice as an Appendix. The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov, and it is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly on the internet at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Issues and Decision Memorandum and the electronic versions of the Issues Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Results

    Based on our analysis of the comments received, we have made certain changes to the Preliminary Results. For a discussion of these changes, see Issues and Decision Memorandum.

    Final Results of the Review

    As a result of this review, we determine the following weighted-average dumping margin exists for the respondent for the period February 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014.

    Producer/exporter Weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Bhansali Bright Bars Pvt. Ltd 0.00
    Assessment Rates

    Pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(A) of the Act, and 19 CFR 351.212(b), the Department determines, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries of subject merchandise in accordance with the final results of this review. The Department intends to issue assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the date of publication of these final results of review.

    For assessment purposes, because Bhansali's weighted-average dumping margin remains zero or de minimis (i.e., less than 0.5 percent) in these final results, we will instruct CBP to liquidate the appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties in accordance with 19 CFR 351.106(c)(2). Our instructions will be on an importer-specific basis, where the importer is known, or on a customer-specific basis, where the importer is not known.

    The Department clarified its “automatic assessment” regulation on May 6, 2003. This clarification will apply to entries of subject merchandise during the POR produced by Bhansali for which it did not know its merchandise was destined for the United States. In such instances, we will instruct CBP to liquidate unreviewed entries at the all-others rate if there is no rate for the intermediate company(ies) involved in the transaction. For a full discussion of this clarification, see Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 68 FR 23954 (May 6, 2003).

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of the notice of final results of administrative review for all shipments of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication as provided by section 751(a)(2) of the Act: (1) The cash deposit rate for Bhansali will be the rate established in the final results of this administrative review; (2) for merchandise exported by manufacturers or exporters not covered in this review but covered in a prior segment of the proceeding, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the company-specific rate published for the most recently completed segment of this proceeding in which that manufacturer or exporter participated; (3) if the exporter is not a firm covered in this review, a prior review, or the original investigation but the manufacturer is, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for the most recently completed segment of this proceeding for the manufacturer of subject merchandise; and (4) the cash deposit rate for all other manufacturers or exporters will continue to be 12.45 percent, the “all others” rate established in the order.4 These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    4See Notice of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Stainless Steel Bar from India, 59 FR 66915, 66921 (December 28, 1994).

    Disclosure

    We intend to disclose the calculations performed for these final results of review within five days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Notifications

    This notice serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties.

    This notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the disposition of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3). Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials, or conversion to judicial protective order, is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and the terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation.

    These final results of administrative review are issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix List of Issues Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum Summary Background Scope of the Order Discussion of the Issues Comment 1a: Whether There Are Inaccuracies and Discrepancies in Bhansali's Reporting Comment 1b: Whether the Application of Adverse Facts Available, or Partial Facts Available is Warranted Comment 2: Whether Bhansali Submitted Untimely Factual Information Comment 3: Whether the Department Erred in the Treatment of Bhansali's Home Market Billing Adjustments Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2015-23161 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-552-814] Utility Scale Wind Towers From the Socialist Republic Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On March 9, 2015, the Department of Commerce (“the Department”) published the preliminary results of the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on utility scale wind towers from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (“Vietnam”).1 The period of review is February 13, 2013, through January 31, 2014. The review covers one respondent, CS Wind Vietnam and CS Wind Corporation (collectively, “CS Wind Group”). We continue to find that CS Wind Group has sold subject merchandise in the United States at below normal value during the POR.

    1See Utility Scale Wind Towers From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014, 80 FR 12449 (March 9, 2015) (“Preliminary Results”).

    DATES:

    Effective Date: September 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Trisha Tran AD/CVD Operations, Office IV, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, telephone: (202) 482-4852.

    Background

    On March 9, 2015, the Department published the Preliminary Results. 2 On June 3, 2015, the Department extended the deadline for issuing the final results by 60 days, until September 8, 2015. CS Wind Group, and the Wind Tower Trade Coalition (“Petitioner”) submitted case and rebuttal briefs on April 15, 2013 and April 23, 2015, respectively. Both parties participated in a public hearing on July 16, 2015.

    2Id.

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise covered by this order is certain wind towers, whether or not tapered, and sections thereof. Imports of the subject merchandise are provided for under the following subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”): 7308.20.00.20 3 or 8502.31.00.00.4 Prior to 2011, merchandise covered by the order was classified in the HTSUS under subheading 7308.20.00.00 and may continue to be to some degree. While the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of the order is dispositive. A full description of the scope of the order is contained in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, dated concurrently with and hereby adopted by this notice.5

    3 Wind towers are classified under HTSUS 7308.20.0020 when imported as a tower or tower section(s) alone.

    4 Wind towers may also be classified under HTSUS 8502.31.0000 when imported as part of a wind turbine (i.e., accompanying nacelles and/or rotor blades.

    5See Memorandum from Gary Taverman, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, to Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, regarding “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Results of the 2013-2014 Administrative Review of the Antidumping Duty Order on Utility Scale Wind Towers from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” issued concurrently with this notice (“Issues and Decision Memorandum”).

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum. A list of the issues raised in the briefs and addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum is attached to this notice as an appendix. The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (“ACCESS”). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov and in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The paper copy and electronic version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Results

    Based on a review of the record and comments received from interested parties regarding our Preliminary Results, we made revisions to CS Wind Group's margin calculations. These changes are discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum and CS Wind Group's analysis memorandum.

    Final Results of the Review

    We determine that the following weighted-average dumping margin exists for the period of review from February 13, 2013 through January 31, 2014.

    Exporter Weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • The CS Wind Group 0.00
    Assessment Rates

    The Department shall determine, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review. The Department intends to issue assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the publication date of these final results of this review pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“Act”) and 19 CFR 351.212(b). In accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1), we are calculating importer- (or customer-) specific assessment rates for the merchandise subject to this review.6 Where either the respondent's weighted-average dumping margin is zero or de minimis, or an importer-specific assessment rate is zero or de minimis, we will instruct CBP to liquidate the appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties.7 For CS Wind Group, whose weighted average dumping margin is zero, the Department will instruct CBP to liquidate appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties.8

    6See Antidumping Proceedings: Calculation of the Weighted Average Dumping Margin and Assessment Rate in Certain Antidumping Proceedings: Final Modification, 77 FR 8101 (February 14, 2012).

    7See 19 CFR 351.106 (c)(2).

    8See 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).

    On October 24, 2011, the Department announced a refinement to its assessment practice in NME cases.9 Pursuant to this refinement in practice, for entries that were not reported in the U.S. sales databases submitted by the company individually examined during this review, the Department will instruct CBP to liquidate such entries at the rate applicable to the Vietnam-wide entity (i.e., 58.54 percent). In addition, for companies for which the Department determined that the exporter under review had no shipments of the subject merchandise, any suspended entries that entered under that exporter's case number (i.e., at that exporter's rate) will be liquidated at the Vietnam-wide rate.

    9See Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694 (October 24, 2011), for a full discussion of this practice.

    In accordance with section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act, the final results of this review shall be the basis for the assessment of antidumping duties on entries of merchandise covered by the final results of this review and for future deposits of estimated duties, where applicable.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of these final results of this administrative review for all shipments of the subject merchandise from Vietnam, entered or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the publication date, as provided for by section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) For the exporters listed above, the cash deposit rate will be equal to the weighted-average dumping margin established in the final results of this review (except, if the rate is zero or de minimis, then a cash deposit rate of zero will be established for that company); (2) for previously investigated or reviewed Vietnam or non-Vietnam exporters not listed above that currently have a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the exporter-specific rate published for the most the recently completed segment of this proceeding where the exporter received that separate rate; (3) for all Vietnam exporters of subject merchandise that have not been found to be entitled to a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate for the Vietnam-wide entity, 58.54 percent; and (4) for all non-Vietnam exporters of subject merchandise which have not received their own separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the Vietnam exporter that supplied that non-Vietnam exporter. These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Disclosure

    We intend to disclose the calculations performed regarding these administrative review final results within five days of the date of publication of this notice in this proceeding in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Notification to Importers Regarding the Reimbursement of Duties

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this POR. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties has occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties.

    Administrative Protective Order (“APO”)

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to parties subject to APO of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3), which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials, or conversion to judicial protective order, is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction.

    We are issuing and publishing the final results of this review and notice in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix List of Topics Discussed in Issues and Decision Memorandum 1. Summary 2. Background 3. Scope of the Order 4. Discussion of the Issues Comment 1: Bona Fide Sale Comment 2: Steel Plate Comment 3: Market Economy Prices from Korea Comment 4: Financial Statements Comment 5: Flanges Comment 6: Calculation of Market Economy Prices 5. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2015-23155 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-201-842] Large Residential Washers From Mexico: Final Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On March 9, 2015, the Department of Commerce (the Department) published the preliminary results of the administrative review of the antidumping duty (AD) order on large residential washers (LRWs) from Mexico.1 The review covers two producers/exporters of the subject merchandise: Electrolux Home Products Corp. N.V. and Electrolux Home Products de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (collectively, Electrolux) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Samsung). The period of review (POR) is August 3, 2012, through January 31, 2014. We gave interested parties an opportunity to comment on the Preliminary Results. After reviewing the comments received and making corrections to the margin calculation, we continue to find that Electrolux made sales of subject merchandise to the United States at prices below normal value. We also find that Samsung made no shipments of subject merchandise during the POR. Electrolux's final dumping margin is listed below in the section entitled “Final Results of the Review.”

    1See Large Residential Washers From Mexico: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments; 2012-2014, 80 FR 12436 (March 9, 2015) (Preliminary Results).

    DATES:

    Effective Date: September 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brian Smith or Brandon Custard, AD/CVD Operations, Office II, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1766 or (202) 482-1823, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    For a complete description of the events that following the publication of the Preliminary Results, see the Issues and Decision Memorandum.2 The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's AD and Countervailing Duty (CVD) Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov and in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Issues and Decision Memorandum and the electronic version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    2See memorandum to Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, from Gary Taverman, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review of Large Residential Washers from Mexico,” dated concurrently with and adopted by this notice (Issues and Decision Memorandum).

    The Department conducted this administrative review in accordance with section 751 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act).

    Scope of the Order

    The products covered by the order are all large residential washers and certain subassemblies thereof from Mexico. The products are currently classifiable under subheadings 8450.20.0040 and 8450.20.0080 of the Harmonized Tariff System of the United States (HTSUS). Products subject to this order may also enter under HTSUS subheadings 8450.11.0040, 8450.11.0080, 8450.90.2000, and 8450.90.6000. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the merchandise subject to this scope is dispositive.3

    3 A full description of the scope of the order is contained in the Issues and Decision Memorandum. The HTSUS numbers are revised from the numbers previously stated in the scope. See Memorandum to The File entitled “Changes to the HTS Numbers to the ACE Case Reference Files for the Antidumping Duty Orders,” dated January 6, 2015.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum. A list of the issues which parties raised and to which we respond in the Issues and Decision Memorandum is attached to this notice as Appendix I.

    Final Determination of No Shipments

    In the Preliminary Results, based on our analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) information and information provided by Samsung, we determined that Samsung had no shipments of the subject merchandise, and, therefore, no reviewable transactions, during the POR.4 No party commented on our preliminary results with respect to Samsung, and no additional information has been placed on the record to call into question those preliminary results. Accordingly, for the final results of this review, we continue to find that Samsung made no shipments of the subject merchandise during the POR.

    4See Preliminary Results, 80 FR at 12347.

    Final Results of the Review

    Based on our analysis of the comments received, we made changes to the weighted-average dumping margin calculation for Electrolux. Therefore, we are assigning the following weighted-average dumping margins for the period August 3, 2012, through January 31, 2014:

    Manufacturer/exporter Weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Electrolux Home Products Corp. NV/Electrolux Home Products de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. 6.45
    Disclosure and Public Comment

    We intend to disclose the calculations performed within five days of the date of publication of this notice to parties in this proceeding in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Assessment Rates

    Pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act, and 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1), the Department has determined, and CBP shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries of subject merchandise in accordance with the final results of this review. The Department intends to issue appropriate assessment instructions directly to CBP 15 days after publication of the final results of this administrative review.

    For Electrolux, the Department calculated ad valorem importer-specific assessment rates equal to the total amount of dumping calculated for the importer's examined sales and the total entered value of those sales. Where an importer-specific assessment rate is zero or de minimis (i.e., less than 0.5 percent), the Department will instruct CBP to liquidate these entries without regard to antidumping duties pursuant to 19 CFR 351.106(c)(2).

    The Department clarified its “automatic assessment” regulation on May 6, 2003.5 If applicable, this clarification will apply to entries of subject merchandise during the POR produced by Electrolux or Samsung, for which the company did not know that its merchandise was destined for the United States. In such instances, we will instruct CBP to liquidate these entries at the all-others rate established in the less-than fair-value (LTFV) investigation, 36.52 percent,6 if there is no rate for the intermediary involved in the transaction. See Assessment Policy Notice for a full discussion of this clarification.

    5See Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 68 FR 23954 (May 6, 2003) (Assessment Policy Notice).

    6See Large Residential Washers From Mexico and the Republic of Korea: Antidumping Duty Orders, 78 FR 11148 (February 15, 2013) (AD Order).

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of the notice of final results of administrative review for all shipments of the subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication, as provided by section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) The cash deposit rate for Electrolux will be equal to the weighted-average dumping margin established in the final results of this administrative review; (2) for merchandise exported by manufacturers or exporters not covered in this administrative review but covered in a prior segment of the proceeding, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the company-specific rate published for the most recently-completed segment; (3) if the exporter is not a firm covered in this review, a prior review, or the original LTFV investigation, but the manufacturer is, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for the most recently-completed segment of this proceeding for the manufacturer of the merchandise; and (4) the cash deposit rate for all other manufacturers or exporters will continue to be 36.52 percent, the all-others rate determined in the LTFV investigation.7 These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    7Id.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Secretary's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    Notification Regarding Administrative Protective Order

    This notice serves as the only reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the disposition of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3). Timely written notification of return/destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and the terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation.

    This notice is published in accordance with section 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I List of Topics Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum Summary Background Margin Calculations Scope of the Order Discussion of Issues 1. Clerical Errors in Electrolux's Preliminary Dumping Margin 2. Electrolux's Affiliated Party Transactions 3. Methodological Issues in the Differential Pricing Analysis 4. Zeroing and Differential Pricing 5. Monthly Time Periods in Differential Pricing Analysis
    [FR Doc. 2015-23158 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 a.m.] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-580-869] Large Residential Washers From the Republic of Korea: Final Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2013 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On March 11, 2015, the Department published the preliminary results of the administrative review of the countervailing duty order on large residential washers from Korea.1 The review covers two producers/exporters of the subject merchandise, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Samsung) and Daewoo Electronics Corporation (Daewoo). The period of review (POR) is June 5, 2012, through December 31, 2013. Based on an analysis of the comments received, the Department has not made changes to the subsidy rates calculated for Daewoo and Samsung in the Preliminary Results. The final subsidy rates are listed in the “Final Results of Administrative Review” section below.

    1See Large Residential Washers From the Republic of Korea: Preliminary Results of the Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2013, 80 FR 12803 and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum (PDM) (March 11, 2015) (Preliminary Results).

    DATES:

    Effective Date: September 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Toni Page AD/CVD Operations, Office VII, Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1398.

    Scope of the Order

    The products covered by the order are all large residential washers and certain subassemblies thereof from Korea. The products are currently classifiable under subheadings 8450.20.0040 and 8450.20.0080 of the Harmonized Tariff System of the United States (HTSUS). Products subject to this order may also enter under HTSUS subheadings 8450.11.0040, 8450.11.0080, 8450.90.2000, and 8450.90.6000. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the merchandise subject to this scope is dispositive.2

    2 For a full description of the scope, see the Department Memorandum, “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Results of the Countervailing Duty Administrative Review: Large Residential Washers from the Republic of Korea” (Issues and Decision Memorandum) (September 8, 2015).

    Analysis of Comments Received

    The issues raised by Whirlpool Corporation (Petitioner), the only interested party to submit comments, are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum.3 The issues are identified in the Appendix to this notice. The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov and is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and electronic versions of the memorandum are identical in content.

    3Id.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this countervailing duty review in accordance with section 751(a)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, we determine that there is a subsidy, i.e., a financial contribution by an “authority” that confers a benefit to the recipient, and that the subsidy is specific.4 Additionally, for certain subsidy programs, we are relying on the facts available, with adverse inferences, pursuant to sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act. For further information, see the Issues and Decision Memorandum.

    4See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and, section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

    Final Results of Administrative Review

    As a result of this review, we determine the countervailable subsidy rates during the POR for the mandatory respondents to be:

    Company Subsidy
  • rate
  • (percent)
  • Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd 34.77 Daewoo Electronics Corporation 81.91
    Assessment and Cash Deposit Requirements

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(b)(2), the Department intends to issue appropriate instructions to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 15 days after publication of the final results of this review. The Department will instruct CBP to liquidate shipments of subject merchandise produced and/or exported by Daewoo and Samsung, entered or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption from June 5, 2012, through December 31, 2013.

    Pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act, the Department also intends to instruct CBP to collect cash deposits of estimated CVDs, in the amounts shown above for each of the respective companies shown above, on shipments of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of the final results of this review. For all non-reviewed firms, we will instruct CBP to continue to collect cash deposits at the most-recent company-specific or all-others rate applicable to the company, as appropriate. These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Administrative Protective Order

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to parties subject to an administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3), which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of proceeding. Timely written notification of the return/destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction.

    These final results are issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. APPENDIX I Issues and Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope of the Order IV. Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences V. Analysis of Programs VI. Analysis of Comments VII. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2015-23163 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Open Meeting of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board AGENCY:

    National Institute of Standards and Technology, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) will meet Wednesday, October 21, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, October 22, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and Friday, October 23, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. All sessions will be open to the public.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, October 22, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and Friday, October 23, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will take place at the U.S. Access Board, 1331 F Street NW., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Annie Sokol, Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8930, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8930, telephone: (301) 975-2006, or by email at: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App., notice is hereby given that the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) will meet Wednesday, October 21, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, October 22, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and Friday, October 23, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. All sessions will be open to the public. The ISPAB is authorized by 15 U.S.C. 278g-4, as amended, and advises the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on information security and privacy issues pertaining to Federal government information systems, including thorough review of proposed standards and guidelines developed by NIST. Details regarding the ISPAB's activities are available at http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SMA/ispab/index.html.

    The agenda is expected to include the following items:

    —Presentation from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate, —Updates from Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, —Presentation from U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation on Information Collection—Going Dark Initiative—Overview, Challenges and Gaps, —Updates on OMB Circular No. A-130 Revised, Management of Federal Information Resources, —Discussion on cybersecurity from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, —Updates from Government Accountability Office on information security and privacy reports, —Presentation from Federal Bureau of Investigation on information collection, —Presentation from the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) on Cybersecurity, —Legislative Updates relating to cybersecurity, —FedRAMP Updates on “High” baseline security controls, —Presentation from U.S. Department of Justice on Cyber Norms, —Discussion on Government adoption of Internet of Things, —Follow-up discussion with National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) on Drones and Privacy, —Discussion on Prevention of large-scale breaches in Federal Databases containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and —Updates on NIST Computer Security Division.

    Note that agenda items may change without notice. The final agenda will be posted at http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SMA/ispab/index.html. Seating will be available for the public and media. No registration is required to attend this meeting.

    Public Participation: The ISPAB agenda will include a period of time, not to exceed thirty minutes, for oral comments from the public (Friday, October 23, 2015, between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.). Speakers will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Each speaker will be limited to five minutes. Questions from the public will not be considered during this period. Members of the public who are interested in speaking are requested to contact Annie Sokol at the contact information indicated in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice.

    Speakers who wish to expand upon their oral statements, those who had wished to speak but could not be accommodated on the agenda, and those who were unable to attend in person are invited to submit written statements. In addition, written statements are invited and may be submitted to the ISPAB at any time. All written statements should be directed to the ISPAB Secretariat, Information Technology Laboratory, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8930, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8930.

    Richard Cavanagh, Acting Associate Director for Laboratory Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23081 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council, NEFMC) will hold a three-day meeting to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, September 29-October 1, 2015, starting at 8:30 a.m. on each of the meeting days.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Radisson Plymouth Harbor Hotel, 180 Water St, Plymouth, MA 02360; telephone: (508) 747-4900; fax: (508) 746-2609; or online at www.radisson.com/plymouth-hotel-ma-02360/maplyhar.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; phone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    After introductions and any announcements, the Council meeting will open with the swearing-in of new and reappointed Council members by the Regional Administrator of NOAA's Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO). The full Council will then elect its 2015-16 officers to be followed by brief reports from the NEFMC Chairman and Executive Director, the GARFO Regional Administrator, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council liaisons, NOAA General Counsel and its Office of Law Enforcement, and representatives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and U.S Coast Guard. Next, the public will have an opportunity to make brief comments on items that are relevant to Council business but otherwise not listed on the published agenda.

    Following a break at 12 p.m., the NEFMC will receive reports from its oversight committees. The Atlantic Herring Committee will provide recommendations and the Council will take final action on the fishery's 2016-18 specifications. These will include an overfishing level (OFL) and acceptable biological catch (ABC) based on Scientific and Statistical Committee advice, quotas for each of the four Atlantic herring management areas as well as monthly quota allocations, research set-asides, and annual gear/area-specific catch caps for river herring and shad. The day will conclude with the Council's Observer Committee report. This group will ask for approval of a Draft Environmental Assessment and draft omnibus amendment that would establish provisions for industry-funded monitoring (IFM) across all federally-managed fisheries in the Greater Atlantic region and address monitoring requirements on Atlantic herring vessels. Additionally, the discussion will include consideration of Observer Committee and Herring Committee recommendations regarding the inclusion of any additional management measures in the action, the selection of preferred alternatives, and approval of the Draft Omnibus IFM Amendment for public comment.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015

    Wednesday's session will begin with the receipt of recommendations from the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee on a Georges Bank yellowtail flounder OFL and ABC for fishing years 2016-17; and an ABC recommendation for the species in the Northeast skate complex for fishing years 2016-18. Next, a summary of the 2015 Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee's recent stock assessments for Eastern Georges Bank cod, Eastern Georges Bank haddock, and Georges Bank yellowtail flounder will be presented. This will be followed by a discussion of and a decision on the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee's (TMGC) recommendations for the 2016 quotas for these same stocks. The Council may also discuss other TMGC issues. The Council's Groundfish Committee report will follow and will contain a number of elements: (1) Final Council action on Amendment 18 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which focuses on accumulation limits and fleet diversity; (2) an update on the development of Framework Adjustment 55 to the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Plan, which would set specifications for all groundfish stocks for fishing years 2016-18, and include the quotas for the three U.S./Canada stocks mentioned above for 2016 only; and (3) relative to Framework 55, consider including a proposal to establish a new sector in the groundfish fishery and possible changes that might streamline the current at-sea monitoring program.

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    The final meeting day will begin with a briefing by Dr. Jason Link of NOAA Fisheries on the agency's Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Strategy. The Council's Habitat Committee will discuss the possibility of initiating a framework adjustment that would allow hydraulic clam dredging in some portions of the Great South Channel and the Georges Shoal Habitat Management Areas approved by the Council in Omnibus EFH Amendment 2 and review the status of and new information associated with the development of an Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment. A discussion of management priorities for 2016 will occur just prior to a lunch break.

    After the break, the Scallop Committee will ask the Council to identify preferred alternatives in Amendment 19 to the Sea Scallop FMP. The action is intended to expedite the implementation date of the sea scallop fishery specifications each year. An update on the development of fishing year 2016 specifications and default measures for fishing year 2017 is also scheduled. The Council will spend the remainder of the day on its Small Mesh Multispecies Program and the Northeast skate complex. During the Small Mesh Program agenda item the Council will: (1) Receive a summary of the annual monitoring report for the three species in this group, red, silver, and offshore hake, all of which are managed via the Groundfish Plan; (2) consider an interim adjustment to the fishery specifications for red hake; and (3) review and approve a draft scoping document for Amendment 22 to the Groundfish Plan, which would address limited access in this fishery. During the skate discussion, the Council will receive an update on the status of the seven skate species in the complex and recent catches. A decision may also be made about initiating a framework adjustment that would allow the Skate Committee to take the lead in developing specifications for fishing years 2016-17.

    Although other non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this Council for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Council action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided that the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies (see ADDRESSES) at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: September 10, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23107 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No.: PTO-P-2015-0062] Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities AGENCY:

    United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has a procedure under which an application will be advanced out of turn (accorded special status) for examination if the applicant files a petition to make special with the appropriate showing. The USPTO is providing a temporary basis (the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities) under which a small or micro entity appellant may have an ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) accorded special status if the appellant has only a single appeal pending before the Board and the appellant agrees to streamline the appeal. Specifically, the appeal must not involve any claim subject to a rejection for lack of written description, enablement, or best mode, or for indefiniteness, and the appellant must agree to the disposition of all claims subject to each ground of rejection as a single group and waive any request for an oral hearing. The Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will allow small or micro entity appellants who streamline their appeals to have greater control over the priority with which their appeals are decided.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: September 18, 2015.

    Duration: The Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities is being adopted on a temporary basis and will run until two thousand (2,000) appeals have been accorded special status under the pilot, or until September 16, 2016, whichever occurs earlier. The USPTO may extend the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities (with or without modification) on either a temporary or permanent basis, or may discontinue this pilot after September 16, 2016, depending upon the results.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steven Bartlett, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, by telephone at 571-272-9797, or by electronic mail message at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Appeals to the Board are normally taken up for decision by the Board in the order in which they are docketed. The USPTO has a preexisting procedure under which an application will be advanced out of turn (accorded special status) if the applicant files a petition to make special with the appropriate showing. See 37 CFR 1.102 and MPEP section 708.02. The USPTO recently adopted the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot, under which an appellant may have an ex parte appeal to the Board in an application accorded special status if the appellant withdraws the appeal in another application or ex parte reexamination with an ex parte appeal also pending before the Board. See Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot, 80 FR 34145 (June 15, 2015). The USPTO is now adopting, on a temporary basis, the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities, under which a small or micro entity appellant may have an ex parte appeal to the Board accorded special status if the appellant has only a single appeal pending before the Board as of September 18, 2015 and the appellant agrees to streamline the appeal. The Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will permit small or micro entity appellants to accelerate the Board decision on an appeal, possibly hastening the pace at which the invention is patented and brought to the marketplace, and thus spurring follow-on innovation, economic growth, and job creation. The streamlining of appeals under this pilot also will assist the Board to more efficiently reduce the overall inventory of pending appeals.

    The USPTO will accord special status to an appeal pending before the Board under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities under the following conditions:

    (1) A certification and petition under 37 CFR 41.3 must be filed by the USPTO's electronic filing system (EFS-Web) in the application involved in the ex parte appeal for which special status is sought (“appeal to be made special”), identifying that application and appeal by application and appeal number, respectively. In addition, the appeal to be made special must be the appellant's only appeal pending before the Board as of September 18, 2015, and the appeal to be made special must have been docketed with the PTAB on or before September 18, 2015.

    (2) The appellant must certify that the appellant has established status as a small entity or micro entity in the application underlying the appeal to be made special and also must certify that status as a small entity or micro entity is still appropriate. See 37 CFR 1.27 and 1.28 concerning small entity status and see 37 CFR 1.29 concerning micro entity status.

    (3) The appellant must agree that, for each ground of rejection applying to two or more claims, the PTAB may select a single claim from the claims subject to each ground of rejection and decide the appeal to be made special with respect to every claim subject to that ground of rejection on the basis of the selected claim alone. See 37 CFR 41.37(c)(1)(iv) concerning the treatment of claims subject to the same ground of rejection argued together as a group.

    (4) The appellant must certify that the appeal to be made special does not involve any claim subject to a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112. If an appeal made special under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities is found to involve one or more claims subject to a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112, the appeal normally will be removed from the pilot at the discretion of the Board.

    (5) The appellant must agree to waive any oral hearing in the appeal to be made special, and acknowledge that any oral hearing fees paid in connection with the appeal to be made special will not be refunded.

    (6) The petition under 37 CFR 41.3 must be signed by a registered practitioner who has a power of attorney under 37 CFR 1.32, or has authority to act under 37 CFR 1.34, for the application involved in the appeal to be made special.

    The USPTO has created a form-fillable Portable Document Format (PDF) “Petition to Make Special—the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities” (Form PTO/SB/441) for use in filing a certification and petition under 37 CFR 41.3 under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities. Form PTO/SB/441 is available on the USPTO's Internet Web site on the micro site for USPTO patent-related forms (http://www.uspto.gov/patent/patents-forms). Form PTO/SB/441 does not collect “information” within the meaning of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). See 5 CFR 1320.3(h). Therefore, this notice does not involve information collection requirements which are subject to review by OMB.

    No petition fee is required. The $400.00 fee for a petition under 37 CFR 41.3 is hereby sua sponte waived for any petition to make an appeal special under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities.

    MPEP section 1203 provides that an application made special and advanced out of turn for examination will continue to be special throughout its entire course of prosecution in the Office, including appeal, if any, to the Board. An appeal that is accorded special status for decision on an appeal to the Board under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will be advanced out of turn for a decision on the appeal by the Board. The difference between the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities and an application made special under 37 CFR 1.102 and MPEP section 708.02 is that an application in which an appeal is accorded special status for decision on an appeal to the Board under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will not have a special status under CFR 1.102 and MPEP section 708.02 after the decision on the appeal.

    The goal for handling an application in which a petition to make an appeal special under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities is filed is as follows: (1) rendering a decision on the petition to make the appeal special no later than two months from the filing date of the petition; and (2) rendering a decision on the appeal no later than four months from the date a petition to make an appeal special under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities is granted. The current pendency of decided appeals in applications, for those appeals decided this fiscal year, ranges between an average of 24.9 months for appeals from applications assigned to Technology Center 1700 and an average of 32.5 months for appeals from applications assigned to Technology Center 1600, and is shown for each Technology Center in the following table:

    Technology center Average months from docketing
  • notice to
  • board
  • decision
  • 1600 32.5 1700 24.9 2100 31.6 2400 31.2 2600 31.2 2800 27.0 2900 26.2 3600 31.7 3700 30.1

    Ex parte reexamination proceedings, including any appeal to the Board, are conducted with special dispatch within the USPTO. See 35 U.S.C. 305. The current average pendency of appeals in ex parte reexaminations, for those appeals decided this fiscal year, is 6.0 months. The USPTO is not making the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities applicable to appeals in ex parte reexaminations as these appeals already are handled with special dispatch, and the petition evaluation process only would delay the Board decision in an appeal in an ex parte reexamination.

    The Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities is being adopted on a temporary basis until two thousand (2,000) appeals have been accorded special status under the pilot, or until September 16, 2016, whichever occurs earlier. The USPTO may extend the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities (with or without modification) on either a temporary or permanent basis, or may discontinue the pilot after September 16, 2016, depending upon the results. Additional information concerning the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities, including statistical information and pendency of appeals before the Board, can found on the USPTO Internet Web site at: https://www-cms.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/patent-trial-and-appeal-board/expedited-patent-appeal-pilot.

    Dated: September 8, 2015. Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23090 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army [Docket ID: USA-2015-0014] Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense has submitted to OMB for clearance, the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by October 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Fred Licari, 571-372-0493.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title, Associated Form And OMB Number: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Instrument for Hurricane Evacuation Behavioral Survey; Generic Collection for OMB Control Number 0710-XXXX.

    Type of Request: New.

    Number of Respondents: 6000.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 6000.

    Average Burden per Response: 15 minutes.

    Annual Burden Hours: 1500.

    Needs and Uses: USACE is preparing a Hurricane Evacuation Study to identify clearance times for the evacuations of coastal areas in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm threat. Part of the evacuation study is a behavioral assessment, which identifies the factors and decision points for individuals who are evacuation from areas vulnerable to the storm. The proposed behavioral assessment will use phone interviews to determine the likelihood of evacuation, the method of evacuation, and the number of vehicles and individuals that will be evacuated for all contacted individuals.

    Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Frequency: Annual.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    OMB Desk Officer: Mr. Stuart Levenbach.

    Comments and recommendations on the proposed information collection should be emailed to Mr. Stuart Levenbach, DoD Desk Officer, at [email protected] Please identify the proposed information collection by DoD Desk Officer and the Docket ID number and title of the information collection.

    You may also submit comments and recommendations, identified by Docket ID number and title, by the following method:

    • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, Docket ID number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.

    DOD Clearance Officer: Mr. Frederick Licari.

    Written requests for copies of the information collection proposal should be sent to Mr. Licari at WHS/ESD Directives Division, 4800 Mark Center Drive, East Tower, Suite 02G09, Alexandria, VA 22350-3100.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register, Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23069 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3710-08-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army [Docket ID: USA-2015-0005] Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense has submitted to OMB for clearance, the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by October 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Fred Licari, 571-372-0493.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title, Associated Form and OMB Number: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Flood Risk Management Surveys; Generic Collection for OMB Control Number 0710-XXXX.

    Type of Request: New.

    Number of Respondents: 7,000.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 7,000.

    Average Burden per Response: 43 minutes.

    Annual Burden Hours: 5,000.

    Needs and Uses: The Corps of Engineers uses public surveys for collecting data for planning, formulation, and evaluation of projects. Floodplain residents, property owners, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, who are flood victims, are interviewed along with state and local officials and other affected individuals.

    Affected Public: Individuals or Households, Business or Other For-Profit, Not-For-Profit Institutions, Farms, State, Local, or Tribal Government.

    Frequency: Annual.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    OMB Desk Officer: Mr. Stuart Levenbach.

    Comments and recommendations on the proposed information collection should be emailed to Mr. Stuart Levenbach, DoD Desk Officer, at [email protected] Please identify the proposed information collection by DoD Desk Officer and the Docket ID number and title of the information collection.

    You may also submit comments and recommendations, identified by Docket ID number and title, by the following method:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, Docket ID number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.

    DOD Clearance Officer: Mr. Frederick Licari.

    Written requests for copies of the information collection proposal should be sent to Mr. Licari at WHS/ESD Directives Division, 4800 Mark Center Drive, East Tower, Suite 02G09, Alexandria, VA 22350-3100.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23091 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Annual Notice of Interest Rates of Federal Student Loans Made Under the Federal Family Education Loan Program Prior to July 1, 2010 AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.032. SUMMARY:

    In accordance with section 427A of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, the Chief Operating Officer for Federal Student Aid announces the interest rates for the period July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, for certain loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program prior to July 1, 2010. The Chief Operating Officer takes this action to give notice of FFEL Program loan interest rates to the public.

    DATES:

    This notice is effective September 15, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ian Foss, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street NE., Room 114I1, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 377-3681 or by email: [email protected].

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Section 427A of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) (20 U.S.C. 1077a), provides formulas for determining the interest rates charged to borrowers on loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, including Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, and Federal Consolidation Loans.

    The FFEL Program includes loans with variable interest rates and loans with fixed interest rates. Most loans made under the FFEL Program before July 1, 2006, have variable interest rates that change each year. In most cases, the variable interest rate formula that applies to a particular loan usually depends on the date of the first disbursement of the loan. The variable rates are determined annually and are effective for each 12-month period beginning July 1 of one year and ending June 30 of the following year.

    Under section 427A(k) of the HEA, FFEL Program loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006, have a fixed interest rate.

    In the case of some Federal Consolidation Loans, the interest rate is determined by the date on which the Federal Consolidation Loan application was received. Federal Consolidation Loans for which the application was received on or after October 1, 1998, have a fixed interest rate. This fixed rate is based on the weighted average of the loans that are consolidated, rounded up to the nearest higher 1/8 of one percent up to a maximum rate of 8.25 percent.

    FFEL variable interest rates are based on formulas that use the bond equivalent rate of the 91-day Treasury bills auctioned at the final auction held before June 1 of each year plus a statutorily established add-on. These formulas apply to: All Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans first disbursed before October 1, 1992, that have been converted to variable rate loans; all Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 1992, and before July 1, 2006; Federal PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 1998, and before July 1, 2006; and Federal Consolidation Loans for which the Federal Consolidation Loan application was received on or after November 13, 1997, and before October 1, 1998. In each case, the calculated rate is capped by a maximum interest rate. The bond equivalent rate of the 91-day Treasury bills auctioned on May 26, 2015, which is used to calculate the interest rates on these loans, is 0.02 percent.

    For Federal PLUS loans first disbursed before July 1, 1998, the interest rate is based on the weekly average of the one-year constant maturity Treasury yield, as published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on the last day of the calendar week ending on or before June 26 of each year, plus a statutory add-on percentage. The calculated rate is capped by a maximum interest rate. The weekly average of the one-year constant maturity Treasury yield published on June 29, 2015, which is used to calculate the interest rate on these loans, is 0.29 percent.

    This notice includes five charts containing specific information on the calculation of interest rates for loans made under the FFEL Program:

    Chart 1 contains information on the interest rates for Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans that were made as fixed-rate loans, but were subsequently converted to variable-rate loans.

    Chart 2 contains information on the interest rates for variable-rate Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

    Chart 3 contains information on the interest rates for variable-rate Federal PLUS Loans.

    Chart 4 contains information on the interest rates for fixed-rate Federal Consolidation Loans.

    Chart 5 contains information on the interest rates for fixed-rate Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS Loans.

    Chart 1—“Converted” Variable-Rate Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans Cohort First disbursed on or after First disbursed
  • before
  • Original fixed interest rate Max. rate
  • (%)
  • 91-Day
  • T-Bill rate
  • (%)
  • Margin
  • (%)
  • Total rate
  • (%)
  • 7/1/1988 7/23/1992 8.00%, increasing to 10.00% 10.00 0.02 3.25 3.27 7/23/1992 10/1/1992 8.00%, increasing to 10.00% 10.00 0.02 3.25 3.27 7/23/1992 7/1/1994 7.00% 7.00 0.02 3.10 3.12 7/23/1992 7/1/1994 8.00% 8.00 0.02 3.10 3.12 7/23/1992 7/1/1994 9.00% 9.00 0.02 3.10 3.12 7/23/1992 7/1/1994 8.00%, increasing to 10.00% 10.00 0.02 3.10 3.12
    Note:

    The FFEL Program loans represented by the second row of the chart were only made to “new borrowers” on or after July 23, 1992. Whether the FFEL Program loans represented by the third through sixth rows of the chart were made to a specific borrower depends on the interest rate on a borrower's existing loans at the time that the borrower received the loans on or after July 23, 1992 and prior to July 1, 1994.

    In Charts 2 and 3, a dagger following a date in a cohort field indicates that the trigger for the rate to apply is a period of enrollment for which the loan was intended either “ending before” or “beginning on or after” the date in the cohort field.

    Chart 2—Variable-Rate Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans Cohort First disbursed on or after First disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • 91-Day
  • T-Bill rate
  • (%)
  • Margin In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • Total rate In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • 10/1/1992 7/1/1994 9.00 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.12 7/1/1994 7/1/1994 † 9.00 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.12 7/1/1994 7/1/1995 8.25 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.12 7/1/1995 7/1/1998 8.25 0.02 2.50 3.10 2.52 3.12 7/1/1998 7/1/2006 8.25 0.02 1.70 2.30 1.72 2.32
    Note:

    The FFEL Program loans represented in the first row in Chart 2 were only made to “new borrowers” on or after October 1, 1992. The FFEL Program loans represented in the second row in Chart 2 were only made to “new borrowers” on or after July 1, 1994. The FFEL Program loans represented in the third row in Chart 2 must—in addition to having been first disbursed on or after July 1, 1994, and before July 1, 1995—have been made for a period of enrollment that began on or included July 1, 1994.

    In Charts 3 and 4, an asterisk following a date in a cohort field indicates that the relevant trigger is an application for a Federal Consolidation Loan being received either “on or after” or “before” the date in the cohort field. For example, the sixth row in Chart 3 describes the interest rate for a Federal Consolidation Loan for which the application was received on or after November 13, 1997, but before October 1, 1998.

    Chart 3—Variable-Rate Federal PLUS, SLS, and Consolidation Loans Loan type Cohort First disbursed on or after First disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • Index rate 91-Day
  • T-Bill rate
  • (%)
  • 1-Year
  • constant
  • Treasury
  • maturity
  • (%)
  • Margin
  • (%)
  • Total rate
  • (%)
  • PLUS and SLS 10/1/1992 12.00 0.29 3.25 3.54 SLS 10/1/1992 7/1/1994 † 11.00 0.29 3.10 3.39 PLUS 10/1/1992 7/1/1994 10.00 0.29 3.10 3.39 PLUS 7/1/1994 7/1/1998 9.00 0.29 3.10 3.39 PLUS 7/1/1998 7/1/2006 9.00 0.02 3.10 3.12 Consolidation 11/13/1997* 10/1/1998* 8.25 0.02 3.10 3.12 HHS Portion of Consolidation 0.02 3.00 3.02

    The last row in Chart 3 refers to portions of Federal Consolidation Loans attributable to loans made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under subpart I of part A of title VII of the Public Health Service Act.

    Chart 4—Fixed-Rate Consolidation Loans First disbursed on or after First disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • Rate
    7/1/1994 Weighted average of rates on the loans included in the consolidation, rounded to nearest whole percent, but not less than 9.00%. 7/1/1994 11/13/1997 * Weighted average of rates on the loans included in the consolidation, rounded upward to nearest whole percent. 10/1/1998 7/1/2010 8.25 Weighted average of rates on the loans included in the consolidation, rounded to the nearest higher 1/8 of 1 percent.
    Chart 5—Fixed-Rate Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS Loans Loan type Student grade level First disbursed on or after First disbursed
  • before
  • Rate
  • (%)
  • Subsidized Undergraduate Students 7/1/2006 7/1/2008 6.80 Subsidized Undergraduate Students 7/1/2008 7/1/2009 6.00 Subsidized Undergraduate Students 7/1/2009 7/1/2010 5.60 Subsidized Graduate/Professional Students 7/1/2006 7/1/2010 6.80 Unsubsidized All Students 7/1/2006 7/1/2010 6.80 PLUS Parents and Graduate/Professional Students 7/1/2006 7/1/2010 8.50
    Note:

    No new loans have been made under the FFEL Program since June 30, 2010.

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Program Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1071 et seq.

    Dated: September 10, 2015. James W. Runcie, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23165 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Annual Notice of Interest Rates of Federal Student Loans Made Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Prior to July 1, 2013 AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.268.

    DATES:

    This notice is effective September 15, 2015.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with section 455(b)(9) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, the Chief Operating Officer for Federal Student Aid announces the interest rates for the period July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, for loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program prior to July 1, 2013. The Chief Operating Officer takes this action to give notice of Direct Loan interest rates to the public.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ian Foss, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street NE., Room 114I1, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 377-3681 or by email: [email protected]

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Section 455(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) (20 U.S.C. 1087e(b)), provides formulas for determining the interest rates charged to borrowers for loans made under the Direct Loan Program including: Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans (Direct Subsidized Loans); Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans (Direct Unsubsidized Loans); Federal Direct PLUS Loans (Direct PLUS Loans); and Federal Direct Consolidation Loans (Direct Consolidation Loans) (collectively, “Direct Loans.”).

    The Direct Loan Program includes loans with variable interest rates and loans with fixed interest rates. Most loans made under the Direct Loan Program before July 1, 2006, have variable interest rates that change each year. In most cases, the variable interest rate formula that applies to a particular loan depends on the date of the first disbursement of the loan. The variable rates are determined annually and are effective for each 12-month period beginning July 1 of one year and ending June 30 of the following year.

    Under section 455(b) of the HEA, Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006, have a fixed interest rate.

    In the case of some Direct Consolidation Loans, the interest rate is determined by the date on which the Direct Consolidation Loan application was received. Direct Consolidation Loans for which the application was received on or after February 1, 1999, have a fixed interest rate. This fixed rate is based on the weighted average of the loans that are consolidated, rounded up to the nearest higher 1/8 of one percent. Direct Consolidation Loans for which the application was received on or after February 1, 1999, and prior to July 1, 2013, have a maximum interest rate of 8.25 percent.

    Under section 455(b) of the HEA, the Direct Loan variable interest rates are based on formulas that use the bond equivalent rates of the 91-day Treasury bills auctioned at the final auction held before June 1 of each year, plus a statutory add-on percentage. These formulas apply to: All Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans; Direct Consolidation Loans for which the application was received on or after July 1, 1998, and before February 1, 1999; and Direct PLUS Loans disbursed on or after July 1, 1998. In each case, the calculated rate is capped by a maximum interest rate. The bond equivalent rate of the 91-day Treasury bills auctioned on May 26, 2015, which is used to calculate the interest rates on these loans, is 0.02 percent.

    In addition, under section 455(b)(4) of the HEA, the interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans that were first disbursed on or after July 1, 1994, and before July 1, 1998, is based on the weekly average of the one-year constant maturity Treasury yield, as published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on the last day of the calendar week ending on or before June 26 of each year, plus a statutory add-on percentage. The calculated rate is capped by a maximum interest rate. The weekly average of the one-year constant maturity Treasury yield published on June 29, 2015, which is used to calculate the interest rate on these loans, is 0.29 percent.

    This notice includes five charts containing specific information on the calculation of the interest rates for loans made under the Direct Loan Program prior to July 1, 2013. We published a separate notice containing the interest rates for Direct Loans made for the current award year on July 17, 2015 (See 80 FR 42488).

    Chart 1 contains information on the interest rates for variable-rate Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

    Chart 2 contains information on the interest rates for variable-rate Direct PLUS Loans.

    Chart 3 contains information on the interest rates for variable-rate Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans.

    Chart 4 contains information on the interest rates for variable-rate Direct PLUS Consolidation Loans.

    Chart 5 contains information on the interest rates for fixed-rate Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.

    Chart 1—Variable-Rate Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans Cohort First disbursed on or after First
  • disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • Index rate 91-Day
  • T-bill rate
  • (%)
  • Margin In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All
  • other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • Total rate In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All
  • other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • 7/1/1994 7/1/1995 8.25 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.12 7/1/1995 7/1/1998 8.25 0.02 2.50 3.10 2.52 3.12 7/1/1998 7/1/2006 8.25 0.02 1.70 2.30 1.72 2.32
    Chart 2—Variable-Rate Direct PLUS Loans Cohort First disbursed on or after First
  • disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • Index rate 91-Day
  • T-bill rate
  • (%)
  • 1-Year
  • constant
  • treasury
  • maturity
  • (%)
  • Margin
  • (%)
  • Total rate
  • (%)
  • 7/1/1994 7/1/1998 9.00 0.29 3.10 3.39 7/1/1998 7/1/2006 8.25 0.02 3.10 3.12

    In Charts 3 through 5, an asterisk following a date in a cohort field indicates that the trigger for the rate to apply is an application for a Direct Consolidation Loan being received either “on or after” or “before” the date in the cohort field. For example, the fourth row in Chart 3 describes the interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans for which the application was received before October 1, 1998, and that were first disbursed on or after October 1, 1998.

    Chart 3—Variable-Rate Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans Cohort First disbursed on or after First
  • disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • Index rate 91-Day
  • T-bill rate
  • (%)
  • Margin In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All
  • other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • Total rate In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All
  • other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • 7/1/1994 7/1/1995 8.25 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.12 7/1/1995 7/1/1998 8.25 0.02 2.50 3.10 2.52 3.12 7/1/1998 10/1/1998 8.25 0.02 1.70 2.30 1.72 2.32 10/1/1998 * 10/1/1998 8.25 0.02 1.70 2.30 1.72 2.32 * 10/1/1998 * 2/1/1999 8.25 0.02 2.30 2.30 2.32 2.32
    Chart 4—Variable-Rate Direct PLUS Consolidation Loans Cohort First disbursed on or after First
  • disbursed
  • before
  • Max. rate
  • (%)
  • Index rate 91-Day
  • T-bill rate
  • (%)
  • 1-Year
  • constant
  • treasury
  • maturity
  • (%)
  • Margin In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All
  • other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • Total rate In-school, grace, deferment
  • (%)
  • All
  • other
  • periods
  • (%)
  • 7/1/1994 7/1/1998 9.00 0.29 3.10 3.10 3.39 3.39 7/1/1998 10/1/1998 9.00 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.13 10/1/1998 * 10/1/1998 9.00 0.02 3.10 3.10 3.12 3.12 * 10/1/1998 * 2/1/1999*  8.25 0.02 2.30 2.30 2.32 2.32
    Chart 5—Fixed-Rate Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans Loan type Student grade level First
  • disbursed on or after
  • First
  • disbursed
  • before
  • Rate
    Subsidized Undergraduates 7/1/2006 7/1/2008 6.80% Subsidized Undergraduates 7/1/2008 7/1/2009 6.00% Subsidized Undergraduates 7/1/2009 7/1/2010 5.60% Subsidized Undergraduates 7/1/2010 7/1/2011 4.50% Subsidized Undergraduates 7/1/2011 7/1/2013 3.40% Subsidized Graduate/Professional Students 7/1/2006 7/1/2012 6.80% Unsubsidized All 7/1/2006 7/1/2013 6.80% PLUS Parents and Graduate/Professionals 7/1/2006 7/1/2013 7.90% Consolidation All 2/1/1999 7/1/2013 Weighted average of rates on the loans included in the consolidation, rounded to 1/8 of 1 percent, up to 8.25 percent.

    Note: Interest rates for Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2013, are published in a separate Federal Register notices, as follows:

    • For Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2013, and prior to July 1, 2014, see 78 FR 59011.

    • For Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2014, and prior to July 1, 2015, see 79 FR 37301.

    • For Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2015, and prior to July 1, 2016, see 80 FR 42488.

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Program Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1087 et seq.

    Dated: September 10, 2015. James W. Runcie, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23160 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No. ED-2015-ICCD-0091] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) Spring Fifth-Grade National Data Collection AGENCY:

    National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a revision of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://wwww.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2015-ICCD-0091. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E105, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Kashka Kubzdela, (202) 502-7411 or by email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) Spring Fifth-Grade National Data Collection.

    OMB Control Number: 1850-0750.

    Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 99,576.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 36,108.

    Abstract: The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011), conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), is a survey that focuses on children's early school experiences beginning with kindergarten and continuing through the fifth grade. It includes the collection of data from parents, teachers, school administrators, and nonparental care providers, as well as direct child assessments. Like its sister study, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K), the ECLS-K:2011 is exceptionally broad in its scope and coverage of child development, early learning, and school progress, drawing together information from multiple sources to provide rich data about the population of children who were kindergartners in the 2010-11 school year. This submission requests OMB's clearance for the spring 2016 fifth-grade data collection, which will be the last data collection for the study.

    Dated: September 10, 2015. Stephanie Valentine, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23111 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Energy Information Administration Proposed Agency Information Collection AGENCY:

    U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Department of Energy

    ACTION:

    Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Extension with Changes; Notice and Request for Comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The EIA invites public comment on the proposed three-year extension of the following Oil and Gas Reserves System Survey Forms that EIA is developing for submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995: Revision of Form EIA-23L, Annual Survey of Domestic Oil and Gas Reserves, Field Level Report; extension without changes of Form EIA-64A, Annual Report of the Origin of Natural Gas Liquids Production; and continued suspension of Form EIA-23S, Annual Survey of Domestic Oil and Gas Reserves, Summary Level Report.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    DATES:

    Comments must be filed by November 16, 2015. If you anticipate difficulty in submitting comments within that period, contact the person listed in the below ADDRESSES Section as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments may be sent to Mr. Steven Grape, EI-24, U. S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington DC 20585, by fax at (202) 586-4420, or by email at [email protected].

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information should be directed to Mr. Grape, as listed above. The information collection instrument and instructions are available on the EIA Web site at: Form EIA-23L, http://wwwdev.eia.gov/survey/#eia-23l, Form EIA-23S, http://wwwdev.eia.gov/survey/#eia-23s, Form EIA-64A, http://wwwdev.eia.gov/survey/#eia-64a.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments and feedback are requested on the following topics directly related to the proposed changes to Form EIA-23L:

    • Field versus County Level Data Detail—EIA currently collects data on a field level basis, but publishes reserves estimates on a State and State subdivision level. Reporting burden to respondents may be reduced, depending on existing record keeping practices, if operators report proved reserves and production data aggregated at a county level. EIA is able to make accurate State and State subdivision level reserves estimates if proved reserves are reported at a county level. Abandoning field-level detail will result in some loss of detail for reserve estimates; however, it will increase the utility of the data by facilitating the matching of other economic data that are only published at the county level.

    • Well Counts (by County)—EIA does not currently collect the number of producing wells on Form EIA-23L. EIA proposes to collect well counts by county on Form EIA-23L to assist data quality validation of the production data reported on the form. Collecting well count data by county is consistent with commercially-available production data that is based on well-level reporting in many States and will facilitate data comparisons and data quality evaluations.

    • Type Code—EIA is considering deleting the Type Code “CH” for Chalk from Schedule B. EIA has Type Codes for certain reservoir types: CV for Conventional, SH for Shale, CB for Coalbed, CH for Chalk, and LP for Other Low Permeability Reservoirs. CH is currently underutilized and EIA proposes to delete Chalk as a reservoir Type Code. The two codes SH and LP have been used interchangeably by operators for tight oil reserves estimates and may be combined for crude oil into a new reservoir Type Code title “Tight.” EIA requests comments on the proposal to delete Type Code “CH” for Chalk, and combine reservoir Type codes “SH” and “LP” into a single category “Tight for crude oil only.”

    • Fuel Types—EIA tracks the proved reserves of four fuel types—two types of liquids; crude oil and lease condensate; and two types of natural gas proved reserves; nonassociated (aka gas well gas) and associated-dissolved (aka casinghead or oil well gas). EIA proposes to continue collecting proved reserves estimates by these four types, instead of combining them into Total Liquids and Total Natural Gas.

    • Producing versus Nonproducing Reserves—Currently operators report both producing and nonproducing proved reserves by field on Form EIA-23L. EIA requests comments on the ability to report these data on a county level basis.

    • Extensions, New Field Discoveries, and New Reservoir Discoveries in Old Fields—EIA requests comments on the utility of collecting and publishing these three components of Total Discoveries or whether it is more useful to report and publish these components under one data category such as “County level Discoveries.” EIA also requests comments on the burden of reporting these three components separately.

    • Field Code Master List—EIA proposes to delete the EIA Field Code Master List that is currently used to report data at the field level. Changing the reporting on Form EIA-23L from Field to County level would eliminate the need to publish or maintain the EIA Field Code Master List.

    All of the proposed changes that are described above are shaded the color yellow on the draft Form EIA-23L to illustrate and facilitate the review of the data elements that are affected by these proposed changes.

    This information collection request contains:

    (1) OMB No. 1905-0057;

    (2) Information Collection Request Title: Oil and Gas Reserves System.

    (3) Type of Request: Revision of the currently approved Form EIA-23L; extension without changes of the currently approved Form EIA-64A; and continued suspension of collection of the currently approved Form EIA-23S (suspended).

    (4) Purpose: In response to Public Law 95-91 Section 657, estimates of U.S. oil and gas reserves are to be reported annually. Many U.S. government agencies have an interest in the definitions of proved oil and gas reserves and the quality, reliability, and usefulness of estimates of reserves. Among these are the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Department of Energy; Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Department of Interior; Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury; and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Each of these organizations has specific purposes for collecting, using, or estimating proved reserves. EIA has a congressional mandate to provide accurate annual estimates of U.S. proved crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids reserves, and EIA presents annual reserves data in EIA Web reports to meet this requirement. The BOEM maintains estimates of proved reserves to carry out their responsibilities in leasing, collecting royalty payments, and regulating the activities of oil and gas companies on Federal lands and water. Accurate reserve estimates are important, as the BOEM is second only to the IRS in generating Federal revenue. For the IRS, proved reserves and occasionally probable reserves are an essential component of calculating taxes for companies owning or producing oil and gas. The SEC requires publicly traded petroleum companies to annually file a reserves statement as part of their 10-K filing. The basic purpose of the 10-K filing is to provide public investors with a clear and reliable financial basis to assess the relative value, as a financial asset, of a company's reserves, especially in comparison to other similar oil and gas companies.

    The Government also uses the resulting information to develop national and regional estimates of proved reserves of domestic crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids to facilitate national energy policy decisions. These estimates are essential to the development, implementation, and evaluation of energy policy and legislation. Data are used directly in EIA Web reports concerning U.S. crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids reserves, and are incorporated into a number of other Web reports and analyses.

    EIA proposes to make the following changes to Form EIA-23L, Annual Survey of Domestic Oil and Gas Reserves, Field Level Report:

    • Change the title of Form EIA-23L to Annual Survey of Domestic Oil and Gas Reserves, County Level Report;

    • Change the title of Schedule A to Operated Proved Reserves, Production, and Related Data by County;

    • Operators will be instructed to file their proved reserves by county rather than by field. Line Item 2.0 will be named “County Data (operated basis);”

    • Line Item 2.1.4 “Field Code”, will be changed to “County Name;”

    • Line Item 2.1.5 “MMS Code” will be changed to “Type Code;”

    • Line Item 2.1.6. “Field Name” will be changed to “Field, Play, or Prospect Name (Optional);”

    • Line Items 2.1.9 “water depth” and 2.1.10 “field discovery year” will be replaced with 2.1.9 “# of producing wells”, 2.1.10 “# of wells added [in survey year];” and

    • Line Item 2.1.11, “Prospect Name (optional) will be replaced with “# of wells sold [in survey year].”

    Comments and Feedback are requested on these proposed changes to Form EIA-23L.

    Secondary reports that use the data include EIA's Annual Energy Review, Annual Energy Outlook, Petroleum Supply Annual, and Natural Gas Annual;

    (5) Annual Estimated Number of Respondents:

    Forms EIA-23L/23S/64A: 1,450.

    (6) Annual Estimated Number of Total Responses:

    Forms EIA-23L/23S/64A: 1,450.

    (7) Annual Estimated Number of Burden Hours: 41,210.

    Form EIA-23L Annual Survey of Domestic Oil and Gas Reserves, County Level Report: 38 hours (420 intermediate-size operators); 110 hours (160 large operators); 15 hours (270 small operators): 37,610 hours.

    Form EIA-23S Annual Survey of Domestic Oil and Gas Reserves, Summary Level Report: 4 hours (small operators): 0 hours (Currently suspended)

    Form EIA-64A Annual Report of the Origin of Natural Gas Liquids Production: 6 hours (600 natural gas plant operators): 3,600 hours.

    (8) Annual Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping Cost Burden:

    Forms EIA-23L/23S/64A: EIA estimates that there are no capital and start-up costs associated with this data collection. The information is maintained in the normal course of business. The cost of burden hours to the respondents is estimated to be $2,965,884 (41,210 burden hours times $71.97 per hour). Therefore, other than the cost of burden hours, EIA estimates that there are no additional costs for generating, maintaining and providing the information.

    Statutory Authority:

    Section 13(b) of the Federal Energy Administration Act of 1974, Public Law 93-275, codified at 15 U.S.C. 772(b).

    Issued in Washington, DC, September 9, 2015. Nanda Srinivasan, Director, Office of Survey Development and Statistical Integration, U.S. Energy Information Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23136 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Notice of Commission Staff Attendance

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) hereby gives notice that members of the Commission's staff may attend the following meeting related to the transmission planning activities of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO):

    MISO Planning Advisory Committee September 16, 2015, 9 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (EST)

    The above-referenced meeting will be held at:

    MISO Headquarters, 720 City Center Drive, Carmel, IN 46032

    Further information may be found at www.misoenergy.org.

    The discussions at the meeting described above may address matters at issue in the following proceedings:

    Docket Nos. ER13-1944, et al., PJM Interconnection, LLC Docket No. ER14-1174, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER14-1736, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. Docket No. ER14-2445, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. Docket No. ER13-1864, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL14-21, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. v. Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. Docket No. EL14-30, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL11-34, Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. Docket No. ER11-1844, Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. Docket No. EL13-88, Northern Indiana Public Service Company v. Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. and PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. Docket Nos. ER13-1923, et al., Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. Docket Nos. ER13-1937, et al., Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL15-89, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    For more information, contact Chris Miller, Office of Energy Market Regulation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at (317) 249-5936 or [email protected]; or Jason Strong, Office of Energy Market Regulation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at (202) 502-6124 or [email protected]

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23149 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14682-000] Adam R. Rousselle II; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On June 17, 2015, Adam R. Rousselle II filed an application for a preliminary permit under section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act proposing to study the feasibility of the proposed Paint Creek Dam Water Power Project No. 14682-000, to be located at the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Paint Creek Lake, near the town of Bainbridge, Highland County, Ohio. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners' express permission.

    The proposed project would be located completely within lands owned by the United States and use an existing concrete intake tower located in Paint Creek Lake and an existing 1,100-foot-long, 48-foot-diameter tunnel conveying the lake water from the intake tower to the outlet works downstream of the dam. The proposed project would consist of the following new facilities: (1) Two 80-foot-long, 8-foot-diameter steel penstocks attached to the outlet works and ending at the turbine assembly; (2) a 50-foot-long, 30-foot-wide, 30-foot-high concrete powerhouse located approximately 100 feet downstream of the outlet works and containing two Kaplan turbine-generators with a combined installed capacity of 2.14 megawatts; (3) a 500-foot-long, 14.7 kilovolt transmission line; and (4) appurtenant facilities. The project is estimated to generate 13,100 megawatt hours annually.

    Applicant Contact: Adam R. Rousselle II, 104 Autumn Trace Drive, New Hope, PA 18938; phone: 215-485-1708.

    FERC Contact: Sergiu Serban, (202) 502-6211.

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications: 60 days from the issuance of this notice. Competing applications and notices of intent must meet the requirements of 18 CFR 4.36.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14682-000.

    More information about this project, including a copy of the application, can be viewed or printed on the “eLibrary” link of Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number (P-14682) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23151 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-0-1P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 1432-013] PB Energy, Inc.; Notice of Intent To File License Application, Filing of Pre-Application Document, and Approving Use of the Traditional Licensing Process

    a. Type of Filing: Notice of Intent to File License Application and Request to Use the Traditional Licensing Process.

    b. Project No.: 1432-013.

    c. Date Filed: August 31, 2015.

    d. Submitted By: PB Energy, Inc.

    e. Name of Project: Dry Spruce Bay Project.

    f. Location: On an unnamed creek near Port Bailey in Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska. No federal lands are occupied by the project works or located within the project boundary.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: 18 CFR 5.3 of the Commission's regulations.

    h. Potential Applicant Contact: Robert and Anita Shane, Director of Administration, PB Energy, Inc., PO Box KPY, Kodiak, Alaska 99697; (360) 633-3719; email—[email protected]

    i. FERC Contact: Ryan Hansen at (202) 502-8074; or email at [email protected]

    j. PB Energy, Inc. filed its request to use the Traditional Licensing Process on May 29, 2015. PB Energy, Inc. provided public notice of its request on June 8, 2015. In a letter dated July 22, 2015, the Director of the Division of Hydropower Licensing approved PB Energy, Inc.'s request to use the Traditional Licensing Process.

    k. With this notice, we are initiating informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or NOAA Fisheries under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and the joint agency regulations thereunder at 50 CFR, part 402; and NOAA Fisheries under section 305(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and implementing regulations at 50 CFR 600.920. We are also initiating consultation with the Alaska State Historic Preservation Officer, as required by section 106, National Historic Preservation Act, and the implementing regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation at 36 CFR 800.2.

    l. PB Energy, Inc. filed a Pre-Application Document (PAD; including a proposed process plan and schedule) with the Commission, pursuant to 18 CFR 5.6 of the Commission's regulations.

    m. A copy of the PAD is available for review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site (http://www.ferc.gov), using the “eLibrary” link. Enter the docket number, excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in paragraph h.

    n. The licensee states its unequivocal intent to submit an application for a new license for Project No. 1432. Pursuant to 18 CFR 16.8, 16.9, and 16.10 each application for a new license and any competing license applications must be filed with the Commission at least 24 months prior to the expiration of the existing license. All applications for license for this project must be filed by May 31, 2018.

    o. Register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filing and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23146 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14683-000] Mr. Adam R. Rousselle, II; Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Competing Applications

    On June 17, 2015, Mr. Adam R. Rousselle, II, filed an application for a preliminary permit, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), proposing to study the feasibility of the Blue Marsh Dam Water Power Project (project) to be located on Tulpehocken Creek, near the town of Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners' express permission.

    The project would consist of the following: (1) a proposed 6-foot-diameter penstock; (2) a proposed powerhouse containing two generating units having a total installed capacity of 2,500 kilowatts; (3) a tailrace returning flow to Tulpehocken Creek; (4) a proposed 0.9-mile-long, 12.47-kilovolt transmission line interconnecting with the Pennsylvania Power Company system; and (5) appurtenant facilities. The proposed project would have an average annual generation of about 9,943,000 kilowatt-hours, which would be sold to a local utility.

    Applicant Contact: Mr. Adam R. Rousselle, II, 104 Autumn Trace Drive, New Hope, PA 18938; phone: (215) 485-1708.

    FERC Contact: Tim Looney; phone: (202) 502-6096.

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications: 60 days from the issuance of this notice. Competing applications and notices of intent must meet the requirements of 18 CFR 4.36.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14683-000.

    More information about this project, including a copy of the application, can be viewed or printed on the “eLibrary” link of the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number (P-14683) in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23152 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. P-1256-031] Loup River Hydroelectric Project; Notice of Technical Meeting

    a. Project Name and Number: Loup River Hydroelectric Project No. 1256.

    b. Date and Time of Meeting: September 30, 2015; 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (1:00 p.m. Central Time).

    c. Place: Telephone conference with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

    d. FERC Contact: Chelsea Hudock, [email protected] or (202) 502-8448.

    e. Purpose of Meeting: To discuss the FWS revisions, filed on August 12, 2015, to its Incidental Take Statement regarding threatened and endangered species affected by the proposed Loup River Hydroelectric Project (project), the effects of the proposed project on the endangered whooping crane, and a timeframe by which we would provide the FWS with our evaluation of the project effects on the Northern long-eared bat and the red knot.

    f. A summary of the meeting will be prepared and filed in the Commission's public file for the project.

    g. All local, state, and federal agencies, Indian tribes, and other interested parties are invited to participate by phone. Please contact Chelsea Hudock at [email protected] or (202) 502-8448 by close of business September 22, 2015, to R.S.V.P. and to receive specific instructions on how to participate.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23150 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL15-68-000] Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.; Notice of Filing

    On June 18, 2015, pursuant to section 206 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824e, the Commission instituted an investigation in Docket No. EL15-68-000 to examine the justness and reasonableness of the pro forma Facilities Construction Agreement (FCA), Generator Interconnection Agreement (GIA), and Multi-Party Facilities Construction Agreement (MPFCA) contained in Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.'s (MISO) Open Access Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (Tariff). Midcontinent Indep. Sys. Operator, Inc., et al., 151 FERC ¶ 61,220 (2015). The Commission found that, upon initial review, the pro forma FCA, GIA, and MPFCA may be unjust and unreasonable, and that the potentially unjust and unreasonable Tariff language could be remedied with certain revisions. The Commission required MISO to make a filing either to (1) report whether it will propose Tariff changes as suggested by the Commission or (2) explain why such changes are not necessary. Take notice that, on August 17, 2015, MISO submitted a filing in response to the Commission's directive.

    The Commission is now providing an opportunity for other parties to comment on the Commission's preliminary findings in the section 206 proceeding in Docket No. EL15-68-000, as well as MISO's response to the Commission's directive. Any person desiring to comment must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Comments will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of comments in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    MISO's filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 2015.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23148 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14241-000] Alaska Energy Authority; Notice Soliciting Comments on Request To Lift the ILP Abeyance and Approve Proposed Modifications to the ILP Plan and Schedule

    On August 26, 2015, Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), prospective license applicant for the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project No. 14241, requested that Commission staff: (1) Lift the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) abeyance granted to AEA for its proposed project on January 8, 2015; and (2) approve AEA's proposed modifications to the ILP plan and schedule. These requests, including the proposed process plan and schedule modifications, can be viewed at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=13969092.

    The Commission is soliciting comments on these requests. Any comments should be filed within 30 days from the date of this notice. Comments may be filed electronically via the Internet. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support. In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14241-000.

    For further information, contact Nick Jayjack at (202) 502-6073.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23147 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0056; FRL-9934-08-OW] National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology: Assumable Waters Subcommittee; Notice of Public Meetings AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Subcommittee Meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    Consistent with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, EPA is giving notice of two upcoming public meetings of the Assumable Waters Subcommittee convened under the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). The Assumable Waters Subcommittee will provide advice and recommendations as to how the EPA can best clarify assumable waters for dredge and fill permit programs pursuant to Clean Water Act section 404(g)(1). The EPA is undertaking this effort to support states and tribes that wish to assume the program. Similar to the parent NACEPT, the subcommittee represents a diversity of interests from academia, industry, non-governmental organizations, and local, State, and tribal governments. Meeting agendas and materials will be posted at www2.epa.gov/cwa-404/assumable-waters-sub-committee.

    DATES:

    The Assumable Waters Subcommittee will hold two-day public meetings on:

    • October 6-7, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., in the William Jefferson Clinton Building in Washington, DC.

    • December 1-2, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., in the One Potomac Yard Building in Arlington, VA.

    ADDRESSES:

    • William Jefferson Clinton Building, Room B305 North, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460.

    • One Potomac Yard, Ground Floor, 2777 Crystal Dr. Arlington, VA 22202.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Laura Bachle, Designated Federal Officer, via Email at: Assumable, by phone: (202) 566-2468, via postal service at: U.S. EPA, Office of Wetlands Oceans and Watersheds, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Requests to make oral comments or to provide written comments to the Assumable Waters Subcommittee should be sent to Laura Bachle via Email at: [email protected] by September 25, 2015, for the October meeting and by November 16, 2015, for the December meeting. The meetings are open to the public, with limited seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. Members of the public wishing to attend should contact Laura Bachle via Email at: [email protected] or by phone at: (202) 566-2468 by September 25, 2015, for the October meeting and by November 16, 2015, for the December meeting. Public comments will heard from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on October 7, 2015, and December 2, 2015.

    Meeting Access: Information regarding accessibility and/or accommodations for individuals with disabilities should be directed to Laura Bachle at the email address or phone number listed above. To ensure adequate time for processing, please make requests for accommodations at least 10 days prior to the meeting.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. Benita Best-Wong, Director, Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds.
    [FR Doc. 2015-23143 Filed 9-14-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OECA-2015-0628; FRL-9933-77-OECA] Public Comment on EPA's National Enforcement Initiatives for Fiscal Years 2017-2019 AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of public comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting public comment and recommendations on national enforcement initiatives (NEI) for fiscal years 2017-2019. EPA selects these initiatives every three years in order to focus federal resources on the most important environmental problems where noncompliance is a significant contributing factor and where federal enforcement attention can make a difference. The current initiatives as well as potential new initiatives under consideration are described in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, with additional descriptions and data on current initiatives available on our Web site: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiatives.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before October 14, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments via www.regulations.gov, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OECA-2015-0628; FRL-9933-77-OECA. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.

    Instructions: Direct your comments