Federal Register Vol. 80, No.194,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 194 (October 7, 2015)

Page Range60511-60794
FR Document

80_FR_194
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 60793 - National Security MedalPDF
80 FR 60791 - Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Roseburg, OregonPDF
80 FR 60789 - Child Health Day, 2015PDF
80 FR 60785 - Fire Prevention Week, 2015PDF
80 FR 60511 - Delegation of Authority Under Section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961PDF
80 FR 60676 - Farm Credit Administration Board; Sunshine Act; Regular MeetingPDF
80 FR 60646 - Sunshine Act MeetingsPDF
80 FR 60621 - Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory CommitteePDF
80 FR 60697 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Application for Civil Surgeon Designation Registration, Form I-910; Revision of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
80 FR 60685 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy Statement of Goals and PrioritiesPDF
80 FR 60671 - Receipt of Test Data Under the Toxic Substances Control ActPDF
80 FR 60667 - Stormwater Management in Response to Climate Change Impacts: Lessons From the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes RegionsPDF
80 FR 60647 - One-Time Deauthorization of Water Resources ProjectsPDF
80 FR 60690 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 60682 - Notice of Agreements FiledPDF
80 FR 60657 - Intent To Prepare a Draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Navigational Improvements to San Juan Harbor in San Juan, Puerto RicoPDF
80 FR 60628 - Certain Lined Paper Products From India: Notice of Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 60627 - Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge from Taiwan; Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 60611 - Adoption of StatementPDF
80 FR 60669 - Pesticide Emergency Exemptions; Agency Decisions and State and Federal Agency Crisis DeclarationsPDF
80 FR 60545 - Butanedioic Acid, 2-Methylene-, Homopolymer, Sodium Salt; Inert Ingredient Tolerance ExemptionPDF
80 FR 60719 - Atomic Safety and Licensing Board; In the Matter of Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; Before Administrative Judges: Lawrence G. McDade, Chairman; Dr. Michael F. Kennedy; Dr. Richard E. Wardwell; (Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 2 and 3)PDF
80 FR 60689 - Public Town Hall Meeting on the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; NoticePDF
80 FR 60513 - Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking ProcessPDF
80 FR 60688 - Health IT Policy Committee Advisory Meeting; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 60718 - International Space Station Advisory Committee; Charter RenewalPDF
80 FR 60718 - NASA Advisory Council; Science Committee; Earth Science Subcommittee; MeetingPDF
80 FR 60688 - Health IT Standards Committee Advisory Meeting; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 60696 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for Review; Information Collection Request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology, Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP)PDF
80 FR 60620 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 60704 - Renewal of Approved Information Collection; OMB Control No. 1004-0165PDF
80 FR 60708 - Renewal of Approved Information Collection; OMB Control No. 1004-0204PDF
80 FR 60731 - Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): Results of the GSP Limited Product Review, Including Actions Related to Competitive Need Limitations (CNLs)PDF
80 FR 60713 - Commission Recommendations to the President To Modify the Tariff Nomenclature in Chapters 3, 44, and 63 of the Harmonized Tariff SchedulePDF
80 FR 60709 - Renewal of Approved Information Collection; Control Number 1004-0025PDF
80 FR 60528 - Modification to Restricted Areas R-3601A & R-3601B; Brookville, KSPDF
80 FR 60573 - Proposed Modification and Establishment of Restricted Areas; Townsend, GAPDF
80 FR 60705 - Public Land Order No. 7842; Withdrawal of Public Lands for the New River Area of Critical Environmental Concern; OregonPDF
80 FR 60633 - Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; Horseshoe Crabs; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit, 2015PDF
80 FR 60646 - Consumer Advisory Board MeetingPDF
80 FR 60706 - Notice of Planning Area Boundary Changes for Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plans in Alaska; Amendment to Notices of Intent To Prepare Resource Management Plans for Central Yukon and Bering Sea-Western Interior Planning Areas and Associated Environmental Impact StatementsPDF
80 FR 60707 - Notice of Intent To Collect Fees at the Zortman Ranger Station and Buffington Day Use Area on Public Land in Phillips County Near Zortman, MontanaPDF
80 FR 60698 - Announcement of Funding Awards for the Delta Community Capital Initiative Fiscal Year 2014PDF
80 FR 60698 - Announcement of Funding Awards for the Appalachia Economic Development Initiative Fiscal Year 2014PDF
80 FR 60750 - Interest Rate Paid on Cash Deposited To Secure U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Immigration BondsPDF
80 FR 60720 - Atomic Safety and Licensing Board; In the Matter of Crow Butte Resources, Inc. (License Renewal for the In Situ Leach Facility, Crawford, Nebraska); Notice of Supplemental HearingPDF
80 FR 60719 - AAR Site, Livonia, MichiganPDF
80 FR 60716 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability ActPDF
80 FR 60683 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
80 FR 60683 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 60668 - Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, Commonwealth of VirginiaPDF
80 FR 60749 - Sanctions Actions Pursuant to Executive Orders 13224.PDF
80 FR 60732 - Revision of Thirteen Controlling Criteria for Design; Notice and Request for CommentPDF
80 FR 60687 - Fee for Using a Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher in Fiscal Year 2016; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 60738 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Extension of a Currently-Approved Information Collection Request: Transportation of Household Goods; Consumer ProtectionPDF
80 FR 60709 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Central California Resource Advisory CouncilPDF
80 FR 60678 - Notice of Termination; 10309 Pierce Commercial Bank, Tacoma, WAPDF
80 FR 60699 - Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for Seven Covered Species, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Land, Inyo and Mono Counties, CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 60740 - Hours of Service of Drivers: U.S. Department of Defense (DOD); Granting of Renewal of ExemptionPDF
80 FR 60617 - Revision of Land Management Plan for Carson National Forest; Counties of Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, and Taos, New MexicoPDF
80 FR 60665 - National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation; Notice of Request for Approval of SettlementPDF
80 FR 60665 - Panda Patriot LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request For Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 60664 - Southeastern Power Administration; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 60664 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 60666 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 60663 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 60665 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 60717 - Notice of Lodging of Two Proposed Consent Decrees Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery ActPDF
80 FR 60634 - Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine SanctuaryPDF
80 FR 60631 - Notice of Intent To Conduct Scoping and To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine SanctuaryPDF
80 FR 60702 - Endangered Species Recovery Permit ApplicationsPDF
80 FR 60678 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Information Collection; FDIC Small Business Lending Survey; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 60623 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Generic Clearance for Master Address File (MAF) and Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) Update ActivitiesPDF
80 FR 60645 - Community Broadband WorkshopPDF
80 FR 60744 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Epilepsy and Seizure DisordersPDF
80 FR 60743 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes MellitusPDF
80 FR 60633 - Marine Mammals; File No. 14450PDF
80 FR 60678 - Notice of Termination: 10309 Pierce Commercial Bank, Tacoma, WAPDF
80 FR 60735 - Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; HearingPDF
80 FR 60741 - Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; HearingPDF
80 FR 60747 - Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; HearingPDF
80 FR 60737 - Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; HearingPDF
80 FR 60749 - Petition for Waiver of CompliancePDF
80 FR 60622 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Age Search ServicePDF
80 FR 60539 - Apprenticeship Programs; CorrectionsPDF
80 FR 60565 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region; Amendment 8; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 60601 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States and Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendments 7/33PDF
80 FR 60605 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 3PDF
80 FR 60568 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; State Waters ExemptionPDF
80 FR 60560 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To List the Dusky Sea Snake and Three Foreign Corals Under the Endangered Species ActPDF
80 FR 60690 - National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 60692 - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 60691 - National Institute of General Medical Sciences; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 60690 - Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 60566 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Technical Amendment to RegulationsPDF
80 FR 60533 - International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Establishment of Tuna Vessel Monitoring System in the Eastern Pacific OceanPDF
80 FR 60694 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 60714 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
80 FR 60715 - Welded Stainless Steel Pressure Pipe From India Institution of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations and Scheduling of Preliminary Phase InvestigationsPDF
80 FR 60686 - Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 60726 - Triton Pacific Investment Corporation, Inc., et al.;PDF
80 FR 60724 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE MKT LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Amending Several Rules To Address Certain Order Handling Obligations on the Part of Its Floor BrokersPDF
80 FR 60722 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Amending Several Rules to Address Certain Order Handling Obligations on the Part of Its Floor BrokersPDF
80 FR 60591 - Risk Reduction ProgramPDF
80 FR 60684 - Federal Management Regulations; Date Change for Annual Mail Management ReportingPDF
80 FR 60548 - Improving 911 Reliability; Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband TechnologiesPDF
80 FR 60676 - Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications CommissionPDF
80 FR 60677 - Information Collection Approved by the Office of the Management and Budget (OMB)PDF
80 FR 60685 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; Submission for OMB Review; Transportation RequirementsPDF
80 FR 60684 - Information Collection; Value Engineering RequirementsPDF
80 FR 60730 - Florida Disaster #FL-00107PDF
80 FR 60718 - Public Comment on the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital: Federal ElementsPDF
80 FR 60636 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements ProjectPDF
80 FR 60529 - Revisions to the Unverified List (UVL)PDF
80 FR 60626 - Export Trade Certificate of ReviewPDF
80 FR 60751 - Policy and Implementation Plan for Public Access to Scientific Publications and Digital Data from Research Funded by the Department of Veterans AffairsPDF
80 FR 60570 - Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California; Proposed Amendments to Marketing Order and Referendum OrderPDF
80 FR 60613 - Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Field Use of Vaccines Against Avian Influenza H5 Virus StrainsPDF
80 FR 60616 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-USDA Foods in Schools Cost DynamicsPDF
80 FR 60692 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 60692 - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Amended Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 60693 - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 60672 - Registration Review Proposed Interim Decisions; Notice of AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 60692 - Nominations to the Report on Carcinogens and Office of Health Assessment and Translation; Request for InformationPDF
80 FR 60674 - Notice of Receipt of Requests for Amendments To Terminate Uses in Certain Pesticide RegistrationsPDF
80 FR 60750 - Agency Information Collection (VHA Homeless Programs Project CHALENG (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups) for Veterans) Activity: Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 60752 - Agency Information Collection (Evaluation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services) Activities Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 60615 - Information Collection; Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act ReportPDF
80 FR 60614 - Information Collection; Direct Loan MakingPDF
80 FR 60678 - Notice of Termination; 10304, The First National Bank of Barnesville, Barnesville, GAPDF
80 FR 60677 - Notice of Termination; 10323 United Americas Bank, N.A., Atlanta, GAPDF
80 FR 60716 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Federal Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act (Clean Air Act)PDF
80 FR 60679 - Notice of Termination; 10157 First Security National Bank, Norcross, GeorgiaPDF
80 FR 60679 - Notice of Termination; 10090 Security Bank of North Metro, Woodstock, GeorgiaPDF
80 FR 60682 - Notice of Termination; 10088 Security Bank of Jones County, Gray, GeorgiaPDF
80 FR 60680 - Notice of Termination; 10087 Security Bank of Houston County, Perry, GeorgiaPDF
80 FR 60624 - Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and New Shipper Reviews; 2013-2014PDF
80 FR 60680 - Notice of Termination; 10113, InBank, Oak Forest, IllinoisPDF
80 FR 60680 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Information Collection Revision; Comment Request (3064-0189)PDF
80 FR 60552 - NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce and Mission Critical Systems Personnel Reliability Program (NFS Case 2015-N002)PDF
80 FR 60555 - Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Final Listing of 2016 Light Duty Truck Lines Subject to the Requirements of This Standard and Exempted Vehicle Lines for Model Year 2016PDF
80 FR 60540 - Promulgation of State Implementation Plan Revisions; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Ozone, 2008 Lead, and 2010 NO2PDF
80 FR 60750 - Office of the General Counsel; Appointment of Members of the Legal Division to the Performance Review Board, Internal Revenue ServicePDF
80 FR 60541 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Rhode Island; Sulfur Content of FuelsPDF
80 FR 60576 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Rhode Island; Sulfur Content of FuelsPDF
80 FR 60710 - Announcement of Requirements and Registration for a Prize Competition Seeking Methods or Devices That can Quantify Drift Invertebrates in River and Estuary SystemsPDF
80 FR 60657 - Announcement of Requirements and Registration for the Reach Higher Career App ChallengePDF
80 FR 60577 - Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Ocean Acidification; TSCA Section 21 Petition; Reasons for Agency ResponsePDF
80 FR 60622 - Annual MeetingPDF
80 FR 60592 - Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance; General AmendmentsPDF
80 FR 60575 - Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; Withdrawal of the Proposed Rulemaking Against Lebanese Canadian Bank SALPDF
80 FR 60753 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for the Headwater Chub and a Distinct Population Segment of the Roundtail ChubPDF
80 FR 60584 - Mercury; TSCA Section 21 Petition; Reasons for Agency ResponsePDF
80 FR 60701 - Hanford Reach National Monument, Adams, Benton, Franklin and Grant Counties, WAPDF

Issue

80 194 Wednesday, October 7, 2015 Contents Administrative Administrative Conference of the United States NOTICES Adoption of Statement, 60611-60613 2015-25570 Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service PROPOSED RULES Marketing and Referendum Orders: Table Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California, 60570-60573 2015-25447 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

See

Farm Service Agency

See

Food and Nutrition Service

See

Forest Service

Animal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service NOTICES Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Finding of No Significant Impact for Field Use of Vaccines Against Avian Influenza H5 Virus Strains, 60613-60614 2015-25445 Appalachian States Appalachian States Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission NOTICES Meetings, 60622 2015-24940 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection NOTICES Meetings: Consumer Advisory Board, 60646-60647 2015-25539 Census Bureau Census Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Age Search Service, 60622 2015-25493 Generic Clearance for Master Address File and Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing Update Activities, 60623-60624 2015-25506 Commerce Commerce Department See

Census Bureau

See

Industry and Security Bureau

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 60646 2015-25603 Community Living Administration Community Living Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy Statement of Goals and Priorities, 60685-60686 2015-25592 Defense Department Defense Department See

Engineers Corps

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Federal Acquisition Regulation -- Transportation Requirements, 60685 2015-25456 Value Engineering Requirements, 60684 2015-25455
Education Department Education Department NOTICES Reach Higher Career App Challenge; Requirements and Registration, 60657-60663 2015-25245 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Engineers Engineers Corps NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Draft Feasibility Study for Navigational Improvements to San Juan Harbor, San Juan, PR, 60657 2015-25574 One-Time Deauthorization of Water Resources Projects, 60647-60657 2015-25586 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: North Dakota; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Ozone, 2008 Lead, and 2010 NO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards, 60540-60541 2015-25347 Rhode Island; Sulfur Content of Fuels, 60541-60545 2015-25334 Pesticide Tolerances; Exemptions: Butanedioic Acid, 2-Methylene-, Homopolymer, Sodium Salt; Inert Ingredient, 60545-60547 2015-25567 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Rhode Island; Sulfur Content of Fuels, 60576-60577 2015-25333 Mercury; TSCA Section 21 Petition; Reasons for Agency Response, 60584-60591 2015-24849 Reasons for Agency Response; TSCA Section 21 Petitions: Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Ocean Acidification, 60577-60584 2015-25164 NOTICES Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Virginia; Authorized Program Revision Approval, 60668-60669 2015-25528 Pesticide Emergency Exemptions: Agency Decisions and State and Federal Agency Crisis Declarations, 60669-60671 2015-25568 Receipt of Test Data Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, 60671-60672 2015-25591 Registration Review Proposed Interim Decisions, 60672-60674 2015-25435 Requests for Amendments to Terminate Uses in Certain Pesticide Registrations, 60674-60676 2015-25433 Stormwater Management in Response to Climate Change Impacts: Lessons from the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Regions, 60667-60668 2015-25590 Equal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission RULES Apprenticeship Programs; Corrections, 60539-60540 2015-25491 Farm Credit Farm Credit Administration NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 60676 2015-25668 Farm Service Farm Service Agency NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act Report, 60615-60616 2015-25426 Direct Loan Making, 60614-60615 2015-25425 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Restricted Areas: R-3601A and R-3601B; Brookville, KS, 60528-60529 2015-25543 PROPOSED RULES Modification and Establishment of Restricted Areas: Townsend, GA, 60573-60575 2015-25542 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Improving 911 Reliability: Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies, 60548-60552 2015-25459 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 60676-60677 2015-25457 2015-25458 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 60680-60682 2015-25408 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Small Business Lending Survey, 60678-60679 2015-25507 Terminations of Receivership: Pierce Commercial Bank, Tacoma, WA, 60678 2015-25522 The First National Bank of Barnesville, Barnesville, GA, 60678 2015-25422 Terminations of Receiverships: Pierce Commercial Bank, Tacoma, WA, 60678 2015-25501 Terminations: 10087 Security Bank of Houston County Perry, GA, 60680 2015-25415 10088 Security Bank of Jones County of Gray, GA, 60682 2015-25416 10090 Security Bank of North Metro Woodstock, GA, 60679-60680 2015-25417 10113, InBank of Oak Forest, IL, 60680 2015-25409 10157 First Security National Bank of Norcross, GA, 60679 2015-25418 10323 United Americas Bank, N.A. of Atlanta, GA, 60677-60678 2015-25420 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 60663-60667 2015-25512 2015-25513 2015-25514 2015-25515 Filings: Southeastern Power Administration, 60664-60665 2015-25516 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: Panda Patriot LLC, 60665 2015-25517 Request For Approval Of Settlement: Panda Patriot LLC, 60665 2015-25518 Federal Highway Federal Highway Administration NOTICES Revision of Thirteen Controlling Criteria for Design, 60732-60735 2015-25526 Federal Maritime Federal Maritime Commission NOTICES Agreements Filed, 60682-60683 2015-25580 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration PROPOSED RULES Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation: Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance; General Amendments, 60592-60601 2015-24921 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals Transportation of Household Goods; Consumer Protection, 60738-60739 2015-25524 Hours of Service of Drivers; Exemption Renewals: U.S. Department of Defense, 60740-60741 2015-25520 Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications: Diabetes Mellitus, 60743-60744 2015-25503 Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders, 60744-60747 2015-25504 Hearing, 60735-60738, 60741-60743, 60747-60749 2015-25496 2015-25497 2015-25498 2015-25499 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration PROPOSED RULES Risk Reduction Program, 60591-60592 2015-25461 NOTICES Petitions for Waivers of Compliance, 60749 2015-25494 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 60683 2015-25530 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 60683-60684 2015-25442 2015-25529 Financial Crimes Financial Crimes Enforcement Network PROPOSED RULES Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; Withdrawal of the Proposed Rulemaking against Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL, 60575-60576 2015-24912 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service PROPOSED RULES Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Headwater Chub and Roundtail Chub, 60754-60783 2015-24900 NOTICES Endangered Species Recovery Permit Applications, 60702-60704 2015-25508 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for Seven Covered Species, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Land, Inyo and Mono Counties, CA, 60699-60701 2015-25521 Meetings: Hanford Reach National Monument, Adams, Benton, Franklin and Grant Counties, WA, 60701 2015-24193 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Fee for Using a Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher in Fiscal Year 2016; Correction, 60687-60688 2015-25525 Meetings: Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee, 60686-60687 2015-25466 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: USDA Foods in Schools Cost Dynamics, 60616-60617 2015-25444 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 60749-60750 2015-25527 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 60620-60621 2015-25552 Charter Renewals: Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee, 60621-60622 2015-25596 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Revision of Land Management Plan for Carson National Forest, Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, and Taos, Counties, NM, 60617-60620 2015-25519 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Federal Acquisition Regulation -- Transportation Requirements, 60685 2015-25456 Value Engineering Requirements, 60684 2015-25455 Federal Management Regulations: Date Change for Annual Mail Management Reporting, 60684-60685 2015-25460 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Community Living Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

See

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

NOTICES Meetings: Health IT Policy Committee Advisory Meeting, 60688 2015-25562 Health IT Standards Committee Advisory Meeting, 60688-60689 2015-25558 Public Town Hall Meeting on the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 60689-60690 2015-25564
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Science and Technology, Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program, 60696-60697 2015-25554
Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Funding Availability: Appalachia Economic Development Initiative Fiscal Year 2014, 60698-60699 2015-25535 Delta Community Capital Initiative Fiscal Year 2014, 60698 2015-25536 Industry Industry and Security Bureau RULES Revisions to the Unverified List, 60529-60533 2015-25450 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

Reclamation Bureau

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service NOTICES Appointment of Members of the Legal Division to the Performance Review Board, 60750 2015-25335 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Lined Paper Products from India, 60628-60631 2015-25572 Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China, 60624-60626 2015-25412 Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge from Taiwan, 60627-60628 2015-25571 Export Trade Certificate of Review, 60626-60627 2015-25449 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Welded Stainless Steel Pressure Pipe from India, 60715-60716 2015-25469 Complaints: Woven Textile Fabrics and Products Containing Same, 60714-60715 2015-25470 Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Commission Recommendations to the President to Modify the Tariff Nomenclature in Chapters 3, 44, and 63 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, 60713-60714 2015-25546 Justice Department Justice Department NOTICES Consent Decrees under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 60717 2015-25511 Proposed Consent Decree under under the Federal Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act, 60716 2015-25419 Proposed Consent Decrees under CERCLA, 60716-60717 2015-25531 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 60704-60705, 60708-60710 2015-25545 2015-25550 2015-25551 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Central Yukon and Bering Sea-Western Interior Planning Areas Resource Management Plans, Alaska, 60706-60707 2015-25538 Fee Collections: Zortman Ranger Station and Buffington Day Use Area on Public Land in Phillips County near Zortman, MT, 60707-60708 2015-25537 Meetings: Central California Resource Advisory Council, 60709 2015-25523 Public Land Orders: New River Area of Critical Environmental Concern; Oregon; Withdrawal of Public Lands, 60705-60706 2015-25541 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration RULES Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce and Mission Critical Systems Personnel Reliability Program (NFS Case 2015-N002), 60552-60555 2015-25394 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Federal Acquisition Regulation -- Transportation Requirements, 60685 2015-25456 Value Engineering Requirements, 60684 2015-25455 Charter Renewals: International Space Station Advisory Committee, 60718 2015-25560 Meetings: Science Committee Earth Science Subcommittee, 60718 2015-25559 National Capital National Capital Planning Commission NOTICES Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital -- Federal Elements, 60718-60719 2015-25453 National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration RULES Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard: Final Listing of 2016 Light Duty Truck Lines Subject to the Requirements of This Standard and Exempted Vehicle Lines for Model Year 2016, 60555-60560 2015-25369 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 60690-60691 2015-25585 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 60692 2015-25441 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 60692-60694 2015-25439 2015-25440 National Institute of General Medical Sciences, 60691-60692 2015-25481 National Institute on Aging, 60690 2015-25483 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 60692 2015-25482 Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, 60690 2015-25480 Requests for Information: Nominations to the Report on Carcinogens and Office of Health Assessment and Translation, 60692-60693 2015-25434 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Technical Amendment to Regulations, 60566-60568 2015-25477 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Listing of the Dusky Sea Snake and Three Foreign Corals under the Endangered Species Act, 60560-60565 2015-25484 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region; Amendment 8; Correction, 60565-60566 2015-25488 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; State Waters Exemption, 60568-60569 2015-25485 International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Establishment of Tuna Vessel Monitoring System in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, 60533-60539 2015-25474 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 3, 60605-60610 2015-25486 Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States and Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendments 7/33, 60601-60605 2015-25487 NOTICES Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions: Horseshoe Crabs; Exempted Fishing Permit Application, 60633-60634 2015-25540 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Mallows Bay Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary, 60634-60636 2015-25510 Wisconsin Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary, 60631-60632 2015-25509 Permits: Marine Mammals; File No. 14450, 60633 2015-25502 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements Project, 60636-60645 2015-25452 National Telecommunications National Telecommunications and Information Administration NOTICES Meetings: Community Broadband Workshop, 60645-60646 2015-25505 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission RULES Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process, 60513-60528 2015-25563 NOTICES Atomic Safety and Licensing Board: Crow Butte Resources, Inc.; License Renewal for the In Situ Leach Facility, Crawford, NE, 60720-60722 2015-25533 Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.; Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 2 and 3, 60719 2015-25565 Remediation Activities: AAR Site, Livonia, MI, 60719-60720 2015-25532 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: Child Health Day (Proc. 9341), 60789-60790 2015-25739 Fire Prevention Week (Proc. 9340), 60785-60788 2015-25738 Roseburg, Oregon, Tragedy; Honoring the Victims (Proc. 9342), 60791 2015-25743 EXECUTIVE ORDERS National Security Medal (EO 13709), 60793-60794 2015-25744 ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS Foreign Assistance Act of 1961; Delegation of Authority (Memorandum of September 24, 2015), 60511 2015-25680 Reclamation Reclamation Bureau NOTICES Requirements and Registration for Prize Competitions: Methods or Devices that can Quantify Drift Invertebrates in River and Estuary Systems, 60710-60712 2015-25319 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Applications: Triton Pacific Investment Corp., Inc., et al., 60726-60730 2015-25465 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: NYSE Arca, Inc., 60722-60724 2015-25463 NYSE MKT LLC, 60724-60726 2015-25464 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Florida, 60730-60731 2015-25454 Substance Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 60694-60696 2015-25472 Trade Representative Trade Representative, Office of United States NOTICES Generalized System of Preferences: Results of the GSP Limited Product Review, Including Actions Related to Competitive Need Limitations, 60731-60732 2015-25548 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Highway Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

See

Internal Revenue Service

NOTICES Interest Rate Paid on Cash Deposited To Secure U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Immigration Bonds, 60750 2015-25534
U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Civil Surgeon Designation Registration, 60697-60698 2015-25594 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Evaluation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services, 60752 2015-25431 VHA Homeless Programs Project Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups for Veterans, 60750-60751 2015-25432 Policy and Implementation Plans: Public Access to Scientific Publications and Digital Data from VA-Funded Research, 60751-60752 2015-25448 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife Service, 60754-60783 2015-24900 Part III Presidential Documents, 60785-60791, 60793-60794 2015-25739 2015-25738 2015-25743 2015-25744 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.

80 194 Wednesday, October 7, 2015 Rules and Regulations NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 10 CFR Part 2 RIN 3150-AI30 [NRC-2009-0044] Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process AGENCY:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is amending its regulations to clarify and streamline its process for addressing petitions for rulemaking (PRMs). These amendments are intended to improve transparency and to make the PRM process more efficient and effective.

DATES:

This final rule is effective on November 6, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2009-0044 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information for this action. You may obtain publicly-available information related to this action by any of the following methods:

Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2009-0044. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-415-3463; email: [email protected]. For technical questions, contact the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document.

NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may obtain publicly-available documents online in the ADAMS Public Documents collection at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select “ADAMS Public Documents” and then select “Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.” For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by email to pdr.re[email protected]. For the convenience of the reader, instructions about obtaining materials referenced in this document are provided in the “Availability of Documents” section.

NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch (RADB), Office of Administration (ADM), telephone: 301-415-3280, email: [email protected]; or Anthony de Jesús, Senior Regulations Specialist, RADB, ADM, telephone: 301-415-1106, email: [email protected]; or Jennifer Borges, Regulations Specialist, RADB, ADM, telephone: 301-415-3647, email: [email protected]; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Background II. Discussion III. Public Comment Analysis IV. Section-by-Section Analysis V. Summary of the NRC's Petition for Rulemaking Process VI. Regulatory Analysis VII. Regulatory Flexibility Certification VIII. Backfitting and Issue Finality IX. Plain Writing X. Environmental Impact: Categorical Exclusion XI. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement XII. Congressional Review Act XIII. Voluntary Consensus Standards XIV. Availability of Documents I. Background

The NRC's requirements, policies, and practices governing the PRM process have remained substantially unchanged since their initial issuance in 1979 (44 FR 61322; October 25, 1979). During the past 20 years, the NRC has received an average of nine PRMs per year and plans its budget and assigns resources based on this average. In recent years, however, the NRC has experienced a substantial increase in the number of PRMs submitted for consideration and docketed 25 PRMS in fiscal year (FY) 2011 alone. This increase in PRMs has presented a significant resource challenge to the NRC.

In a memorandum to the other Commissioners entitled, “Streamlining the NRR [Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation] Rulemaking Process” (COMNJD-06-0004/COMEXM-06-0006), dated April 7, 2006 (ADAMS Accession No. ML060970295), then-Chairman Nils J. Diaz and then-Commissioner Edward McGaffigan, Jr., proposed that, because of the general increase in rulemaking activities, the NRC staff should streamline its rulemaking process by removing unnecessary constraints, while simultaneously enhancing the transparency of and public participation in the process. The memorandum also invited the development of additional mechanisms for “streamlining and increasing the transparency of the rulemaking process, thus allocating the appropriate level of resources for the most important rulemaking actions and ensuring that the staff's hands are not tied by perceived or real procedural prerequisites that are necessary for a given rulemaking.”

In a staff requirements memorandum (SRM) dated May 31, 2006 (ADAMS Accession No. ML061510316), responding to COMNJD-06-0004/COMEXM-06-0006, the Commission directed the NRC staff to undertake numerous measures to streamline the rulemaking process, including an evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the interoffice Rulemaking Process Improvement Implementation Plan (ADAMS Accession No. ML031360205), and to “further seek to identify any other potential options that could streamline the rulemaking process.” The Commission also instructed the NRC staff to identify other potential options that could streamline the rulemaking process for all program offices.

In response to the Commission's directives, the NRC staff provided its recommendations to the Commission in SECY-07-0134, “Evaluation of the Overall Effectiveness of the Rulemaking Process Improvement Implementation Plan,” dated August 10, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML071780644). The NRC staff included in SECY-07-0134 a recommendation to review the NRC's PRM process with the objective to reduce the time needed to complete an action. The NRC staff also recommended in SECY-07-0134 that the NRC review the procedures used by other Federal agencies to process PRMs in order to identify best practices that could make the NRC's PRM process more timely and responsive, while also ensuring that PRMs are handled in a manner that is open, transparent, and compliant with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Title 5 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 551 et seq. In an SRM responding to SECY-07-0134, dated October 25, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML072980427), the Commission indicated support for the NRC staff's recommended review of the PRM process: “The Petition for Rulemaking process needs some increased attention and improvement. The staff's overall effort to improve the [PRM] process should focus on provisions that would make the NRC's process more efficient while improving the process' transparency and consistency.”

Concurrently, in an SRM responding to COMGBJ-07-0002, “Closing Out Task Re: Rulemaking on [part 51 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR)] Tables S-3 and S-4,” dated August 6, 2007 (ADAMS Accession No. ML072180094), the Commission directed the NRC staff to “consider developing a process for dispositioning a petition in a more effective and efficient manner so that existing petitions that are deemed old can be closed out in a more timely manner and prevent future petitions from remaining open for periods longer than necessary.”

In response to the Commission's directives, the NRC staff examined the regulations, policies, procedures, and practices that govern the NRC's PRM process, as well as the practices and processes used by several other Federal agencies to resolve PRMs.

Consequently, the NRC published a proposed rule to amend the PRM process in the Federal Register on May 3, 2013 (78 FR 25886). The public comment period for the proposed rule closed on July 17, 2013. This final rule has been informed by public comments and reflects the NRC's goal to make its PRM process more efficient and effective, while enhancing transparency and public understanding of the PRM process.

II. Discussion A. The NRC's Framework for Dispositioning a PRM

The administrative procedures that a Federal agency must follow with respect to PRMs are codified in the APA, 5 U.S.C. 553. Paragraph 553(e) provides that “[e]ach agency shall give an interested person the right to petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule.” In addition, 5 U.S.C. 555(e) provides that “[p]rompt notice shall be given of the denial in whole or in part of a written application, petition, or other request of an interested person made in connection with any agency proceeding” and that “[e]xcept in affirming a prior denial or when the denial is self-explanatory, the notice shall be accompanied by a brief statement of the grounds for denial.” However, the APA does not provide further detail on how agencies should disposition a PRM or what constitutes “prompt” notice. A brief survey of other Federal agencies' practices showed that the NRC has a robust and active PRM program; most agencies do not include requirements in the CFR for processing PRMs.

The NRC's requirements governing the rulemaking process are set forth in 10 CFR part 2, “Agency Rules of Practice and Procedure,” subpart H, “Rulemaking.” In particular, 10 CFR 2.802, “Petition for rulemaking,” and 10 CFR 2.803, “Determination of petition,” establish the NRC's framework for disposition of a PRM concerning the NRC's regulations. The NRC's requirements for PRMs have remained substantially unchanged since their initial issuance in 1979, and the NRC's processes and procedures for PRMs historically have been established by and implemented through internal NRC policies and practices. To improve the PRM process, the NRC has reviewed both its regulatory framework associated with the PRM process and its internal policies, procedures, and practices.

B. Changes to the PRM Process

This final rule clarifies and refines the NRC's long-standing practices for processing PRMs. The NRC believes that these amendments improve our current policies and practices for evaluating PRMs and communicating information on the status of PRMs and rulemaking activities to the petitioners and the public. By establishing a clearly defined administrative process to reflect agency action on a PRM, the NRC has enhanced the consistency, timeliness, and transparency of our actions and increased the efficient use of NRC resources.

NRC Consultation Assistance to Petitioners

A significant change in this final rule expands the consultation assistance that the NRC staff may provide to the petitioner. Currently, consultation on a PRM is limited to the pre-filing stage; the NRC has revised its requirements to allow petitioners to consult directly with the NRC staff before and after filing a PRM with the NRC and to clarify what consultation assistance the NRC is permitted to provide. This change provides an opportunity for additional interaction with the petitioner after filing and will increase communication on issues of concern to the petitioner and improve the transparency of the petition process.

Content of a Petition

This final rule also clarifies and expands the description of the kind of information that must be included in a petition. At times, a submitter may fail to include in the petition adequate information for the NRC to process the request, which creates the potential for processing delays and the need for the NRC to request additional information. In particular, this final rule adds a cross-reference to existing NRC requirements for the inclusion of an environmental report with those PRMs under 10 CFR 51.68, “Environmental report—rulemaking,” that seek exemption from licensing and regulatory requirements for authorizing general licenses for any equipment, device, commodity or other product containing byproduct material, source material or special nuclear material. This change increases the likelihood that the NRC will have complete information at the time a petition is filed, which will assist the NRC in processing the petition in a timely manner.

Changes in Deadlines

This final rule removes the implied and actual deadlines for docketing, for both the NRC and for the public. The NRC's internal goal to docket a new petition has not changed; the NRC will continue its current practice to docket a new petition within 30 days of receipt. However, based on the increased number and complexity of PRMs the NRC has been receiving, this final rule will not include this target so as to avoid setting unrealistic expectations in instances where NRC staff requires more than 30 days to deliberate and decide the appropriate course of action. The NRC staff may require more time to make initial decisions when a PRM includes complex issues or there are competing priorities.

This final rule also removes the deadline for a petitioner to resubmit a PRM returned by the NRC because it did not meet the NRC's docketing requirements. Formerly, the NRC would advise the petitioner when a PRM did not meet the docketing requirements and hold the PRM for 90 days to allow the petitioner to submit a revised petition, before formally rejecting the PRM. Under the docketing process in this final rule, the NRC will simply return the PRM to the petitioner with an explanation why the petition was not docketed, with no time period specified by which the PRM must be resubmitted. A resubmitted PRM will be considered by the NRC “without prejudice;” that is, the NRC will not consider the petition as having been previously denied on the merits solely because the initial submission was returned due to procedural deficiencies. This change clarifies that there is no deadline for resubmission of a PRM.

Suspension Requests

The NRC's proposed rule would have established two separate paths for obtaining suspension of an adjudication involving licensing proceedings (“adjudicatory licensing proceeding”), in order to provide clarity to the way in which a petitioner could request suspension. The NRC received several comments that, for a variety of reasons discussed later in this final rule, did not support the proposed revisions. After considering the comments on the proposed rule, the NRC has determined that there are a number of additional factors for the NRC to consider with respect to requests for suspension of adjudicatory proceedings based on PRMs. The NRC intends to gather additional stakeholder input on those factors before developing a final NRC provision on suspension requests; therefore, to facilitate timely adoption of the clarifications and process improvements presented in the proposed PRM rule, the NRC has decided to retain, in unchanged form, the suspension language formerly located in § 2.802(d); to re-designate it as § 2.802(e) in this final rule; and to evaluate these types of suspensions in a subsequent rulemaking. However, in response to public comments, the NRC's new title for this paragraph (the former paragraph (d) did not contain a title) indicates that the suspension is with respect to an “adjudication involving licensing.” Neither the addition of the title to this paragraph nor its re-designation from paragraph (d) to (e) of § 2.802 is intended to suggest any change in the applicable NRC law governing suspensions or the application of this provision to individual suspension requests in PRMs.

Minor Re-Structuring From Proposed Rule

This final rule has been restructured slightly from the proposed rule; for clarity, all PRM provisions that address the requirements applicable to the petitioner are in one section (§ 2.802), and the NRC's actions on a PRM are in a separate section (§ 2.803). An overview of the revised docketing process follows, and a detailed discussion of all changes, including the reorganization of §§ 2.802 and 2.803 and conforming changes, is provided in Section IV, “Section-by-Section Analysis,” of this final rule.

This final rule codifies the NRC's historical PRM docketing review policy and practice of notifying the petitioner that the NRC has received the PRM, evaluating the PRM information according to specified docketing criteria, and posting the petition online. At its discretion, the NRC may request public comment on a docketed petition through a notice published in the Federal Register.

NRC's Docketing Review of a PRM

The NRC describes the process and criteria it uses to determine if a PRM may be docketed in § 2.803. In the proposed rule, the NRC referred to this step as “acceptance.” In this final rule, the NRC uses the term “docketing,” and no longer uses the term “acceptance.” The NRC is making this change to prevent any potential misunderstanding that “acceptance” means that the NRC has agreed with the substance of the PRM and has decided that a rule should be developed and adopted as suggested by the petitioner in the PRM. After the close of the public comment period on this proposed rule, the NRC noted an example of possible misunderstanding in connection with public media reports on the NRC's notice of docketing for PRM-51-31, “Environmental Impacts of Spent Fuel Storage During Reactor Operation” (79 FR 24595; May 1, 2014). The NRC recognizes that it uses the terms, “acceptance review” and “acceptance” to refer to the NRC's process for evaluating a license application to determine if it meets the NRC's minimum standards for docketing. The NRC's recent experience suggests that the general public may be misled by the use of the term, “acceptance,” in the context of PRMs. Accordingly, the NRC is not using this term in paragraphs (b) or (c) of § 2.803 in this final rule.

Section 2.803 of this final rule describes, without change from the proposed rule, the NRC's docketing review process for a PRM, including what actions the NRC will take if the NRC determines that the PRM does not meet the NRC's requirements for docketing. This section also contains the criteria that the NRC uses to determine whether a PRM may be docketed. These three criteria are: (1) The PRM includes the information required by § 2.802(c), (2) the regulatory changes requested in the PRM are within the legal authority of the NRC, and (3) the PRM raises a potentially valid issue that warrants further detailed consideration by the NRC. These criteria are intended to ensure that the NRC does not unnecessarily expend rulemaking resources on unsupported petitions, petitions that the NRC has no legal authority to address through rulemaking, or on matters that are already addressed in the NRC's regulations. Including these criteria in the final rule, which reflect the NRC's existing practice but were not expressly set forth in the former language of 10 CFR part 2, subpart H, is intended to increase public understanding of the factors that the NRC uses in deciding whether to docket a PRM.

Administrative Closure of the PRM Docket

The NRC's process for dispositioning a PRM historically had been a matter of internal policy. With this final rule, the NRC is including a description of the dispositioning process in its regulations in order to enhance the transparency of its PRM process. The considerations for resolving a PRM are based on the NRC's experience in processing PRMs, insights from the NRC's initiative to streamline its PRM process, and information from the NRC's review of other Federal agencies' PRM regulations and practices. The amendments to the PRM process will allow the NRC to examine the merits of a PRM, the immediacy of the concern, the availability of NRC resources, whether the NRC is already considering the issue in other NRC processes, the relative priority of the issue raised in the PRM, any public comment received (if comment is requested), and the NRC's past decisions and current policy on the issue raised in the PRM. A summary of the NRC's considerations for dispositioning PRMs follows.

Section 2.803 of this final rule outlines the process for administrative closure of a PRM docket, once the NRC has determined its course of action for the PRM. The requirements provide two outcomes, derived from the NRC's recent review of the PRM process, for closing a PRM docket once the NRC has determined its course of action: (1) Denial of the PRM in its entirety, indicating a determination not to pursue a rulemaking action to address the issues raised in the PRM (this will also constitute final “resolution” of the PRM), or (2) initiation of a rulemaking action addressing some or all the requested rule changes in the PRM. Initiation of a rulemaking action may take one of two forms: (1) Initiation of a new, “standalone” rulemaking focused on some or all of the matters raised in the PRM, or (2) integration of some or all of the matters raised in the PRM into an existing or planned rulemaking (including the early stages of an NRC effort to decide whether to pursue rulemaking, (e.g., when the NRC is considering whether to develop a regulatory basis or to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking)). The NRC will publish a Federal Register notice to inform the public of its determined course of action, which will enhance the transparency of the NRC's PRM process and better communicate the NRC's planned approach to addressing the PRM. Implementing this process will enhance the NRC's ability to close PRMs effectively and efficiently.

With either course of action, the PRM docket will be closed, although the PRM itself would not be completely and finally “resolved” until the NRC acts on the last remaining portion of the PRM's request. Final NRC action on the PRM (“resolution”) will be a final rule addressing all of the petitioner's requested changes, a final rule addressing some (but not all) of the petitioner's requested changes, or a notice published in the Federal Register of the NRC's decision not to address any of the petitioner's requested changes in a rulemaking action.

Notification of Petitioners of Closure of a PRM Docket by the NRC

Paragraph (h)(2) of § 2.803 of this final rule explains how the NRC will notify the petitioner on the determination of the petition. The NRC sends the petitioner written notification and publishes a notice in the Federal Register, describing the NRC's determination to consider all or some of the issues in a rulemaking or to deny the petition. If the NRC closes a PRM docket under § 2.803(h)(2)(ii) but subsequently decides not to carry out the planned rulemaking to publication of a final rule, the NRC will notify the petitioner in writing of this decision and publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the basis for its decision. These communications explain the basis for the NRC's decision not to carry out the planned rulemaking to publication and/or not to include the issues raised in the PRM in a rulemaking action.

“Resolution” of a Petition for Rulemaking

Paragraph (i) of § 2.803 of this final rule addresses how a PRM ultimately is resolved and distinguishes final resolution of a PRM from administrative closure of a PRM docket, as described in § 2.803(h)(2). Resolution of one or more elements of a PRM occurs when the NRC publishes a Federal Register notice informing the public that any planned regulatory action related to one or more elements of the PRM has been concluded (i.e., the NRC may resolve an entire PRM, or parts of a PRM at different times). For rulemaking actions, resolution requires publication in the Federal Register of the final rule related to the PRM, which will include a discussion of how the published final rule addresses the issues raised in the PRM.

Also, § 2.803(i) notes that the NRC's denial of the PRM at any stage of the regulatory process or the petitioner's withdrawal of the PRM before the NRC has entered the rulemaking process will conclude all planned regulatory action related to the PRM. As applicable, the Federal Register notice resolving the PRM will include a discussion of the NRC's grounds for denial or information on the withdrawal that the petitioner submitted. This type of resolution represents final agency action on those elements of the PRM that are addressed in the Federal Register notice.

Other Administrative Changes and Updates

Finally, several amendments in this final rule reflect routine administrative updates to information such as instructions for submitting petitions and communicating with the NRC. In recent years, the NRC, like many Federal agencies, has been moving away from formal, printed publications and making greater use of its Web site and other online resources such as the Federal rulemaking Web site (www.regulations.gov) to provide the public with more timely information on agency actions. The NRC no longer publishes a semiannual summary of PRMs, so the final rule explains in detail the various methods the public may use to access online status updates and other information on NRC rulemakings and PRMs. In addition to making these procedural updates, the NRC is providing additional information on its Web site to assist members of the public interested in the NRC's PRM process.

III. Public Comment Analysis A. Overview of Public Comments

The NRC received seven comment letters on the proposed rule from a member of the public, a public advocacy group, non-governmental organizations, and the nuclear industry.

The majority of the comments received were in favor of the goals of the proposed amendments to the PRM process. However, three nuclear industry commenters (Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), AREVA NP Inc. (AREVA), and STARS Alliance LLC. (STARS)) opposed the proposed amendments to new paragraphs (b) and (e) of § 2.802 and new paragraphs (h) and (i) of § 2.803. One comment from the Executive Board of the Organization of Agreement States (OAS) recommended enhancements to the availability of information regarding PRM activities. Two comments from a member of the public and the public advocacy group Three Mile Island Alert (TMIA) were out-of-scope, as they did not address the merits of the proposed rule.

Information about obtaining the comments received on the proposed rule is available in Section XIV, “Availability of Documents,” of this final rule.

B. Public Comments and Overall NRC Responses

Comments are organized by topics included in the proposed rule, followed by the NRC's response.

Licensing Proceedings in the Petition for Rulemaking Process

1. Comment: The NRC should not adopt the changes in proposed § 2.802(e)(2) but should return to the language in current § 2.802(d) because the proposed changes would effectively allow PRM petitioners to “participate in licensing proceedings” without meeting standing and contention admissibility standards applicable to those proceedings. NEI, AREVA, STARS.

NRC Response: The NRC did not intend to allow persons requesting a suspension of an adjudication in a licensing proceeding (“adjudicatory licensing proceeding” in the proposed rule) to avoid having to meet applicable requirements for participating in the proceeding, such as the standing and contention admissibility standards for persons who wish to be a party (a person could also participate as an interested State, local government body, or Federally-recognized Indian tribe).

However, after further consideration of the comments, the NRC believes there are additional factors that the NRC must consider with respect to requests for suspension of adjudicatory proceedings based on PRMs. Stakeholder input on those factors would be desirable before developing a final NRC provision on these types of suspension requests.

Therefore, to facilitate the NRC's timely adoption of the clarifications and process improvements presented in the proposed PRM rule, the NRC has decided to retain, in unchanged form, the suspension language formerly located in § 2.802(d) and now re-designated as paragraph (e) of § 2.802 in this final rule. The NRC will evaluate these suspensions in a subsequent rulemaking. However, in response to the issues raised in the comment summary, the heading for § 2.802(e) states that the suspension is with respect to an “adjudication involving licensing.” Neither the addition of the heading to this paragraph nor its re-designation from paragraph (d) to (e) of § 2.802 is intended to suggest any change in the applicable NRC law governing suspensions or the application of this provision to individual suspension requests in PRMs.

2. Comment: The NRC should not adopt the changes in proposed § 2.802(e) but should return to the language in current § 2.802(d). The proposed rule appears to address extraordinary circumstances that occurred following the Fukushima accident, when petitions were filed with the NRC to initiate rulemaking to address safety issues associated with the accident or to suspend certain licensing proceedings because of issues related to the Fukushima accident.

The NRC has not explained why these petitions were problematic or why a rulemaking solution is needed, which itself has created separate problems. The Commission has inherent authority to take action in individual proceedings as necessary; in support of this comment, commenters cited the NRC's Policy Statement on the Conduct of Adjudications, 48 NRC 18 (1998). NEI, AREVA, STARS.

NRC Response: The NRC agrees. The origins of the proposed changes in § 2.802(d) were the NRC's procedural and administrative lessons-learned from dealing with the rulemaking and suspension petitions filed with the NRC after the Fukushima accident. The Commission agrees that it has inherent authority to take action in individual proceedings as it deems necessary, at any time, in response to a suspension request in whatever form.

However, upon consideration, the NRC believes a number of additional factors should be considered by the NRC before making changes to the suspension provision in former § 2.802(d). Stakeholder input on those factors is desirable in developing any final NRC provision on suspension requests. Accordingly, the NRC has decided to retain, in unchanged form, the suspension language formerly located in paragraph (d) and now re-designated as paragraph (e) of § 2.802 in this final rule. The re-designation of the suspension provision from paragraph (d) to paragraph (e) of § 2.802 is an administrative change intended to minimize the need for re-designations of paragraphs in future revisions to § 2.802. The NRC is not making changes to the legal requirements governing a PRM petitioner's request for suspension as a result of this re-designation.

Determination and Resolution of Petition for Rulemakings

1. Comment: The proposed revisions to § 2.803(h) and (i), creating a two-part process for closing a PRM, will confuse, rather than clarify, the agency's procedure for resolving PRMs. Final disposition of the PRM should occur either when the NRC denies the PRM, or when the NRC grants the PRM by initiating a rulemaking. There is no reason to withhold “final action” on a PRM, which has already effectively been granted, until resolution of the resultant rulemaking proceeding. The NRC's determination of whether to deny a PRM or initiate a rulemaking should result in the PRM's closure. At that point, a decision has been made on whether the issues raised in the PRM are worthy of further review or not. That decision is sufficient to close the PRM, even if the PRM's substantive request is still subject to deliberation through the rulemaking process. NEI, AREVA, STARS.

NRC Response: The NRC agrees with the commenters' assertion that the NRC's determination whether to deny a PRM or initiate rulemaking should result in the PRM's closure. The NRC also agrees with the commenters' assertion that the NRC's decision to deny (in full or part) a PRM constitutes “final agency action.”

However, an NRC decision closing a PRM docket on the basis of the NRC's intent to consider the PRM issues in a new or ongoing rulemaking is not the ultimate “resolution” of the PRM. An NRC decision closing a PRM docket and instituting rulemaking as proposed by the PRM would not constitute “final agency action,” inasmuch as the determination to consider the PRM issues in a rulemaking does not represent an NRC determination to propose or adopt a final regulation requested in the PRM (or alternatively, not to adopt a regulation as requested in the PRM). The proposed rule's new terminology was intended to distinguish between the NRC's procedures with respect to the closure of the PRM docket (“final disposition of the PRM”) versus the NRC's procedures for ultimate resolution of the rulemaking requests contained in the PRM.

The NRC recognizes that the statement of considerations for the proposed rule may not have been sufficiently clear in explaining the NRC's intent that the proposed revisions to § 2.802 are intended to (1) clearly indicate that the NRC may “dispose” of multiple requests for rulemaking in a PRM or portions of a request for rulemaking in a PRM, in two or more separate NRC actions, (2) reflect that there is no overall agency “resolution” of a PRM until there is final agency action on all of the rulemaking requests in the petition, and (3) use terms that clearly distinguish between the PRM docket (which is an NRC administrative process) and agency final action on the substantive rulemaking requests in the PRM.

This statement of considerations includes a more detailed explanation of these concepts in Section V, “Summary of the NRC's Revised Petition for Rulemaking Process,” which describes the PRM process and the rule terminology that applies to each stage and action of the PRM process. In addition, the NRC staff has developed a diagram entitled, “The Petition for Rulemaking Process” (Figure 1) (ADAMS Accession No. ML14259A474), which is available on the NRC's public Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking/petition-rule.html. This diagram is also reproduced in Section V. of this statement of considerations.

2. Comment: The commenters support the proposed rule language, which indicates that, if a PRM is “granted,” then the NRC will track the PRM through the rulemaking process. The commenters stated that the Federal Register notice for any resulting final rule should make clear its origin in (or relationship to) the previously “granted” PRM. The commenters also agreed that, if the NRC initiates a rulemaking in response to a PRM but terminates the rulemaking before publication of a final rule (either because of withdrawal by the petitioner or subsequent decision by the agency), then the NRC should publish a Federal Register notice providing a well-reasoned basis for its decision that is supported by the administrative record (e.g., a regulatory/technical basis or a proposed rule and response to public comments). NEI, AREVA, STARS.

NRC Response: The NRC agrees with the commenters' assertion that if a PRM is “granted,” then the NRC should track a PRM through the rulemaking process, as suggested by the proposed rule. No change was made to the final rule in response to this comment.

3. Comment: The Federal Register notice, which ensures that a PRM is administratively tracked throughout the rulemaking process, supports “closing” of a PRM upon the NRC's initial determination that the PRM should be denied or granted via initiation of a rulemaking. NEI, AREVA, STARS.

NRC Response: The NRC disagrees. The provisions in the proposed rule for “tracking” a PRM throughout the rulemaking process supported the “closing” of the PRM docket upon the NRC's initial determination that a PRM should be denied (in part), or granted. As discussed in response to an earlier comment, the final rule distinguishes between the closing of a PRM docket versus final agency action on all or a part of the substantive rulemaking requests in the PRM. Furthermore, this final rule clarifies that the NRC may “dispose of” and/or finally determine multiple requests for rulemakings in a PRM or portions of a request for rulemaking in a PRM, in two or more separate NRC actions. If there will be multiple NRC actions for a single PRM, the NRC must keep the PRM docket “open” until there is a final “determination” of the last remaining aspects of the rulemaking request in a PRM. At that point, the PRM docket may be closed as the NRC has completed its determination of how to “treat” the rulemaking requests. That “treatment” may be denial of that last remaining aspect (which would also “resolve” the PRM) or it may be a determination that the rulemaking request should be addressed in a rulemaking activity (either through a newly initiated rulemaking activity or included in an existing rulemaking). This determination, however, is not “resolution” of the PRM. Resolution only occurs when the agency either adopts a final rule as requested in the PRM, or declines to adopt a final rule as requested in the PRM.

Given the NRC's desire to have the flexibility to act on portions of rulemaking requests in a PRM, the NRC concludes that the PRM process must reflect procedures and terminology that clearly distinguish between NRC actions with respect to the PRM docket and NRC actions on the substance of the rulemaking. The commenter's proposal would, in the NRC's view, blur this distinction and would not facilitate clear understanding by all stakeholders on the NRC's PRM process. However, as discussed in response to Comment 1 of this section, the NRC has in this statement of considerations clarified the NRC's actions when making a determination on and resolving a PRM.

4. Comment: The NRC should not remove the language in § 2.802(f), which states that a determination of the adequacy of a PRM will ordinarily be made within 30 days of the NRC's receipt of the PRM. The use of the term “ordinarily” in the existing rule appears to provide the NRC with the same flexibility with respect to the 30-day target that the proposed rule states is the basis for the removal of the 30-day language. Therefore, given that the NRC apparently intends to continue its current practice of ordinarily issuing determinations within 30 days and the current rule language allows the NRC flexibility with respect to this timeframe, the rationale provided in the proposed rule does not support removal of the 30-day timeframe. Further, removing this timeframe from the rule increases regulatory uncertainty and decreases transparency, which is contrary to the purpose of this rulemaking. The rule should continue to provide petitioners with a reasonable degree of clarity with respect to the timeframes involved in the evaluation of PRMs. AREVA, NEI, STARS.

NRC Response: The NRC confirms the commenters' supposition that the NRC intends to continue its current practice to perform a docketing review and notify the petitioner in writing of the docketing of the PRM or the deficiencies found in the PRM within a 30-day period. However, the NRC disagrees with the commenter's recommendation to continue to include the 30-day timeframe. As the NRC stated in the proposed rule's statement of considerations, past experience has shown that lengthy and complex PRMs may require more than 30 days for a thorough docketing review. Furthermore, the number of lengthy and complex PRMs being received by the NRC each year is increasing. The NRC believes that including the 30-day timeframe in the final rule sets unrealistic expectations in instances where NRC staff requires more than 30 days to deliberate and decide the appropriate course of action.

No change was made to this final rule in response to these comments.

Petition for Rulemaking Activities

1. Comment: The NRC should publish a list of PRM activities and make it available in an easily identified location on the agency's Web site. The locations identified in proposed § 2.803(j)(1) and (3) are hard to find on the NRC's Web site and “may cause confusion to the public.” OAS.

NRC Response: The NRC agrees. The NRC's public Web site was modified to include a list of PRM activities in an easily identified location. The NRC Web site has a new Web page that lists all “open” petitions (http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/rulemaking-ruleforum/petitions-by-year/open-petitions-all-years.html). This Web page, which supplements the Web pages listed in new paragraphs (j)(1) and (3) of § 2.803, may be accessed from the Petition for Rulemaking Dockets Web site (http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/rulemaking-ruleforum/petitions-by-year.html). This list contains the year when a particular PRM was docketed, the Docket ID, the PRM docket number, and the title of all “open” petitions. The Docket IDs listed in the new Web page are linked to regulations.gov, which provides publicly available documents such as NRC-issued Federal Register notices, supporting documents, public comments, and other related documents. From this new Web page, the public can also subscribe to GovDelivery to receive notifications each time the Web page is updated. GovDelivery allows the NRC's Web site visitors to subscribe, via email, to agency social media content. Subscribers can customize their subscription list and choose settings for notification of added or changed information.

In addition, the NRC will continue publishing on the agency's Web site the Rulemaking Activities by Fiscal Year report, which includes descriptions of agency actions on PRMs. This report may be accessed from the Rulemaking Documents Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking.html.

No change was made to this final rule in response to these comments.

Comments in Support of Amendments

1. Comment: The commenter supports the NRC's proposed amendments to revise the PRM process. The commenter agrees that the proposed revisions would streamline the NRC rulemaking process, remove unnecessary constraints, enhance transparency, and clarify and improve communications with the petitioners who submit a PRM. Health Physics Society.

NRC Response: No response necessary.

No change was made to this final rule in response to these comments.

2. Comment: The commenter commends the NRC staff on its willingness to confer informally with PRM applicants.

NRC Response: No response necessary.

No change was made to this final rule in response to these comments.

Out-of-Scope Comments

1. Comment: The comment, “The NRC completely failed us (TMIA) at every level of the rulemaking process,” and an attachment, dated October 31, 2008, set forth the commenter's views as to the adequacy of the NRC's resolution of a PRM submitted by the commenter (PRM-73-11) and the commenter's views about the NRC's statements regarding public outreach at a public meeting. TMIA.

NRC Response: The NRC considers this comment to be out of the scope because it does not address the proposed requirements governing the PRM process changes in the proposed rule.

2. Comment: The comment describes the commenter's interactions with the NRC staff regarding concerns the commenter has raised related to the TMI accident and regarding upgrades to filters and vents at nuclear power plants. TMIA.

NRC Response: The NRC considers this comment to be out of the scope because it does not address the proposed requirements governing the PRM process changes in the proposed rule.

No change was made to this final rule in response to these comments.

IV. Section-by-Section Analysis

The NRC is amending its regulations to streamline its process for addressing PRMs. Additionally, the NRC is amending its regulations in §§ 2.802, 2.803, and 2.811 to make miscellaneous corrections and conforming changes. These changes include the reorganization of §§ 2.802 and 2.803, the addition of paragraph headings, updates to the PRM filing process, and editorial changes to the language for clarity and consistency.

A. Section 2.802, Petition for Rulemaking—Requirements for Filing Paragraph (a), Filing a Petition for Rulemaking

Paragraph (a) of § 2.802, which informs petitioners how to submit a PRM, is revised to clarify and update the PRM filing process. Paragraph (a) specifies the regulations subject to a PRM by indicating that the NRC's regulations are contained under chapter I of 10 CFR.

Paragraph (b), Consultation With the NRC

Paragraph (b) of § 2.802, which provides the process by which a prospective petitioner may consult with the NRC before filing a PRM, now permits consultation with the NRC both before and after filing a PRM.

Paragraph (b)(1)(i), which establishes that petitioners may consult with the NRC staff about the process of filing and responding to a PRM, now includes other stages of the PRM process during which consultation may occur. Paragraph (b)(1)(i) limits NRC staff consultation on a PRM to describing the process for filing, docketing, tracking, closing, amending, withdrawing, and resolving a PRM. These limitations are consistent with the existing limitations on NRC participation in the filing of PRMs.

New paragraph (b)(3) is added to clearly specify that the NRC staff will not advise a petitioner on whether a PRM should be amended or withdrawn.

Paragraph (c), Content of Petition

Paragraph (c) of § 2.802, which generally describes the content requirements of a PRM, is restructured and revised. Paragraph (c)(1) establishes that a petitioner must clearly and concisely articulate in a PRM the information required under new paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (c)(1)(viii). In paragraph (c)(1), the terms “clearly and concisely” are added to convey the NRC's expectation that PRMs be “clear” (i.e., do not contain ambiguous or confusing arguments, terminology, or phraseology) and “concise” (i.e., do not present the perceived problem or proposed solution with a description that is longer than necessary).

Paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (c)(1)(viii) specify information that must be provided in each PRM. The former text of paragraph (c)(1), which required that a PRM set forth a general solution to a problem or specify the regulation that is to be revoked or amended, is revised and redesignated as new paragraph (c)(1)(v). The additional text under paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (c)(1)(viii) describes the specific information required to be included in a PRM. Most of the requirements are similar to the information required in the existing rule, except that each topic is listed separately for increased clarity.

New paragraph (c)(1)(i) requires all petitioners to specify contact information—including a name, telephone number, mailing address, and email address (if available)—that the NRC may use to contact the petitioner. New paragraph (c)(1)(ii) specifies additional information for petitioners who are organizations or corporations to submit: The petitioner's organizational status, the petitioner's State of incorporation, the petitioner's registered agent, and the name and authority of the individual signing the PRM on behalf of the corporation or organization. By adding this paragraph, the NRC is reducing the likelihood of misleading the public about the organizational or corporate status and identity of a petitioner.

New paragraph (c)(1)(iii) includes information from existing paragraph (c)(3) and requires a petitioner to present the problem or issue that the petitioner believes the NRC should address through rulemaking. This added paragraph clarifies that a petitioner must specifically state the problem or issue that the requested rulemaking would address, including any specific circumstance in which the NRC's codified requirements are incorrect, incomplete, inadequate, or unnecessarily burdensome. Paragraph (c)(1)(iii) clarifies that the submittal of specific examples of incompleteness or unnecessary burden to support the petitioner's assertion that a problem or issue exists that the NRC should address through rulemaking would be of interest to the NRC when reviewing the PRM. Providing this information in the PRM will result in a clearer argument for the problems or issues being presented by a petitioner and will increase the efficiency of the NRC's review of the PRM.

New paragraph (c)(1)(iv) requires the petitioner to cite, enclose, or reference any publicly available data used to support the petitioner's assertion of a problem or issue. This requirement was in former paragraph (c)(3) but is now modified to add the phrase “Cite, enclose, or reference” to provide options to the petitioner for providing the supporting data. Paragraph (c)(1)(iv) specifies that the citations, enclosures, or references to technical, scientific, or other data must be submitted to support the petitioner's assertion that a problem or issue exists and that all submitted data must be publicly available; consequently the word “relevant” and the phrase “reasonably available to the petitioner” in former paragraph (c)(3) are removed.

New paragraph (c)(1)(v) includes information from former paragraph (c)(1) and requires a petitioner to present a proposed solution to the problems or issues identified in the PRM; this proposed solution may include revision or removal of specific regulations under 10 CFR chapter I. Rather than providing a “general solution” as required by the former paragraph (c)(1), paragraph (c)(1)(v) now requires a petitioner to present a “proposed solution” to clarify that the solution is only a proposal for the NRC to consider. Paragraph (c)(1)(v) also provides an example—including “specific regulations or regulatory language to add, amend, or delete in 10 CFR Chapter I”—to guide petitioners in preparing a proposed solution to the problem or issue identified in the PRM.

New paragraph (c)(1)(vi) requires a petitioner to provide an analysis, discussion, or argument linking the problem or issue identified in the PRM with the proposed solution. The requirement to provide supporting information was already included in former paragraph (c)(3). The requirement to explain through an analysis, discussion, or argument how the proposed solution would solve the problem or issue raised in the PRM is new.

New paragraph (c)(1)(vii) includes information from former paragraph (c)(1) and requires the petitioner to cite, enclose, or reference any other publicly available data or information that the petitioner deems necessary to support the proposed solution and otherwise prepare the PRM for the NRC's docketing review under § 2.803(b). Similar to paragraph (c)(1)(iv), the phrase “Cite, enclose, or reference” is added to provide options to the petitioner for providing the supporting data.

Text from former paragraph (c)(1) is revised and incorporated into new paragraph (c)(1)(v), as previously described. As a result, the former paragraph (c)(1) is removed.

Text from former paragraph (c)(2) is removed because it is generally incorporated into new paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (c)(1)(iii), making the former paragraph (c)(2) unnecessary.

Text from former paragraph (c)(3), which required a petitioner to include various kinds of supporting information, is revised and incorporated into new paragraphs (c)(1)(iii), (c)(1)(iv), (c)(1)(vi), and (c)(1)(vii), as previously described. As a result, the former paragraph (c)(3) is removed.

In addition to the requirements in § 2.802(c)(1)(i)-(vii), new paragraph (c)(2) encourages the petitioner to consider the two other review criteria listed in new paragraph (b) of § 2.803 when preparing a PRM. The NRC does not intend to require specialized explanations that discourage potential petitioners from submitting PRMs. Paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (ii) are intended to provide petitioners the opportunity to include information that will assist the NRC in its evaluation of the PRM under § 2.803(b). However, the NRC will not deny a petition solely on the basis that the petition did not provide information addressing paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (ii).

New paragraph (c)(3) requires the PRM to designate a lead petitioner if the petition is signed by multiple petitioners. The NRC's former practice was to treat the first signature listed on a petition as that of the lead petitioner. New paragraph (c)(3) requires that a lead petitioner be designated in a PRM and codifies the NRC's practice of sending communications about the petition to the lead petitioner. New paragraph (c)(3) also alerts the public of the lead petitioner's responsibility to disseminate communications received from the NRC to all petitioners.

Paragraph (c)(1)(viii) adds a cross-reference to the environmental assessment requirements that apply to PRMs at 10 CFR 51.68.

Paragraph (d), [RESERVED]

Paragraph (d) of § 2.802 is reserved, and the subject matter addressed in former paragraph (d), on requests for suspension of adjudications involving licensing (“licensing proceedings” in former paragraph (d)), is addressed without substantive change in paragraph (e).

Paragraph (e), Request for Suspension of an Adjudication Involving Licensing

Paragraph (e) of § 2.802 describes how a PRM petitioner may request a suspension of an adjudication in a licensing proceeding in which the PRM petitioner is a “participant,” on the basis of the matters addressed in the petitioner's PRM. The re-designation of the suspension provision from paragraph (d) to paragraph (e) is an administrative change intended to minimize the need for re-designations of paragraphs in future revisions to § 2.802. The NRC is not making changes to the legal requirements governing a PRM petitioner's request for suspension as a result of this re-designation.

Former paragraphs (e), (f), and (g) in § 2.802 are moved to § 2.803.

Paragraph (f), Amendment; Withdrawal

New paragraph (f) of § 2.802, which discusses amendment or withdrawal of a PRM by a petitioner, is added to inform petitioners where and how to submit these filings and what information should be included.

B. Section 2.803, Petition for Rulemaking—NRC Action

Section 2.803 describes how the NRC will process, consider, and make a determination on a PRM.

Paragraph (a), Notification of Receipt

New paragraph (a) of § 2.803 has no counterpart in the superseded version of § 2.803. New paragraph (a) of § 2.803 indicates that the NRC shall notify the petitioner that the NRC has received the PRM.

Paragraph (b), Docketing Review

New paragraph (b) of § 2.803 addresses docketing review—a matter that was formerly addressed in the superseded version of § 2.802(f). Paragraph (b) differs from former § 2.802(f) by stating clearly that the NRC will deny the PRM if it does not include the information required by § 2.802(c). It also differs from former § 2.802(f) by adding two new docketing criteria. Under the new docketing review process, the NRC will determine not only if the rulemaking changes requested in the petition are within the legal authority of the NRC but also that the PRM raises a potentially valid issue that warrants further detailed consideration by the NRC (e.g., confirm that the NRC's regulations do not already provide what the PRM is requesting).

Paragraph (b) does not include the restriction in former § 2.802(f) limiting the docketing decision to the Executive Director for Operations, and is silent on which NRC official may make the docketing determination. Therefore, the Executive Director for Operations may delegate the docketing decision to the appropriate organizational level within the NRC staff.

Finally, paragraph (b) describes the process the NRC will use if the NRC determines that a PRM does not meet the requirements for docketing (i.e., an “insufficient” PRM). Paragraph (b) differs from former § 2.802(f) by removing a 90-day period for a petitioner to fix and resubmit an insufficient PRM, with the deficiencies corrected. Under paragraph (b) a deficient PRM may now be resubmitted, with deficiencies addressed, at any time without prejudice or time limitation.

Paragraph (c), Docketing

New paragraph (c) of § 2.803 addresses docketing, which was addressed in former § 2.802(e). Paragraph (c)(1) lists three criteria, each of which must be met in order for the NRC to docket a PRM. That paragraph also expressly states that the NRC will assign a docket number to a PRM that is docketed. Paragraph (c)(2) describes how the NRC will make a docketed PRM available to the public, that is, by posting the document in ADAMS (the NRC's official records management system), on the NRC's public Web site, and on the Federal rulemaking Web site (regulations.gov); and by publishing a notice of docketing in the Federal Register.

Paragraph (d), NRC Communication With Petitioners

New paragraph (d) of § 2.803 notifies the public that the NRC will send all communications to the lead petitioner identified in the petition, according to new paragraph § 2.802(c)(3), and that this communication will constitute notification to all petitioners. Therefore, any NRC obligation to inform a petitioner is satisfied when the NRC sends the required notification to the lead petitioner.

Paragraphs (e) Through (f), [RESERVED].

Newly designated paragraphs (e) through (f) of § 2.803 are marked “Reserved.”

Paragraph (g), Public Comment on a Petition for Rulemaking; Hearings

New paragraph (g)(1) of § 2.803 incorporates information from former § 2.802(e) text pertaining to the NRC's discretion to request public comment on a docketed PRM. Information in the former § 2.802(e) that specified how a PRM may be published for public comment in the Federal Register is replaced by a concise statement specifying that the NRC, at its discretion, may solicit public comment on a docketed PRM.

When the NRC publishes a Federal Register notice (FRN) requesting public comment on a PRM, the NRC's current practice is to include standard language in the FRN cautioning the public not to include identifying or contact information that they do not want to be publicly disclosed in their comment submission. This new cautionary language is incorporated into this final rule. Paragraph (g)(2) includes this caveat so that affected stakeholders will be aware of this practice.

Paragraph (g)(3) denotes that no hearing will be held on a PRM unless the Commission determines to hold a hearing as a matter of its discretion. This rule of practice, formerly in § 2.803, is moved to paragraph 2.803(g)(3) and amended for clarity. The text “the Commission deems it advisable” is replaced with “the Commission determines to do so, at its discretion.” This amendment clarifies that the NRC has discretionary authority to hold a hearing on a docketed PRM.

Paragraph (h), Determination on a Petition for Rulemaking; Closure of Docket on a Petition for Rulemaking

Existing regulations in § 2.803 require the NRC to resolve PRMs by either issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking or denying the petition. New paragraph (h)(1) of § 2.803 codifies a nonexclusive list of the methods and criteria that the NRC may use to determine a course of action for a PRM. These methods and criteria include consideration of the issues raised in the PRM about its merits, the immediacy of an identified safety or security concern, the relative availability of resources, the relative issue priority compared to other NRC rulemaking activities, whether the NRC is already considering the issues in other NRC processes, the substance of public comments received, if requested, and the NRC's past decisions and current policy.

Paragraph (h)(1)(i) establishes that the NRC will determine whether a PRM will be granted based upon the merits of the PRM. For the purpose of this final rule, the term “merits” includes the completeness and technical accuracy of the documents, logic associated with the petitioner's desired rule change, and the appropriateness or worthiness of the desired change compared to the current regulatory structure (e.g., existing regulation, associated regulatory guidance, and inspection program guidance).

Paragraph (h)(1)(ii) states that the NRC may determine whether a PRM will be docketed based upon the immediacy of the safety or security concerns raised in the PRM. By adding this paragraph, the NRC intends to first determine whether immediate regulatory action (e.g., an order) is needed.

Paragraph (h)(1)(iii) states that the NRC may determine whether a PRM will be docketed based upon the availability of NRC resources and the priority of the issues raised in the PRM compared with other NRC rulemaking activities. By adding this paragraph, the NRC will establish that if immediate action is not necessary, the NRC will consider the availability of resources and compare the issues raised in the PRM to other NRC rulemaking issues to determine the PRM's priority relative to other rulemaking activities.

Paragraph (h)(1)(iv) states that the NRC may determine whether a PRM will be docketed based on whether the NRC is already considering the issues raised in the PRM in other NRC processes. The NRC has multiple processes for considering potential issues related to its mission: For example, the allegation process, formal and informal hearings, and Commission deliberation to determine appropriate action on issues not related to rulemaking. One resulting action could be to initiate a rulemaking, but the Commission has other options available, such as addressing the issue through an order, guidance, or an internal management directive. The NRC will use the most efficient process to resolve issues raised by a petitioner.

Paragraph (h)(1)(v) states that the NRC may determine a course of action on a PRM based on the substance of any public comments received, if public comments are requested. Although the NRC may decide not to request public comments on a PRM, if public comment is requested, the NRC will consider the information commenters provide when determining a course of action for a PRM.

Paragraph (h)(1)(vi) states that the NRC may determine what action will be taken on a PRM based on the NRC's past decisions and current policy related to the issues raised in the PRM. This paragraph will inform the public that the NRC could consider past Commission decisions when determining a course of action for a PRM.

Paragraph (h)(2) establishes a process for administrative closure of a PRM docket once the NRC has determined its course of action for the PRM using the methodology and criteria in paragraph (h)(1). Paragraph (h)(2) establishes that a PRM docket will be administratively closed when the NRC responds to the PRM by taking a regulatory action and publishing a document in the Federal Register that describes this action. New paragraphs (h)(2)(i) and (ii) provide two specific categories for administrative closure of a PRM docket. Paragraph (h)(2) states that the NRC will administratively close a PRM docket by taking a regulatory action in response to the PRM that establishes a course of action for the PRM. In this situation, the NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register describing the determined regulatory action, including the related Docket ID, as applicable. Paragraph (h)(2)(i) explains that the NRC may administratively close a PRM docket by deciding not to undertake a rulemaking to address the issues that the PRM raised, effectively denying the PRM, and notifying the petitioner in writing why the PRM was denied. Paragraph (h)(2)(ii) explains that the NRC may administratively close a PRM docket by initiating a rulemaking action, such as addressing the PRM in an ongoing or planned rulemaking or initiating a new rulemaking activity. The NRC will inform the petitioner in writing of its determination and the associated Docket ID of the rulemaking action.

Paragraph (h)(2)(i) provides that the NRC may administratively close a PRM docket if the NRC decides not to engage in rulemaking to address the issues in the PRM. The NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register informing the public that the petition has been denied and the grounds for the denial. This notice will address the petitioner's request and any public comments received by the NRC. The PRM docket will be closed by this method when the NRC concludes that rulemaking should not be conducted in response to the PRM. In certain cases, the NRC may deny some of the issues raised in a PRM but also decide to address the remaining issues by initiating a rulemaking action, as described in paragraph (h)(2)(ii). In these instances, the Federal Register notice will identify the rulemaking Docket ID for the related rulemaking.

With regard to new rulemakings, paragraph (h)(2)(ii) provides that the NRC may administratively close a PRM docket if the NRC decides to address the subject matter of the PRM in a new rulemaking. The NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the NRC's decision to initiate the new rulemaking and informing the public of the Docket ID of the new rulemaking. The NRC will also add a description of the new rulemaking in the Government-wide Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (the Unified Agenda). The PRM docket will be closed by this method when the NRC determines that issues raised in the PRM merit consideration in a rulemaking and that there is currently no other rulemaking (ongoing or planned) into which the petitioner's requested rulemaking could be incorporated.

With regard to planned rulemakings, paragraph (h)(2)(ii) provides that a PRM docket may be administratively closed if the NRC is currently planning a rulemaking related to the subject of the PRM and the NRC decides to address the PRM in that planned rulemaking. The NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the NRC's decision to address the PRM in a planned rulemaking and informing the public of the Docket ID of the planned rulemaking. A PRM docket will be closed by this method when the NRC determines that issues raised in the PRM merit consideration in a rulemaking and a planned rulemaking exists in which the issues raised in the PRM could be addressed.

With regard to ongoing rulemakings, paragraph (h)(2)(ii) provides that a PRM docket may be administratively closed if the NRC has a rulemaking in progress that is related to the issues raised in the PRM. The NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register notifying the public that the subject of the PRM will be addressed as part of the ongoing rulemaking. The PRM docket will be closed by this method when the NRC determines that issues raised in the PRM merit consideration in a rulemaking and an ongoing rulemaking exists in which the issues in the PRM can be addressed.

The list of potential rulemaking actions in new paragraph (h)(2)(ii) is not intended to be exhaustive because the NRC may initiate other rulemaking actions, at its discretion, on issues raised in the PRM. For example, the NRC could extend the comment period for a proposed rule that addresses the subject matter of the PRM to allow it to be addressed in the ongoing rulemaking.

For all PRM dockets that are closed by initiating a rulemaking action, as described in paragraph (h)(2), the NRC will include supplementary information in the published proposed and final rule discussing how the NRC decided to address the issues raised in the PRM.

As further discussed in new paragraph (i)(2) of § 2.803, if the NRC closes a PRM docket under paragraph (h)(2)(ii) by initiating a rulemaking action, resolution will require the ultimate publication of a final rule discussing how the PRM is addressed in the published final rule. However, if later in the rulemaking process the NRC decides to terminate the associated rulemaking, termination of that rulemaking also constitutes denial of the PRM. The NRC will describe the agency's grounds for denial in a Federal Register notice, which will include the reason for the NRC's decision not to publish a final rule on the rulemaking associated with the PRM. The Federal Register notice also will address the issues raised in the PRM and significant public comments, if public comments were solicited. As with denials earlier in the PRM process, the NRC will notify the petitioner of the denial of the PRM.

Paragraph (i), Petition for Rulemaking Resolution

Under the former text in § 2.803, the NRC was required to resolve PRMs either by addressing the PRM issues in a final rule or by denying the petition. New paragraph (i) of § 2.803, Petition for rulemaking resolution, expands and clarifies how a PRM is resolved. Resolution of a PRM requires the NRC to conclude all planned regulatory action on the issues presented by the PRM and to publish a Federal Register notice to inform the public that all planned regulatory action on the PRM is concluded. Resolution of a PRM may occur in whole or in part; however, complete resolution of a PRM does not occur until all PRM issues are addressed in final by the NRC. New paragraph (i) of § 2.803 describes three methods for resolving a PRM: (1) Publication of a final rule, (2) withdrawal of the PRM by the petitioner before the NRC has entered into the rulemaking process, or (3) denial of the PRM by the NRC at any stage of the process. For resolution of a PRM through publication of a final rule, the NRC will include a discussion in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the published final rule of how the regulatory action addresses the issues raised by the petitioner. For resolution of a PRM through denial by the NRC at any stage of the regulatory process, the NRC will publish a Federal Register notice discussing the grounds for denial of the PRM. For resolution of a PRM through withdrawal by the petitioner, the NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register to inform the public that the petitioner has withdrawn the docketed PRM. Although the NRC expects that withdrawal would occur infrequently, paragraph (i) explains the means for the NRC to resolve the petition and inform members of the public of the withdrawal and resolution of the PRM.

The former text in paragraph (g) of § 2.802 indicated that a semiannual summary of PRMs before the Commission will be publicly available for inspection and copying. This statement is removed from this final rule because the NRC no longer publishes this semiannual summary. Instead, members of the public can find updates on the status of PRMs by the means described in paragraph (j) of § 2.803.

Paragraph (j), Status of Petitions for Rulemakings and Rulemakings

New paragraph (j) of § 2.803 explains where the public can view the status of PRMs and adds the heading, Status of petitions for rulemakings and rulemakings, to indicate the subject of the paragraph. Paragraph (j)(1) provides the Web site addresses for the most current information on PRMs and on active rulemakings. Paragraph (j)(2) indicates that the NRC will provide a summary of planned and existing rulemakings in the Government-wide Unified Agenda. Paragraph (j)(3) explains that information on all docketed PRMs, rulemakings, and public comments is available online in ADAMS and in the Federal rulemaking Web site at http://www.regulations.gov.

As previously discussed, if the NRC closes a PRM docket by initiating a rulemaking action under new paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of § 2.803 but later determines that a final rule should not be published, the NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the grounds for its denial of the PRM, including the reason for the NRC's decision not to issue a final rule. The notice will be added into the previously closed PRM docket, and the status of the PRM will be updated and made available to the public as described in paragraphs (j)(1) through (j)(3).

C. Section 2.811, Filing of Standard Design Certification Application; Required Copies

Paragraph (e), Pre-application consultation, of § 2.811 explains the pre-application consultation process for standard design certification applications and is revised by correcting references and updating the email address for pre-application consultation. Corrections to paragraph (e) consist of removing the references to “§ 2.802(a)(1)(i) through (iii)” and replacing them with “§ 2.802(b)(1),” with respect to the subject matters permitted for pre-application consultation, correcting the term “petitioner” to “applicant”; replacing the reference “§ 2.802(a)(2)” with “§ 2.802(b)(2),” regarding limitations on pre-application consultations; and removing the unnecessary capitalization of the word “before.” In addition, the email address for pre-application consultation is updated by replacing “[email protected]” with “[email protected].”

V. Summary of the NRC's Revised Petition for Rulemaking Process

Any person may submit a PRM to the NRC, requesting that the NRC adopt a new regulation, amend (revise the language of) an existing regulation, or revoke (withdraw) an existing regulation. A “person” may be an individual or an entity such as an organization, company (corporation), a governmental body (e.g., a State or a municipality), or a Federally-recognized Indian tribe.

When a PRM is received by the NRC, the NRC acknowledges the receipt of the petition by sending correspondence to the petitioner informing the petitioner of the NRC's receipt. The NRC then assigns the PRM for consideration to the NRC technical staff.

If the PRM does not include the information required by § 2.802, or the information provided is insufficient for the NRC to docket the petition, then the NRC sends a letter to the petitioner explaining the reasons why the NRC cannot docket the petition and begin to consider the requests in the petition. The NRC identifies what information is not included in the petition, or why the information provided is insufficient, and includes a reference to the corresponding paragraph in § 2.802(c) requiring the information.

The petitioner may resubmit the petition, with deficiencies addressed, at any time without prejudice or time limitation. If the petitioner provides the requested information and the information provided is determined by the NRC to be complete and meet the requirements in § 2.802(c), then the NRC dockets the petition and publishes a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the NRC has docketed the petition. The notice may or may not include an opportunity for members of the public to provide comments. In general, the NRC determines whether to provide an opportunity for public comment based upon a balancing of several factors, including whether the NRC needs additional information to help resolve the petition. Finally, the notice explains how members of the public can stay informed regarding any future NRC action that addresses the issues raised in the PRM.

The NRC's resolution of a PRM may occur, in whole or in part, by one or more of the following actions: (1) The NRC decides to adopt a final rule addressing the problem raised in the PRM (“granting” the PRM); (2) the NRC decides not to adopt a new regulation or change an existing regulation as requested in the PRM (“denying” the PRM); or (3) the petitioner decides to withdraw the request before the NRC has entered the rulemaking process. Complete resolution of the PRM does not occur until all portions of the PRM are addressed by the NRC in one of the three ways previously described. It is possible that the petitioner's concerns may not be addressed exactly as requested in the PRM. In this situation, the NRC would consider the PRM to be “partially granted and partially denied,” and the statement of considerations will explain how the final rule addresses the problem raised in the PRM, but why the NRC decided to adopt a regulatory approach, which is different than that described in the PRM.

If the PRM is denied by the NRC, or if the petition is withdrawn by the petitioner, the NRC will publish a notice in the Federal Register stating the grounds for the denial or informing the public that the petitioner has withdrawn the petition.

The NRC staff has developed a diagram entitled, “The Petition for Rulemaking Process” (Figure 1) (ADAMS Accession No. ML14259A474), which provides a visual representation of the NRC's PRM process under §§ 2.802 and 2.803, as amended in this final rule. This diagram is also available as a separate document on the NRC's public Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking.html.

ER07OC15.200 VI. Regulatory Analysis

This rule clarifies and streamlines the NRC's process for addressing PRMs. The amendments in this rule improve transparency and make the PRM process more efficient and effective. These amendments do not result in a cost to the NRC or to petitioners in this process, and a benefit accrues to the extent that potential confusion over the meaning of the NRC's regulations is removed.

The more substantive changes in this rule do not impose costs upon either the NRC or petitioners but instead benefit both. The process improvements for evaluating PRMs and activities addressing PRMs and establishing an administrative process for closing a PRM docket to reflect agency action on a PRM reduce burdens on petitioners, the NRC, and participants in the process.

The option of preserving the status quo is not preferred. Failing to correct errors and clarify ambiguities would result in continuing confusion over the meaning of the petition for rulemaking rules, which could lead to the unnecessary waste of resources. The NRC believes that this rule improves the consistency, timeliness, efficiency, and openness of the NRC's actions and increases the efficient use of the NRC's resources in its PRM process.

VII. Regulatory Flexibility Certification

In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), the NRC certifies that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

VIII. Backfitting and Issue Finality

The NRC has determined that the backfit rule does not apply to this final rule because these amendments are administrative in nature and do not involve any changes that impose backfitting as defined in 10 CFR chapter 1, or are inconsistent with any of the issue finality provisions in 10 CFR part 52.

IX. Plain Writing

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-274) requires Federal agencies to write documents in a clear, concise, and well-organized manner. The NRC has written this document to be consistent with the Plain Writing Act, as well as the Presidential Memorandum, “Plain Language in Government Writing,” published June 10, 1998 (63 FR 31883).

X. Environmental Impact: Categorical Exclusion

The NRC has determined that this final rule is the type of action that is a categorical exclusion under 10 CFR 51.22(c)(1). Therefore, neither an environmental impact statement nor an environmental assessment has been prepared for this final rule.

XI. Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

This final rule does not contain information collection requirements and, therefore, is not subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

Public Protection Notification

The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a request for information or an information collection requirement unless the requesting document displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.

XII. Congressional Review Act

This final rule is a rule as define in the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801-808). However, OMB has not found it to be a major rule as defined in the Congressional Review Act.

XIII. Voluntary Consensus Standards

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-113) requires Federal agencies to use technical standards that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies unless the use of such a standard is inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. In this final rule, the NRC has revised its regulations to streamline the process the NRC uses when it receives a PRM. This action concerns the NRC's procedures governing its consideration and resolution of PRMs. These procedures do not constitute a “government unique standard” within the meaning and intention of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995.

XIV. Availability of Documents

The documents identified in the following table are available to interested persons through the methods indicated.

Document ADAMS Accession No. COMNJD-06-0004/COMEXM-06-0006, “Streamlining the NRR Rulemaking Process” ML060970295. SRM-COMNJD-06-0004/COMEXM-06-0006, “Streamlining the NRR Rulemaking Process” ML061510316. SECY-03-0131, “Rulemaking Process Improvement Implementation Plan” ML031360205. SECY-07-0134, “Evaluation of the Overall Effectiveness of the Rulemaking Process Improvement Implementation Plan” ML071780644. SRM-SECY-07-0134, “Evaluation of the Overall Effectiveness of the Rulemaking Process Improvement Implementation Plan” ML072980427. SRM-COMGBJ-07-0002, “Closing out Task Re: Rulemaking on Tables S-3 and S-4” ML072180094. Proposed Rule: Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13107B459. Comments on PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML14149A306 (package). Comment (01) of Scott Portzline on PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13140A166. Comment (02) of Marvin I. Lewis re PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13178A162. Comment (03) of Richard Vetter re PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13186A240. Comment (04) of Alan Jacobson, Chair—Organization of Agreement States, regarding PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13198A587. Comment (05) of Pedro Salas, Director—Regulatory Affairs, AREVA NP Inc., regarding PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13198A588. Comment (06) of Ellen Ginsburg on behalf of Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) re PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13200A079. Comment (07) of Scott Bauer on behalf of STARS Alliance re PR-10 CFR Part 2—Revisions to the Petition for Rulemaking Process ML13231A046. The Petition for Rulemaking Process (diagram) ML14259A474. List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 2

Administrative practice and procedure, Antitrust, Byproduct material, Classified information, Confidential business information; Freedom of information, Environmental protection, Hazardous waste, Nuclear energy, Nuclear materials, Nuclear power plants and reactors, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sex discrimination, Source material, Special nuclear material, Waste treatment and disposal.

For the reasons set out in the preamble and under the authority of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended; the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, as amended; and 5 U.S.C. 552 and 553, the NRC is adopting the following amendments to 10 CFR part 2.

PART 2—AGENCY RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE 1. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows: Authority:

Atomic Energy Act of 1954, secs. 29, 53, 62, 63, 81, 102, 103, 104, 105, 161, 181, 182, 183, 184, 186, 189, 191, 234 (42 U.S.C. 2039, 2073, 2092, 2093, 2111, 2132, 2133, 2134, 2135, 2201, 2231, 2232, 2233, 2234, 2236, 2239, 2241, 2282); Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, secs. 201, 206 (42 U.S.C. 5841, 5846); Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, secs. 114(f), 134, 135, 141 (42 U.S.C. 10134(f), 10154, 10155, 10161); Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 552, 553, 554, 557, 558); National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332); 44 U.S.C. 3504 note. Section 2.205(j) also issued under Sec. 31001(s), Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321-373 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note).

2. Revise § 2.802 to read as follows:
§ 2.802 Petition for rulemaking—requirements for filing.

(a) Filing a petition for rulemaking. Any person may petition the Commission to issue, amend, or rescind any regulation in 10 CFR chapter I. The petition for rulemaking should be addressed to the Secretary, Attention: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff, and sent by mail addressed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; by email to [email protected]; or by hand delivery to 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. (Eastern time) on Federal workdays.

(b) Consultation with the NRC. A petitioner may consult with the NRC staff before and after filing a petition for rulemaking by contacting the Chief, Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch, Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 1-800-368-5642.

(1) In any consultation regarding the drafting or amendment of a petition for rulemaking, the assistance that the NRC staff may provide is limited to the following:

(i) Describing the process for filing, docketing, tracking, closing, amending, withdrawing, and resolving a petition for rulemaking;

(ii) Clarifying an existing NRC regulation and the basis for the regulation; and

(iii) Assisting the petitioner to clarify a petition for rulemaking so that the Commission is able to understand the issues of concern to the petitioner.

(2) In any consultation regarding the drafting or amendment of a petition for rulemaking, in providing the assistance permitted in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the NRC staff will not draft or develop text or alternative approaches to address matters in the petition for rulemaking.

(3) In any consultation regarding a petition for rulemaking, the NRC staff will not advise a petitioner on whether a petition should be amended or withdrawn.

(c) Content of petition. (1) Each petition for rulemaking filed under this section must clearly and concisely:

(i) Specify the name of the petitioner, a telephone number, a mailing address, and an email address (if available) that the NRC may use to communicate with the petitioner;

(ii) If the petitioner is an organization, provide additional identifying information (as applicable) including the petitioner's organizational or corporate status, the petitioner's State of incorporation, the petitioner's registered agent, and the name and authority of the individual who signed the petition on behalf of the organizational or corporate petitioner.

(iii) Present the specific problems or issues that the petitioner believes should be addressed through rulemaking, including any specific circumstances in which the NRC's codified requirements are incorrect, incomplete, inadequate, or unnecessarily burdensome;

(iv) Cite, enclose, or reference publicly-available technical, scientific, or other data or information supporting the petitioner's assertion of the problems or issues;

(v) Present the petitioner's proposed solution to the problems or issues raised in the petition for rulemaking (e.g., a proposed solution may include specific regulations or regulatory language to add to, amend in, or delete from 10 CFR chapter I);

(vi) Provide an analysis, discussion, or argument that explains how the petitioner's proposed solution solves the problems or issues identified by the petitioner; and

(vii) Cite, enclose, or reference any other publicly-available data or information supporting the petitioner's proposed solution; and

(viii) If required by 10 CFR 51.68 of this chapter, submit a separate document entitled “Petitioner's Environmental Report,” which contains the information specified in 10 CFR 51.45.

(2) To assist the NRC in its evaluation of the petition for rulemaking, the petitioner should clearly and concisely:

(i) Explain why the proposed rulemaking solution is within the authority of the NRC to adopt; and

(ii) Explain why rulemaking is the most favorable approach to address the problem or issue, as opposed to other NRC actions such as licensing, issuance of an order, or referral to another Federal or State agency.

(3) If the petition is signed by multiple petitioners, the petition must designate a lead petitioner who is responsible for disseminating communications received from the NRC to co-petitioners.

(d) [Reserved]

(e) Request for suspension of an adjudication involving licensing. The petitioner may request the Commission to suspend all or any part of any licensing proceeding to which the petitioner is a participant pending disposition of the petition for rulemaking.

(f) Amendment; withdrawal. If the petitioner wants to amend or withdraw a docketed petition for rulemaking, then the petitioner should include the docket number and the date that the original petition for rulemaking was submitted in a filing addressed to the Secretary, Attention: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff, and sent by mail addressed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001; or by email to [email protected].

3. Revise § 2.803 to read as follows:
§ 2.803 Petition for rulemaking—NRC action.

(a) Notification of receipt. Following receipt of a petition for rulemaking, the NRC will acknowledge its receipt to the petitioner.

(b) Docketing review. (1) The NRC will evaluate the petition for rulemaking, including supporting data or information submitted under § 2.802(c), for sufficiency according to the review criteria in § 2.803(b).

(2) If the NRC determines that the petition for rulemaking does not include the information set out in § 2.802(c), that the regulatory change sought by the petitioner is not within the legal authority of the NRC, or that the petition for rulemaking does not raise a potentially valid issue that warrants further consideration, then the NRC will notify the petitioner in writing and explain the deficiencies in the petition for rulemaking.

(3) The petitioner may resubmit the petition for rulemaking without prejudice.

(c) Docketing. (1) The NRC will docket a petition for rulemaking and assign a docket number to the petition if the NRC determines the following:

(i) The petition for rulemaking includes the information required by paragraph § 2.802(c),

(ii) The regulatory change sought by the petitioner is within the NRC's legal authority, and

(iii) The petition for rulemaking raises a potentially valid issue that warrants further consideration.

(2) A copy of the docketed petition for rulemaking will be posted in the NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) and on the Federal rulemaking Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov. The NRC will publish a notice of docketing in the Federal Register informing the public that the NRC is reviewing the merits of the petition for rulemaking. The notice of docketing will include the docket number and explain how the public may track the status of the petition for rulemaking.

(d) NRC communication with petitioners. If the petition is signed by multiple petitioners, any NRC obligation to inform a petitioner (as may be required under 10 CFR part 2, subpart H) is satisfied, with respect to all petitioners, when the NRC transmits the required notification to the lead petitioner.

(e) [Reserved]

(f) [Reserved]

(g) Public comment on a petition for rulemaking; hearings. (1) At its discretion, the NRC may request public comment on a docketed petition for rulemaking.

(2) The NRC will post all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov and enter the comment submissions into ADAMS, without removing identifying or contact information from comment submissions. Anyone requesting or aggregating comments from other persons for submission to the NRC is responsible for informing those persons not to include identifying or contact information that they do not want to be publicly disclosed in their comment submissions.

(3) No adjudicatory or legislative hearing under the procedures of 10 CFR part 2 will be held on a petition for rulemaking unless the Commission determines to do so, at its discretion.

(h) Determination on a petition for rulemaking; Closure of docket on a petition for rulemaking. (1) Determination. Following docketing of a petition for rulemaking, the NRC's determination on the petition for rulemaking may be based upon, but is not limited to, the following considerations:

(i) The merits of the petition;

(ii) The immediacy of the safety, environmental, or security concern raised;

(iii) The availability of NRC resources and the priority of the issues raised in relation to other NRC rulemaking issues;

(iv) Whether the problems or issues are already under consideration by the NRC in other NRC processes;

(v) The substance of any public comment received, if comment is requested; and

(vi) The NRC's relevant past decisions and current policies.

(2) Petition for rulemaking docket closure. After the NRC determines the appropriate regulatory action in response to the petition for rulemaking, the NRC will administratively close the docket for the petition. The NRC will publish a notice describing that action with any related Docket Identification number (Docket ID), as applicable, in the Federal Register. The NRC may make a determination on a petition for rulemaking and administratively close the docket for the petition for rulemaking by:

(i) Deciding not to undertake a rulemaking to address the issue raised by the petition for rulemaking, and informing the petitioner in writing of the grounds for denial.

(ii) Initiating a rulemaking action (e.g., initiating a new rulemaking, addressing the petition for rulemaking in an ongoing rulemaking, addressing the petition for rulemaking in a planned rulemaking) that considers the issues raised by a petition for rulemaking, and informing the petitioner in writing of this decision and the associated Docket ID of the rulemaking action, if applicable.

(i) Petition for rulemaking resolution. (1) Petition for rulemaking resolution published in the Federal Register. The NRC will publish a Federal Register notice informing the public that it has concluded all planned regulatory action with respect to some or all of the issues presented in a petition for rulemaking. This may occur by adoption of a final rule related to the petition for rulemaking, denial by the NRC of the petition for rulemaking at any stage of the regulatory process, or the petitioner's withdrawal of the petition for rulemaking before the NRC has entered the rulemaking process. As applicable, the Federal Register notice will include a discussion of how the regulatory action addresses the issue raised by the petitioner, the NRC's grounds for denial of the petition for rulemaking, or information on the withdrawal. The notice will normally include the NRC's response to any public comment received (if comment is requested), unless the NRC has indicated that it will not be providing a formal written response to each comment received.

(2) NRC decision not to proceed with rulemaking after closure of a petition for rulemaking docket. If the NRC closes a petition for rulemaking docket under paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section but subsequently decides not to carry out the planned rulemaking to publication of a final rule, the NRC will notify the petitioner in writing of this decision and publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the basis for its decision. The decision not to complete the rulemaking action will be documented as denial of the petition for rulemaking in the docket of the closed petition for rulemaking, in the Web sites, in the Government-wide Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, online in ADAMS, and at http://www.regulations.gov as described in paragraph (j) of this section.

(j) Status of petitions for rulemaking and rulemakings. (1) The NRC provides current information on rulemakings and petitions for rulemaking in the NRC Library at http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/rulemaking.html.

(2) The NRC includes a summary of the NRC's planned and ongoing rulemakings in the Government-wide Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (the Unified Agenda), published semiannually. This Unified Agenda is available at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain/.

(3) All docketed petitions, rulemakings, and public comments are posted online in ADAMS and at http://www.regulations.gov.

4. In § 2.811, revise paragraph (e) to read as follows:
§ 2.811 Filing of standard design certification application; required copies.

(e) Pre-application consultation. A prospective applicant for a standard design certification may consult with NRC staff before filing an application by writing to the Director, Division of New Reactor Licensing, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, with respect to the subject matters listed in § 2.802(b)(1). A prospective applicant also may telephone the Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch, toll free on 1-800-368-5642, or send an email to [email protected] on these subject matters. In addition, a prospective applicant may confer informally with NRC staff before filing an application for a standard design certification, and the limitations on consultation in § 2.802(b)(2) do not apply.

Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 1st day of October, 2015.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Annette L. Vietti-Cook, Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 2015-25563 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 73 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3780; Airspace Docket No. 15-ACE-5] Modification to Restricted Areas R-3601A & R-3601B; Brookville, KS AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule, technical amendment.

SUMMARY:

This action amends Restricted Areas R-3601A and R-3601B, Brookville, KS, to re-define the restricted area boundary segments described using the Missouri Pacific Railroad Track visual landmark. The restricted areas using agency information is also updated to include the military service of the using agency. This action does not affect the overall restricted area boundaries, designated altitudes, times of designation, or activities conducted within the restricted areas. Additionally, boundary segment amendments of the Smoky and Smoky High military operations areas (MOA), ancillary to the restricted areas amendments, are being made. Since R-3601A and R-3601B share boundaries with the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs, the FAA included discussion of the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs amendments in this rule. Lastly, the MOAs using agency is being amended to match the restricted areas using agency information.

DATES:

Effective date 0901 UTC, December 10, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Colby Abbott, Airspace Policy Group, Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8783.

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 the 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 makes administrative changes to the descriptions of restricted areas R-3601A and R-3601B, Brookville, KS.

Background

In August 1970, the FAA published a rule in the Federal Register (35 FR 10107, June 19, 1970) establishing the Brookville, KS, restricted areas R-3601A and R-3601B in support of U.S. Air Force (USAF) weapons delivery training requirements. The two restricted areas were originally established laterally adjacent to each other with different ceilings to be activated for use individually, as required. Then, in July 2007, the FAA published another rule in the Federal Register (72 FR 35917, July 2, 2007) that combined the restricted areas lateral boundaries, divided the combined areas vertically instead of laterally, and expanded the vertical limits to flight level 230 (FL230). The lower portion of the combined area (surface to but not including FL180) was re-designated as R-3601A and the upper portion (FL180 to FL230) as R-3601B. The new configuration supported USAF high altitude release bomb training requirements for fighter aircraft and new medium-to-high altitude release bomb training requirement for bombers.

When the restricted areas lateral boundaries were combined in 2007, the boundaries descriptions for R-3601A and R-3601B used the Missouri Pacific Railroad Track to identify a segment of the restricted area boundaries. The railroad track was removed years ago and portions of the railroad right-of-way is mostly obscured by trees or has been plowed under for agriculture. Satellite imagery was used to confirm that the railroad right-of-way is no longer clearly visible and is of little use to Visual Flight Rules (VFR) aircraft trying to navigate by ground reference in the Salina, KS, local area.

The FAA worked with the USAF to re-define the affected boundary segments using geographic (latitude/longitude) coordinates only. The new restricted area boundary descriptions overlay the boundaries previously identified by the visual landmarks that no longer exist. As a result of amending the restricted area boundaries, corresponding amendments to the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs boundaries are also necessary to retain shared boundary segments between the restricted areas and the MOAs.

Additionally, the R-3601A and R-3601B using agency information does not reflect the military service of the using agency listed. To correct this absence of information, the using agency information for the restricted areas is being updated. To ensure standard using agency information for the restricted areas and MOAs supporting the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range, the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs using agency information is also being updated.

Military Operations Areas (MOA)

MOAs are established to separate or segregate non-hazardous military flight activities from aircraft operating in accordance with instrument flight rules (IFR), and to advise pilots flying under VFR where these activities are conducted. IFR aircraft may be routed through an active MOA only by agreement with the using agency and only when air traffic control can provide approved separation from the MOA activity. VFR pilots are not restricted from flying in an active MOA, but are advised to exercise caution while doing so. MOAs are nonregulatory airspace areas that are established or amended administratively and published in the National Flight Data Digest (NFDD) rather than through rulemaking procedures. When a nonrulemaking action is ancillary to a rulemaking action, FAA procedures allow for the nonrulemaking changes to be included in the rulemaking action. Since the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs amendments are ancillary to the R-3601A and R-3601B amendments being made, the MOA changes are addressed in this rule as well as being published in the NFDD.

The Smoky and Smoky High MOAs boundary descriptions are being amended to incorporate the geographic coordinates used in the R-3601A and R-3601B boundary descriptions to redefine the boundary segments previously defined by the Missouri Pacific Railroad Track. This amendment will ensure shared boundaries with the updated restricted area descriptions and prevent airspace conflict with any potential SUA overlap resulting from the redefined boundary segments. Also, the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs using agency information is being amended to match the associated restricted areas using agency amendments. The amended boundary descriptions and using agency information for the MOAs will be published in the NFDD; the rest of the MOAs legal descriptions remain unchanged.

The Rule

This action amends 14 CFR part 73 by modifying restricted areas R-3601A and R-3601B Brookville, KS. The FAA is taking this action to accurately define the restricted area boundaries using geographic coordinates to overcome the loss of the visual landmark used previously and update the using agency information to include the military service. The following restricted areas boundary and using agency information is amended as indicated:

The R-3601A and R-3601B boundary segments previously described by the Missouri Pacific Railroad Track are redefined using the geographic coordinates, “lat. 38°39′45″ N., long. 97°46′01″ W.; to lat. 38°38′20″ N., long. 97°47′31″ W.”

The R-3601A and R-3601B using agency information is amended by prefacing the existing using agency with “U.S. Air Force.”

This change does not affect the boundaries, designated altitudes, activities conducted within the restricted areas or the actual physical location of the airspace; therefore, notice and public procedure under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) are unnecessary.

The corresponding restricted area boundary segment amendments noted above are also being made to the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs boundary information, as needed, to retain shared boundaries with R-3601A and R-3601B. And, the Smoky and Smoky High MOAs using agency information is amended to match the restricted areas using agency information. The amended Smoky and Smoky High MOAs boundary and using agency information changes addressed in this rule will be published in the NFDD as a separate action with a matching effective date.

This action does not affect the overall restricted area or MOA boundaries; designated altitudes; times of designation; or activities conducted within the restricted areas and MOAs.

Regulatory Notices and Analyses

The FAA has determined that this 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 Department of Transportation (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 only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Environmental Review

The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, paragraph 5-6.5d. This action is an administrative change to the technical description of the affected restricted areas and is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exists that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 73

Airspace, Prohibited areas, Restricted areas.

Adoption of the Amendment

In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 73 as follows:

PART 73—SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE 1. The authority citation for part 73 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.

§ 73.36 [Amended]
2. Section 73.36 is amended as follows: R-3601A Brookville, KS [Amended]

Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 38°45′20″ N., long. 97°46′01″ W.; to lat. 38°39′45″ N., long. 97°46′01″ W.; to lat. 38°38′20″ N., long. 97°47′31″ W.; to lat. 38°38′20″ N., long. 97°50′01″ W.; to lat. 38°35′00″ N., long. 97°50′01″ W.; to lat. 38°35′00″ N., long. 97°56′01″ W.; to lat. 38°45′20″ N., long. 97°56′01″ W.; to the point of beginning.

Designated altitudes. Surface to but not including FL180.

Time of designation. Monday through Saturday, 0900 to 1700 local time; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance.

Controlling agency. FAA, Kansas City ARTCC.

Using agency. U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, 184th Air Refueling Wing, Detachment 1, Smoky Hill ANG Range, Salina, KS.

R-3601B Brookville, KS [Amended]

Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 38°45′20″ N., long. 97°46′01″ W.; to lat. 38°39′45″ N., long. 97°46′01″ W.; to lat. 38°38′20″ N., long. 97°47′31″ W.; to lat. 38°38′20″ N., long. 97°50′01″ W.; to lat. 38°35′00″ N., long. 97°50′01″ W.; to lat. 38°35′00″ N., long. 97°56′01″ W.; to lat. 38°45 20″ N., long. 97°56′01″ W.; to the point of beginning.

Designated altitudes. FL180 to FL230.

Time of designation. Monday through Saturday, 0900 to 1700 local time; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance.

Controlling agency. FAA, Kansas City ARTCC.

Using agency. U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, 184th Air Refueling Wing, Detachment 1, Smoky Hill ANG Range, Salina, KS.

Issued in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2015. Kenneth Ready, Acting Manager, Airspace Policy Group.
[FR Doc. 2015-25543 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security 15 CFR Part 744 [Docket No. 150817734-5734-01] RIN 0694-AG72 Revisions to the Unverified List (UVL) AGENCY:

Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by adding twelve (12) persons to the Unverified List (the “Unverified List” or UVL), adding additional addresses for four (4) persons currently listed on the UVL, and removing two (2) persons from the UVL. The 12 persons are being added to the UVL on the basis that BIS could not verify their bona fides because an end-use check could not be completed satisfactorily for reasons outside the U.S. Government's control. New addresses are added for four current UVL persons because BIS has determined they are receiving U.S. exports at addresses not previously included in their UVL listings. Finally, two persons are removed from the UVL based on BIS's ability to verify those person's bona fides through the successful completion of end-use checks.

DATES:

Effective date: This rule is effective: October 7, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kevin Kurland, Director, Office of Enforcement Analysis, Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce, Phone: (202) 482-4255 or by email at [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The Unverified List, found in Supplement No. 6 to Part 744 to the EAR, contains the names and addresses of foreign persons who are or have been parties to a transaction, as that term is described in § 748.5 of the EAR, involving the export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) of items subject to the EAR, and whose bona fides BIS has been unable to verify through an end-use check. BIS may add persons to the UVL when BIS or federal officials acting on BIS's behalf have been unable to verify a foreign person's bona fides (i.e., legitimacy and reliability relating to the end use and end user of items subject to the EAR) because an end-use check, such as a pre-license check (PLC) or a post-shipment verification (PSV), cannot be completed satisfactorily for such purposes for reasons outside the U.S. Government's control.

End-use checks cannot be completed for a number of reasons, including reasons unrelated to the cooperation of the foreign party subject to the end-use check. For example, BIS sometimes initiates end-use checks and cannot find a foreign party at the address indicated on export documents, and cannot locate the party by telephone or email. Additionally, BIS sometimes is unable to conduct end-use checks when host government agencies do not respond to requests to conduct end-use checks, are prevented from scheduling such checks by a party to the transaction other than the foreign party that is the proposed subject of the end-use check, or the parties refuse to schedule them in a timely manner. Under these circumstances, although BIS has an interest in informing the public of its inability to verify the foreign party's bona fides, there may not be sufficient information to add the foreign persons at issue to the Entity List under § 744.11 of the EAR (Criteria for revising the Entity List). In such circumstances, BIS may add the foreign persons to the UVL.

Furthermore, BIS sometimes conducts end-use checks but cannot verify the bona fides of a foreign party. For example, BIS may be unable to verify bona fides if, during the conduct of an end-use check, a recipient of items subject to the EAR is unable to produce those items for visual inspection or provide sufficient documentation or other evidence to confirm the disposition of those items. The inability of foreign persons subject to end-use checks to demonstrate their bona fides raises concerns about the suitability of such persons as participants in future exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) and indicates a risk that items subject to the EAR may be diverted to prohibited end uses and/or end users. However, BIS may not have sufficient information to establish that such persons are involved in activities described in part 744 of the EAR, preventing the placement of the persons on the Entity List. In such circumstances, the foreign persons may be added to the Unverified List.

As provided in § 740.2(a)(17) of the EAR, the use of license exceptions for exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) involving a party or parties to the transaction who are listed on the UVL is suspended. Additionally, under § 744.15(b) of the EAR, there is a requirement for exporters, reexporters, and transferors to obtain (and keep a record of) a UVL statement from a party or parties to the transaction who are listed on the UVL before proceeding with exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) to such persons, when the exports, reexports and transfers (in-country) are not subject to a license requirement.

Requests for removal of a UVL entry must be made in accordance with § 744.15(d) of the EAR. Decisions regarding the removal or modification of UVL listings will be made by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, based on a demonstration by the listed person of its bona fides.

Changes to the EAR Supplement No. 6 to Part 744 (“the Unverified List” or “UVL”)

Among other things, this rule adds twelve (12) persons to the UVL by amending Supplement No. 6 to Part 744 of the EAR to include their names and addresses. BIS adds these persons in accordance with the criteria for revising the UVL set forth in § 744.15(c) of the EAR. The new entries consist of one person located in Canada, one person located in the Czech Republic, one person located in Georgia, four persons located in Hong Kong, and five persons located in the United Arab Emirates. Each listing is grouped within the UVL by country and accompanied by the party's name(s) in alphabetical order under the country, available alias(es) and address(es), as well as the Federal Register citation and the date the person was added to the UVL. The UVL is included in the Consolidated Screening List, available at www.export.gov.

This rule also adds new addresses for four current UVL persons in Hong Kong: (1) AST Technology Group (HK) Ltd.; (2) E-Chips Technology; (3) Ling Ao Electronic Technology Co. Ltd., a.k.a. Voyage Technology (HK) Co. Ltd.; and (4) Narpel Technology Co., Limited. BIS has determined that these persons are receiving U.S. exports at addresses other than those originally included in their UVL entries.

Lastly, this rule removes from the UVL two entries: One located in Hong Kong and one located in Pakistan.

The following entry (at three different locations) under the country heading Hong Kong is removed:

Ditis Hong Kong Ltd., Room 227-228, 2/F, Metre Centre II, 21 Lam Hing Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong and Ditis Hong Kong Ltd., Rooms 1318-1320, Hollywood Plaza, 610 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong and Ditis Hong Kong Ltd., Room 205, 2/F, Sunley Centre, 9 Wing Tin Street, Kwai Chung, New Territories, Hong Kong.

The following entry under the country heading Pakistan is removed:

Fauji Fertilizer Company Ltd., 156 The Mall, Rawalpindi, Cantt, Pakistan.

These persons are removed from the UVL based on BIS's ability to confirm their bona fides through the successful completion of end-use checks. The removal of the above referenced persons from the UVL eliminates the restrictions against the use of license exceptions and the requirements specific to exports, reexports and transfers (in-country) not otherwise requiring a license to these persons, as described in § 744.15 of the EAR. However, the removal of these persons from the UVL does not remove other obligations under part 744 of the EAR or under other parts of the EAR. Neither the removal of persons from the UVL nor the removal of UVL-based restrictions and requirements relieves a person of the obligation to obtain a license if the person knows that an export or reexport of any item subject to the EAR is destined to an end user or end use set forth in part 744, other than § 744.15, of the EAR. Additionally, these removals do not relieve persons of their obligation to apply for export, reexport or in-country transfer licenses required by other provisions of the EAR. BIS strongly urges the use of Supplement No. 3 to part 732 of the EAR, “BIS's `Know Your Customer' Guidance and Red Flags,” when persons are involved in transactions that are subject to the EAR.

Savings Clause

Shipments (1) removed from license exception eligibility or that are now subject to requirements in § 744.15 of the EAR as a result of this regulatory action,; (2) eligible for export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) without a license before this regulatory action; and (3) on dock for loading, on lighter, laden aboard an exporting carrier, or en route aboard a carrier to a port of export, on October 7, 2015, pursuant to actual orders, may proceed to that UVL listed person under the previous license exception eligibility or without a license so long as the items have been exported from the United States, reexported or transferred (in-country) before November 6, 2015. Any such items not actually exported, reexported or transferred (in-country) before midnight, on November 6, 2015, are subject to the requirements in § 744.15 of the EAR in accordance with this regulation.

Export Administration Act

Since August 21, 2001, the Export Administration Act of 1979, as amended, has been in lapse. However, the President, through Executive Order 13222 of August 17, 2001, 3 CFR, 2001 Comp., p. 783 (2002), as amended by Executive Order 13637 of March 8, 2013, 78 FR 16129 (March 13, 2013), and as extended by the Notice of August 7, 2015 (80 FR 48233 (Aug. 11, 2015) has continued the EAR in effect under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.). BIS continues to carry out the provisions of the Export Administration Act, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, pursuant to Executive Order 13222 as amended by Executive Order 13637.

Rulemaking Requirements

1. Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.

2. The provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) requiring notice of proposed rulemaking, the opportunity for public comment and a delay in effective date are inapplicable to this rule—which is adding 12 persons, removing two persons, and updating the addresses of four other persons listed on the UVL—because this regulation involves military or foreign affairs under § 553(a)(1). BIS implements this rule to protect U.S. national security or foreign policy interests by requiring a license for items being exported, reexported, or transferred (in country) involving a party or parties to the transaction who are listed on the UVL. If this rule were delayed to allow for notice and comment and a delay in effective date, the entities being added to the UVL by this action and those entities operating at previously unlisted addresses would continue to be able to receive items without additional oversight by BIS and to conduct activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. In addition, publishing a proposed rule would give these parties notice of the U.S. Government's intention to place them on the UVL, and create an incentive for these persons to accelerate receiving items subject to the EAR in furtherance of activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States, and/or take steps to set up additional aliases, change addresses, and other measures to try to limit the impact of the listing once a final rule is effective.

The Department finds there is good cause to waive the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act requiring prior notice and the opportunity for public comment, under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), and a thirty day delay of the effective date, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to the provision of this rule removing two persons from the UVL because doing so is contrary to the public interest and unnecessary. The removals are being made following the completion of successful end-use checks. If the rule were to be delayed to allow for public comment, U.S. exporters may face unnecessary economic losses as they turn away potential sales because the customer remained a listed person on the UVL even after BIS was able to verify that entity's bona fides through an end-use check. By publishing without prior notice and comment, BIS allows the entity to receive U.S. exports as quickly as possible following their cooperation in a successful end-use check. By quickly removing entities from the UVL following the successful completion of an end-use check, BIS encourages other entities to cooperate in end-use checks requested by BIS. Further, no other law requires that a notice of proposed rulemaking and an opportunity for public comment be given for this rule.

Because a notice of proposed rulemaking and an opportunity for public comment are not required to be given for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or by any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are not applicable. Accordingly, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required and none has been prepared.

3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor is subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information, subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) (PRA), unless that collection of information displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number. This regulation involves collections previously approved by OMB under the following control numbers: 0694-0088, 0694-0122, 0694-0134, and 0694-0137. The addition, revision, and removal of individuals to the UVL do not change the collection of information requirements placed on the public by the UVL implementing regulations.

4. This rule does not contain policies with Federalism implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 13132.

List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 744

Exports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Terrorism.

Accordingly, part 744 of the Export Administration Regulations (15 CFR parts 730 to 774) is amended as follows:

PART 744—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for 15 CFR part 744 continues to read as follows: Authority:

50 U.S.C. app. 2401 et seq.; 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.; 22 U.S.C. 3201 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 2139a; 22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.; 22 U.S.C. 7210; E.O. 12058, 43 FR 20947, 3 CFR, 1978 Comp., p. 179; E.O. 12851, 58 FR 33181, 3 CFR, 1993 Comp., p. 608; E.O. 12938, 59 FR 59099, 3 CFR, 1994 Comp., p. 950; E.O. 12947, 60 FR 5079, 3 CFR, 1995 Comp., p. 356; E.O. 13026, 61 FR 58767, 3 CFR, 1996 Comp., p. 228; E.O. 13099, 63 FR 45167, 3 CFR, 1998 Comp., p. 208; E.O. 13222, 66 FR 44025, 3 CFR, 2001 Comp., p. 783; E.O. 13224, 66 FR 49079, 3 CFR, 2001 Comp., p. 786; Notice of September 17, 2014, 79 FR 56475 (September 19, 2014); Notice of November 7, 2014, 79 FR 67035 (November 12, 2014); Notice of January 21, 2015, 80 FR 3461 (January 22, 2015); Notice of August 7, 2015, 80 FR 48233 (August 11, 2015).

2. Supplement No. 6 to Part 744 is amended by: a. Adding an entry for “Canada” in alphabetical order; b. Adding an entry for “Czech Republic” in alphabetical order; c. Adding an entry for “Georgia” in alphabetical order; d. Revising the entry for “AST Technology Group (HK) Ltd.”, under “Hong Kong”; e. Removing the entry for “Ditis Hong Kong Ltd.” under “Hong Kong”; f. Revising the entry for “E-Chips Technology” under “Hong Kong”; g. Adding 3 entries for “Foot Electronics Co. Ltd.”, “GA Industry Co. Ltd.”, and “Hua Fu Technology Co. Ltd.” in alphabetical order, under “Hong Kong”; h. Revising the entry for “Ling Ao Electronic Technology Co. Ltd., a.k.a. Voyage Technology (HK) Co. Ltd.” under “Hong Kong”; i. Revising the entry for “Narpel Technology Co., Limited” under “Hong Kong”; j. Adding an entry for “Yogone Electronics Co.” in alphabetical order, under “Hong Kong”; k. Removing the entry for “Fauji Fertilizer Company Ltd.” under “Pakistan”; and l. Adding 5 entries, in alphabetical order, under the “United Arab Emirates”.

The additions and revisions read as follows:

Supplement No. 6 to Part 744—Unverified List Country Listed person and address Federal Register citation and date of publication CANADA Rizma, Inc., 1403-8 McKee Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M2N 7E5, Canada 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * CZECH REPUBLIC Bonitopto S.R.O., Vancurova 1084/10, Ostrov 363 01, Czech Republic; and, Jachymovska 178, Ostrov 363 01, Czech Republic 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. GEORGIA Spars Ltd., a.k.a. Spars Trading Ltd., Room 1, House 11, Nutsubdize 111 marker, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0183 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. HONG KONG AST Technology Group (HK) Ltd., Flat 6, 20/F, Mega Trade Centre, 1-9 Mei Wan Street, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong; and Unit 2209, 22/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; and Unit 2103, 21/F, Sino Centre, 582-592 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong 80 FR 4779 01/29/15; 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * E-Chips Technology, Unit 4, 7/F, Bright Way Tower, No. 33 Mong Kok Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong; and Flat 1205, 12/F, Tai Sang Bank Building, 130-132 Des Voeux Road Hong Kong 80 FR 4779 01/29/15; 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. Foot Electronics Co. Ltd., Unit 2103, 21/F, Sino Centre, 582-592 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong; and Rm. 19C, Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. GA Industry Co. Ltd., Room 1103, Hang Seng Mong Kok Building, 677 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * Hua Fu Technology Co. Ltd., Rm 1209, 12/F, Workingbond Commercial Centre, 162 Prince Edward Road West, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * Ling Ao Electronic Technology Co. Ltd., a.k.a. Voyage Technology (HK) Co. Ltd., Room 17, 7/F, Metro Centre Phase 1, No. 32 Lamhing St., Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong; and 15B, 15/F, Cheuk Nang Plaza, 250 Hennessy Road, Hong Kong; and Flat C, 11/F, Block No. 2, 62 Hoi Yu Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong; and Room C1-D, 6/F, Wing Hing Industrial Building, 14 Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong 80 FR 4779 01/29/15; 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * Narpel Technology Co., Limited, Unit A, 6/F, Yip Fat Factory Building, Phase 1, No 77 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong; and Room 4C, 8/F, Sunbeam Centre, 27 Shing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong; and Room 1905, Nam Wo Hong Building, 148 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; and 15B, 15/F, Cheuk Nang Plaza, 250 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong 79 FR 34217, 06/16/14; 80 FR 4779 01/29/15; 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * Yogone Electronics Co., Unit 602, 6/F, Silvercord Tower 2, 30 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * UNITED ARAB EMIRATES *         *         *         *         * Gulf Modern Solutions Engineering Company, No. 14, 35B Street, Al Satwa Road, Dubai, UAE 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. Masomi General Trading, Unit No. B605, Baniyas Complex, Baniyas Square, P.O. Box 39497, Dubai, UAE 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. Recaz Star General Trading LLC, #307 Naser Lootah Building, Khalid bin Waleed Road, Dubai, UAE 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. Renat International General Trading, Office #H241, Building #1G, Ajman Free Zone, Ajman, UAE; and Building #H1, Behind China Mall, Ajman Free Zone Area, Ajman, UAE 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         * Trade Star FZC, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Mossa Tower 1, 17th Floor, Dubai, UAE; and P.O. Box 51159, Sharjah, UAE; and ELOB Office #E55G-31, Hamriyah Free Zone, Sharjah, UAE 80 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 10/7/15. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
Dated: October 1, 2015. Matthew S. Borman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Administration.
[FR Doc. 2015-25450 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-33-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 902 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 130722646-5874-03] RIN 0648-BD54 International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Establishment of Tuna Vessel Monitoring System in the Eastern Pacific Ocean AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is issuing regulations under the Tuna Conventions Act to implement Resolution C-14-02 of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) by establishing requirements for any U.S. commercial fishing vessel that is 24 meters (78.74 feet) or more in overall length engaging in fishing activities for either tuna or tuna-like species in the eastern Pacific Ocean. This rule is necessary to ensure full U.S. compliance with its international obligations under the IATTC Convention.

DATES:

This rule is effective January 1, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

Copies of supporting documents prepared for this final rule, including the Categorical Exclusion memo, Regulatory Impact Review, Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), and other supporting documents, are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2013-0117, or by contacting the Regional Administrator, William W. Stelle, Jr., NMFS West Coast Region, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA 98115-0070 or by email to [email protected]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rachael Wadsworth, NMFS WCR, 562-980-4036.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

On May 19, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a supplemental proposed rule in the Federal Register (80 FR 28572) to implement C-14-02, “Resolution (Amended) on the Establishment of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).” This Resolution was adopted by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Convention (IATTC) at its 87th meeting in July 2014. The supplemental proposed rule revised a proposed rule (79 FR 7152) published on February 6, 2014 in the Federal Register.

The public comment period for the supplemental proposed rule was open until June 18, 2015, and NMFS accepted public comment at a hearing held at the NMFS West Coast Region (WCR) Long Beach office on June 9, 2015. The public comment period for the original proposed rule was open until March 10, 2014, and NMFS accepted public comment at a hearing held at the NMFS WCR Long Beach office on February 28, 2014.

The final rule is implemented under the authority of the Tuna Conventions Act (16 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), which directs the Secretary of Commerce, after approval by the Secretary of State, to promulgate regulations as may be necessary to implement resolutions adopted by the IATTC. This authority has been delegated to NMFS.

The supplemental proposed rule contained additional background information, including information on the IATTC, the international obligations of the United States as an IATTC member, and the need for regulations. The differences between this final rule and the supplemental proposed rule are explained below.

New Regulations

This final rule establishes requirements for any U.S. commercial fishing vessel that is 24 meters (78.74 feet) or more in overall length and engaging in fishing activities for tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention Area, and for which either of the following permits is required: Pacific highly migratory species permit under 50 CFR 660.707, or high seas fishing permit under 50 CFR 300.13. The Convention Area is bounded by the west coast of the Americas and on the north, south, and west respectively, by the 50° N. and 50° S. parallels, and the 150° W. meridian.

Commercial fishing vessels that are 24 meters or more in overall length are required to install, activate, carry, and operate VMS units (also known as “mobile transmitting units”). The VMS units and mobile communications service providers must be type-approved by NOAA for fisheries in the IATTC Convention Area. Information for current NOAA type-approved VMS units can be obtained from: NOAA, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), 1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 3301, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282; telephone at (888) 210-9288. Or, by contacting NOAA OLE VMS Helpdesk: Telephone: (888) 219-9228, ext. 2; email: [email protected]; or online by going to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ole/about/our_programs/vessel_monitoring.html (click “approved VMS units”). The business hours of the NOAA OLE VMS Helpdesk are: Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time.

Federal funds may be available to vessel owners or operators for reimbursement for type-approved VMS units. The VMS units must be installed by a VMS dealer approved by a type-approved VMS unit manufacturer. To qualify for reimbursement, the VMS unit must be purchased and installed before December 1, 2015, and reimbursement must be requested no later than December 15, 2015. The availability of reimbursement funds for the cost of purchasing a VMS unit is not guaranteed; the funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Information on the VMS Reimbursement Program is available online at: http://www.psmfc.org/program/vessel-monitoring-system-reimbursement-program-vms?pid=17.

Compliance with the existing VMS requirements at 50 CFR parts 300, 660, or 665 would satisfy these new requirements relating to the installation, carrying, and operation of VMS units, provided that (1) the VMS unit and mobile communications service provider are type-approved by NOAA for fisheries in the Convention Area, (2) the VMS unit is operated continuously at all times while the vessel is at sea, unless the Assistant Director, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division (or designee) (AD) authorizes a VMS unit to be shut down, and (3) the requirements for the case of VMS unit failure are followed.

This final rule also updates: (1) The definition of “Convention Area,” and (2) the description of the purpose and scope of part 300, subpart C, § 300.20 of Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Public Comments and Responses

NMFS received comments on both the original and supplemental proposed rules during the public comment periods. For the original proposed rule, four persons participated in the public hearing, one of whom also submitted written comments. NMFS also received a written comment from a commenter that did not attend the public hearing. NMFS received one written comment in response to the supplemental proposed rule and no persons participated in the public hearing.

Five of the six commenters expressed concern about the burden of operating the VMS units while participating in fisheries for species other than tuna. These same commenters raised questions and provided suggestions regarding the flexibility of the VMS requirements as they apply to vessels that participate in other fisheries. One commenter indicated support for the VMS requirements for tuna fisheries as a worthwhile method to enhance monitoring. Summaries of the comments received for both the supplemental and original proposed rules and NMFS' responses appear below.

Comment 1: The proposed rule allows a condition for shutting down the VMS unit after the end of the fishing season, but this condition is too strict and could negatively impact vessels which participate in other fisheries. This could be easily addressed by requiring the VMS unit be turned on only when that vessel will be targeting tuna or tuna-like species.

Response: NMFS believes that allowing more VMS on and off flexibility would weaken the effectiveness of using VMS position information to monitor the locations of vessels. Allowing VMS power-downs, aside from the in-port and after a fishing season exemptions provided in the rule, could also encourage non-compliance and compromise the integrity of the VMS. Lastly, additional fees are imposed on vessel owners and operators for shutting down VMS units as well as reactivating VMS units after they are shut down. For these reasons, NMFS believes that the benefits of requiring position reports everywhere at sea, aside from the exemptions provided in the rule, outweigh the burden.

Comment 2: The proposed rule would require that all vessels turn on VMS units when leaving port, regardless of whether a vessel plans to participate in tuna fisheries. There are a number of affected vessels that participate in fisheries other than tuna fisheries. Some of these vessels only opportunistically fish for tuna. For example, the coastal purse seine vessels that fish for tuna typically make infrequent trips (e.g., fewer than 3 trips a year) that are short in duration (e.g., fewer than 18 hours), and they do not fish for tuna in some years due to lack of availability in the U.S. exclusive economic zone, though they remain active in tuna fisheries.

Response: In addition to the rationale outlined in the response to Comment 1 above, the United States is obligated, as a member of the IATTC, to implement Resolution C-14-02, which calls for each IATTC Member to require that its commercial fishing vessels harvesting tuna or tuna-like species be equipped with VMS. Therefore, VMS requirements in this final rule apply to any U.S. commercial fishing vessel that is 24 meters or more in overall length and engaging in fishing activities for tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention Area, and for which either of the following permits is required: Pacific highly migratory species permit under 50 CFR 660.707, or high seas fishing permit under 50 CFR 300.13.

Since the original proposed rule stage, NMFS revised the VMS requirements to reduce the burden on vessels by allowing an additional option for a vessel owner or operator to shut down a VMS unit. If a vessel owner or operator receives verbal or written authorization by the AD, the VMS unit may be shut down, if, after the end of the fishing season, the vessel will no longer engage in fishing activities in the Convention Area for which either a Pacific highly migratory species permit or a high seas fishing permit is required.

Comment 3: VMS requirements for other U.S. fisheries enable vessels to call in to declare the type of fishing trip, which creates a VMS requirement on a trip-by-trip basis. Providing additional flexibility to vessels for trips in which they do not pursue any of the species for which the IATTC has established conservation and management measures could reduce administrative costs and the potential for unintended losses in fishing opportunity.

Response: NMFS does not agree that only requiring VMS operation when on specific trips for tuna or tuna-like species and providing declaration reports would provide an adequate monitoring system or reduce burden on vessel owners and operators. As described in responses to Comment 2, NMFS believes that allowing more VMS unit power-downs, aside from the in-port and after a fishing season exemptions as provided in the rule, could also encourage non-compliance and compromise the integrity of the VMS. In addition, there may be fees associated with shutting down and powering back on VMS units that could ultimately increase the cost burden on vessel owners and operators. Using a declaration system could also increase administrative burdens by increasing the number of activation and deactivation reports and approvals of requests from NOAA OLE.

NMFS notes that, since the original proposed rule, NOAA added an additional option for a vessel owner or operator to shut down a VMS unit. In this final rule, if a vessel owner or operator receives verbal or written authorization by the AD (or designee), the VMS unit may be shut down, if, after the end of the fishing season, the vessel will no longer engage in fishing activities in the Convention Area for which either a Pacific highly migratory species permit or a high seas fishing permit is required.

For these reasons, NMFS believes that the benefits of requiring position reports everywhere at sea, aside from the exceptions provided in the rule, outweigh any associated burden.

Comment 4: The commenter asked for clarification as to whether VMS requirements apply to vessels that did not fish for tuna in the last year.

Response: Regardless of whether the vessel fished for tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention Area in a previous calendar year or fishing season, the VMS requirements of the rule apply to any vessel engaging in fishing activities for tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention Area, and for which either a Pacific highly migratory species permit or high seas fishing permit is required.

Comment 5: The commenter requested clarification as to the confidentiality of the information collected under the VMS rule and asked if it could be utilized for any purposes by: State law enforcement, state fishery managers (e.g., for fisheries managed by the State), or Federal fishery managers and enforcement (e.g., for investigations or management decisions in fisheries other than tuna).

Response: Information collected under the VMS requirements of this rule will be handled in accordance with the Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1905, and NOAA Administrative Order 216-100 for confidential fisheries data. The vessel owner and operator must make the vessel's position data obtained from the VMS unit or other means immediately and always available for inspection by NOAA personnel, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) personnel, and authorized officers. If the vessel owner or operator is under investigation, or an enforcement action has been initiated for violation of federal or state marine natural resource laws, then the VMS data can be used by fishery officials for the purpose of verifying information related to the investigation and as evidence of the violation.

Comment 6: The commenter asked for further clarification as to how the data collection for VMS works and how often the VMS data is being collected and about NMFS' ability to detect the location of a vessel outside of the hourly ping rates. Another commenter suggested that because of recent judicial rulings NMFS would be required to increase the VMS reporting interval to more than once per hour.

Response: The VMS data (or position reports) will be transmitted to NOAA-approved mobile communications service providers, which will then securely relay the data to the NOAA OLE, the USCG, and other entities that are authorized to receive and relay position reports. The frequency of reporting intervals required by NMFS in a fishery depends on the defined need of the monitoring program for that fishery. NMFS believes that an hourly reporting interval will be sufficient given the level of monitoring to be conducted under this rule. Generally, the vessel location is only transmitted to NOAA OLE with the position reports. However, during irregular events, such as loss of power to VMS units or if the vessel crosses a pre-set boundary line, the vessel location may also be transmitted to NOAA OLE.

No recent judicial rulings justify or require that NMFS increase the reporting interval of the VMS units covered by this final rule because of recent judicial rulings. If determined necessary for the needs of the monitoring program, NMFS could make a fleet-wide change to this reporting interval through the notice and comment rulemaking process. This rule sets up the reporting interval at once per hour, and maintains that rate for normal operations, and we will not change that default rate except through the notice and comment rulemaking process. However, NOAA maintains the ability to temporarily, and under special circumstances only, increase the reporting interval, to support active enforcement investigations of specific vessels. Under these circumstances NOAA would be responsible for the costs of the increased reporting interval.

Comment 7: The proposed rule states that a vessel cannot leave the port until receiving “verbal or written confirmation from the AD that proper transmissions are being received from the VMS unit.” The rule would not allow a vessel to turn the unit back on while away from port. For example, if a vessel is participating in a non-HMS, non-high seas fishery, and receives information that tuna or tuna-like species have appeared in catchable volume within the Convention Area, the vessel operator would have to return to port and receive written confirmation from the AD that the unit is transmitting. There is no guarantee that by the time the operator complies with the proposed rule's requirements, a catchable amount of fish will be within range. Neither the AD nor NOAA OLE's VMS Helpdesk are available 24-hours a day and are closed on weekends, thus it is likely a vessel operator will suffer economic harm as a result of the inability to turn on the VMS unit remotely. The commenter asked if there a system in place to generate the required confirmation during non-business hours.

Response: The referenced requirement applies in the case that the vessel owner and operator have chosen to shut down the VMS unit while at port or otherwise not at sea, or after the end of the fishing season. NMFS notes such power-up notifications from vessel owners or operators to the AD or the NOAA OLE's VMS Helpdesk may take place after office hours, although the AD acknowledgement of receipt will take place during business hours. The AD makes best efforts to minimize delays in its responses to vessel owners or operators. NMFS recognizes that the office hours of the AD do not always coincide with fishing operations, but notes that the owner and operator of a fishing vessel need not wait until immediately prior to the port departure time to turn on the VMS unit and submit the on/off report to NOAA.

As described in responses to Comments 2 and 3, NMFS revised the VMS requirements since the original proposed rule stage, to allow an additional condition to authorize a vessel owner or operator to shut down a VMS unit. If a vessel owner or operator receives verbal or written authorization by the AD, the VMS unit may be shut down if, after the end of the fishing season, the vessel will no longer engage in fishing activities in the Convention Area for which either a Pacific highly migratory species permit or a high seas fishing permit is required.

Comment 8: The commenter asked NMFS to clarify if emails need to be sent to NOAA OLE from port every night before turning the VMS unit off. The commenter also asked if these messages could be sent from a smart phone, or if a telephone call would be sufficient as opposed to written request.

Response: Vessel owners or operators are required to notify the AD or the NOAA OLE's VMS Helpdesk via facsimile, email, or web-form prior to shut-down of VMS units. The notification need not be at night, and need not be “every night.” Currently, voice calls from telephones are not an authorized communication method to notify the AD when shutting down the VMS unit because a written record of the request is needed to facilitate enforcement and compliance. The type-approved VMS units required by this final rule are capable of two-way communication, which includes the ability to send emails. Notices to the AD or NOAA OLE's VMS Helpdesk can also be sent by any device that is capable of these forms of communication, such as a smart phone.

Vessel owners and operators should also be aware of fees charged by communication service providers to shut down VMS units and to reactivate the VMS units after they are powered off.

Changes From the Supplemental Proposed Rule

In § 300.26(c)(5) and (d), under the heading, “Vessel monitoring system (VMS),” the references to “50 CFR 300.219, 50 CFR 660.712, or 50 CFR 665.19” have been replaced by “part 300 of this title, part 660 of this title, or part 665” to clarify that future VMS requirements that may be added to any section in those three parts would also be deemed to satisfy the VMS requirements under this rule. Also in § 300.26, paragraph (d) has been clarified to say that NOAA may pay for the VMS-associated costs for VMS carried and operated under part 300 of this title, part 660 of this title, or part 665 of this title, but only to the extent that the applicable regulations specify costs are the responsibility of NOAA.

In § 300.26, paragraph (c)(1) has been revised to clarify that “NOAA, the USCG, and other authorized entities are authorized to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit.” This revision was intended to clarify that the vessel owner and operator do not need to provide additional authorization to NOAA, the USCG, and other authorized entities. In § 300.26, paragraph (d) has been revised for consistency with the previously described change in paragraph (c)(1). Therefore, the following language was removed from the paragraph: “. . . the owner or operator has authorized NOAA to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit . . . .”

In § 300.26, paragraph (c)(1) was revised to clarify the that it is the responsibility of the vessel owner or operator to arrange for a NOAA-approved mobile communications service provider to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit to NOAA at a default reporting interval of at least once per hour. Therefore, the following language was removed from the paragraph “. . . the owner and operator must authorize NOAA to set up the reporting interval of the VMS unit as once per hour . . . .”

In § 300.26, paragraph (d) was revised to clarify that NOAA is responsible for the cost of any temporary increase in the default reporting interval to support active enforcement investigations of specific vessels.

In addition, throughout § 300.26, several references to “the SAC, or Special-Agent-In-Charge” have been replaced by “the AD, or Assistant Director” to reflect a change in title. AD means the Assistant Director, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division (or designee).

In § 300.26, paragraph (a)(2) has been revised to add “ext. 2” after the phone number for the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk.

Classification

The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Tuna Conventions Act of 1950, as revised, and other applicable laws.

National Environmental Policy Act

This action is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6. A memorandum for the file has been prepared that sets forth the decision to use a categorical exclusion and a copy of is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

Executive Order 12866

This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

A Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) was prepared. A copy of this analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The FRFA incorporates the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and a summary of the analyses completed to support the action is included directly below.

The analysis provided in the IRFA is not repeated here in its entirety. The need for, the reasons why action by the agency is being considered, and the objectives of the action are explained in the supplementary information above, as well as the preambles to the proposed rule and supplemental proposed rule and are not repeated here. Each vessel that is expected to be affected is considered a small business according to the Small Business Administration's revised size standards (79 FR 33647, July 12, 2014). The action is not expected to have a significant or disproportional economic impact on these small business entities.

As discussed in the preamble, the provisions in the rule would apply to commercial fishing vessels that are 24 meters or more in overall length and engaging in fishing activities for tuna or tuna-like species in the IATTC Convention Area, and for which either of the following permits is required: (1) Pacific highly migratory species permit under 50 CFR 660.707, or (2) high seas fishing permit under 50 CFR 300.13. To estimate affected entities, the number of vessels authorized to fish for highly migratory species in the EPO through highly migratory species and high seas fishing permits was considered a reasonable proxy. As of August 2015, approximately 15 vessels did not have VMS units installed and would be subject to the regulations in the final rule. Gear types for U.S. West Coast commercial vessels that would be impacted include purse seine and hook-and-line (i.e., bait and troll/jig).

No public comments specific to the IRFA were received and, therefore, no public comments are addressed in this FRFA. Certain comments with socio-economic implications are addressed in the comment and response section of the preamble, specifically, the response to Comments 1, 2, and 3. As described in responses to Comments 2 and 3, NMFS revised the VMS requirements since the original proposed rule stage. The requirements lessen the burden on fishermen.

Because the action will not have any significant impacts to small entities, there was no need to include additional alternatives that would minimize any disproportionate adverse economic burdens on a substantial number of small entities while achieving the objectives of the action.

Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as “small entity compliance guides.” The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, a small entity compliance guide (the guide) was prepared. Copies of this final rule are available from the West Coast Region, and the guide will be sent to vessels that hold a Pacific highly migratory species permit and/or a high seas fishing permit for fisheries in the IATTC Convention Area. The guide and this final rule will be available upon request and on the West Coast Region Web site: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/migratory_species/highly_migratory_species_rules_req.html.

Paperwork Reduction Act Collections of Information

This rule contains a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and which has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under control number (0648-0690). Public reporting burden for VMS is estimated as an average per individual response for each requirement. The estimated time for initial VMS unit installation is 4 hours. The estimated time to maintain or repair a VMS unit is 1 hour annually. The estimated response time for respondents to prepare and submit activation reports is estimated to be 5 minutes per report. The estimated response time to prepare and submit each on/off report is also 5 minutes. These estimates include the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information.

Send comments regarding this burden estimate, or any other aspect of this data collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES) and by email to [email protected], or fax to (202) 395-5806. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

List of Subjects 15 CFR Part 902

Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

50 CFR Part 300

Administrative practice and procedure, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

For the reasons set out in the preamble, 15 CFR part 902 and 50 CFR part 300 are amended as follows:

Title 15—Commerce and Foreign Trade PART 902—NOAA INFORMATION COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT: OMB CONTROL NUMBERS 1. The authority citation for part 902 continues to read as follows: Authority:

44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

2. In § 902.1, in the table in paragraph (b), under the entry “50 CFR”, add an entry in alphanumeric order for “300.26” to read as follows:
§ 902.1 OMB control numbers assigned pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act.

(b) * * *

CFR part or section where the information collection
  • requirement is located
  • Current OMB
  • control
  • number
  • (all numbers
  • begin with
  • 0648-)
  • *    *    *    *    * 50 CFR: *    *    *    *    * 300.26 −0690 *    *    *    *    *
    Title 50—Wildlife and Fisheries PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS Subpart C—Eastern Pacific Tuna Fisheries 3. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 300, subpart C, continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 951 et seq.

    4. Section 300.20 is revised to read as follows:
    § 300.20 Purpose and scope.

    The regulations in this subpart are issued under the authority of the Tuna Conventions Act of 1950 (Act) and apply to persons and vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The regulations implement resolutions of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) for the conservation and management of stocks of highly migratory fish resources in the Convention Area.

    5. In § 300.21, the definition for “Convention Area” is revised and definitions for “Commercial”, “Vessel monitoring system (VMS)”, and “VMS unit” are added in alphabetical order to read as follows:
    § 300.21 Definitions.

    Commercial with respect to commercial fishing, means fishing in which the fish harvested, either in whole or in part, are intended to enter commerce through sale, barter or trade.

    Convention Area or IATTC Convention Area, means all waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean within the area bounded by the west coast of the Americas and by the following lines: The 50° N. parallel from the coast of North America to its intersection with the 150° W. meridian; the 150° W. meridian to its intersection with the 50° S. parallel; and the 50° S. parallel to its intersection with the coast of South America.

    Vessel monitoring system (VMS) means an automated, remote system that provides information about a vessel's identity, location and activity, for the purposes of routine monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of area and time restrictions and other fishery management measures.

    VMS unit, sometimes known as a “mobile transmitting unit,” means a transceiver or communications device, including all hardware and software that is carried and operated on a vessel as part of a VMS.

    6. In § 300.24, paragraphs (y) through (bb) are added to read as follows:
    § 300.24 Prohibitions.

    (y) Fail to install, activate, or operate a VMS unit as required in § 300.26(c).

    (z) In the event of VMS unit failure or interruption; fail to repair or replace a VMS unit; fail to notify the Special-Agent-In-Charge, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division (or designee); and follow the instructions provided; or otherwise fail to act as provided in § 300.26(c)(4).

    (aa) Disable, destroy, damage or operate improperly a VMS unit installed under § 300.26, or attempt to do any of the same, or fail to ensure that its operation is not impeded or interfered with, as provided in § 300.26(e).

    (bb) Fail to make a VMS unit installed under § 300.26 or the position data obtained from it available for inspection, as provided in § 300.26 (f) and (g).

    7. Section 300.26 is added to subpart C to read as follows:
    § 300.26 Vessel monitoring system (VMS).

    (a) Assistant Director (AD), NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Pacific Islands Division (or designee) and VMS Helpdesk contact information and business hours. (1) The contact information for the AD for the purpose of this section: 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; telephone: (808) 725-6100; facsimile: 808-725-6199; email: [email protected]; business hours: Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time.

    (2) The contact information for the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk is telephone: (888) 219-9228, ext. 2; email: [email protected] The business hours of the VMS Helpdesk are Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time.

    (b) Applicability. This section applies to any U.S. commercial fishing vessel that is 24 meters or more in overall length and engaging in fishing activities for tuna or tuna-like species in the Convention Area, and for which either of the following permits is required: Pacific highly migratory species permit under § 660.707, or high seas fishing permit under § 300.13 of this part.

    (c) Provisions for Installation, Activation and Operation—(1) VMS Unit Installation. The vessel owner or operator must obtain and have installed on the fishing vessel, in accordance with instructions provided by the AD and the VMS unit manufacturer, a VMS unit that is type-approved by NOAA for fisheries in the IATTC Convention Area. The vessel owner or operator shall arrange for a NOAA-approved mobile communications service provider to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit to NOAA at a default reporting interval of at least once per hour. NOAA, the USCG, and other authorized entities are authorized to receive and relay transmissions from the VMS unit. The NOAA OLE VMS Helpdesk is available to provide instructions for VMS installation and a list of the current type-approved VMS units and mobile communication service providers.

    (2) VMS Unit Activation. If the VMS unit has not yet been activated as described in this paragraph, or if the VMS unit has been newly installed or reinstalled, or if the mobile communications service provider has changed since the previous activation, or if directed by the AD, the vessel owner or operator must, prior to leaving port:

    (i) Turn on the VMS unit to make it operational;

    (ii) Submit a written activation report to the AD, via mail, facsimile or email, that includes the vessel's name; the vessel's official number; the VMS unit manufacturer and identification number; and telephone, facsimile or email contact information for the vessel owner or operator; and

    (iii) Receive verbal or written confirmation from the AD that the proper VMS unit transmissions are being received from the VMS unit.

    (3) VMS Unit Operation. The vessel owner and operator shall continuously operate the VMS unit at all times, except that the VMS unit may be shut down while the vessel is in port or otherwise not at sea, or if, after the end of the fishing season, the vessel will no longer be engaging in fishing activities in the Convention Area for which either a Pacific highly migratory species permit or a high seas fishing permit is required, provided that the owner or operator:

    (i) Prior to shutting down the VMS unit, reports to the AD or the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk via facsimile, email, or web-form the following information: The intent to shut down the VMS unit; the vessel's name; the vessel's official number; an estimate for when the vessel's VMS may be turned back on; and telephone, facsimile or email contact information for the vessel owner or operator. In addition, the vessel owner or operator shall receive verbal or written confirmation from the AD before shutting down the VMS unit after the end of the fishing season; and

    (ii) When turning the VMS unit back on, report to the AD or the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's VMS Helpdesk, via mail, facsimile or email, the following information: That the VMS unit has been turned on; the vessel's name; the vessel's official number; and telephone, facsimile or email contact information for the vessel owner or operator; and

    (iii) Prior to leaving port, receive verbal or written confirmation from the AD that proper transmissions are being received from the VMS unit.

    (4) Failure of VMS unit. If the VMS unit has become inoperable or transmission of automatic position reports from the VMS unit has been interrupted, or if notified by NOAA or the USCG that automatic position reports are not being received from the VMS unit or that an inspection of the VMS unit has revealed a problem with the performance of the VMS unit, the vessel owner or operator shall comply with the following requirements:

    (i) If the vessel is at port: The vessel owner or operator shall repair or replace the VMS unit and ensure it is operable before the vessel leaves port.

    (ii) If the vessel is at sea: The vessel owner, operator, or designee shall contact the AD by telephone, facsimile, or email at the earliest opportunity during the AD's business hours and identify the caller and vessel. The vessel operator shall follow the instructions provided by the AD which could include, but are not limited to, ceasing fishing, stowing fishing gear, returning to port, and/or submitting periodic position reports at specified intervals by other means; and repair or replace the VMS unit and ensure it is operable before starting the next trip.

    (5) Related VMS Requirements. Installing, carrying and operating a VMS unit in compliance with the requirements in part 300 of this title, part 660 of this title, or part 665 of this title relating to the installation, carrying, and operation of VMS units shall be deemed to satisfy the requirements of this paragraph (c), provided that the VMS unit is operated continuously and at all times while the vessel is at sea, unless the AD authorizes a VMS unit to be shut down as described in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, the VMS unit and mobile communications service providers are type-approved by NOAA for fisheries in IATTC Convention Area, and the specific requirements of paragraph (c)(4) of this section are followed. If the VMS unit is owned by NOAA, the requirement under paragraph (c)(4) of this section to repair or replace the VMS unit will be the responsibility of NOAA, but the vessel owner and operator shall be responsible for ensuring that the VMS unit is operable before leaving port or starting the next trip.

    (d) Costs. The vessel owner and operator shall be responsible for all costs associated with the purchase, installation and maintenance of the VMS unit and for all charges levied by the mobile communications service provider as necessary to ensure the transmission of automatic position reports to NOAA as required in paragraph (c) of this section. However, if NOAA is paying for the VMS-associated costs because the VMS unit is carried and operated under a requirement of part 300 of this title, part 660 of this title, or part 665 of this title, the vessel owner and operator shall not be responsible for costs that those regulations specify are the responsibility of NOAA. In addition, NOAA is responsible for the cost of any temporary increase in the default reporting interval to support active enforcement investigations of specific vessels.

    (e) Tampering. The vessel owner and operator must ensure that the VMS unit is not tampered with, disabled, destroyed, damaged or maintained improperly, and that its operation is not impeded or interfered with.

    (f) Inspection. The vessel owner and operator must make the VMS unit, including its antenna, connectors and antenna cable, available for inspection by authorized officers.

    (g) Access to data. The vessel owner and operator must make the vessel's position data obtained from the VMS unit or other means immediately and always available for inspection by NOAA personnel, USCG personnel, and authorized officers.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25474 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION 29 CFR Part 1625 3046-AA72 Apprenticeship Programs; Corrections AGENCY:

    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    ACTION:

    Correcting amendments.

    SUMMARY:

    The EEOC is correcting a cross-reference in its regulation concerning the procedures for requesting an exemption for apprenticeship programs from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) pursuant to Section 9 of the Act.

    DATES:

    Effective: October 7, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Carol R. Miaskoff, Assistant Legal Counsel, at (202) 663-4645 (voice) or Raymond L. Peeler, Senior Attorney-Advisor, at (202) 663-4537 (voice) or (202) 663-7026 (TDD). Requests for this notice in an alternative format should be made to the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs at (202) 663-4191 (voice) or (202) 663-4494 (TTY), or the Publications Information Center at 1-800-669-3362 (toll free).

    SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION:

    Background

    In 1996, the Commission issued a regulation finding that apprenticeship programs were covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA),1 with limited exceptions. One of those exceptions occurs when the EEOC exercises its authority under section 9 of the ADEA to establish reasonable exemptions from the Act's prohibitions on employment discrimination against individuals aged 40 or above.2 By regulation, the EEOC has approved one exemption for apprenticeship programs created under the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 or the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964,3 and has outlined procedures for stakeholders to request other exemptions from EEOC.4 The apprenticeship program regulation cross-referenced these agency procedures on how to request an ADEA Section 9 exemption, citing 29 CFR 1627.15.

    1 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq.

    2 29 U.S.C. 628.

    3 29 CFR 1625.31(a).

    4 29 CFR 1625.30.

    Need for Correction

    When the EEOC most recently exercised its exemption authority on an unrelated matter, in 2007, it also moved the procedures for requesting an exemption to a new section—29 CFR 1625.30. However, the Commission neglected to update the cross-reference in the apprenticeship program regulation to reflect this change. The regulation originally cross-referenced in the apprenticeship program regulation, 29 CFR 1627.15, no longer exists. Therefore, the EEOC replaces the now incorrect reference in 29 CFR 1625.21 with language reflecting the new citation for the agency's procedures for requesting an administrative exemption from ADEA prohibitions—29 CFR 1625.30.

    Retrospective Regulatory Review

    Although the EEOC's rulemakings on apprenticeship programs and administrative exemptions are not currently a priority for regulatory review, the Commission is taking this action, consistent with the EEOC Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules,5 based on stakeholder input and efforts to enhance clarity in the EEOC's regulations.6

    5 A copy of the EEOC's Final Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Regulations is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/retro_review_plan_final.cfm (last visited Oct. 5, 2012).

    6 This error was brought to the EEOC's attention by attorneys inquiring about the procedures for seeking an EEOC exemption from ADEA prohibitions for an apprenticeship program that would build workplace skills for disadvantaged youth but not be available to older people covered by the ADEA.

    Regulatory Procedures

    The Commission finds that public notice-and-comment on this rule is unnecessary, because the revision makes no substantive change; it merely corrects an internal cross-referencing error. The rule is therefore exempt from the notice-and-comment requirements of 5 U.S.C. 553(b) under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). This technical correction also is not “significant” for purposes of Executive Order 12866, as reaffirmed by E.O. 13563, and therefore is not subject to review by Office of Management and Budget.

    Regulatory Analysis

    Since this technical correction contains no substantive changes to the law, EEOC certifies that it contains no new information collection requirements subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), it requires no formal cost-benefit analysis pursuant to E.O. 12866, it creates no significant impact on small business entities subject to review under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and it imposes no new economic burden requiring further analysis under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

    Congressional Review Act

    This correction is defined as a rule under the Congressional Review Act, but not as a major rule. As a result, it was provided to Congress and the General Accountability Office pursuant to the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 801 as interpreted by Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M-99-13.

    List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 1625

    Advertising, Age, Employee benefit plans, Equal employment opportunity, and Retirement.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission amends 29 CFR part 1625 as follows:

    PART 1625—AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT ACT 1. The authority citation for 29 CFR part 1625 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    29 U.S.C. 621-634; 5 U.S.C. 301; Pub. L. 99-502, 100 Stat. 3342; Secretary's Order No. 10-68; Secretary's Order No. 11-68; sec. 2, Reorg. Plan No. 1 of 1978, 43 FR 19807; Executive Order 12067, 43 FR 28967.

    2. Revise § 1625.21 to read as follows:
    § 1625.21 Apprenticeship programs.

    All apprenticeship programs, including those apprenticeship programs created or maintained by joint labor-management organizations, are subject to the prohibitions of sec. 4 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 623. Age limitations in apprenticeship programs are valid only if excepted under sec. 4(f)(1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 623(f)(1), or exempted by the Commission under sec. 9 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 628, in accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR 1625.30.

    For the Commission.

    Jenny R. Yang, Chair.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25491 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6570-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R08-OAR-2012-0974, FRL-9935-15-Region 8] Promulgation of State Implementation Plan Revisions; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Ozone, 2008 Lead, and 2010 NO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards; North Dakota AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving elements of State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions from the State of North Dakota to demonstrate the State meets infrastructure requirements of the Clean Air Act (Act, CAA) for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) promulgated for ozone on March 12, 2008; lead (Pb) on October 15, 2008; and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on January 22, 2010. Section 110(a) of the CAA requires that each state submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each NAAQS promulgated by EPA.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket Identification Number EPA-R08-OAR-2012-0974. All documents in the docket are listed on the http://www.regulations.gov Web site. Although listed in the index, some information may not be publicly available, i.e., Confidential Business Information 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 the hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically through http:// www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at EPA Region 8, Office of Partnerships and Regulatory Assistance, Air Program, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-1129. The EPA requests that you contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to view the hard copy of the docket. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., excluding federal holidays. An electronic copy of the State's SIP compilation is also available at http://www.epa.gov/region8/air/sip.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Abby Fulton, Air Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 8, Mail Code 8P-AR, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-1129, 303-312-6563, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Infrastructure requirements for SIPs are provided in section 110(a)(1) and (2) of the CAA. Section 110(a)(2) lists the specific infrastructure elements that a SIP must contain or satisfy. The elements that are the subject of this action are described in detail in our notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) published on July 15, 2015 (80 FR 41450).

    The NPR proposed approval of North Dakota's submissions with respect to the following CAA section 110(a)(2) infrastructure elements for the 2008 ozone, 2008 Pb, and 2010 NO2 NAAQS: (A), (B), (C) with respect to minor NSR and PSD requirements, (D)(i)(II) elements 3 and 4, (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M); and D(i)(I) elements 1 and 2 for the 2008 Pb and 2010 NO2 NAAQS. The NPR also proposed approval of element 4 of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) for the 2006 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) NAAQS. EPA will act separately on infrastructure element (D)(i)(I), interstate transport elements 1 and 2 for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The reasons for our approvals are provided in detail in the NPR.

    II. Response to Comments

    No comments were received on our July 15, 2015 NPR.

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving the following infrastructure elements for the 2008 ozone, 2008 Pb, and 2010 NO2 NAAQS: CAA 110(a)(2) (A), (B), (C) with respect to minor NSR and PSD requirements, (D)(i)(II) elements 3 and 4, (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M). EPA is approving element 4 of 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. Finally, EPA is approving D(i)(I) elements 1 and 2 for the 2008 Pb and 2010 NO2 NAAQS. EPA will act separately on infrastructure element (D)(i)(I), interstate transport elements 1 and 2 for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.1

    1 This action also corrects an error to a Federal Register citation in our NPR (80 FR 41450, July 15, 2015) on page 41454. The NPR incorrectly cites approval of the State's SIP-approved minor NSR program at 60 FR 43401 rather than the correct citation of 42 FR 26977 (May 26, 1977).

    IV. Statutory and Executive Orders 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 relevant 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 Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, Oct. 4, 1993);

    • 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, Aug. 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 CAA; 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, Feb. 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 Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by December 7, 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, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Greenhouse gases, 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 21, 2015. Shaun L. McGrath, Regional Administrator, Region 8.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended to read as follows:

    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 JJ—North Dakota 2. Section 52.1833 is amended by adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 52.1833 Section 110(a)(2) infrastructure requirements.

    (d) EPA is approving the following infrastructure elements for the 2008 ozone, 2008 Pb, and 2010 NO2 NAAQS: CAA 110(a)(2) (A), (B), (C) with respect to minor NSR and PSD requirements, (D)(i)(II) elements 3 and 4, (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M). EPA is approving element 4 of 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. Finally, EPA is approving D(i)(I) elements 1 and 2 for the 2008 Pb and 2010 NO2 NAAQS.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25347 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605; A-1-FRL-9935-31-Region 1] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Rhode Island; Sulfur Content of Fuels AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Rhode Island on June 26, 2014, with supplemental submittals on March 25, 2015 and August 28, 2015. This SIP revision includes a regulation that has been revised to require a lower sulfur content for petroleum-based distillate and residual fuel oils. In addition, outdated provisions in the regulation have been removed. The intended effect of this action is to approve this regulation into the Rhode Island SIP. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    This direct final rule will be effective December 7, 2015, unless EPA receives adverse comments by November 6, 2015. If adverse comments are received, EPA 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 Number EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605 by one of the following methods:

    1. www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.

    2. Email: [email protected]

    3. Fax: (617) 918-0046.

    4. Mail: “Docket Identification Number EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605, Bob McConnell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Air Quality Planning Unit, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912.

    5. Hand Delivery or Courier. Deliver your comments to: Bob McConnell, Acting Manager, Air Quality Planning Unit, Office of Ecosystem Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109—3912. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Regional Office's normal hours of operation. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605. 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 whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit through www.regulations.gov, or email, information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected. 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 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 whose disclosure 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 at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, Office of Ecosystem Protection, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, Boston, MA. EPA requests that if at all possible, you contact the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to schedule your inspection. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays.

    In addition, copies of the state submittals are also available for public inspection during normal business hours, by appointment at the State Air Agency; Office of Air Resources, Department of Environmental Management, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908-5767.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Anne K. McWilliams, Air Quality Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone number (617) 918-1697, fax number (617) 918-0697, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA.

    Organization of this document. The following outline is provided to aid in locating information in this preamble.

    I. Background and Purpose II. Rhode Island's SIP Revision III. EPA's Evaluation of Rhode Island's SIP Revision IV. Final Action V. Incorporation by Reference VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background and Purpose

    In section 169A(a)(1) of the 1977 Amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA), Congress created a program for protecting visibility in the nation's national parks and wilderness areas. This section of the CAA establishes as a national goal the “prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I Federal areas 1 which impairment results from manmade air pollution.” Congress added section 169B to the CAA in 1990 to address regional haze issues. EPA promulgated a rule to address regional haze on July 1, 1999 (64 FR 35714), the Regional Haze Rule. The Regional Haze Rule revised the existing visibility regulations to integrate into the regulation provisions addressing regional haze impairment and established a comprehensive visibility protection program for Class I areas.

    1 Areas designated as mandatory Class I Federal areas consist of national parks exceeding 6000 acres, wilderness areas and national memorial parks exceeding 5000 acres, and all international parks that were in existence on August 7, 1977 (42 U.S.C. 7472(a)). In accordance with section 169A of the CAA, EPA, in consultation with the Department of Interior, promulgated a list of 156 areas where visibility is identified as an important value (44 FR 69122, November 30, 1979). The extent of a mandatory Class I area includes subsequent changes in boundaries, such as park expansions (42 U.S.C. 7472(a)).

    On May 22, 2012, EPA approved Rhode Island's initial Regional Haze plan into the SIP. See 77 FR 30214. As part of the Rhode Island Regional Haze Plan, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) stated that it intended to adopt low-sulfur fuel oil requirements.2 As discussed in our proposed approval of Rhode Island's Regional Haze Plan, although we encouraged Rhode Island to pursue its stated intention of adopting a low-sulfur fuel oil strategy, this measure was not considered a necessary requirement in order to approve Rhode Island's Regional Haze SIP for the first implementation period. See 77 FR 11798; February 28, 2012.

    2 Sulfates play a major role in the formation of Regional Haze in the Northeast. See the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) document Contributions to Regional Haze in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States, August 2006.

    II. Rhode Island's SIP Revision

    On June 26, 2014, with supplemental submittals on March 25, 2015 and August 28, 2015, the RI DEM submitted a SIP revision to EPA. This SIP revision includes Rhode Island's revised Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 8, “Sulfur Content of Fuels,” (excluding Section 8.7 “Fuel Supply Shortages” which was not submitted by the State) effective on June 24, 2014. The amended regulation lowers the allowable limits for the sulfur content of petroleum-based distillate and residual fuel oils and removes some outdated provisions. The outdated provisions pertained to emissions bubbling at facilities, conversion and conservation incentives for fuel switching, and twenty-four hour averaging for demonstrating compliance for coal burning devices. The outdated provisions are described in more detail in the next section.

    III. EPA's Evaluation of Rhode Island's SIP Revision

    RI DEM Regulation No. 8, “Sulfur Content of Fuels,” was previously approved into the Rhode Island SIP on January 8, 1986. See 51 FR 755. The SIP-approved rule states that “no person shall store for sale, offer for sale, sell or deliver for use in Rhode Island and no person shall use or store high sulfur fuel.” High sulfur fuel oil is defined in the regulation to be “any fuel except fuel oil containing more than 0.55 pounds of sulfur per million Btu (British thermal unit) heat release potential or fuel oil containing more than 1.0 percent sulfur by weight.”

    The revised rule, effective June 24, 2014, states that no person shall store for sale, offer for sale, sell or deliver for use in Rhode Island and no person shall use any fuel oil having a sulfur content in excess of that in the following table:

    Fuel type Percent by weight Effective date(s) Distillate Oil, Biodiesel or Alternative Fuel 0.5% (5000 parts million (ppm)) Current requirement. Distillate Oil, Biodiesel or Alternative Fuel 0.05% (500 ppm) July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018. Distillate Oil, Biodiesel or Alternative Fuel 0.0015% (15 ppm) On and after July 1, 2018. Residual Oil 1.0% Current requirement. Residual Oil 0.5% On and after July 1, 2018.

    These sulfur content emission limits are more stringent than the previously required 1% limit. In addition, the revised rule maintains the previously SIP-approved requirement that no person shall store for sale, offer for sale, sell or deliver for use in Rhode Island any solid fossil fuel containing more than 0.55 pounds of sulfur per million Btu heat release potential.

    An exemption from the requirements of Regulation No. 8 extends to fuel used in combination with an approved stack cleaning process provided that the emissions from the stack are no greater than if the applicable sulfur content fuel were used, fuel used for fuel blending with ultra-low sulfur fuel to meet the applicable standard, and fuel oil which met the applicable requirements when received for storage in Rhode Island.

    In addition, the revised rule does not include three flexibilities allowed in the previously SIP-approved rule. Specifically, the following sections are not included in the revised rule: (1) “Emission Bubbling,” whereby a facility with more than one fuel burning device could propose to meet total emission control requirements for a given pollutant through a mix of different control technologies; (2) “Conversion and Conservation Incentive,” which allowed the continued use of high sulfur fuel, for up to 30 months, for select facilities, so that monies saved from the price differential between high sulfur fuel and low sulfur fuel could be used to finance the necessary modifications or installation of pollution control needed to meet the low sulfur limits; and (3) “Sulfur Variability in Coal,” which established a 24-hour averaging period for demonstrating compliance.

    The Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110(l) provides that EPA shall not approve any implementation plan revision if it would interfere with any applicable requirement concerning attainment and reasonable progress, or any other applicable requirement of the CAA, i.e. demonstrate anti-backsliding. As noted above, the revised rule contains more stringent emission limits than the SIP-approved rule and does not include some of the flexibilities allowed by the SIP-approved rule. Therefore, the anti-backsliding requirements of section 110(l) have been met.

    EPA has determined that the approval of Rhode Island's revised Regulation No. 8, effective June 24, 2014, as submitted by the State, will strengthen the Rhode Island SIP. Therefore, EPA is approving Rhode Island's June 26, 2014, with supplemental submittals on March 25, 2015 and August 28, 2015, SIP revision.

    IV. Final Action

    EPA is approving, and incorporating into the Rhode Island SIP, Rhode Island's revised Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 8 “Sulfur Content of Fuels,” (excluding Section 8.7 “Fuel Supply Shortages” which was not submitted by the State) effective in the State of Rhode Island on June 26, 2014.

    The EPA is publishing this action without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial amendment 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 relevant adverse comments be filed. This rule will be effective December 7, 2015 without further notice unless the Agency receives relevant adverse comments by November 6, 2015.

    If the EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a notice 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. The EPA will not institute a second comment period on the proposed rule. All parties interested in commenting on the proposed rule should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on December 7, 2015 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule.

    If the EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a notice 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. The EPA will not institute a second comment period on the proposed rule. All parties interested in commenting on the proposed rule should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on December 7, 2015 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    V. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, the EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of the Rhode Island's Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 8, “Sulfur Content of Fuels,” excluding Section 8.7 “Fuel Supply Shortages,” as described in the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 set forth below. 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).

    VI. 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, 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 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).

    In addition, 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 Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by December 7, 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. Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register, rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking. 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, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: September 21, 2015. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England.

    Part 52 of chapter I, title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

    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 OO—Rhode Island 2. In § 52.2070, the table in paragraph (c), “EPA-Approved Rhode Island Regulations”, is amended by revising the entry for “Air Pollution Control Regulation 8” to read as follows:
    § 52.2070 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA-Approved Rhode Island Regulations State citation Title/subject State effective date EPA approval date Explanations *         *         *         *         *         *         * Air Pollution Control Regulation 8 Sulfur Content of Fuels 6/26/2014 10/7/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] Excluding Section 8.7 “Fuel Supply Shortages” which was not submitted by the State. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2015-25334 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0395; FRL-9933-74] Butanedioic Acid, 2-Methylene-, Homopolymer, Sodium Salt; Inert Ingredient Tolerance Exemption AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation establishes an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt; when used as an inert ingredient in a pesticide chemical formulation. Itaconix Corporation submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), requesting an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance. This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt on food or feed commodities.

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective October 7, 2015. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before December 7, 2015, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0395, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan Lewis, Registration Division (7505P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    B. How can I get electronic access to other related information?

    You may access a frequently updated electronic version of 40 CFR part 180 through the Government Printing Office's e-CFR site at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40tab_02.tpl.

    C. Can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0395 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before December 7, 2015. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0395, by one of the following methods.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

    Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html.

    Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Background and Statutory Findings

    In the Federal Register of July 17, 2015 (80 FR 42462) (FRL-9929-13), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408, 21 U.S.C. 346a, announcing the receipt of a pesticide petition (PP IN-10818) filed by Itaconix Corporation, 2 Marin Way, Stratham, NH 03885. The petition requested that 40 CFR 180.960 be amended by establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt; CAS Reg. No. 26099-89-8. That document included a summary of the petition prepared by the petitioner and solicited comments on the petitioner's request. The Agency did not receive any comments.

    Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish an exemption from the requirement for a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the exemption is “safe.” Section 408(c)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and use in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA requires EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue . . .” and specifies factors EPA is to consider in establishing an exemption.

    III. Risk Assessment and Statutory Findings

    EPA establishes exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance only in those cases where it can be shown that the risks from aggregate exposure to pesticide chemical residues under reasonably foreseeable circumstances will pose no appreciable risks to human health. In order to determine the risks from aggregate exposure to pesticide inert ingredients, the Agency considers the toxicity of the inert in conjunction with possible exposure to residues of the inert ingredient through food, drinking water, and through other exposures that occur as a result of pesticide use in residential settings. If EPA is able to determine that a finite tolerance is not necessary to ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the inert ingredient, an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance may be established.

    Consistent with FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action and considered its validity, completeness and reliability and the relationship of this information to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children. In the case of certain chemical substances that are defined as polymers, the Agency has established a set of criteria to identify categories of polymers expected to present minimal or no risk. The definition of a polymer is given in 40 CFR 723.250(b) and the exclusion criteria for identifying these low-risk polymers are described in 40 CFR 723.250(d). Butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt conforms to the definition of a polymer given in 40 CFR 723.250(b) and meets the following criteria that are used to identify low-risk polymers.

    1. The polymer is not a cationic polymer nor is it reasonably anticipated to become a cationic polymer in a natural aquatic environment.

    2. The polymer does contain as an integral part of its composition the atomic elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

    3. The polymer does not contain as an integral part of its composition, except as impurities, any element other than those listed in 40 CFR 723.250(d)(2)(ii).

    4. The polymer is neither designed nor can it be reasonably anticipated to substantially degrade, decompose, or depolymerize.

    5. The polymer is manufactured or imported from monomers and/or reactants that are already included on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory or manufactured under an applicable TSCA section 5 exemption.

    6. The polymer is not a water absorbing polymer with a number average molecular weight (MW) greater than or equal to 10,000 daltons.

    Additionally, the polymer also meets as required the following exemption criteria specified in 40 CFR 723.250(e).

    7. The polymer's number average MW of 3936 is greater than 1,000 and less than 10,000 daltons. The polymer contains less than 10% oligomeric material below MW 500 and less than 25% oligomeric material below MW 1,000, and the polymer does not contain any reactive functional groups.

    Thus, butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt meets the criteria for a polymer to be considered low risk under 40 CFR 723.250. Based on its conformance to the criteria in this unit, no mammalian toxicity is anticipated from dietary, inhalation, or dermal exposure to butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt.

    IV. Aggregate Exposures

    For the purposes of assessing potential exposure under this exemption, EPA considered that butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt could be present in all raw and processed agricultural commodities and drinking water, and that non-occupational non-dietary exposure was possible. The number average MW of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt is 3936 daltons. Generally, a polymer of this size would be poorly absorbed through the intact gastrointestinal tract or through intact human skin. Since butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt conform to the criteria that identify a low-risk polymer, there are no concerns for risks associated with any potential exposure scenarios that are reasonably foreseeable. The Agency has determined that a tolerance is not necessary to protect the public health.

    V. Cumulative Effects From Substances With a Common Mechanism of Toxicity

    Section 408(b)(2)(D)(v) of FFDCA requires that, when considering whether to establish, modify, or revoke a tolerance, the Agency consider “available information” concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    EPA has not found butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt to share a common mechanism of toxicity with any other substances, and butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt does not appear to produce a toxic metabolite produced by other substances. For the purposes of this tolerance action, therefore, EPA has assumed that butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt does not have a common mechanism of toxicity with other substances. For information regarding EPA's efforts to determine which chemicals have a common mechanism of toxicity and to evaluate the cumulative effects of such chemicals, see EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/cumulative.

    VI. Additional Safety Factor for the Protection of Infants and Children

    Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA provides that EPA shall apply an additional tenfold margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the data base unless EPA concludes that a different margin of safety will be safe for infants and children. Due to the expected low toxicity of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt, EPA has not used a safety factor analysis to assess the risk. For the same reasons the additional tenfold safety factor is unnecessary.

    VII. Determination of Safety

    Based on the conformance to the criteria used to identify a low-risk polymer, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from aggregate exposure to residues of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt.

    VIII. Other Considerations A. Existing Exemptions From a Tolerance

    Not Available.

    B. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    An analytical method is not required for enforcement purposes since the Agency is establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance without any numerical limitation.

    C. International Residue Limits

    In making its tolerance decisions, EPA seeks to harmonize U.S. tolerances with international standards whenever possible, consistent with U.S. food safety standards and agricultural practices. EPA considers the international maximum residue limits (MRLs) established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(4). The Codex Alimentarius is a joint United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization food standards program, and it is recognized as an international food safety standards-setting organization in trade agreements to which the United States is a party. EPA may establish a tolerance that is different from a Codex MRL; however, FFDCA section 408(b)(4) requires that EPA explain the reasons for departing from the Codex level.

    The Codex has not established a MRL for butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt.

    IX. Conclusion

    Accordingly, EPA finds that exempting residues of butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt from the requirement of a tolerance will be safe.

    X. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action establishes a tolerance under FFDCA section 408(d) in response to a petition submitted to the Agency. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this action has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866, this action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    Since tolerances and exemptions that are established on the basis of a petition under FFDCA section 408(d), such as the tolerance in this final rule, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), do not apply.

    This action directly regulates growers, food processors, food handlers, and food retailers, not States or tribes, nor does this action alter the relationships or distribution of power and responsibilities established by Congress in the preemption provisions of FFDCA section 408(n)(4). As such, the Agency has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on States or tribal governments, on the relationship between the national government and the States or tribal governments, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. Thus, the Agency has determined that Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000) do not apply to this action. In addition, this action does not impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

    This action does not involve any technical standards that would require Agency consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note).

    XI. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule 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. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural commodities, Pesticides and pests, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: September 17, 2015. Susan Lewis, Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 180—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371.

    2. In § 180.960, alphabetically add “Butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt, minimum number average molecular weight (in amu), 3936” to the table to read as follows:
    §  180.960 Polymers; exemptions from the requirement of a tolerance. Polymer CAS No. *    *    *    *    * Butanedioic acid, 2-methylene-, homopolymer, sodium salt, minimum number average molecular weight (in amu), 3936 26099-89-8 *    *    *    *    *
    [FR Doc. 2015-25567 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 12 [PS Docket No. 13-75; PS Docket No. 11-60; FCC 15-95] Improving 911 Reliability; Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) clarifies annual reliability certification requirements for Covered 911 Service Providers in response to a Petition for Reconsideration. Specifically, the Commission clarifies that Covered 911 Service Providers may implement and certify an alternative measure for any of the elements specified in the certification as long as they provide an explanation of how such alternative measures are reasonably sufficient to mitigate the risk of failure. This clarification provides flexibility for Covered 911 Service Providers, including those with Internet protocol (IP)-based networks, to certify alternative measures in lieu of diversity audits and tagging of critical 911 circuits as long as they explain how such alternatives will mitigate risk at least to a comparable extent as the measures specified in the Commission's rules.

    DATES:

    Effective November 6, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Eric P. Schmidt, Attorney Advisor, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, (202) 418-1214 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Order on Reconsideration in PS Docket No. 13-75 and PS Docket No. 11-60, released on July 30, 2015. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554, or online at https://www.fcc.gov/document/911-reliability-certification-order-reconsideration.

    Synopsis of Order on Reconsideration I. Introduction

    1. In December 2013, the Commission adopted rules requiring 911 communications providers to take reasonable measures to provide reliable service, as evidenced by an annual certification.1 Covered entities must certify whether they have implemented specified best practices or reasonable alternative measures with respect to critical 911 circuit diversity, central office backup power, and diverse network monitoring. These rules responded to significant, but avoidable, vulnerabilities in 911 network architecture, maintenance, and operation revealed during a June 2012 derecho storm that left 3.6 million people in six states without 911 service for several hours to several days. In light of these preventable failures, the Commission determined that the discharge of its statutory responsibility for promoting the safety of life and property no longer justifies relying solely on the implementation of key best practices on a voluntary basis. The Commission added, however, that its adoption of a mandatory certification process seeks to maximize flexibility and account for differences in network architectures without sacrificing 911 service reliability.

    1Improving 911 Reliability; Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies, PS Docket Nos. 13-75, 11-60, Report and Order, 28 FCC Rcd 17476 (2013), available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db1212/FCC-13-158A1.pdf (911 Reliability Order).

    2. In this Order on Reconsideration, the Commission revises its rules to clarify certain 911 reliability certification requirements in response to a “Motion for Clarification or, in the Alternative, Petition for Partial Reconsideration” filed by Intrado, Inc.2 In so doing, we rely on two guiding principles from the 911 Reliability Order. First, ensuring reliability of 911 service is a critical aspect of our statutory mandate to act for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property. Second, while all Americans have an expectation of reliable 911 service, appropriate actions to improve and maintain reliability may vary by service provider and location.

    2 Intrado, Inc., Motion for Clarification or, in the Alternative, Petition for Partial Reconsideration, PS Docket Nos. 13-75, 11-60 (Feb. 18, 2014) (Intrado Petition).

    3. Specifically, we clarify that under section 12.4 of the Commission's rules, Covered 911 Service Providers may implement and certify an alternative measure for any of the specific certification elements, as long as they provide an explanation of how such alternative measures are reasonably sufficient to mitigate the risk of failure. We believe that this should include an explanation of how the alternative will mitigate such risk at least to a comparable extent as the measures specified in our rules. While it may be possible that an alternative measure that cannot be shown to be comparable in reducing the risk of failure could be deemed reasonably sufficient in a particular case, a provider advancing such an alternative measure will face a heavy burden in demonstrating why comparability cannot be achieved, how the risk of failure has been reduced, and why, given the level to which the risk has been reduced, the measure taken to achieve this result should be regarded as reasonably sufficient to address the vulnerabilities at issue. Accordingly, we revise our rules to eliminate ambiguities arising from the instructions in sections 12.4(c)(1)(ii) and 12.4(c)(3)(ii) for making the alternative certification for the circuit auditing and network monitoring requirements, respectively.

    II. Background A. 911 Reliability Order

    4. The 911 Reliability Order adopted section 12.4 of our rules, which defines the scope of Covered 911 Service Providers and sets forth the elements for an annual certification requirement with respect to circuit auditing, backup power, and network monitoring. As pertinent here, under the circuit auditing portion of the certification, the elements specified by the rules require Covered 911 Service Providers to certify annually whether they have (1) audited the physical diversity of critical 911 circuits or equivalent data paths to any public safety answering point (PSAP) served, (2) tagged such circuits to reduce the probability of inadvertent loss of diversity between audits, and (3) eliminated all single points of failure in critical 911 circuits or equivalent data paths serving each PSAP. If a Covered 911 Service Provider has not implemented the third element (i.e., the elimination of all single points of failure), it must certify whether it has taken alternative measures to mitigate the risk of critical 911 circuits that are not physically diverse or is taking steps to remediate any issues that it has identified with respect to 911 service to the PSAP. Respondents also may certify that the circuit auditing requirement is not applicable because they do not operate any critical 911 circuits. The network monitoring portion of the overarching certification requirement contains a similar approach with respect to its elements (i.e., conducting audits of aggregation points for gathering network monitoring data, conducting audits of monitoring links, and implementing physically diverse aggregation points and links). The backup power portion of the certification—which is not at issue here—requires Covered 911 Service Providers to indicate whether they provide at least 24 hours of backup power at any central office that directly serves a PSAP or at least 72 hours at any central office that hosts a selective router, and whether they have implemented certain design and testing procedures for backup power equipment.

    5. The elements that comprise these certification requirements are designed to reinforce the core responsibility imposed by section 12.4(b) of our rules, which is to take reasonable measures to provide reliable 911 service with respect to circuit diversity, central-office backup power, and diverse network monitoring. Section 12.4(b) provides, however, that “[i]f a Covered 911 Service Provider cannot certify that it has performed a given element, the Commission may determine that such provider nevertheless satisfies the requirements of this subsection (b) based upon a showing in accordance with subsection (c) that it is taking alternative measures with respect to that element that are reasonably sufficient to mitigate the risk of failure, or that one or more certification elements are not applicable to its network.” The Commission intended this certification approach to be more flexible than uniform standards, while providing assurance to PSAPs and the public that known vulnerabilities in 911 networks will be identified and corrected promptly.

    B. Intrado Petition

    6. The Intrado Petition seeks clarification or reconsideration of certification requirements under sections 12.4(c)(1) and 12.4(c)(3) to the extent that they would require all Covered 911 Service Providers to audit and tag 911 circuits, and audit network monitoring links, without the option of certifying reasonable alternative measures in lieu thereof. Intrado, which provides services such as call routing and location information over an Internet protocol (IP)-based network, argues that “[a]uditing and tagging are concepts derived from the traditional 911 architecture of the [incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs)], where the ILEC 911 service provider presumably controls the physical path of the circuit from the selective router to the serving wire center and knows whether it is diverse at any given moment.” Intrado's network, by contrast, “disperses critical functions into geographically diverse and redundant locations and uses dual paths and different network providers to transmit its Critical 911 Circuits.”

    7. Intrado observes that the structure and numbering of section 12.4(c) can be interpreted to require that all Covered 911 Service Providers must audit and tag critical 911 circuits and audit network monitoring links, and may rely on alternative measures only with respect to eliminating single points of failure in those facilities. Read in isolation, certain statements in the 911 Reliability Order may also suggest that the option of certifying alternative measures applies only to remedial actions—i.e., how to cure an absence of complete physical diversity identified through audits and tagging. Intrado argues that this interpretation would appear inconsistent with section 12.4(b), which provides that if a Covered 911 Service Provider “cannot certify that it has performed a given element,” it may nevertheless satisfy the “reasonable measures” requirement through a certification of alternative measures.

    8. Intrado argues that two issues may prevent it and other IP-based providers from being able to audit and certify the precise path of their circuits or equivalent data paths for 911 call traffic at any given time. First, “the underlying carriers could conflate their respective physical paths so that they are combined on one of their networks or on the network of a third-party carrier for one or more segments,” in which case “Intrado has no way of ensuring that the underlying provider informs Intrado if such conflation occurs.” Second, “a significant portion of Intrado's facilities rely on multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technology, which does not permit the underlying provider—let alone Intrado—to track its circuit path at any given moment.”

    9. Intrado cites the apparent conflict between sections 12.4(b) and 12.4(c) as a basis for requesting clarification of those rules such that “[p]roviders may take reasonable alternative measures to meet the Commission's standards in lieu of implementing any of the best practices adopted by the Order.” It adds that “[t]his would include confirming that Providers may take reasonable alternative measures instead of conducting Diversity Audits, tagging Critical 911 Circuits, or auditing Monitoring Links.” Intrado argues that “a narrow interpretation of the rules could require Providers to focus on form over substance and divert resources away from implementing innovative alternative measures that improve network reliability to focus on complying with a `one-size-fits-all' certification obligation.”

    C. Comments

    10. In response, the Commission received one comment and one reply comment, both in support of Intrado's position. Texas 911 Entities “support[s] the Commission . . . providing additional clarification or interpretation regarding the Order in the context of more modern 9-1-1 network designs,” including MPLS networks and situations “where the network provided by a subcontractor or commercial vendor may be one component of a larger governmental entity solution.” AT&T “fully supports the Intrado Petition as a broad request for clarification and reconsideration of the 911 Reliability Order and accompanying proposed rules” but argues that any relief should extend to “all Covered 911 Service Providers,” not just to IP-based providers similarly situated to Intrado.

    III. Discussion A. Network Reliability During the Transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911)

    11. We first clarify that the certification framework adopted in the 911 Reliability Order was intended to allow flexibility for all Covered 911 Service Providers to rely on reasonable alternative measures in lieu of any given element of the certification set forth in section 12.4(c). The overarching purpose of the certification, including the attestation of a responsible corporate officer, is to hold service providers accountable for decisions affecting 911 reliability. We agree with Intrado that “[t]he Commission did not intend the certification process to be prescriptive, but adopted a certification mechanism that provides Covered 911 Service Providers with flexibility and a means of demonstrating that they are taking reasonable measures to ensure the reliability of their 911 service.” Inflexible insistence on specified actions as part of each certification despite technical considerations that show those actions may not be appropriate in all cases would undermine this principle of flexibility without advancing the Commission's goal of improving 911 reliability.

    12. Moreover, flexibility is essential to support and encourage the transition to NG911. In the 911 Reliability Order, the Commission stated that “we intend today's rules to apply to current 911 networks, as well as NG911 networks to the extent they provide functionally equivalent capabilities to PSAPs.” At that time, the Commission was “not persuaded that NG911 technologies have evolved to the point that reliability certification rules should apply to entities beyond those that offer core services functionally equivalent to current 911 and E911 capabilities” but it noted that it may “revisit this distinction in the future as technology evolves.” Accordingly, the 911 Reliability Order contemplated a review of the certification rules in five years, noting that such a review should “include consideration of whether [the rules] should be revised or expanded to cover new best practices or additional entities that provide NG911 capabilities, or in light of our understanding about how NG911 networks may differ from legacy 911 service.”

    13. Events since the adoption of the 911 Reliability Order have underscored that the NG911 transition is well underway in many parts of the Nation.3 In recognition of this transition, the Commission intended its 911 reliability rules to be technology-neutral and made clear that functionally equivalent 911 capabilities should be treated consistently for purposes of the certification. We reaffirm that principle here. Accordingly, we do not intend to create disparate certification standards for IP-based providers, or to discourage the implementation of NG911 by imposing certification requirements that would not be appropriate for IP-based networks. Rather, we clarify that the certification framework adopted in the 911 Reliability Order allows flexibility for all Covered 911 Service Providers—legacy and IP-based—to certify reasonable alternative measures to mitigate the risk of failure in lieu of specified certification elements, and we amend our rules to eliminate any ambiguity on this point. In keeping with the Commission's statement in the 911 Reliability Order that reliability certification requirements should be “consistent with current best practices but also flexible enough to account for differences in 911 and NG911 networks,” we believe that our implementation of the certification should be guided by these same principles.

    3See 911 Governance and Accountability; Improving 911 Reliability, PS Docket Nos. 14-193 and 13-75, Policy Statement and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 29 FCC Rcd 14208 (2014), available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-186A1.pdf (911 Governance NPRM). Among other things, the 911 Governance NPRM proposed to adopt additional certification requirements for NG911 providers regarding software and database configuration and testing, as well as situational awareness and information sharing. We do not address those proposals here and emphasize that our response to the Intrado Petition is limited to clarification of existing certification obligations adopted in the 911 Reliability Order.

    14. To be clear, this flexibility is limited by the substantive standard in Section 12.4(b) of requiring “reasonable measures” to provide reliable 911 service, and is not an invitation for any Covered 911 Service Provider to avoid certification obligations. As provided in the 911 Reliability Order, if a Covered 911 Service Provider certifies that it has taken alternative measures to mitigate the risk of failure, or that a certification element is not applicable to its network, its certification is subject to a more detailed Bureau review. If the Bureau's review indicates that a provider's alternative measures are not reasonably sufficient to ensure reliable 911 service, the Bureau should first engage with the provider and other interested stakeholders (e.g., affected PSAPs) to address any shortcomings. To the extent that such a collaborative process does not yield satisfactory results, the Bureau may order remedial action consistent with its delegated authority. We intend this process to allow flexibility to employ alternative—but reliable—network designs and technologies, not to create an exception that would swallow the rule.

    B. Clarification of Certification Requirements 1. Circuit Auditing

    15. We clarify that Covered 911 Service Providers responding to the circuit auditing portion of the certification under section 12.4(c)(1) may certify their implementation of reasonable alternative measures in lieu of auditing and tagging critical 911 circuits, provided that they include an explanation of such alternative measures and why they are reasonable under the circumstances. Accordingly, we amend section 12.4(c)(1)(ii) to make clear that this option applies to all of the elements of section 12.4(c)(1)(i) and not just subsection 12.4(c)(1)(i)(C).

    16. The circuit auditing requirement adopted in the 911 Reliability Order was based upon a CSRIC best practice urging network operators to “periodically audit the physical and logical diversity called for by network design of their network segment(s) and take appropriate measures as needed.” As Intrado argues, however, appropriate measures to preserve physical and logical diversity may differ between circuit-switched time division multiplexing (TDM) and IP-based networks because IP-based routing and, in the event of an outage, re-routing can occur dynamically over many possible paths. Further, as the Texas 911 Entities observe, “the ability of an underlying MPLS technology provider to track its circuit paths at any given moment may not be technically feasible, or what the Commission intended in the context of that technology.” As discussed above, the certification process is intended to be flexible to account for these types of technical considerations and to allow for alternative measures where appropriate. Our assessment of whether such measures are reasonably sufficient to mitigate the risk of failure may be informed by, but not limited to, the question whether the measures specified in our rules are technically feasible.

    17. As the Intrado Petition acknowledges, the option to certify alternative measures allows the Commission to “maintain oversight because Providers would still be required to disclose to the agency what steps were taken to accomplish these reliability goals.” Such information will help demonstrate whether the alternative measures chosen by the Covered 911 Service Provider constitute a reasonable approach for addressing the risks that the circuit auditing and tagging elements are designed to ameliorate. While technical infeasibility is not a prerequisite to the use of alternative measures, explanations of alternative measures with respect to circuit audits and tagging should nevertheless include an assessment of the technical feasibility of circuit audits and tagging in light of the respondent's network architecture. We also expect such explanations to describe affirmative steps in lieu of audits and tagging to mitigate the risk of a service disruption due to a lack of physical diversity; we will not consider it sufficient or reasonable to respond that no circuit diversity measures are necessary under the circumstances. Technology transitions have already resulted in a variety of hybrid 911 network architectures in which some functions are provided over legacy TDM circuits and others are provided over IP-based infrastructure. In such cases, our rules as revised will permit the provider to certify reasonable alternative measures with respect to either portion of the network.

    18. The Intrado Petition also reflects a shift in 911 network architecture from facilities owned and operated by a single provider to a combination of network transport and data processing elements that may be provided by multiple entities. Intrado states that “in contrast to legacy ILEC providers that own and control the transport facilities over which 911 calls and data are transported, Intrado procures transport services for the delivery of 911 calls and for ALI/ANI from third party transport providers.” Our rules as revised in this Order on Reconsideration will account for such arrangements while preserving accountability for reliable service. The 911 Reliability Order briefly addressed auditing of critical 911 circuits leased from third parties, stating that “[i]n cases where a party provides 911 services directly to a PSAP (pursuant to contract or tariff) over leased facilities, the auditing obligation would apply to that party, and not to the facilities lessor.” The Commission also suggested that Covered 911 Service Providers could contract with facilities lessors, if necessary, to audit and tag leased circuits, but that the entity providing 911 service under a direct contractual relationship with each PSAP would remain responsible for certifying compliance with those requirements. We reaffirm those principles here, but clarify that Covered 911 Service Providers (i.e., the entities with direct contractual relationships with PSAPs) that rely on such contracts may implement and certify reasonable alternative measures as set forth above. We emphasize, however, that the contracting out of certain functions, or the determination of a PSAP to contract with more than one entity for various aspects of 911 service, does not absolve individual entities of their respective obligations for reliable 911 service. While respondents may certify reasonable alternative measures to mitigate the risk of failure due to insufficient physical diversity of leased circuits, we will not consider it reasonable or sufficient to indicate that such circuits are not a Covered 911 Service Provider's responsibility because they belong to a third party.

    19. Where Covered 911 Service Providers are leasing or subcontracting for critical 911 circuits, the Commission's assessment of whether alternative measures in lieu of circuit audits or tagging are reasonable under the circumstances will be informed, in part, by certification responses identifying the parties involved, as well as details about the contractual provisions—or lack thereof—governing such relationships. For example, do IP-based Covered 911 Service Providers increase the diversity of their networks by dividing traffic among two different MPLS service providers? In cases where a PSAP depends on IP network access for its 911 services, Covered 911 Service Providers might also promote reliability of each PSAP's IP network access by ordering redundant access for the PSAP from multiple providers (such as ILEC, cable, and wireless providers). In addition, for cases where MPLS is used to provide 911 services, MPLS service level agreements, reliability objectives, and remedies specified for failure to meet such requirements and/or objectives may also ensure accountability for reliable service. We will expect Covered 911 Service Providers that provide critical 911 circuits to PSAPs in partnership with other service providers or that share responsibility for circuit diversity with another service provider to include a description of such arrangements and the identity of such third parties as part of their explanation of alternative measures. Descriptions of alternative measures may also include references to any services provided under contract where circuit diversity is not expressly defined, but is instead achieved through a service level agreement providing comparable assurances of resiliency. These and other affirmative steps, in lieu of circuit audits and tagging, may demonstrate reasonable measures to provide reliable service, depending on individual circumstances, while improving the Commission's situational awareness regarding NG911 deployment and resiliency. Explanations submitted through the annual certification process will have the added benefit of providing the Commission with up-to-date, empirical information about the transition to NG911 throughout the Nation.

    2. Network Monitoring

    20. Finally, and for the reasons discussed above, we clarify that Covered 911 Service Providers responding to the network monitoring portion of the certification under section 12.4(c)(3) may certify their implementation of reasonable alternative measures in lieu of conducting diversity audits of monitoring links and aggregation points for network monitoring data, provided that they include an explanation of such alternative measures and why they are reasonable under the circumstances. Accordingly, we amend the text of section 12.4(c)(3)(ii) to make clear that this option applies to all of the elements of section 12.4(c)(3)(i) and not just subsection 12.4(c)(3)(i)(C).

    21. Intrado argues that “[b]ased on the text of the [911 Reliability Order], it appears that the Commission intended to permit Providers either to implement . . . best practices or take reasonable alternative measures with respect to . . . network monitoring elements, just as Providers may do for backup power.” We agree. As the Commission observed in the 911 Reliability Order, “it is a sound engineering practice to design network monitoring architectures with visibility into the network through physically diverse aggregation points and monitoring links interconnecting to [network operations centers (NOCs)] to help avoid single points of failure.” This requirement was based, however, on a CSRIC best practice recommending more generally that network operators “should monitor their network to enable quick response to network issues.” Intrado argues that “it would be exceedingly difficult and may not be possible in all cases” for an IP-based service provider to “audit its Monitoring Links as those functions are defined in the Commission's rules” without the option of certifying reasonable alternative measures. At least one other commenter in the 911 reliability proceeding indicated plans to route network monitoring traffic on a more resilient IP-enabled network, suggesting that many of the same technical limitations on circuit auditing discussed above with respect to critical 911 circuits may also extend to network monitoring facilities. We therefore amend our rules to clarify that the certification framework allows flexibility for Covered 911 Service Providers to implement and certify alternative measures, as long as they demonstrate that those alternative measures are reasonably sufficient under the circumstances to mitigate the risk of a network monitoring failure as set forth above.

    IV. Procedural Matters A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    22. This document contains a non-substantive and non-material modification of information collection requirements that were previously reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control No. 3060-1202. In addition, we note that pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we previously sought specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    23. In this present document, we have assessed the effects of various requirements adopted in the 911 Reliability Order and clarified the effect of certain recordkeeping, retention, and reporting requirements for Covered 911 Service Providers. We find that these actions are in the public interest because they reduce the burdens of these recordkeeping, retention, and reporting requirements without undermining the goals and objectives behind the requirements. The amendments we adopt today will reduce the burden on businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

    B. Supplemental Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    24. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), the Commission has prepared the following Supplemental Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) relating to this Order on Reconsideration. As discussed in the initial FRFA in this proceeding, the Commission sought comment on alternatives for small entities including: (1) The establishment of different compliance and reporting requirements; (2) clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities. As the Commission stated in the FRFA, “[w]hile we acknowledge that small or rural service providers may have limited resources or operate in remote areas, 911 is no less a critical public service in any part of the nation, and we decline to establish two tiers of 911 reliability based on economics or geography.” Accordingly, we intend our 911 reliability certification requirements—including the clarifications set forth in this Order on Reconsideration—to apply to all Covered 911 Service Providers without exceptions based on size or location, and we also decline to create a specific waiver procedure for entities to seek exemption from the rules.

    25. That said, the Commission's certification approach to 911 reliability continues to “allow[ ] flexibility for small or rural providers to comply with our rules in the manner most appropriate for their networks, and certain requirements will, by their nature, only apply to larger providers.” In contrast to more prescriptive reliability requirements, the option to certify reasonable alternative measures in lieu of specified best practices minimizes regulatory burdens on small entities by recognizing a variety of acceptable approaches to providing reliable 911 service. If anything, the clarifications provided above offer additional flexibility to small entities by making clear that they may certify reasonable alternative measures in lieu of circuit audits and tagging depending on their individual circumstances and network architecture. Thus, the rules as clarified in this Order on Reconsideration continue to take into account the unique interests of small entities as required by the RFA.

    C. Congressional Review Act

    26. The Commission will send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    V. Ordering Clauses

    27. Accordingly, it is ordered, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 4(o), 201(b), 214(d), 218, 251(e)(3), 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(r), 307, 309(a), 316, 332, 403, 405, 615a-1, and 615c of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i)-(j) & (o), 201(b), 214(d), 218, 251(e)(3), 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(r), 307, 309(a), 316, 332, 403, 405, 615a-1, and 615c, and sections 1.108 and 1.429 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.1, 1.429, that this Order on Reconsideration is adopted.

    28. It is further ordered that Part 12 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR part 12, is amended as set forth in the Appendix, and that such rule amendments shall be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    29. It is further ordered that the Motion for Clarification or, in the Alternative, Petition for Partial Reconsideration of Intrado, Inc., is granted to the extent described herein.

    30. It is further ordered that the Commission shall send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration to Congress and to the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    31. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration, including the Supplemental Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. List of Subjects in 47 CFR part 12

    Resiliency, Redundancy and Reliability of Communications.

    Final Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 12 as follows:

    PART 12—RESILIENCY, REDUNDANCY, AND RELIABILITY OF COMMUNICATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 12 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    Sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 4(o), 5(c), 201(b), 214(d), 218, 219, 251(e)(3), 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(j), 303(r), 307, 309(a), 316, 332, 403, 405, 615a-1, 615c, 621(b)(3), and 621(d) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154 (j), 154 (o), 155(c), 201(b), 214(d), 218, 219, 251(e)(3), 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(j), 303(r), 307, 309(a), 316, 332, 403, 405, 615a-1, 615c, 621(b)(3), and 621(d) unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend § 12.4 by revising paragraphs (c)(1)(ii) introductory text and (c)(3)(ii) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 12.4 Reliability of covered 911 service providers.

    (c) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (ii) If a Covered 911 Service Provider does not conform with all of the elements in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section with respect to the 911 service provided to one or more PSAPs, it must certify with respect to each such PSAP:

    (3) * * *

    (ii) If a Covered 911 Service Provider does not conform with all of the elements in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section, it must certify with respect to each such 911 Service Area:

    [FR Doc. 2015-25459 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION 48 CFR Parts 1823, 1846, and 1852 RIN 2700-AE17 NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce and Mission Critical Systems Personnel Reliability Program (NFS Case 2015-N002) AGENCY:

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    NASA is issuing a final rule amending the NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) to remove requirements related to the discontinued Space Flight Mission Critical Systems Personnel Reliability Program and to revise requirements related to contractor drug and alcohol testing.

    DATES:

    Effective November 6, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Marilyn Chambers, NASA, Office of Procurement, email: [email protected], or 202-358-5154.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The revision to this rule is part of NASA's retrospective plan under Executive Order (EO) 13563 completed in August 2011. NASA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register at 80 FR 26519 on May 8, 2015, to amend the NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) to remove 1846.370, NASA contract clauses, and the related clause at 1852.246-70, Mission Critical Space System Personnel Reliability Program. Additionally, Subpart 1823.5, Drug-Free Workplace, and the associated clause at 1852.223-74, Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce are amended to make revisions related to the removal of the Mission Critical Space System Personnel Reliability Program and also to clarify and update the clause and its prescription. One respondent submitted public comments on the proposed rule.

    II. Discussion and Analysis

    NASA has reviewed the public comment submitted in the development of the final rule. A discussion of the comments and the changes made as a result of those comments is provided, as follows:

    A. Changes

    There is one minor change made in the final rule in response to the public comment received.

    B. Analysis of Public Comment

    One respondent submitted five comments.

    Comment: The respondent found the policy on the use of a controlled substance to be extremely limited and with additional monitoring requirements to ensure proper monitoring or assignment to a less critical position during the term of usage.

    Response: The policy on the use of a controlled substance has not been changed in this rule. It permits the use of such substances when a doctor prescribes their use or for other uses authorized by law.

    Comment: The respondent recommended referencing Appendix C, in addition to Appendices A and B of NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 3792.1, NASA's Plan for a Drug Free Workplace, for use as a guide for contractors to use when determining if an employee is in a sensitive position and subject to drug and alcohol testing. Appendix C of the Procedural Requirements provides the most detailed guidance, and should be included in the revised section. Additionally, the respondent stated that contractors should be required to follow the NPR and not use the NPR as guidance only.

    Response: NASA agrees the policy should have referenced Appendix C, NASA Guidelines for Determining Testing Designated Positions (TDPs) Subject to Random Drug Testing, of NPR 3792.1. To avoid future errors when the NPR is updated resulting in changes to specific appendices, 1852.223-74 Drug- and alcohol-free workforce, paragraph (b)(2), is revised to generically reference the guidance on designating TDP contained in the NPR rather than referencing a specific appendix. While the guidance on designating TDP is helpful information for contractors, the NPR is a NASA-internal policy, which applies only to NASA civil servants. Therefore, contractors must make TDP determinations for their employees as part of complying with the requirements set forth in NFS 1852.223-17.

    Comment: The respondent recommended that the list of substances tested for be updated a minimum of every six months or as necessary.

    Response: The NASA drug testing program in this rule follows the “Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs” published by the Department of Health and Human Services, 73 FR 71858, and the procedures in 49 CFR part 40, “Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs.” These regulations list which substances will be tested for. Changes to these regulations are outside the scope of this rule.

    Comment: The respondent recommends a variety of changes to the post-accident drug testing requirements of the rule, including expanding it to when there is any injury or property damage over $500; requiring the contractor always submit post-accident drug test results and requiring identification of the individual tested to the Government. Additionally, the respondent recommends hair follicle testing in lieu of urine testing.

    Response: NASA does not concur with these recommended changes. The requirements for post-accident drug testing in the rule were thoughtfully considered to balance the seriousness of the accident, the contributing factors, the privacy of individuals tested, and the burden to contractors in conducting drug tests. The method of testing, i.e., hair follicle versus urine, is determined by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Transportation regulations referenced previously.

    Comment: The respondent recommends that the rule include a requirement for a drug-free workplace policy with the following components: A written policy, access to employee assistance, employee education, supervisor training, and drug testing.

    Response: This rule sets forth NASA's contractor drug testing policy, based on Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Transportation regulations referenced previously. The other elements listed are required under the Federal Acquisition Regulation clause at 52.223-6, Drug-Free Workplace.

    III. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). E.O. 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 6(b) of Executive Order 12866. This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

    IV. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    NASA has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis consistent with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (FRFA), 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. The FRFA is summarized as follows:

    This rule is necessary to amend the NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) to remove requirements related to the Mission Critical Space System Personnel Reliability Program, which was discontinued effective April 8, 2014. The NFS contained a clause at 1852.246-70, Mission Critical Space System Personnel Reliability Program, which implemented the requirements of the Program on NASA contracts involving critical positions designated in accordance with 14 CFR 1214.5, Mission Critical Space System Personnel Reliability Program. With the discontinuance of the Program, the clause is no longer necessary and is removed.

    Removal of the NFS clause at 1852.246-70 necessitated changes to the prescription at NFS 1823.570-2, Contract clause and to the clause at 1852.223-74, Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce. The NFS clause at 1852.223-74 directed the inclusion of the Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce clause at 1852.223-74 in all solicitations and contracts containing the clause at 1852.246-70, Mission Critical Space Systems Personnel Reliability Program. Because NASA's contractor drug and alcohol testing requirements are based on the statutory requirements of the Civil Space Employee Testing Act of 1991, Public Law 102-195, sec. 21, 105 Stat. 1616 to 1619, the terms “mission critical space systems” and “mission critical positions/duties,” used in the Act, and previously used in the Program, were carried over to the drug and alcohol testing clause as a point of reference for defining contract personnel and contract functions which come under the civil space employee testing requirements. Other revisions to correct and clarify the requirements in 1852.223-74, Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce, include—

    • Moving the guidance on the use of a controlled substance from the definition to a separate paragraph;

    • Referencing NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 3792.1, NASA's Plan for a Drug Free Workplace, on “Testing Designated Positions” (TDPs) for federal employees, as a guide for contractors to use when designating “sensitive” positions;

    • Updating outdated references to the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, published by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Transportation's procedures at 49 CFR part 40 and updating the list of drugs required to be tested in accordance with the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs; and

    • Clarifying that post-accident testing is required when the contractor determines the employee's actions are reasonably suspected of having caused or contributed to an accident resulting in death or personal injury requiring immediate hospitalization or damage to Government or private property estimated to exceed $20,000 and that the contracting officer may request the results of this post-accident testing.

    The rule does not change the application of the clause at 1852.223-74, Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce. This proposed rule imposes no new reporting requirements.

    This rule does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other Federal rules. No alternatives were identified that would meet the objectives of the rule. Excluding small business concerns that may be subject to the rule would not be in the best interest of the small business concerns or the Government, because drug and alcohol testing of contractors performing functions related to mission critical space systems is statutorily mandated and is necessary in order to protect human life and the nation's civil space assets.

    V. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The final rule does not contain information collection requirements that require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    List of Subjects in 48 CFR Parts 1823, 1846, and 1852

    Government procurement.

    Manuel Quinones, Federal Register Liaison.

    Accordingly, 48 CFR parts 1823, 1846, and 1852 are amended as follows:

    PART 1823—ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENCY, RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES, OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY, AND DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE

    1. The authority citation for part 1823 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:

    51 U.S.C. 20113(a) and 48 CFR chapter 1.1823.570-1.

    2. Section 1823.570-1 is revised to read as follows:
    1823.570-1 Definitions.

    Employee in a sensitive position means a contractor or subcontractor employee who has been granted access to classified information; a contractor or subcontractor employee in other positions that the contractor or subcontractor determines could reasonably be expected to affect safety, security, National security, or functions other than the foregoing requiring a high degree of trust and confidence; and includes any employee performing in a position designated “mission critical” or performing mission-critical duties. The term also includes any applicant who is tentatively selected for a position described in this paragraph.

    Mission Critical Space Systems means the collection of all space-based and ground-based systems used to conduct space missions or support activity in space, including, but not limited to, the crewed space system, space-based communication and navigation systems, launch systems, and mission/launch control.

    Mission Critical Positions/Duties means positions or duties which, if performed in a faulty, negligent, or malicious manner, could jeopardize mission critical space systems and/or delay a mission.

    Use, in violation of applicable law or Federal regulation, of alcohol includes having, while on duty or during a preemployment interview, an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent by weight or more in the blood, as measured by chemical test of the individual's breath or blood. An individual's refusal to submit to such test is presumptive evidence of use, in violation of applicable law or Federal regulation, of alcohol.

    3. Section 1823.570-2 is revised to read as follows:
    1823.570-2 Contract clause.

    The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 1852.223-74, Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce, in all solicitations and contracts exceeding $5 million in which work is performed by an employee in a sensitive position. However, the contracting officer shall not insert the clause at 1852.223-74 in solicitations and contracts for commercial items.

    PART 1846—QUALITY ASSURANCE 4. The authority citation for part 1846 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    51 U.S.C. 20113(a) and 48 CFR chapter 1.

    5. Section 1846.370 is revised to read as follows:
    1846.370 NASA contract clauses.

    The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 1852.246-73, Human Space Flight Item, in solicitations and contracts for human space flight hardware and flight-related equipment if the highest available quality standards are necessary to ensure astronaut safety.

    PART 1852—SOLICITATION PROVISIONS AND CONTRACT CLAUSES 6. The authority citation for part 1852 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    51 U.S.C. 20113(a) and 48 CFR chapter 1.

    7. Amend section 1852.223-74 by revising the date of the clause and paragraphs (a) and (b) to read as follows:
    1852.223-74 Drug- and alcohol-free workforce. Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workforce (Nov 2015)

    (a) Definitions.

    Employee in a sensitive position means a contractor or subcontractor employee who has been granted access to classified information; a contractor or subcontractor employee in other positions that the contractor or subcontractor determines could reasonably be expected to affect safety, security, National security, or functions other than the foregoing requiring a high degree of trust and confidence; and includes any employee performing in a position designated mission critical or performing mission critical duties. The term also includes any applicant who is tentatively selected for a position described in this paragraph.

    Mission Critical Space Systems means the collection of all space-based and ground-based systems used to conduct space missions or support activity in space, including, but not limited to, the crewed space system, space-based communication and navigation systems, launch systems, and mission/launch control.

    Mission Critical Positions/Duties means positions or duties which, if performed in a faulty, negligent, or malicious manner, could jeopardize mission critical space systems and/or delay a mission.

    (b)(1) The Contractor shall institute and maintain a program for achieving a drug- and alcohol-free workforce. As a minimum, the program shall provide for pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random, post-accident, and periodic recurring (follow-up) testing of contractor employees in sensitive positions for use, in violation of applicable law or Federal regulation, of alcohol or a controlled substance. The Contractor may establish its testing or rehabilitation program in cooperation with other contractors or organizations.

    (2) In determining which positions to designate as “sensitive,” the contractor may use the guidelines for determining testing designated positions in NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 3792.1, NASA's Plan for a Drug Free Workplace, as a guide for the criteria and in designating “sensitive” positions for contractor employees.

    (3) This clause neither prohibits nor requires the Contractor to test employees in a foreign country. If the Contractor chooses to conduct such testing, this does not authorize the Contractor to violate foreign law in conducting such testing.

    (4) The Contractor's program shall conform to the “Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs” published by the Department of Health and Human Services (73 FR 71858) and the procedures in 49 CFR part 40, “Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs.”

    (i) The Contractor shall test for the following drugs: Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates and Phencyclidine (PCP) in accordance with the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs Mandatory Guidelines, Section 3.1, and 49 CFR 40.85.

    (ii) The contractor shall comply with the requirements and procedures for alcohol testing at 49 CFR part 40.

    (iii) The use of a controlled substance in accordance with the terms of a valid prescription, or other uses authorized by law shall not be subject to the requirements this clause.

    (5) The contractor shall conduct post-accident testing when the contractor determines the employee's actions are reasonably suspected of having caused or contributed to an accident resulting in death or personal injury requiring immediate hospitalization or damage to Government or private property estimated to exceed $20,000. Upon request, the Contractor shall provide the results of post-accident testing to the Contracting Officer.

    1852.246-70 [Removed and Reserved]
    8. Section 1852.246-70 is removed and reserved.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25394 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 49 CFR Part 541 [Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0043] RIN 2127-AL59 Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Final Listing of 2016 Light Duty Truck Lines Subject to the Requirements of This Standard and Exempted Vehicle Lines for Model Year 2016 AGENCY:

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This final rule announces NHTSA's determination that there are no new model year (MY) 2016 light duty truck lines subject to the parts-marking requirements of the Federal motor vehicle theft prevention standard because they have been determined by the agency to be high-theft or because they have major parts that are interchangeable with a majority of the covered major parts of passenger car or MPV lines. This final rule also identifies those vehicle lines that have been granted an exemption from the parts-marking requirements because the vehicles are equipped with antitheft devices determined to meet certain statutory criteria.

    DATES:

    The amendment made by this final rule is effective October 7, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Rosalind Proctor, Consumer Standards Division, Office of International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Programs, NHTSA, West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., (NVS-131, Room W43-302), Washington, DC 20590. Ms. Proctor's telephone number is (202) 366-4807. Her fax number is (202) 493-0073.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The theft prevention standard (49 CFR part 541) applies to (1) all passenger car lines; (2) all multipurpose passenger vehicle (MPV) lines with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,000 pounds or less; (3) low-theft light-duty truck (LDT) lines with a GVWR of 6,000 pounds or less that have major parts that are interchangeable with a majority of the covered major parts of passenger car or MPV lines; and (4) high-theft LDT lines with a GVWR of 6,000 pounds or less.

    The purpose of the theft prevention standard is to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle theft by facilitating the tracing and recovery of parts from stolen vehicles. The standard seeks to facilitate such tracing by requiring that vehicle identification numbers (VINs), VIN derivative numbers, or other symbols be placed on major component vehicle parts. The theft prevention standard requires motor vehicle manufacturers to inscribe or affix VINs onto covered original equipment major component parts, and to inscribe or affix a symbol identifying the manufacturer and a common symbol identifying the replacement component parts for those original equipment parts, on all vehicle lines subject to the requirements of the standard.

    Section 33104(d) provides that once a line has become subject to the theft prevention standard, the line remains subject to the requirements of the standard unless it is exempted under § 33106. Section 33106 provides that a manufacturer may petition annually to have one vehicle line exempted from the requirements of § 33104, if the line is equipped with an antitheft device meeting certain conditions as standard equipment. The exemption is granted if NHTSA determines that the antitheft device is likely to be as effective as compliance with the theft prevention standard in reducing and deterring motor vehicle thefts.

    The agency annually publishes the names of those LDT lines that have been determined to be high theft pursuant to 49 CFR part 541, those LDT lines that have been determined to have major parts that are interchangeable with a majority of the covered major parts of passenger car or MPV lines and those vehicle lines that are exempted from the theft prevention standard under section 33104. Appendix A to Part 541 identifies those LDT lines that are or will be subject to the theft prevention standard beginning in a given model year. Appendix A-I to Part 541 identifies those vehicle lines that are or have been exempted from the theft prevention standard.

    For MY 2016, there are no new LDT lines that will be subject to the theft prevention standard in accordance with the procedures published in 49 CFR part 542. Therefore, Appendix A does not need to be amended.

    For MY 2016, the list of lines that have been exempted by the agency from the parts-marking requirements of Part 541 is amended to include ten vehicle lines newly exempted in full. The ten exempted vehicle lines are the BMW X1(MPV), Lincoln MKX, Chevrolet Spark, Honda CRV, Jaguar XF, Maserati Ghibli, Mazda CX-3, Mercedes-Benz smart Line Chassis, Toyota Sienna and the Audi TT.

    When publishing the August 11, 2014 final rule (See 79 FR 46715), the agency erroneously omitted the Chrysler 200 vehicle line from the Appendix A-I listing of ten vehicles that were exempted from the parts marking requirements for MY 2015. This notice corrects that error.

    We note that the agency also removes from the list being published in the Federal Register each year certain vehicles lines that have been discontinued more than 5 years ago. Therefore, the agency is removing the Chevrolet Cobalt, Mercury Sable, Taurus X, Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, Kia Amanti, Lexus SC and the Suzuki XL-7 vehicle lines from the Appendix A-I listing. The agency will continue to maintain a comprehensive database of all exemptions on our Web site. However, we believe that re-publishing a list containing vehicle lines that have not been in production for a considerable period of time is unnecessary.

    The vehicle lines listed as being exempt from the standard have previously been exempted in accordance with the procedures of 49 CFR part 543 and 49 U.S.C., 33106. Therefore, NHTSA finds for good cause that notice and opportunity for comment on these listings are unnecessary. Further, public comment on the listing of selections and exemptions is not contemplated by 49 U.S.C. Chapter 331. For the same reasons, since this revised listing only informs the public of previous agency actions and does not impose additional obligations on any party, NHTSA finds for good cause that the amendment made by this notice should be effective as soon as it is published in the Federal Register.

    Regulatory Impacts

    A. Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563 and the Department of Transportation's regulatory policies provide for making determinations on whether a regulatory action is “significant” and therefore subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and to the requirements of the Executive Orders. The Order defines a “significant regulatory action” as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:

    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities;

    (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive Order.

    This final rule was not reviewed under Executive Order 12866. It is not significant within the meaning of the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures. It will not impose any new burdens on vehicle manufacturers. This document informs the public of previously granted exemptions. Since the only purpose of this final rule is to inform the public of previous actions taken by the agency no new costs or burdens will result.

    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires agencies to evaluate the potential effects of their rules on small businesses, small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions. I have considered the effects of this rulemaking action under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and certify that it would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As noted above, the effect of this final rule is only to inform the public of agency's previous actions.

    C. National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this final rule for the purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency has determined that implementation of this action will not have any significant impact on the quality of the human environment as it merely informs the public about previous agency actions. Accordingly, no environmental assessment is required.

    D. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    The agency has analyzed this rulemaking in accordance with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 and has determined that it does not have sufficient federal implications to warrant consultation with State and local officials or the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. As discussed above, this final rule only provides better information to the public about previous agency actions.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more than $100 million annually ($120.7 million as adjusted annually for inflation with base year of 1995). The assessment may be combined with other assessments, as it is here.

    This final rule will not result in expenditures by State, local or tribal governments or automobile manufacturers and/or their suppliers of more than $120.7 million annually. This document informs the public of previously granted exemptions. Since the only purpose of this final rule is to inform the public of previous actions taken by the agency, no new costs or burdens will result.

    F. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    Pursuant to Executive Order 12988, “Civil Justice Reform,” 1 the agency has considered whether this final rule has any retroactive effect. We conclude that it would not have such an effect as it only informs the public of previous agency actions. In accordance with section 33118 when the Theft Prevention Standard is in effect, a State or political subdivision of a State may not have a different motor vehicle theft prevention standard for a motor vehicle or major replacement part. 49 U.S.C. 33117 provides that judicial review of this rule may be obtained pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 32909. Section 32909 does not require submission of a petition for reconsideration or other administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court.

    1See 61 FR 4729, February 7, 1996.

    G. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Department of Transportation has not submitted an information collection request to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). This rule does not impose any new information collection requirements on manufacturers.

    List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 541

    Administrative practice and procedure, Labeling, Motor vehicles, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 541 is amended as follows:

    PART 541—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for Part 541 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 33101, 33102, 33103, 33104, 33105 and 33106; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95.

    2. Appendix A-I to Part 541 is revised to read as follows: Appendix A-I to Part 541—Lines With Antitheft Devices Which Are Exempted From the Parts-Marking Requirements of This Standard Pursuant to 49 CFR Part 543 Manufacturer Subject lines BMW MINI. X1 (MPV).1 X1(2012-2015).2 X3. X4. X5. Z4. 1 Car Line. 3 Car Line. 4 Car Line. 5 Car Line. 6 Car Line. 7 Car Line. CHRYSLER 200.3 300C. Jeep Cherokee. Fiat 500. Town and Country MPV. Jeep Grand Cherokee. Jeep Patriot. Jeep Wrangler. Dodge Charger. Dodge Challenger. Dodge Dart. Dodge Journey. FORD MOTOR CO C-Maxx. Edge. Escape. Explorer. Fiesta. Focus. Fusion. Lincoln MKX.1 Lincoln Town Car. Mustang. Mercury Mariner. Mercury Grand Marquis. Taurus. GENERAL MOTORS Buick Lucerne. Buick LaCrosse. Buick LaCrosse/Regal. Buick Verano. Cadillac ATS. Cadillac CTS. Cadillac DTS/Deville. Cadillac SRX. Cadillac XTS/Deville. Chevrolet Camaro. Chevrolet Corvette. Chevrolet Cruze. Chevrolet Equinox. Chevrolet Impala/Monte Carlo. Chevrolet Malibu. Chevrolet Sonic. Chevrolet Spark.1 GMC Terrain. Pontiac G6. Saturn Aura. HONDA Accord. Acura TL. Civic. CRV.1 HYUNDAI Azera. Genesis. Equus. JAGUAR F-Type. XF.1 XJ. XK. Land Rover Discovery Sport. Land Rover LR2. Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. MASERATI Ghibli.1 Quattroporte. MAZDA 2. 3. 5. 6. CX-3.1 CX-5. CX-7. CX-9. MX-5 Miata. Tribute. MERCEDES-BENZ smart USA fortwo. smart Line Chassis.1 SL-Line Chassis (SL-Class) (the models within this line are): SL400. SL550. SL 63/AMG. SL 65/AMG. SLK-Line Chassis (SLK-Class) (the models within this line are): SLK 250. SLK 300. SLK 350. SLK 55 AMG. S-Line Chassis (S/CL/S-Coupe Class) 4 (the models within this line are): S450. S500. S550. S600. S55. S63 AMG. S65 AMG. CL55. CL65. CL500. CL550. CL600. NGCC Chassis Line (CLA/GLA- Class) (the models within this line are): CLA250. CLA250 4MATIC. CLA45 4MATIC AMG. GLA250. GLA45 AMG. C-Line Chassis (C-Class/CLK/GLK-Class) (the models within this line are): C63 AMG. C240. C250. C300. C350. CLK 350. CLK 550. CLK 63AMG. GLK250. GLK350. E-Line Chassis (E-Class/CLS Class) (the models within this line are): E55. E63 AMG. E320 BLUETEC. E350 BLUETEC. E320/E320DT CDi. E350/E500/E550. E400 HYBRID. CLS400. CLS500. CLS55 AMG. CLS63 AMG. MITSUBISHI Eclipse. Endeavor. Galant. iMiEV. Lancer. Outlander. Outlander Sport. Mirage. NISSAN Altima. Cube. Juke. Leaf. Maxima. Murano. NV200 Taxi. Pathfinder. Quest. Rogue. Sentra. Versa (2008-2011). Versa Hatchback. Versa Note. Infiniti G (2003-2013). Infiniti M (2004-2013). Infiniti Q70. Infiniti Q50/60. Infiniti QX60. PORSCHE 911. Boxster/Cayman. Macan. Panamera. SAAB 9-3. 9-5. SUBARU Forester. Impreza. Legacy. B9 Tribeca. Outback. WRX. XV Crosstrek. SUZUKI Kizashi. TESLA Model S. Model X. TOYOTA Camry. Corolla. Highlander. Lexus ES. Lexus GS. Lexus LS. Prius. RAV4. Sienna.1 VOLKSWAGEN Audi A3. Audi A4. A4 Allroad MPV. Audi A6. Audi A8. Audi Q3. Audi Q5. Audi TT.1 Beetle. Eos. Golf/Rabbit/GTI/R32. Jetta. New Beetle (renamed “Beetle” in MY 2012). Passat. Tiguan. VOLVO S60. 1 Granted an exemption from the parts marking requirements beginning with MY 2016. 2 The X1 carline was replaced by the X1 MPV line beginning in MY 2016. According to BMW, production of its X1 carline ceased in MY 2015. 3 Granted an exemption from the parts marking requirements beginning with MY 2015. 4 According to Mercedes-Benz, the CL-Class was renamed the S-Coupe Class beginning with MY 2015.

    Under authority delegated in 49 CFR part 1.95.

    Raymond R. Posten, Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25369 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224 [Docket No. 140707555-5880-02] RIN 0648-XD370 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To List the Dusky Sea Snake and Three Foreign Corals Under the Endangered Species Act AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We, NMFS, issue a final rule to list three foreign corals and the dusky sea snake under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We considered comments submitted on the proposed listing rule and have determined that the three foreign corals (Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana) and the dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus) should be listed as endangered species. We will not designate critical habitat for any of the species because the geographical areas occupied by these species are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, and we have not identified any unoccupied areas within U.S. jurisdiction that are currently essential to the conservation of any of these species.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Chief, Endangered Species Division, NMFS Office of Protected Resources (F/PR3), 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dwayne Meadows, Ph.D., NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, (301) 427-8403.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On July 15, 2013, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians to list 81 marine species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We found that the petitioned actions may be warranted for 27 of the 81 species and announced the initiation of status reviews for each of the 27 species (78 FR 63941, October 25, 2013; 78 FR 66675, November 6, 2013; 78 FR 69376, November 19, 2013; 79 FR 9880, February 21, 2014; and 79 FR 10104, February 24, 2014). On December 16, 2014, we published a proposed rule to list the dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus) and three foreign corals (Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana) as endangered species, and we proposed to list the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) and Harrisson's dogfish (Centrophorus harrissoni) as threatened species (79 FR 74953). We requested public comment on information in the status reviews and proposed rule, and the comment period was open through February 17, 2015. This final rule provides a discussion of the information we received during the public comment period and our final determination on the petition to list the three foreign corals (Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana) and the dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus) under the ESA. Our final determinations for the other species proposed for listing in the December 16, 2014, proposed rule (79 FR 74953; Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) and Harrisson's dogfish (Centrophorus harrissoni)) will be made in a subsequent rule. The status of the findings and relevant Federal Register notices for those and the other 21 species can be found on our Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/petition81.htm.

    We are responsible for determining whether species are threatened or endangered under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). To make this determination, we consider first whether a group of organisms constitutes a “species” under the ESA, then whether the status of the species qualifies it for listing as either threatened or endangered. Section 3 of the ESA defines a “species” to include “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.”

    Section 3 of the ESA defines an endangered species as “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a threatened species as one “which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” We interpret an “endangered species” to be one that is presently in danger of extinction. A “threatened species,” on the other hand, is not presently in danger of extinction, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future (that is, at a later time). In other words, the primary statutory difference between a threatened and endangered species is the timing of when a species may be in danger of extinction, either presently (endangered) or in the foreseeable future (threatened).

    Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA requires us to determine whether any species is endangered or threatened due to any one or a combination of the following five threat factors: The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; disease or predation; the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We are also required to make listing determinations based solely on the best scientific and commercial data available, after conducting a review of the species' status and after taking into account efforts being made by any state or foreign nation to protect the species.

    In making a listing determination, we first determine whether a petitioned species meets the ESA definition of a “species.” Next, using the best available information gathered during the status review for the species, we complete a status and extinction risk assessment. In assessing extinction risk for these four species, we considered the demographic viability factors developed by McElhany et al. (2000) and the risk matrix approach developed by Wainwright and Kope (1999) to organize and summarize extinction risk considerations. The approach of considering demographic risk factors to help frame the consideration of extinction risk has been used in many of our status reviews, including for Pacific salmonids, Pacific hake, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Puget Sound rockfishes, Pacific herring, scalloped hammerhead sharks, and black abalone (see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/ for links to these reviews). In this approach, the collective condition of individual populations is considered at the species level according to four demographic viability factors: Abundance, growth rate/productivity, spatial structure/connectivity, and diversity. These viability factors reflect concepts that are well-founded in conservation biology and that individually and collectively provide strong indicators of extinction risk.

    We then assess efforts being made to protect the species, to determine if these conservation efforts are adequate to mitigate the existing threats. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the ESA requires the Secretary, when making a listing determination for a species, to take into consideration those efforts, if any, being made by any State or foreign nation to protect the species.

    Summary of Comments

    In response to our request for comments on the proposed rule, we received three comments on the three foreign corals, and the Australian Government Department of the Environment submitted a letter neither supporting nor opposing our proposed listing of the dusky sea snake. The letter stated that the dusky sea snake is listed under Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and thus it is currently illegal to kill, injure, take or trade dusky sea snakes. Because this information was acknowledged and considered in our status review, this information did not affect the proposal to list the species as endangered under the ESA. Three parties commented on the three corals.

    Comment 1: One commenter suggested active outside involvement in the recovery of the species, including partnerships with reef aquarists.

    Response: We agree with the commenter that partnerships enhance recovery of listed species and that reef aquarists are a potential partner. We will look for opportunities to partner with parties interested in the recovery of these species.

    Comment 2: One commenter focused on the threat of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. They claimed we, and the Departments of Commerce and Interior, should develop a National Climate Recovery Plan to protect a wide variety of resources and that we should define adverse modification under section 7 of the ESA for these proposed species. This commenter also requested we designate critical habitat for these species and suggested we alter our conclusion to say with certainty that each of the three coral species is definitively threatened by climate change, ocean warming, and sea level rise, and alter our discussion of regulatory mechanisms and the effects of listing as a result.

    Response: We note that action to develop a National Climate Recovery Plan is not part of the determination for listing that is the subject of this action and thus cannot be considered further here. As we noted in the proposed rule, we cannot designate critical habitat for these species, as their range is entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction and we have no evidence that unoccupied areas within our jurisdiction are necessary for the conservation of any of the species. Because we cannot designate critical habitat for these species, we have no reason to define adverse modification of critical habitat under Section 7 of the ESA for these corals. The commenter provided no species-specific information on climate change-related threats, so we cannot change our conclusion that habitat modification resulting from climate change is a potential threat to all three species of coral. Similarly, based on the same lack of new species-specific information, we cannot change our discussion of the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms to address these threats or the likely effects of listing.

    Comment 3: A researcher provided information on studies of the symbiotic Symbodinium algae residing in five specimens of Siderastrea glynni. This researcher claims to have identified two symbiont species in S. glynni, Symbodinium goreauii and Symbodinium trenchii. The researcher believes there is evidence that the Symbodinium trenchii occurring in S. glynni is of Caribbean origin and suggests this provides evidence that S. glynni is from an introduction of Siderastrea siderea to the eastern Pacific and is not some kind of separate rare endemic species.

    Response: We understand that Symbodinium trenchii and Symbodinium goreauii also occur in other regions of the Pacific as symbionts with other coral species. We are also aware that the strain of Symbodinium trenchii occurring in S. glynni also occurs in Caribbean corals, including species of Siderastrea (Pettay et al., 2015). According to Guzman (personal communication (the person who described S. glynni)), the research for the original description of S. glynni found that the species was more closely related to a fossil species from Baja California, Mexico than to the Caribbean S. siderea. If S. glynni has a long history in the eastern Pacific as some of the data suggest (Forsman et al., 2005), it could have been the source of, or another host for, the strain of Symbodinium trenchii that recently entered the Caribbean Sea. Alternatively, a Caribbean Siderastrea siderea could have recently invaded the eastern Pacific through the Panama Canal after the evolution of the Caribbean strain of Symbodinium trenchii. Under this scenario then, S. glynni would not be a unique species (Forsman et al., 2005). The direction and timing of movement of the strain of Symbodinium trenchii that occurs in S. glynni across the Isthmus of Panama between the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean is thus uncertain, and the data on these symbionts may not be adequate to definitely distinguish among the competing hypotheses for the origin and taxonomy of S. glynni. Guzman (personal communication) is skeptical that the symbiont data provided by the commenter provides definitive evidence regarding the taxonomic status of the species. We agree, and thus decline to alter the existing published taxonomy of the species.

    Status Reviews

    Status reviews for the petitioned species addressed in this finding were conducted by NMFS staff. Separate draft status reviews were completed for dusky sea snake (Manning, 2014), and the three foreign corals (Meadows, 2014). In order to complete the status reviews, we compiled information on the species' biology, ecology, life history, threats, and conservation status from information contained in the petition, our files, a comprehensive literature search, and consultation with experts. We also considered information submitted by the public and peer reviewers. Prior to publication of the proposed rule, all status reviews were subjected to peer review. Peer reviewer comments are available at http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prplans/PRsummaries.html.

    The status review reports provide a thorough discussion of life history, demographic risks, and threats to the particular species. We considered all identified threats, both individually and cumulatively, to determine whether the species responds in a way that causes actual impacts at the species level. The collective condition of individual populations was also considered at the species level, according to the four demographic viability factors discussed above.

    The proposed rule (79 FR 74953, December 16, 2014) summarizes general background information on the species' natural history, range, reproduction, population structure, distribution and abundance; none of which has changed since the proposed rule. All of that information is incorporated herein by reference.

    Species Determinations

    Based on the best available scientific and commercial information described above and in the status review reports, we have determined that the dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus) and the three foreign corals (Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana) are taxonomically-distinct species and therefore meet the definition of “species” pursuant to section 3 of the ESA and are eligible for listing under the ESA.

    Summary of Threat Factors Affecting the Four Species

    Next we consider whether any one or a combination of the five threat factors specified in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA contribute to the extinction risk of these species. None of the information we received from public comment on the proposed rule affected any of our discussion or conclusions regarding any of the section 4(a)(1) factors or their interactions for these species, so we incorporate the discussion of these factors from the proposed rule (79 FR 74953, December 16, 2014) by reference herein.

    Extinction Risk

    None of the information we received from public comment on the proposed rule affected our extinction risk evaluations of these four species. As such, our evaluations for these species remain the same as in the status review reports and the discussion in the proposed rule (79 FR 74953, December 16, 2014), and that discussion is incorporated herein by reference.

    Conservation Efforts

    Finally, we considered conservation efforts to protect each species and evaluated whether these conservation efforts are adequate to mitigate the existing threats to the point where extinction risk is significantly lowered and the species' status is improved. None of the information we received from public comment on the proposed rule affected any of our discussion or conclusions regarding conservation efforts to protect the dusky sea snake or the three foreign coral species, so we incorporate the discussion of these efforts from the proposed rule (79 FR 74953, December 16, 2014) by reference herein.

    Final Determination

    We have reviewed the best available scientific and commercial information, including the petition, the information in the status review reports, public comment, and the comments of peer reviewers. Based on the best available information, we find that the dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus) and the three foreign corals (Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana) are in danger of extinction throughout all of their ranges. We assessed the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors and demographic risk factors and conclude that the dusky sea snake is at very low and declining abundance, has a very restricted range and a presumed low rate of dispersal, and is experiencing high rates of hybridization throughout its range. We also conclude that Cantharellus noumeae has a small, restricted range, likely low growth rate and genetic diversity, and may be threatened by development, water pollution, sedimentation, heavy metals, and potential illegal activities. Siderastrea glynni is affected by the lack of known populations in the wild, a small captive population in a single location, likely low growth rates and genetic diversity, and potential increased threats from El Niño, climate change, disease, habitat degradation and other development (should the species be reintroduced to Panama). Tubastraea floreana is affected by a small, restricted range, documented declines, likely low levels of genetic diversity, and threats from El Niño, climate change, development, and illegal activities. After considering efforts being made to protect each of these species, we could not conclude that the existing or proposed conservation efforts would alter the extinction risk for any of these species. Therefore, we are listing each of these species as endangered.

    Effects of Listing

    Conservation measures provided for species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA include recovery actions (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)); Federal agency requirements to consult with NMFS under section 7 of the ESA to ensure their actions do not jeopardize the species or result in adverse modification or destruction of critical habitat should it be designated (16 U.S.C. 1536); designation of critical habitat if prudent and determinable (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)); and prohibitions on taking (16 U.S.C. 1538). In addition, recognition of the species' plight through listing promotes conservation actions by Federal and state agencies, foreign entities, private groups, and individuals. Because the ranges of these four species are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, the main effects of these endangered listings are prohibitions on export and import.

    Identifying Section 7 Consultation Requirements

    Section 7(a)(2) (16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(2)) of the ESA and NMFS/USFWS regulations require Federal agencies to consult with us to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. It is unlikely that the listing of these species under the ESA will increase the number of section 7 consultations, because these species occur entirely outside of the United States and are unlikely to be affected by Federal actions.

    Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532(5)) as: (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the ESA, on which are found those physical or biological features (a) essential to the conservation of the species and (b) that may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. Section 4(a)(3)(A) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)) requires that, to the extent prudent and determinable, critical habitat be designated concurrently with the listing of a species. However, critical habitat shall not be designated in foreign countries or other areas outside U.S. jurisdiction (50 CFR 424.12(h)).

    The best available scientific and commercial data as discussed above identify the geographical areas occupied by Aipysurus fuscus, Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana as being entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, so we cannot designate occupied critical habitat for these species. We can designate critical habitat in areas in the United States currently unoccupied by the species, if the area(s) are determined by the Secretary to be essential for the conservation of the species. Based on the best available information, we have not identified unoccupied area(s) in U.S. water that are currently essential to the conservation of any of these four species. Therefore, based on the available information, we do not designate critical habitat for Aipysurus fuscus, Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, or Tubastraea floreana.

    Identification of Those Activities That Would Likely Constitute a Violation of Section 9 of the ESA

    On July 1, 1994, NMFS and FWS published a policy (59 FR 34272) that requires us to identify, to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not likely constitute a violation of section 9 of the ESA. Because we are listing the dusky sea snake and the three foreign corals as endangered, all of the prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the ESA will apply to these species. These include prohibitions against the import, export, use in foreign commerce, or “take” of the species. These prohibitions apply to all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, including in the United States, its territorial sea, or on the high seas. Take is defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.” The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effects of this listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the species' ranges. Activities that we believe could (subject to the exemptions set forth in 16 U.S.C. 1539) result in a violation of section 9 prohibitions for these species include, but are not limited to, the following:

    (1) Possessing, delivering, transporting, or shipping any individual or part (dead or alive) taken in violation of section 9(a)(1);

    (2) Delivering, receiving, carrying, transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce any individual or part, in the course of a commercial activity;

    (3) Selling or offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any individual or part;

    (4) Importing or exporting any individual or part;

    (5) Releasing captive animals into the wild without a permit issued under section 10(a)(1)(A). Although animals held non-commercially in captivity at the time of listing are exempt from the prohibitions of import and export, the individual animals are considered listed and afforded most of the protections of the ESA, including most importantly, the prohibition against injuring or killing. Release of a captive animal has the potential to injure or kill the animal. Of an even greater conservation concern, the release of a captive animal has the potential to affect wild populations through introduction of diseases or inappropriate genetic mixing; and

    (6) Harming captive animals by, among other things, injuring or killing a captive animal, through experimental or potentially injurious care or conducting research or sexual breeding activities on captive animals, outside the bounds of normal animal husbandry practices. Captive sexual breeding of corals is considered potentially injurious. Furthermore, the production of coral progeny has conservation implications (both positive and negative) for wild populations. Experimental or potentially injurious care or procedures and research or sexual breeding activities of corals or dusky sea snake may, depending on the circumstances, be authorized under an ESA section 10(a)(1)(A) permit for scientific research or the enhancement of the propagation or survival of the species.

    Identification of Those Activities That Would Not Likely Constitute a Violation of Section 9 of the ESA

    Although the determination of whether any given activity constitutes a violation is fact dependent, we consider the following actions, depending on the circumstances, as being unlikely to violate the prohibitions in ESA section 9:

    (1) Take authorized by, and carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions of, an ESA section 10(a)(1)(A) permit issued by NMFS for purposes of scientific research or the enhancement of the propagation or survival of the species;

    (2) Continued possession of parts that were in possession at the time of listing. Such parts may be non-commercially exported or imported; however the importer or exporter must be able to provide evidence to show that the parts meet the criteria of ESA section 9(b)(1) (i.e., held in a controlled environment at the time of listing, in a non-commercial activity);

    (3) Continued possession of live corals or dusky sea snakes that were in captivity or in a controlled environment (e.g., in aquaria) at the time of this listing, so long as the prohibitions under ESA section 9(a)(1) are not violated. Facilities must provide evidence that the animals were in captivity or in a controlled environment prior to listing. We suggest such facilities submit information to us on the animals in their possession (e.g., size, age, description of animals, and the source and date of acquisition) to establish their claim of possession (see For Further Information Contact); and

    (4) Provision of care for live corals or dusky sea snakes that were in captivity at the time of listing. These individuals are still protected under the ESA and may not be killed or injured, or otherwise harmed, and, therefore, must receive proper care. Normal care of captive animals necessarily entails handling or other manipulation of the animals, and we do not consider such activities to constitute take or harassment of the animals so long as adequate care, including veterinary care, when such practices, procedures, or provisions are not likely to result in injury, is provided.

    Section 11(f) of the ESA gives NMFS authority to promulgate regulations that may be appropriate to enforce the ESA. NMFS may promulgate future regulations, including to regulate holding of these species, if necessary. NMFS will provide the public with the opportunity to comment on future proposed regulations.

    Revisions to the NMFS Lists

    We revise and add table subheadings in the Code of Federal Regulations to accommodate these new listings in our list of endangered species at 50 CFR 224.101 and revisions to the table subheadings for our list of threatened species at 50 CFR 223.102. We add the subheading “Corals” to our table at 50 CFR 224.101. This subheading has already been added to our table at 50 CFR 223.102 in a previous rulemaking (79 FR 20802; April 14, 2014). We are revising the subheading of “Sea Turtles” in the endangered species table at 50 CFR 224.101 and the threatened species table at 50 CFR 223.102 by changing the subheading to “Reptiles.” This new subheading will encompass all currently listed sea turtles as well as other marine reptiles like the dusky sea snake. These revisions and addition are not substantive changes, but having these headings will help the public identify and locate species of interest in a more efficient manner.

    References

    A complete list of the references used in this final rule is available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

    Classification National Environmental Policy Act

    The 1982 amendments to the ESA, in section 4(b)(1)(A), restrict the information that may be considered when assessing species for listing. Based on this limitation of criteria for a listing decision and the opinion in Pacific Legal Foundation v. Andrus, 675 F. 2d 825 (6th Cir. 1981), NMFS has concluded that ESA listing actions are not subject to the environmental assessment requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (See NOAA Administrative Order 216-6).

    Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act

    As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the ESA, economic impacts cannot be considered when assessing the status of a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process. In addition, this final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This final rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    In accordance with E.O. 13132, we determined that this final rule does not have significant Federalism effects and that a Federalism assessment is not required.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

    Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and record keeping requirements, Transportation.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 223 and 224 are amended as follows:

    PART 223—THREATENED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 223 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; subpart B, §§ 223.201 and 223.202 also issued under 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5503(d) for § 223.206(d)(9).

    2. In § 223.102, amend the table in paragraph (e) by removing the table subheading “Sea Turtles 2” and adding in its place “Reptiles 2” to read as follows:
    § 223.102 Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species.

    (e) * * *

    Species 1 Common name Scientific name Description of listed entity Citation(s) for listing
  • determination(s)
  • Critical
  • habitat
  • ESA rules
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * Reptiles2 *         *         *         *         *         *         * 1 Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement, see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56 FR 58612, November 20, 1991). 2 Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.
    PART 224—ENDANGERED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES 3. The authority citation for part 224 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1531-1543 and 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.

    4. In § 224.101, paragraph (h), amend the table by: A. Removing the table subheading “Sea Turtles 2” and adding in its place “Reptiles 2”; B. Adding an entry for “dusky sea snake” in alphabetical order under the new “Reptiles 2” table subheading; C. Adding a “Corals” table subheading to follow the “Molluscs” table subheading; and D. Adding entries for three species of coral in alphabetical order by scientific name under the “Corals” table subheading.

    The additions read as follows:

    § 224.101 Enumeration of endangered marine and anadromous species.

    (h) * * *

    Species 1 Common name Scientific name Description of listed entity Citation(s) for listing
  • determination(s)
  • Critical
  • habitat
  • ESA rules
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * Reptiles2 Sea snake, dusky Aipysurus fuscus Entire species [Insert Federal Register citation and date] NA NA *         *         *         *         *         *         * Molluscs *         *         *         *         *         *         * Corals Coral, [no common name] Cantharellus noumeae Entire species [Insert Federal Register citation and date] NA NA Coral, [no common name] Siderastrea glynni Entire species [Insert Federal Register citation and date] NA NA Coral, [no common name] Tubastraea floreana Entire species [Insert Federal Register citation and date] NA NA. 1 Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement, see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56 FR 58612, November 20, 1991). 2 Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25484 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 150626556-5886-02] RIN 0648-BD81 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region; Amendment 8; Correction AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; correcting amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS corrects the final rule that implemented management measures described in Amendment 8 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region (FMP)(Amendment 8), which published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2015. The Amendment 8 final rule contained some incorrect waypoints for the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC)(Oculina Bank HAPC) as well as incorrect language regarding the gear stowage requirements for vessels with rock shrimp onboard transiting through the Oculina Bank HAPC. The purpose of this correcting amendment is to fix these errors.

    DATES:

    This correction is effective October 7, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karla Gore, 727-824-5305; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 17, 2015, NMFS published a final rule in the Federal Register (80 FR 42423) to implement provisions for Amendment 8, that expands portions of the northern and western boundaries of the Oculina Bank HAPC and allows transit through the Oculina Bank HAPC by fishing vessels with rock shrimp onboard; modifies vessel monitoring systems (VMS) requirements for rock shrimp fishermen transiting through the Oculina Bank HAPC; expands a portion of the western boundary of the Stetson Reefs, Savannah and East Florida Lithotherms, and Miami Terrace Deepwater Coral HAPC (Stetson-Miami Terrace CHAPC), including modifications to shrimp access area 1; and expands a portion of the northern boundary of the Cape Lookout CHAPC. The purpose of the final rule is to increase protection for deepwater coral based on new information for deepwater coral resources in the South Atlantic. The final rule was effective August 17, 2015.

    The regulatory text in the Amendment 8 final rule in § 622.224(b)(1) contains three waypoints that were incorrectly listed for describing the Oculina Bank HAPC. These waypoints were correctly identified in Amendment 8 but were incorrectly converted to the coordinate format used for the proposed and final rules for Amendment 8. The incorrect waypoints are the origin point and points 7 and 8 for the Oculina Bank HAPC.

    Additionally, the proposed and final rules for Amendment 8 incorrectly described the gear stowage provisions for vessels transiting the Oculina Bank HAPC with rock shrimp onboard. The regulatory text in the Amendment 8 final rule in § 622.224(b)(1)(i)(C) states that appropriate stowage for shrimp trawl fishing gear includes the trawl doors and nets being out of the water and onboard the vessel deck or below deck. However, as described in the Amendment 8, the correct gear stowage for the trawl doors and nets is to have the doors and nets out of the water. Requiring the trawl doors and nets to be on deck was contrary to the intent of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and not consistent with Amendment 8.

    This notification corrects the table in § 622.224(b)(1) with the correct coordinates and corrects the gear stowage language in § 622.224(b)(1)(i)(C) by incorporating the necessary language from Amendment 8 back into the regulations.

    Correction

    As published, the final rule for Amendment 8, published on July 17, 2015 (80 FR 42423), incorrectly listed three waypoints for the Oculina Bank HAPC and incorrectly described gear stowage language for vessels transiting the area. Coordinates are added to § 622.224(b)(1) and language is revised in § 622.224(b)(1)(i)(C) to correct these errors.

    Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS has determined that this correcting amendment is necessary for the conservation and management of South Atlantic coral resources and is consistent with Amendment 8, the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and other applicable law.

    This correcting amendment has been determined to be not significant under Executive Order 12866.

    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive prior notice and opportunity for additional public comment for this action because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This correcting amendment corrects the positions for the Oculina Bank HAPC and the associated gear stowage provisions that were incorrectly described in the final rule. Providing prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest because not correcting the waypoints will cause confusion among the affected fishers and will not properly protect the Oculina Bank HAPC. With regard to the gear stowage requirements, not correcting these regulations will require fishers to comply with gear stowage methods that are not those recommended by the Council. The Council developed the gear stowage requirements in coordination with the affected fishers and these stowage requirements represent a safer approach for these fishers given the offshore conditions they may encounter. It would be impracticable to subject this action to notice and comment because the provisions of Amendment 8 are currently in effect and any delay in implementation of this rule would further any confusion that exists on the location of the waypoints and the gear stowage requirements.

    For the same reasons, the Assistant Administrator also finds good cause, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d), to waive the 30-day delay in effective date for this correcting amendment. If this rule is not implemented immediately, it would cause confusion among the affected fishers of the location of the waypoints for Oculina Bank HAPC, would result in inadequate protection of the Oculina Bank HAPC, and require fishers to comply with gear stowage methods that were not recommended by the Council.

    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are inapplicable. Accordingly, no Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is required and none has been prepared.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Coral, Coral Reefs, Fisheries, Fishing, HAPC, Shrimp, South Atlantic.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Accordingly, 50 CFR part 622 is corrected by making the following correcting amendments:

    PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 622.224, entries 7 and 8 in the table in paragraph (b)(1) and paragraph (b)(1)(i)(C) are revised to read as follows:
    § 622.224 Area closures to protect South Atlantic corals.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    Point North lat. West long. *    *    *    *    * 7 28°56′01.86″ 80°08′53.64″ 8 28°52′44.40″ 80°08′53.04″ *    *    *    *    *

    (i) * * *

    (C) Fish for or possess rock shrimp in or from the Oculina Bank HAPC, except a shrimp vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for rock shrimp that possesses rock shrimp may transit through the Oculina Bank HAPC if fishing gear is appropriately stowed. For the purpose of this paragraph, transit means a direct and non-stop continuous course through the area, maintaining a minimum speed of five knots as determined by an operating VMS and a VMS minimum ping rate of 1 ping per 5 minutes; fishing gear appropriately stowed means that doors and nets are out of the water.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25488 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 150727647-5877-01] RIN 0648-BF30 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Technical Amendment to Regulations AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; technical amendments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is hereby making technical amendments to the regulations for Atlantic highly migratory species—specifically, to several restricted fishing areas—without altering the substance of the regulations. Also, this action re-inserts the longstanding statutorily required limit on length of gillnets that was erroneously removed from the regulations in late 2012, and corrects the end date of the Spring Gulf of Mexico gear restricted areas from May 30 to May 31. These changes will make the cross-references in regulations accurate, the gillnet length limit consistent with statutory requirements, and the dates on restrictions consistent with the supporting analyses and management goals. The rule is administrative in nature and does not make any change with substantive effect to the regulations governing Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) fisheries.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on October 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Copies of other documents relevant to this rule are available from the HMS Management Division Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or upon request from the Atlantic HMS Management Division at 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Andrew Rubin or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by phone at 301-427-8503.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Atlantic HMS are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq., (ATCA). The authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA has been delegated from the Secretary of Commerce to the NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA). On May 28, 1999, NMFS published in the Federal Register (64 FR 29090) regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks (1999 FMP). On October 2, 2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register (71 FR 58058) regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, which details the management measures for Atlantic HMS fisheries. The implementing regulations for Atlantic HMS are at 50 CFR part 635.

    Background

    The regulations at 50 CFR part 635 contain cross-references to several restricted fishing areas described in 50 CFR part 622. The cross-references in 50 CFR part 635 ensure consistency with the regulations at 50 CFR part 622 to protect certain reef species and/or habitat managed by the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils. With the reorganization of the 50 CFR part 635 regulations due to the final rule for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (79 FR 71509, December 2, 2014), the cross-references to the Tortugas marine reserve habitat area of particular concern (HAPC), the Mutton snapper spawning aggregation area (SAA), the Red hind SAA, and the Grammanik Bank closed areas were mistakenly overwritten. This technical amendment corrects the cross-references in the HMS regulations.

    A longstanding statutory limit on the length of gillnet gear (see 16 U.S.C. 1857(1)(M)) was erroneously removed from the regulations in 2012. This technical amendment re-inserts the language to the regulations to ensure consistency with the statutory requirements.

    The regulatory end date of the Spring Gulf of Mexico gear restricted areas in § 635.21(c)(2)(vi) was mistakenly written as “May 30” when it should be on the last day of the month, “May 31.” This technical amendment changes the date to be consistent with the original analyses, outreach, and supporting documents of this regulation and to meet management goals appropriately. As the correct date was analyzed as part of the preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, this modification to the regulations should not be unexpected and will not have any impacts beyond those already considered.

    Corrections

    Currently, the regulations in § 635.21(a)(3)(i) cross-reference § 622.34(a)(3) only. This final action corrects the cross-reference by adding a cross-reference to § 622.74(c), which is missing, in order to properly include and specify the boundaries of the “Tortugas marine reserve HAPC.”

    Currently, the regulatory end date of the Spring Gulf of Mexico gear restricted areas in § 635.21(c)(2)(vi) is written as “May 30.” This final rule corrects the date and changes it to “May 31.”

    Currently, the regulations at § 635.21(d)(1)(ii) contain a cross-reference to areas designated at § 622.33(a)(1) through (3) to indicate the Mutton snapper spawning aggregation area (SAA), the Red hind SAA, and the Grammanik Bank closed area. This final action corrects the cross-reference in § 635.21(d)(1)(ii) by changing it from § 622.33(a)(1) through (3) to § 622.435(a)(2)(i) through (iii).

    Currently, the regulations at § 635.21(g) do not contain the statutorily-required regulatory limits on the length of gillnet for persons fishing for sharks. This final rule inserts the language that was removed regarding the length restriction of gillnets into the regulations at § 635.21(g)(4) into the regulations.

    Classification

    The AA has determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of U.S. fisheries and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS FMP and its amendments, and ATCA.

    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. This final rule adds only corrective, non-substantive changes to correct cross-references, re-inserts language, and corrects dates to HMS regulations and is solely administrative in nature. These changes should not be unexpected. None of these changes will have a substantive impact beyond those already considered in previous supporting documents. There is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effective date. The basis for this waiver is that it not a substantive rule but, rather, corrects cross-references, re-inserts regulatory language, and corrects a mistaken date in HMS regulations. Furthermore, failure to implement this rule immediately would cause continued confusion among the regulated community.

    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are inapplicable.

    NMFS has determined that fishing activities conducted pursuant to this rule will not affect endangered and/or threatened species or critical habitat listed under the Endangered Species Act, or marine mammals protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act because the action will not result in any change or increase in fishing activity, and is solely administrative in nature.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 635 is amended as follows:

    PART 635—ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 635.21, revise paragraphs (a)(3)(i), (c)(2)(vi), (d)(1)(ii), and add paragraph (g)(4) to read as follows:
    § 635.21 Gear operation, restricted areas and deployment restrictions.

    (a) * * *

    (3) * * *

    (i) No person may fish for, catch, possess, or retain any Atlantic HMS or anchor a fishing vessel that has been issued a permit or is required to be permitted under this part, in the areas and seasons designated at § 622.34(a)(3) of this chapter, and in the Tortugas marine reserves HAPC designated at § 622.74(c) of this chapter.

    (c) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (vi) In the Spring Gulf of Mexico gear restricted area from April 1 through May 31 each year;

    (d) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (ii) The areas designated at § 622.435(a)(2)(i) through (iii) of this chapter, year-round; and

    (g) * * *

    (4) No person may fish for sharks with a gillnet with a total length of 2.5 km or more. No vessel may have on board a gillnet with a total length of 2.5 km or more.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25477 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 150626556-5886-02] RIN 0648-BF20 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; State Waters Exemption AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS approves and implements an exemption for Northern Gulf of Maine federally permitted vessels with state-waters permits issued from the State of Maine to continue fishing in the Maine state-waters portion of the Northern Gulf of Maine management area once NMFS has announced that the Federal total allowable catch has been fully harvested in a given year. Maine requested this exemption as part of the Scallop State Water Exemption Program, which specifies that a state may be eligible for a state waters exemption to specific Federal regulations if it has a scallop fishery and a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. Based on the information that Maine has submitted, NMFS has determined that Maine qualifies for this exemption and that this exemption will not have an impact on the effectiveness of Federal management measures for the scallop fishery overall or within the Northern Gulf of Maine management area.

    DATES:

    Effective November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents supporting this action, including the State of Maine's request for the exemption and Framework Adjustment 26 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) are available upon request from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. The Framework 26 Environmental Assessment and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis are also accessible via the Internet at http://www.nefmc.org/scallops/index.html or http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/regs/2015/March/15scalfw26turtlepr.html.

    Copies of the small entity compliance guide are available from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298, or available on the Internet at http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/scallop/.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Emily Gilbert, Fishery Policy Analyst, 978-281-9244.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    The Scallop State Waters Exemption Program specifies that a state with a scallop fishery may be eligible for state waters exemptions if it has a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality and effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP. Under the Program, if NMFS determines that a state is eligible, federally permitted scallop vessels fishing in state waters may be exempted from specific Federal scallop regulations. One of these exemptions enables some scallop vessels to continue to fish in state waters within the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) management area once the Federal NGOM total allowable catch (TAC) is reached. Any state interested in applying for this exemption must identify the scallop-permitted vessels that would be subject to the exemption (i.e., limited access, limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota, LAGC incidental, or LAGC NGOM). No vessel is permitted to fish for scallops in the Federal portion of the NGOM once the TAC is harvested. We provided a broader description of the Scallop State Waters Exemption Program in the preamble of the proposed rule (80 FR 46531; August 5, 2015) for this action and are not repeating that information here.

    NMFS received a request from Maine to expand its current exemptions to allow federally NGOM-permitted vessels with Maine state-waters permits to fish in the Maine state-waters portion of the NGOM management area once we project the Federal NGOM TAC to be fully harvested. This provision allows those vessels to continue to fish in state waters along with state permitted vessels that do not have Federal permits. Although the 70,000-lb (31,751-kg) NGOM Federal TAC has never been exceeded since the NGOM management area was created in 2008, there is now a higher potential that the TAC will be reached because scallop effort has increased in the NGOM in recent years as the stock has improved, particularly in state waters. Without this exemption, federally permitted vessels are unable to participate in Maine's state water fishery if the Federal NGOM TAC is reached; state-only permitted scallop vessels are able to continue to fish in state waters after the Federal closure.

    Based on the information Maine submitted regarding its scallop conservation program, as outlined in the preamble to the proposed rule, and considering comments received during the public comment period, NMFS determines that the state qualifies for the NGOM state waters exemption under the Scallop FMP. Maine's scallop fishery restrictions are as restrictive as Federal scallop fishing regulations and this exemption will not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality and effort limit objectives of the FMP. Allowing for this NGOM exemption will have no impact on the effectiveness of Federal management measures for the scallop fishery overall or within the NGOM management area because the NGOM Federal TAC is set based only on the portion of the resource in Federal waters.

    This exemption applies only to vessels with Federal NGOM permits. All other federally permitted scallop vessel categories are prohibited from retaining, possessing, and landing scallops from within the NGOM management area, in both Federal and state waters, once the NGOM hard TAC is fully harvested.

    Comments and Responses

    NMFS received two comment letters in response to the proposed rule, one from from the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the other from a member of the general public. We provide responses below to the issues these commenters raised.

    Comment 1: The Maine Department of Marine Resources stated its support of NMFS issuing this exemption and provided information on the current scallop regulations in its waters.

    Response: NMFS is satisfied that Maine meets the criteria for this NGOM exemption and thanks Maine for submitting the necessary information to make this determination.

    Comment 2: One individual was against issuing Maine this exemption, generally stating that overfishing is substantial. The commenter provided no other rationale to deny the permit.

    Response: There is no evidence in the record to support the claim that the scallop stock is not in a stable condition. The most recent stock assessment (July 2013) concluded that scallop resource is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. As we discuss in the preambles to both the proposed and final rules, allowing for this NGOM exemption will not jeopardize the effectiveness of Federal management measures for the scallop fishery overall or within the NGOM management area because the NGOM Federal TAC is set based only on the portion of the resource in Federal waters.

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this rule is not significant according to Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.

    This final rule does not contain policies with federalism or “takings” implications, as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 12630, respectively.

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows:

    PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 648.54, paragraph (a)(4) is revised to read as follows:
    § 648.54 State waters exemption.

    (a) * * *

    (4) The Regional Administrator has determined that the State of Maine has a scallop fishery conservation program for its scallop fishery that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP. A vessel fishing in State of Maine waters may fish under the State of Maine state waters exemption, subject to the exemptions specified in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (e) through (g) of this section. In addition, a vessel issued a Federal Northern Gulf of Maine permit fishing in State of Maine waters may fish under the State of Maine state waters exemption specified in paragraph (d) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (e) through (g) of this section.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25485 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 194 Wednesday, October 7, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 925 [Doc. No. AMS-FV-14-0049; FV14-925-3] Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California; Proposed Amendments to Marketing Order and Referendum Order AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule and referendum order.

    SUMMARY:

    This rulemaking proposes three amendments to Marketing Order No. 925 (order), which regulates the handling of table grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California. Two amendments are based on proposals made by the California Desert Grape Administrative Committee (Committee), which is responsible for the local administration of the order. These two amendments would increase term lengths for Committee members and alternates from one to four fiscal periods and would allow new members and alternates to agree to accept their nominations prior to selection. The amendments are intended to increase the Committee's effectiveness and bolster industry participation in Committee activities.

    In addition to the Committee's two amendments, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) would amend the order to add authority for periodic continuance referenda which would allow producers to indicate whether or not there is continuing support for the order.

    DATES:

    The referendum will be conducted from January 21, 2016 through February 4, 2016. The representative period for the purpose of the referendum is January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Geronimo Quinones, Marketing Specialist, or Michelle P. Sharrow, Rulemaking Branch Chief, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Stop 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: [email protected] or [email protected].

    Small businesses may request information on complying with this regulation by contacting Jeffrey Smutny, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938, or Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This proposal is issued under Marketing Order No. 925, as amended (7 CFR part 925), regulating the handling of table grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California, hereinafter referred to as the “order.” The order is effective under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), hereinafter referred to as the “Act.” Section 608c(17) of the Act and the applicable rules of practice and procedure governing the formulation of marketing agreements and orders (7 CFR part 900) authorize amendments of the order through this informal rulemaking action.

    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this proposed rule in conformance with Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13175.

    This proposal has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This proposed rule is not intended to have retroactive effect. This rulemaking shall not be deemed to preclude, preempt, or supersede any State program covering table grapes grown in southeastern California.

    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may file with USDA a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted therefrom. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After the hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the district court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has his or her principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, provided an action is filed no later than 20 days after the date of entry of the ruling.

    Section 1504 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) (Pub. L. 110-246) amended section 18c(17) of the Act, which in turn required the addition of supplemental rules of practice to 7 CFR part 900 (73 FR 49307; August 21, 2008). The amendment of section 18c(17) of the Act and additional supplemental rules of practice authorize the use of informal rulemaking (5 U.S.C. 553) to amend Federal fruit, vegetable, and nut marketing agreements and orders. USDA may use informal rulemaking to amend marketing orders based on the nature and complexity of the proposed amendments, the potential regulatory and economic impacts on affected entities, and any other relevant matters.

    AMS has considered these factors and has determined that the amendment proposals are not unduly complex and the nature of the proposed amendments is appropriate for utilizing the informal rulemaking process to amend the order. A discussion of the potential regulatory and economic impacts on affected entities is discussed later in the “Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” section of this proposed rule.

    Two amendments were unanimously recommended by the Committee following deliberations at a public meeting held on November 5, 2013. In addition to these amendments, AMS would amend the order to add authority to provide for periodic continuance referenda.

    A proposed rule soliciting comments on the proposed amendments was issued on June 1, 2015, and published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2015 (80 FR 32043). No comments were received. AMS will conduct a producer referendum to determine support for the proposed amendments. If appropriate, a final rule will then be issued to effectuate the amendments favored by producers in the referendum.

    The Committee's proposed amendments would amend the marketing order by: (1) Increasing the length of the term of office for Committee members and alternates from one to four fiscal periods, and (2) allowing new members and alternates to agree to accept their nominations prior to selection.

    In addition to these proposed amendments, AMS proposes to add authority to provide for periodic continuance referenda. AMS has determined that continuance referenda are an effective means to allow the industry to indicate whether or not there exists continuing support for the marketing order. AMS would also consider all other relevant information concerning the operation of the order and the relative benefits and disadvantages to the industry.

    Proposal Number 1—Term of Office

    This proposal would amend § 925.21 by increasing the length of the term of office for Committee members and alternates from one to four fiscal periods. The change would provide more time for new members and alternates to learn the details of the Committee's operations and business during their tenure. In addition, longer terms would eliminate the annual turnover of the Committee and the perennial need for new members and alternates. If this amendment is adopted, members and alternate members would be selected for a four-year term of office beginning with the first term after the amendments become effective.

    For the reasons stated above, it is proposed that § 925.21 be modified to increase the length of the term of office for Committee members and alternates from one to four fiscal periods.

    Proposal Number 2—Qualification and Acceptance

    This proposal would modify § 925.25 to allow new members and alternates to agree to accept their nominations prior to selection for the Committee by the Secretary.

    Committee members and alternates are nominated by their peers to serve and are then selected by the Secretary. After the selections are made, Committee members and alternates are required to formally accept the appointment by signing and submitting an acceptance letter indicating they are willing to serve. The Committee believes this final step in the selection process is redundant and not efficient. The order would be revised to specify that before a person is selected as a member or alternate member of the Committee, that person must complete a questionnaire outlining their qualifications. This would eliminate the requirement to complete and submit a separate acceptance letter after being nominated. Because the nominee qualifications questionnaire already includes a statement indicating the person is willing to serve on the Committee, if selected by the Secretary, AMS modified the proposed regulatory text originally submitted by the Committee.

    For the reasons stated above, it is proposed that § 925.25 be revised to remove the requirement to file a written acceptance with the Secretary after being notified of selection.

    Proposal Number 3—Continuance Referenda

    AMS would amend § 925.63, Termination, to require that continuance referenda be conducted every six years to gauge industry support for the order. Currently, there is no provision in the marketing order that requires periodic continuance referenda. Continuance referenda provide an industry with a means to measure grower support for the marketing order program. Since marketing orders benefit growers, it follows that they should be afforded the opportunity to express whether they support the programs on a periodic basis. Under this proposal, the Department would consider termination of the order if less than two-thirds of the producers voting in the referendum or producers of less than two-thirds of the volume of table grapes represented in the referendum favor continuance. In evaluating the merits of continuance versus termination, USDA would not only consider the results of the referendum. The Department would also consider all other relevant information concerning the operation of the order and its relative benefits and disadvantages in order to determine whether continued operation of the order would tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act.

    For the reasons stated above, it is proposed that § 925.63—Termination, be amended by redesignating paragraph (c) as paragraph (d) and adding a new paragraph (c) to provide that a continuance referendum shall be conducted six years after the amendment becomes effective and every six years thereafter. The new paragraph (c) in this proposed rule and referendum order has been corrected to require a continuance referendum six years after the new paragraph becomes effective, not six years after part 925 becomes effective. The new paragraph (c) of § 925.63 would further specify that the Department may terminate the order if continuance is not favored by two-thirds of the growers participating in the referendum, or voters representing two-thirds of the production volume represented in the referendum.

    Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), AMS has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities. Accordingly, AMS has prepared this final regulatory flexibility analysis.

    The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions in order that small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Marketing orders issued pursuant to the Act, and rules issued thereunder, are unique in that they are brought about through group action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf.

    Based on Committee data, there are approximately 15 handlers of southeastern California table grapes who are subject to regulation under the marketing order and approximately 41 grape producers in the production area. Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts of less than $7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those whose annual receipts are less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201).

    Ten of the 15 handlers subject to regulation have annual grape sales of less than $7,000,000 according to USDA Market News Service and Committee data. Based on information from the Committee and USDA's Market News Service, it is estimated that at least 10 of the 41 producers have annual receipts of less than $750,000. Thus, it may be concluded that a majority of grape handlers regulated under the order and about 10 of the producers could be classified as small entities under SBA definitions.

    The amendments proposed by the Committee would provide authority to increase the term length for members and alternates from one to four fiscal periods under the Federal marketing order for California table grapes. They also would allow new members and alternates of the Committee to agree to accept their nominations before the selection process begins. An amendment proposed by AMS would provide for continuance referenda every six years.

    The Committee's proposed amendments were unanimously recommended at a public meeting on November 5, 2013.

    If these proposals are approved in referendum, there would be no direct financial effects on producers or handlers. Eliminating the need to complete the election process every year would save considerable amounts of time and reduce expenses for the industry and the Committee. In addition, eliminating the acceptance letter improves the efficiency of the nomination and appointment process.

    The Committee believes these changes represent the needs of the Committee and industry. No economic impact is expected if the amendments are approved because they would not establish any regulatory requirements on handlers, nor do they contain any assessment or funding implications. There would be no change in financial costs, reporting, or recordkeeping requirements if either of these proposals is approved.

    AMS' proposal to add a provision for continuance referenda is expected to afford producers the opportunity to indicate continuing support for the order and its programs. Support for the program is expected to benefit all producers and handlers by ensuring that the program continues to meet the industry's needs.

    Alternatives to these proposals, including making no changes at this time, were considered. However, the Committee believes it would be beneficial to streamline the nomination and selection process to reduce the costs required for completing the process annually and to provide new members and alternates with more time to learn the details of the Committee's operations and business during their tenure.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the termination of the Letter of Acceptance was previously submitted to and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As a result, the current number of hours associated with OMB No. 0581-0189, Generic Fruit Crops, would remain the same: 7,786.71 hours.

    As with all Federal marketing order programs, reports and forms are periodically reviewed to reduce information requirements and duplication by industry and public sector agencies. In addition, USDA has not identified any relevant Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule.

    AMS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act, to promote the use of the internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services, and for other purposes.

    The Committee's meeting was widely publicized throughout the California table grape production area. All interested persons were invited to attend the meeting and encouraged to participate in Committee deliberations on all issues. Like all Committee meetings, the November 5, 2013, meeting was public, and all entities, both large and small, were encouraged to express their views on these proposals.

    A proposed rule concerning this action was published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2015 (80 FR 32043). Copies of the rule were mailed or sent via facsimile to all Committee members and table grape handlers. Finally, the proposed rule was made available through the internet by USDA and the Office of the Federal Register. A 60-day comment period ending August 4, 2015, was provided to allow interested persons to respond to the proposal. No comments were received. Accordingly, no changes have been made to the proposed amendments.

    A small business guide on complying with fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing agreements and orders may be viewed at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/MarketingOrdersSmallBusinessGuide. Any questions about the compliance guide should be sent to Jeffrey Smutny at his previously mentioned address in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    Findings and Conclusions

    The findings and conclusions and general findings and determinations included in the proposed rule set forth in the June 5, 2015, issue of the Federal Register are hereby approved and adopted.

    Marketing Order

    Annexed hereto and made a part hereof is the document entitled “Order Amending the Order Regulating the Handling of Table Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California.” This document has been decided upon as the detailed and appropriate means of effectuating the foregoing findings and conclusions. It is hereby ordered, that this entire proposed rule be published in the Federal Register.

    Referendum Order

    It is hereby directed that a referendum be conducted in accordance with the procedure for the conduct of referenda (7 CFR part 900.400-407) to determine whether the annexed order amending the order regulating the handling of table grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California is approved by growers, as defined under the terms of the order, who during the representative period were engaged in the production of table grapes in the production area. The representative period for the conduct of such referendum is hereby determined to be January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.

    The agents of the Secretary to conduct such referendum are designated to be Rose Aguayo and Kathie Notoro, California Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA; Telephone: (559) 487-5901, or Email: [email protected] or [email protected], respectively.

    Order Amending the Order Regulating the Handling of Table Grapes Grown in a Designated Area of Southeastern California 1

    1 This order shall not become effective unless and until the requirements of § 900.14 of the rules of practice and procedure governing proceedings to formulate marketing agreements and marketing orders have been met.

    Findings and Determinations

    The findings hereinafter set forth are supplementary to the findings and determinations which were previously made in connection with the issuance of the marketing order; and all said previous findings and determinations are hereby ratified and affirmed, except insofar as such findings and determinations may be in conflict with the findings and determinations set forth herein.

    1. The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, and all of the terms and conditions thereof, would tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act;

    2. The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, regulates the handling of table grapes grown in a designated area of Southeastern California in the same manner as, and is applicable only to, persons in the respective classes of commercial and industrial activity specified in the marketing order;

    3. The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, is limited in application to the smallest regional production area which is practicable, consistent with carrying out the declared policy of the Act, and the issuance of several orders applicable to subdivisions of the production area would not effectively carry out the declared policy of the Act;

    4. The marketing order, as amended, and as hereby proposed to be further amended, prescribes, insofar as practicable, such different terms applicable to different parts of the production area as are necessary to give due recognition to the differences in the production and marketing of table grapes produced in the production area; and

    5. All handling of table grapes produced in the production area as defined in the marketing order is in the current of interstate or foreign commerce or directly burdens, obstructs, or affects such commerce.

    Order Relative to Handling

    It is therefore ordered, that on and after the effective date hereof, all handling of table grapes grown in a designated area of southeastern California shall be in conformity to, and in compliance with, the terms and conditions of the said order as hereby proposed to be amended as follows:

    The provisions of the proposed marketing order amending the order contained in the proposed rule issued by the Administrator on June 1, 2015, and published in the Federal Register (80 FR 32043) on June 5, 2015, will be and are the terms and provisions of this order amending the order and are set forth in full herein.

    List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 925

    Grapes, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 925 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 925—GRAPES GROWN IN A DESIGNATED AREA OF SOUTHEASTERN CALIFORNIA 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 925 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 601-674.

    2. Revise the first sentence of 925.21 to read as follows:
    § 925.21 Term of office.

    The term of office of the members and alternates shall be four fiscal periods.* * *

    3. Revise 925.25 to read as follows:
    § 925.25 Qualification and acceptance.

    Any person selected as a member or alternate member of the Committee shall, prior to such selection, qualify by filing a qualifications questionnaire advising the Secretary that he or she agrees to serve in the position for which nominated.

    4. Amend 925.63 by redesignating paragraph (c) as (d) and adding a new paragraph (c) to read as follows:
    § 925.63 Termination.

    (c) Within six years of the effective date of this paragraph the Secretary shall conduct a referendum to ascertain whether continuance of this part is favored by producers. Subsequent referenda to ascertain continuance shall be conducted every six years thereafter. The Secretary may terminate the provisions of this part at the end of any fiscal period in which the Secretary has found that continuance of this part is not favored by a two thirds majority of voting producers, or a two thirds majority of volume represented thereby, who, during a representative period determined by the Secretary, have been engaged in the production for market of table grapes in the production area. Such termination shall be announced on or before the end of the production year.

    Dated: October 1, 2015.

    Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25447 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 73 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3338; Airspace Docket No. 15-ASO-7] Proposed Modification and Establishment of Restricted Areas; Townsend, GA AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    This notice proposes to modify the restricted airspace at the Townsend Bombing Range, GA, by expanding the lateral limits of R-3007A to allow construction of additional targets and impact areas. The modification is needed so that precision guided munitions (PGM) can be used on the range. The proposed change would be completely contained within the existing outer boundaries of the R-3007 complex. The using agency name also is updated.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001; telephone: (202) 366-9826. You must identify FAA Docket No. FAA-2015-3338 and Airspace Docket No. 15-ASO-7, at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments on environmental and land use aspects to should be directed to: Mr. William Drawdy, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Officer, Building 601, Floor 2, Room 216, Beaufort, SC 29904; telephone: 843-228-7370; email: [email protected].

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paul Gallant, Airspace Policy Group, Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8783.

    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 Subtitile VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of the 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 modify restricted airspace at the Townsend Bombing Range, GA, to permit essential aircrew training in the employment of PGM at the Range.

    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 (FAA Docket No. FAA-2015-3338 and Airspace Docket No. 15-ASO-7) and be submitted in triplicate to the Docket Management System (see ADDRESSES section for address and phone number). You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Persons wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments on this action must submit with those comments a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to FAA Docket No. FAA-2015-3338 and Airspace Docket No. 15-ASO-7.” The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

    All communications received on or before the specified closing date for comments will be considered before taking action on the proposed rule. The proposal contained in this action may be changed in light of comments received. All comments submitted will be available for examination in the public docket both before and after the closing date for comments. A report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel concerned with this rulemaking will be filed in the docket.

    Availability of NPRMs

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded 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 at 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 Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Federal Aviation Administration, 1701 Columbia Ave., College Park, GA 30337.

    Persons interested in being placed on a mailing list for future NPRMs should contact the FAA's Office of Rulemaking, (202) 267-9677, for a copy of Advisory Circular No. 11-2A, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Distribution System, which describes the application procedure.

    Background

    The Townsend Bombing Range, located in Long and McIntosh Counties, GA, has been used for air-to-ground ordnance delivery dating back to the 1940's. Currently, the Range consists of four restricted areas: R-3007A, B, C and D. The Range is owned by Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, SC, and is operated by the Georgia Air National Guard's Combat Readiness Training Center in Savannah, GA.

    Although the Range impact area (i.e., R-3007A) has been large enough to accommodate fighter aircraft dropping unguided munitions, it is too small to contain the larger weapon danger zone required for PGMs. The weapon danger zone is the area within which a weapon could impact the ground if a malfunction occurred. Although very accurate, PGMs actually require larger impact areas because they are released to their target from greater distances and altitudes than other types of ordnance. If a PGM experienced guidance or a mechanical system malfunction, its potential impact area is much larger than that required for ordnance that is released from lower altitudes and closer to the target. Consequently, the Range cannot currently be used to train aircrews to employ PGMs. To permit PGM training, the impact area must be expanded to ensure that any errant bomb would safely land within the Range impact area.

    The U.S. Marine Corps is acquiring 28,630 acres of real estate to make the Range viable for this essential aircrew training. Purchase of that land would allow a larger section of the existing restricted airspace to be lowered from the current 100 feet above ground level (AGL) floor, down to ground level to permit construction of the additional targets and expanded impact area needed for PGMs.

    Range Configuration

    Restricted area R-3007A is the primary weapons impact area. It is a circular area with a 1.5-nautical mile (NM) radius that extends from the ground up to but not including 13,000 feet mean sea level (MSL). R-3007B is a narrow area to the southeast of R-3007A. It extends from 1,200 feet AGL up to but not including 13,000 feet MSL. R-3007C is the largest part of the complex. It surrounds R-3007A and is bounded on the west by the Altamaha River, and by lines roughly 9 NM north of R-3007A and 7 NM northeast of R-3007A, and by R-3007B to the southeast of R-3007A. R-3007C extends from 100 feet AGL up to but not including 13,000 feet MSL. R-3007D overlies subareas A, B and C and extends from 13,000 feet MSL to Flight Level (FL) 250.

    The land acquisition parcel underlies roughly the eastern half of R-3007C. The airspace over this parcel would be incorporated into R-3007A thereby allowing the floor of the airspace in that area to be lowered from 100 feet AGL down to ground level. This proposed expansion of R-3007A would leave a small, isolated piece of restricted airspace (along the boundary of R-3007B and formerly a part of R-3007C) with a floor of 100 feet AGL. This small area would be redesignated as R-3007E and would extend from 100 feet AGL up to but not including 13,000 feet MSL.

    The Proposal

    The FAA is proposing an amendment to 14 CFR part 73 to expand restricted area R-3007A to include the part of R-3007C that overlies a land parcel being acquired by the U.S. Marine Corps. The floor of R-3007C is 100 feet AGL. By adding the airspace over this land parcel into R-3007A, the restricted area floor in that area could be lowered from 100 feet AGL down to ground level. This change is proposed to provide additional ground level restricted airspace needed for the construction of targets and impact areas so that PGMs can safely be employed at the Range. The small slice of restricted airspace with a 100-foot AGL floor that remains to the east of the expanded R-3007A would be redesignated as R-3007E extending from 100 feet AGL up to but not including 13,000 feet MSL.

    Minor corrections would be made to several boundary coordinates for R-3007B and R-3007D to match the current National Hydrology Dataset for the Altamaha River boundary where that river forms the boundary of the restricted areas. The name of the using agency for all subareas would be updated to reflect the current organizational title.

    A color chart of the proposed areas will be posted on the www.regulations.gov Web site.

    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 Department of Transportation (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 proposed 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 subjected 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 73

    Airspace, Prohibited Areas, Restricted Areas.

    The Proposed Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 14 CFR part 73 as follows:

    PART 73—SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE 1. The authority citation for part 73 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.

    § 73.30 (Amended)
    2. § 73.30 is amended as follows: R-3007A Townsend, GA [Amended]

    By removing the current boundaries and using agency and inserting the following:

    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31°41′52″ N., long. 81°35′53″ W.; to lat. 31°42′31″ N., long. 81°33′59″ W.; to lat. 31°39′24″ N., long. 81°30′31″ W.; to lat. 31°37′49″ N., long. 81°30′56″ W.; to lat. 31°36′35″ N., long. 81°31′15″ W.; to lat. 31°34′17″ N., long. 81°31′56″ W.; to lat. 31°33′07″ N., long. 81°32′41″ W.; thence counterclockwise along a 1-NM radius arc from a point centered at lat. 31°32′26″ N., long. 81°31′49″ W.; to lat. 31°32′37″ N., long. 81°32′58″ W.; to lat. 31°30′59″ N., long. 81°33′57″ W.; to lat. 31°30′45″ N., long. 81°34′19″ W.; to lat. 31°30′29″ N., long. 81°34′41″ W,; to lat. 31°30′38″ N., long. 81°35′06″ W.; to lat. 31°31′13″ N., long. 81°35′02″ W.; to lat. 31°31′35″ N., long. 91°36′32″ W.; to lat. 31°33′04″ N., long. 81°37′27″ W.; to lat. 31°33′30″ N., long. 81°36′32″ W.; to lat. 31°34′25″ N., long. 81°36′13″ W.; to lat. 31°35′32″ N., long. 81°35′59″ W,; to lat. 31°35′55″ N., long. 81°35′19″ W.; to lat. 31°36′38″ N., long. 81°35′18″ W.; to lat. 31°36′43″ N., long. 81°35′41″ W.; to lat. 31°37′20″ N., long. 81°35′37″ W.; to lat. 31°37′23″ N., long. 81°35′47″ W.; to lat. 31°40′29″ N., long. 81°36′13″ W.; to lat. 31°40′48″ N., long. 81°35′33″ W.; to the point of beginning.

    Using agency. ANG, Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), Office of Townsend Bombing Range, GA.

    R-3007B Townsend, GA [Amended]

    By removing the current boundaries and using agency and inserting the following:

    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31°38′01″ N., long. 81°28′59″ W.; to lat. 31°37′31″ N., long. 81°28′14″ W.; to lat. 31°32′31″ N., long. 81°27′29″ W.; to lat. 31°26′16″ N., long. 81°31′29″ W.; to lat. 31°25′26″ N., long. 81°36′05″ W.; to lat. 31°27′26″ N., long. 81°33′39″ W.; to lat. 31°31′26″ N., long. 81°31′58″ W.; thence clockwise along a 1-NM radius arc from a point centered at lat. 31°32′26″ N., long. 81°31′49″ W.; to lat. 31°33′18″ N., long. 81°31′13″ W.; to the point of beginning.

    Using agency. ANG, Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), Office of Townsend Bombing Range, GA.

    R-3007C Townsend, GA [Amended]

    By removing the current boundaries and using agency and inserting the following:

    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31°37′54″ N., long. 81°47′21″ W.; to lat. 31°41′52″ N., long. 81°35′53″ W.; to lat. 31°40′48″ N., long. 81°35′33″ W,; to lat. 31°40′29″ N., long. 81°36′13″ W.; to lat. 31°37′23″ N., long. 81°35′47″ W.; to lat. 31°37′20″ N., long. 81°35′37″ W.; to lat. 31°36′43″ N., long. 81°35′41″ W.; to lat. 31°36′38″ N., long. 81°35′18″ W.; to lat. 31°35′55″ N., long. 81°35′19″ W.; to lat. 31°35′32″ N., long. 81°35′59″ W.; to lat. 31°34′25″ N., long. 81°36′13″ W.; to lat. 31°33′30″ N., long. 81°36′32″ W.; to lat. 31°33′04″ N., long. 81°37′27″ W.; to lat. 31°31′35″ N., long. 81°36′32″ W.; to lat. 31°31′13″ N., long. 81°35′02″ W.; to lat. 31°30′38″ N., long. 81°35′06″ W.; to lat. 31°30′29″ N., long. 81°34′41″ W.; to lat. 31°30′45″ N., long. 81°34′19″ W.; to lat. 31°30′59″ N., long. 81°33′57″ W.; to lat. 31°32′37″ N., long. 81°32′58″ W.; thence counterclockwise along a 1-NM radius arc from a point centered at lat. 31°32′26″ N., long. 81°31′49″ W.; to lat. 31°31′26″ N., long. 81°31′58″ W.; to lat. 31°27′26″ N., long. 81°33′39″ W.; to lat. 31°25′26″ N., long. 81°36′05″ W.; thence west along the Altamaha River to the point of beginning.

    Using agency. ANG, Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), Office of Townsend Bombing Range, GA.

    R-3007D Townsend, GA [Amended]

    By removing the current boundaries and using agency and inserting the following:

    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31°37′54″ N., long. 81°47′21″ W.; to lat. 31°41′52″ N., long. 81°35′53″ W.; to lat. 31°42′31″ N., long. 81°33′59″ W.; to lat. 31°39′24″ N., long. 81°30′31″ W.; to lat. 31°38′01″ N., long. 81°28′59″ W.; to lat. 31°37′31″ N., long. 81°28′14″ W.; to lat. 31°32′31″ N., long. 81°27′29″ W.; to lat. 31°26′16″ N., long. 81°31′29″ W.; to lat. 31°25′26″ N., long. 81°36′05″ W.; thence northwest along the Altamaha River to the point of beginning.

    Using agency. ANG, Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), Office of Townsend Bombing Range, GA.

    R-3007E Townsend, GA [New]

    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31°39′24″ N., long. 81°30′31′W.; to lat. 31°38′01″ N., long. 81°28′59″ W.; to lat. 31°33′18″ N., long. 81°31′13″ W.; thence counterclockwise along a 1-NM radius arc from a point centered at lat. 31°32′26″ N., long. 81°31′49″ W.; to lat. 31°33′07″ N., long. 81°32′41″ W.; to lat. 31°34′17″ N., long. 81°31′56″ W.; to lat. 31°36′35″ N., long. 81°31′15″ W.; to lat. 31°37′49″ N.; long. 81°30′56″ W.; to the point of beginning.

    Designated altitudes. 100 feet AGL to but not including 13,000 feet MSL.

    Time of designation. 0700-2200 local time, Monday-Friday; other times by NOTAM at least 24 hours in advance.

    Controlling agency. FAA, Jacksonville ARTCC.

    Using agency. ANG, Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), Office of Townsend Bombing Range, GA.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2015. Kenneth Ready, Acting Manager, Airspace Policy Group.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25542 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Financial Crimes Enforcement Network 31 CFR Part 1010 RIN 1506-AB11 Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; Withdrawal of the Proposed Rulemaking Against Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL AGENCY:

    Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; withdrawal.

    SUMMARY:

    This document withdraws FinCEN's February 17, 2011, proposed rulemaking to impose the fifth special measure against Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL (“LCB”) as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern, pursuant to the United States Code (U.S.C.).

    DATES:

    As of October 7, 2015 the proposed rule published February 17, 2011, at 76 FR 9268, is withdrawn.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The FinCEN Resource Center at (800) 767-2825.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    The Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), codified at 12 U.S.C. 1829b, 12 U.S.C. 1951-1959, and 31 U.S.C. 5311-5314 and 5316-5332, promotes the prevention, detection, and prosecution of money laundering, tax evasion, the financing of terrorism, and other financial crimes. Regulations implementing the BSA appear at 31 CFR Chapter X. The authority of the Secretary of the Treasury (“the Secretary”) to administer the BSA and its implementing regulations has been delegated to the Director of FinCEN.

    Section 5318A of the BSA grants the Secretary authority, upon finding that reasonable grounds exist for concluding that a foreign jurisdiction, foreign financial institution, class of international transactions, or type of account is of “primary money laundering concern,” to require domestic financial institutions and domestic financial agencies to take certain “special measures” against the primary money laundering concern.

    II. The Finding, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Subsequent Developments A. The Notice of Finding and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    Based upon review and analysis of relevant information, consultations with relevant Federal agencies and departments, and after consideration of the factors enumerated in section 311, the Director of FinCEN found that reasonable grounds existed for concluding that LCB was a financial institution of primary money laundering concern. FinCEN published a proposed rule proposing to impose the fifth special measure on February 17, 2011, pursuant to the authority under 31 U.S.C. 5318A.1

    1See 76 FR 9268 (February 17, 2011, RIN 1506-AB11).

    B. Subsequent Developments

    Since FinCEN's notice of proposed rulemaking, material facts regarding the circumstances of the proposed rulemaking have changed. On September 20, 2011, the Lebanese central bank and monetary authority, with control over bank supervision and regulation, the Banque du Liban (BDL), revoked the banking license of LCB and delisted LCB from the list of banks published by BDL. LCB's former shareholders sold its assets and liabilities to the Societé Generale de Banque au Liban SAL (SGBL). Because of the action taken by the Lebanese banking authorities and the liquidation of the LCB's assets, LCB no longer exists as a foreign financial institution. FinCEN will therefore not proceed with the rule proposed on February 17, 2011.

    III. Withdrawal of the Proposed Rule

    For the reasons set forth above, FinCEN hereby withdraws the February 17, 2011 proposed rule proposing to impose the fifth special measure authorized by 31 U.S.C. 5318A(b)(5) regarding LCB. FinCEN's withdrawal of the proposed rule does not acknowledge any remedial measure taken by LCB, but results from the fact that LCB no longer exists as a foreign financial institution due to the decision by its former shareholders to liquidate the bank and the revocation of its banking license.

    Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
    [FR Doc. 2015-24912 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-02-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605; A-1-FRL-9935-30-Region 1] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Rhode Island; Sulfur Content of Fuels AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Rhode Island on June 26, 2014, with supplemental submittals on March 25, 2015 and August 28, 2015. This SIP revision includes a regulation that has been revised to require a lower sulfur content for petroleum-based distillate and residual fuel oils. In addition, outdated provisions in the regulation have been removed. The intended effect of this action is to propose approval of this regulation into the Rhode Island SIP. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605 by one of the following methods:

    1. www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.

    2. Email: [email protected].

    3. Fax: (617) 918-0046.

    4. Mail: EPA-R01-OAR-2014-0605, Bob McConnell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912.

    5. Hand Delivery or Courier. Deliver your comments to: Bob McConnell, Acting Manager, Air Quality Planning Unit, Office of Ecosystem Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Regional Office's normal hours of operation. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays.

    Please see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules Section of this Federal Register for detailed instructions on how to submit comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Anne McWilliams, Air Quality Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone number (617) 918-1697, fax number (617) 918-0697, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Final Rules Section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's SIP submittals as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this rule, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives 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 rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions 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.

    Dated: September 21, 2015. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25333 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Chapter I [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0487; FRL-9934-77] Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Ocean Acidification; TSCA Section 21 Petition; Reasons for Agency Response AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Petition; reasons for Agency response.

    SUMMARY:

    This document provides the reasons for EPA's denial of a petition it received under section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) from the Center for Biological Diversity and Donn J. Viviani, Ph.D. The petitioners requested EPA to initiate rulemaking under TSCA to address risks related to carbon dioxide emissions, particularly those associated with ocean acidification, or, in the alternative, that EPA initiate rulemaking under TSCA to require testing to determine toxicity, persistence, and other characteristics of carbon dioxide emissions that affect human health and the environment. After careful consideration, EPA denied the TSCA section 21 petition for the reasons discussed in this document.

    DATES:

    EPA's response to this TSCA section 21 petition was signed September 25, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For technical information contact: Cindy Wheeler, National Program Chemicals Division (7404), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (202) 566-0484; email address: [email protected]

    For general information contact: The TSCA-Hotline, ABVI-Goodwill, 422 South Clinton Ave., Rochester, NY 14620; telephone number: (202) 554-1404; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    This action is directed to the public in general. This action may, however, be of interest to sources of carbon dioxide emissions, such as power plants, cement plants, pulp and paper mills, and various types of mobile sources. Since other entities may also be interested, the Agency has not attempted to describe all the specific entities that may be affected by this action.

    B. How can I access information about this petition?

    The docket for this TSCA section 21 petition, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0487, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Docket (OPPT Docket), Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. TSCA Section 21 A. What is a TSCA Section 21 petition?

    Under TSCA section 21 (15 U.S.C. 2620), any person can petition EPA to initiate a rulemaking proceeding for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule under TSCA section 4, 6, or 8 or an order under TSCA section 5(e) or 6(b)(2). A TSCA section 21 petition must set forth the facts that are claimed to establish the necessity for the action requested. EPA is required to grant or deny the petition within 90 days of its filing. If EPA grants the petition, the Agency must promptly commence an appropriate proceeding. If EPA denies the petition, the Agency must publish its reasons for the denial in the Federal Register. A petitioner may commence a civil action in a U.S. district court to compel initiation of the requested rulemaking proceeding within 60 days of either a denial or the expiration of the 90-day period.

    B. What criteria apply to a decision on a TSCA Section 21 petition?

    Section 21(b)(1) of TSCA requires that the petition “set forth the facts which it is claimed establish that it is necessary” to issue the rule or order requested (15 U.S.C. 2620(b)(1)). Thus, TSCA section 21 implicitly incorporates the statutory standards that apply to the requested actions. In addition, TSCA section 21 establishes standards a court must use to decide whether to order EPA to initiate rulemaking in the event of a lawsuit filed by the petitioner after denial of a TSCA section 21 petition (15 U.S.C. 2620(b)(4)(B)). Accordingly, EPA has relied on the standards in TSCA section 21 and in the provisions under which actions have been requested to evaluate this TSCA section 21 petition.

    III. TSCA Sections 6 and 4

    Of particular relevance to this TSCA section 21 petition are the legal standards regarding TSCA section 6 rules and TSCA section 4 rules.

    A. TSCA Section 6 Rules

    To promulgate a rule under TSCA section 6, the EPA Administrator must find that “there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of a chemical substance or mixture . . . presents or will present an unreasonable risk” (15 U.S.C. 2605(a)). This finding cannot be made considering risk alone. Under TSCA section 6, a finding of “unreasonable risk” requires the consideration of costs and benefits. Furthermore, the control measure adopted is to be the “least burdensome requirement” that adequately protects against the unreasonable risk (15 U.S.C. 2605(a)).

    In addition, TSCA section 21(b)(4)(B) provides the standard for judicial review should EPA deny a request for rulemaking under TSCA section 6(a): “If the petitioner demonstrates to the satisfaction of the court by a preponderance of the evidence that . . . there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the issuance of such a rule . . . is necessary to protect health or the environment against an unreasonable risk of injury,” the court shall order the EPA Administrator to initiate the requested action (15 U.S.C. 2620(b)(4)(B)).

    Also relevant to the issuance of regulations under TSCA section 6, TSCA section 9(b) directs EPA to take regulatory action on a chemical substance or mixture under other statutes administered by the Agency if the EPA Administrator determines that actions under those statutes could eliminate or reduce to a sufficient extent a risk posed by the chemical substance or mixture. If this is the case, the regulation under TSCA section 6 can be promulgated only if the EPA determines that it is in the “public interest” to protect against that risk under TSCA rather than, or in addition to, the alternative authority (15 U.S.C. 2608(b)).

    B. TSCA Section 4 Rules

    To promulgate a rule under TSCA section 4, EPA must find that data and experience are insufficient to reasonably determine or predict the effects of a chemical substance or mixture on health or the environment and that testing of the chemical substance is necessary to develop the missing data (15 U.S.C. 2603(a)(1)). In addition, EPA must find either that: (1) The chemical substance or mixture may present an unreasonable risk of injury; or (2) The chemical substance is produced in substantial quantities and may either result in significant or substantial human exposure or result in substantial environmental release (15 U.S.C. 2603(a)(1)).

    In the case of a mixture, EPA must also find that “the effects which the mixture's manufacture, distribution in commerce, processing, use, or disposal or any combination of such activities may have on health or the environment may not be reasonably and more efficiently determined or predicted by testing the chemical substances which comprise the mixture” (15 U.S.C. 2603(a)(2)).

    IV. Summary of the TSCA Section 21 Petition A. What action was requested?

    On June 30, 2015, the Center for Biological Diversity and Donn J. Viviani, Ph.D., petitioned EPA under TSCA section 21 to determine that carbon dioxide (CO2) presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment and initiate rulemaking to control CO2 (Ref. 1). The petitioners point to TSCA section 6(a) for options that EPA may exercise in order to protect against unreasonable risk and ask that EPA take into consideration the harm caused by past CO2 emissions.

    If EPA determines that the available data and information are insufficient to permit EPA to reasonably determine or predict the effects of CO2 emissions on human health and the environment, the petitioners request that EPA initiate rulemaking for testing under TSCA section 4 to fill the information gaps. The petitioners suggest that EPA consider requiring the following tests or studies under TSCA section 4:

    Tests of CO2 emission reduction, capture, and sequestration strategies.

    Vulnerability assessments for marine and coastal species and ecosystems.

    Forecasts, using modeling, of species' responses to ocean acidification.

    Assessments of the economic values of ecosystems at risk and the costs of reducing CO2 emissions to protect those ecosystems.

    Petitioner Viviani submitted a supplement supporting all actions requested in the petition and including additional information and requests (Ref. 2). The supplement requests further that, with any TSCA section 6 or TSCA section 4 action, EPA also consider health effects from climate change and ocean acidification, direct and indirect economic impacts, insurance impacts, and environmental justice implications. Petitioner Viviani also suggested that EPA include, in any TSCA section 6 rule, options to sequester carbon emissions, including sequestration that relies on alternative energy and/or produces net carbonates, as well as the use of economic incentives to encourage sequestration efforts by the private sector. Alternately, the Viviani supplement specifically asks that EPA use TSCA section 4 to gather information on sequestration technologies and offers a suggested cost apportionment method.

    The supplement includes a variety of additional requests and observations. For example, the supplement urges EPA to consider making an imminent hazard finding under TSCA section 7 in order to complement other Agency actions and to inform the public on the risks, causes, and methods for mitigating ocean acidification resulting from anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The supplement urges EPA to address the impacts of ocean acidification on pesticide tolerances by taking into account the increased fish farming that will be needed as a result of ocean acidification. Finally, the supplement asks EPA to use other programs and authorities to address ocean acidification, such as the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

    B. What support do the petitioners offer?

    The petitioners contend that CO2 emissions cause ocean acidification, and that ocean acidification is a severe threat to the marine environment and the health of people who depend on oceans and coasts. According to the petitioners, about 28% of the CO2 emissions from power generation, cement production, industry, and other sources are absorbed by the ocean, which causes the seawater to become more acidic and corrosive to sea life. The petitioners state that, since the industrial revolution, man-made CO2 emissions have increased the acidity of the oceans on average by 30%, and that, by the end of the century, the oceans will become 150-170% more acidic if anthropogenic CO2 emissions continue unabated. The petitioners provide numerous examples of the potential adverse effects of ocean acidification, some of which they say are already apparent, such as the loss of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest, the poor condition of pteropod (a type of zooplankton) shells along the West Coast, and the decline in calcification rates at coral reef locations in the Pacific and the Caribbean. Other adverse impacts to be expected from ocean acidification, according to the petitioners, are impairment of sensory abilities and behavior in fish, decreased metabolic rate and activity levels in squid, increased toxicity of algal blooms, and loss of species diversity across ocean ecosystems.

    In addition to describing the environmental impacts of ocean acidification, the petitioners provided some socioeconomic information to establish that the impacts will be more widespread and may include our nation's food security. The petitioners cited the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity for a 2014 prediction that the oceans will lose more than $1 trillion in value annually from ocean acidification by 2100 (Ref. 3). The petitioners also cited a 2010 report from the United Nations Environment Programme that ocean acidification's impact on marine organisms is a threat to food security for the billions of people that have a marine-based diet (Ref. 4). The petitioners contend that the US economy is dependent on the health of the ocean, citing 2009 information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that estimated that the ocean economy contributes over $223 billion annually to the gross domestic product and provides more than 2.6 million jobs (Ref. 5).

    V. Disposition of TSCA Section 21 Petition A. What is EPA's response?

    After review and consideration of the support provided, EPA denied the petition. EPA has acknowledged the impacts of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions on ocean acidification and the potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems in its 2009 greenhouse gas endangerment finding (Ref. 6). However, the petitioners provided neither adequate specifics on the relief sought under TSCA, nor sufficient information on the costs and benefits associated with a requested regulatory option to allow EPA to make the unreasonable risk finding specified in TSCA section 6(a). In addition, actions to address CO2 emissions under authorities other than TSCA could reduce the risk posed by CO2 more efficiently and effectively at this time. Finally, the petitioners do not present EPA with information sufficient to establish that testing under TSCA section 4 is necessary to develop data that would allow EPA to determine whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions present an unreasonable risk of injury under TSCA. A copy of the Agency's response, which consists of a letter to the petitioners, is available in the docket for this TSCA section 21 petition.

    B. What is EPA's reason for this response?

    1. Background on federal action. Ocean acidification refers to the decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. Ocean acidification presents a suite of environmental changes that would likely negatively affect ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and other marine resources.

    EPA and other parts of the federal government are working diligently on many fronts to address climate change and related concerns, including ocean acidification. The Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 created the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWG-OA), which is chaired by NOAA and consists of a dozen federal agencies including EPA. Over the past several years, the member agencies have conducted and funded research into the effects of acidification on ocean ecosystems and the economy. The IWG-OA released its Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification in 2014 (Ref. 7). The group's Third Report on Federally Funded Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Activities, a report to Congress issued in April 2015 (Ref. 8), highlights the wide variety of research aimed at understanding the impacts of acidification, including the following activities undertaken or funded by EPA:

    A study of coastal acidification impacts on shellfish in Narragansett Bay.

    Studies of plankton community and macro-algal responses to acidification.

    Support for the development of biophysical models and new methodologies to determine the economic and intrinsic value of coral reefs and shellfish.

    Research to assess the economic impacts of ocean acidification on US mollusk fisheries to support quantification of the damages resulting from greenhouse gas emissions.

    Support for monitoring acidification in National Estuary Program study areas.

    Support for the development of computational models that will predict changes in biogeochemical parameters of coastal waters.

    The current Administration has focused on ocean policy comprehensively, including ocean acidification. In 2009, President Obama established an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force charged with developing recommendations to enhance national stewardship of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. The Task Force received and reviewed nearly 5,000 written comments from Congress, stakeholders, and the public before issuing final recommendations. On July 19, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13547, adopting the final recommendations of the Task Force and establishing a national policy for the stewardship of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. This National Ocean Policy recognizes the importance of marine and lake ecosystems in providing jobs, food, energy resources, ecological services, transportation, and recreation and tourism opportunities. In April of 2013, the final plan for implementing the National Ocean Policy was issued, after additional opportunities for stakeholders and the general public to comment (Ref. 9). The implementation plan describes specific actions Federal agencies will take to address key ocean challenges, while at the same time giving states and communities greater input in Federal decisions, streamlining Federal operations, and promoting economic growth. In relation to ocean acidification, the implementation plan (and its appendix) focus on information development and dissemination, as well as coastal resiliency and adaptation.

    President Obama released a Climate Action Plan in 2013 which laid out a vision for reducing greenhouse gases based on three key pillars, namely domestic greenhouse gas reductions, preparations for future impacts, and leading international efforts to address climate change (Ref. 10). Reductions of CO2 emissions through domestic and international actions will contribute to the amelioration of ocean acidification. Domestic actions under the Climate Action Plan that will lead to CO2 reductions include regulatory activities, promoting renewable energy, supporting innovation in the energy and vehicle sectors, and improving efficiency at multiple levels. CO2 is a globally well-mixed gas, one of the greenhouse gases that are sufficiently long-lived in the atmosphere such that, once emitted, concentrations of each gas become well mixed throughout the entire global atmosphere (Ref. 6). Therefore, global reductions are also necessary, and the Administration is pursuing multiple avenues to work with and in other nations to reduce emissions and deforestation and promote clean energy and energy efficiency.

    Much of the domestic regulatory activity has been under the authority of the CAA. In 2009, under CAA section 202(a), the Administrator determined that six well-mixed greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations and that the combined emissions from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare (Ref. 6). [Note: Although this finding was supported by a record that included extensive scientific assessment literature on climate change and its impacts, including ocean acidification, particularly of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the National Research Council (NRC) of the US National Academies of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the EPA notes that its actions under the CAA are governed by different statutory provisions and different standards than the standard for making a finding of unreasonable risk under TSCA sections 6(a) or 4. As such, the Agency's determinations on this petition under TSCA are separate from and would not affect EPA's determinations under other statutory authorities.]

    Subsequently, EPA promulgated emissions standards for light duty vehicles for model years 2012-2016 (Ref. 11) and model years 2017-2025 (Ref. 12) controlling emissions of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons from the light duty fleet. EPA has also promulgated standards for these same air pollutants for new heavy duty vehicles and engines for model years 2014-2018 (Ref. 13), and recently proposed a second phase of standards for these vehicles and engines for model years 2018-2027 (Ref. 14). Together, the enacted and proposed standards are expected to save more than six billion barrels of oil through 2025 and reduce more than 3,100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

    Also with respect to mobile sources, EPA is required to set annual standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for each year that ensure that transportation fuel sold in the U.S. contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. By 2022, the RFS program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons, about the annual emissions of 27 million passenger vehicles, replacing about seven percent of expected annual diesel consumption and decreasing oil imports by $41.5 billion.

    While mobile sources are important contributors to greenhouse gas pollution, power plants are the largest stationary source of carbon pollution in the United States and about one third of all greenhouse gas pollution comes from the generation of electricity by power plants. On August 3, 2015, EPA issued the Clean Power Plan, which includes standards for new and existing power plants (Ref. 15). Under the authority of CAA section 111(b), the Plan sets carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants. Emission limits, based on the best adequately demonstrated system of emission reduction for the type of unit, are set for new, modified, and reconstructed stationary combustion turbines as well as new, modified, and reconstructed coal-fired steam generating units. Under the authority of CAA section 111(d), the Clean Power Plan also establishes interim and final CO2 emission performance rates for fossil fuel-fired electric steam generating units and for natural gas-fired combined cycle generating units. To maximize the range of choices available to states in implementing the standards and to utilities in meeting them, the Clean Power Plan also includes interim and final statewide goals. States will then develop and implement plans that ensure that their power plants, either individually, together, or in combination with other measures, achieve the interim CO2 emissions performance rates over the period of 2022 to 2029 and the final CO2 emission performance rates or goals by 2030. EPA estimates that by 2030, when the Clean Power Plan is fully effective, the CO2 emission level from fossil-fuel fired electric power plants will be lower than the 2005 level by about 32 percent, which is 870 million tons of CO2.

    In addition, since January of 2011, under the CAA, EPA has required that the construction of large stationary sources of air pollution (including power plants) incorporate the best technology available for controlling emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2. Under CAA section 165(a), a major emitting facility may not commence construction without obtaining a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit that limits the emissions of “each pollutant subject to regulation” under the Act to the maximum degree achievable through the application of the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) (42 U.S.C. 7475(a)(4); 7479(3)). This requirement became applicable to greenhouse gas emissions when EPA's light-duty vehicle standards for this pollutant first took effect 2011 (Ref. 16). In 2010, EPA took several steps to ensure that EPA and state permitting authorities were able to apply the PSD BACT requirement to greenhouse gas emissions from the largest stationary sources and to incorporate those requirements into operating permits for stationary sources under Title V of the Clean Air Act. EPA first issued a rule that phased-in the requirements of these CAA permitting programs and initially limited covered facilities to the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitters: power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities (Ref. 17). EPA also issued several rules to ensure that either EPA or a state permitting authority was in a position to implement these requirements in every state (Refs. 18-20).

    EPA has developed many programs and projects that partner with industry and others to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Examples include ENERGY STAR, the Green Power Partnership, and the Combined Heat and Power Partnership. Through voluntary energy and climate programs, EPA's partners reduced over 345 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2010 alone (equivalent to the emissions from 81 million vehicles).

    In addition to taking actions to reduce CO2 emissions, EPA has been working on ocean acidification issues under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In 2009, EPA published a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) containing data and information on the potential effects of ocean acidification on aquatic life and requested data and information from the public that could be useful to EPA in deciding whether to reevaluate and revise the recommended marine pH water quality criterion under section 304(a)(1) of the CWA (Ref. 21). EPA carefully reviewed all of the information received during the public comment period as well as additional information from NOAA. EPA determined that, at the time, the available data did not indicate a need to revise the national recommended criteria for marine pH to address the natural variability in pH across coastal regions.

    In addition, EPA issued a March 2010 request for comment on consideration of the effects of ocean acidification in the implementation of the program for listing of impaired waters under CWA section 303(d) (Ref. 22). Under that section, states, territories, and authorized tribes develop lists of impaired waters and develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the pollutant(s) causing the impairment. In the notice, EPA asked for comment on what considerations to take into account when deciding how to address the listing of waters as threatened or impaired for ocean acidification under the 303(d) program. In November 2010, EPA distributed a memorandum entitled “Integrated Reporting and Listing Decisions Related to Ocean Acidification” (Ref. 23). Among other things, the memorandum explained that states should continue to list waters that do not attain applicable water quality standards, including marine pH water quality criteria, on the lists of impaired waters submitted to EPA, and should continue to solicit existing and readily available information on ocean acidification using the current section 303(d) listing program framework. EPA also committed to providing additional guidance to states, territories, and tribes when future ocean acidification research efforts provide the basis for improved monitoring and assessment methods.

    In 2012, EPA took actions to approve the 2010 list of impaired waters for the State of Washington and to establish the 2010 list of impaired waters for the State of Oregon. Neither of those lists included waters impaired due to pollutants associated with or conditions attributable to ocean acidification, and EPA's actions were challenged in court. In 2015, the court upheld EPA's determination that existing and readily available data and information, including confounding and incomplete data that might otherwise support listing the States' coastal and estuarine waters as impaired, did not require listing of such waters as impaired due to ocean acidification (Ref. 24).

    2. Rationale for petition denial. To regulate CO2 to address ocean acidification under TSCA section 6 in addition to other authorities, EPA would have to make the unreasonable risk finding specified in TSCA section 6(a). The TSCA section 21 petition asserts that “CO2 pollution is changing ocean chemistry and harming the marine environment” and that there will be “severe and detrimental impacts on marine ecosystems, the economy, and public health if this pollution is unabated” (Ref. 1). However, the petitioners' argument as to the existence of unreasonable risk under TSCA section 6 is hindered by a nearly complete lack of detail as to the TSCA risk management sought. Under TSCA section 21, the public can petition EPA for the issuance, amendment or repeal of “a rule” under section 6. The petitioners have not identified a particular rule that they believe EPA should issue. Rather, they have identified a global environmental concern and asked that EPA, during the 90 days available to it under section 21, identify a rule that would address the concern and then assess the costs and benefits of such a rule to determine whether the identified risk is unreasonable. Section 21 requires considerably more specificity than petitioners have provided.

    While the petitioners stated an overall goal of mitigating ocean acidification under TSCA, and suggested a variety of actions that could be used to achieve this goal, e.g., mandatory emission reductions or “repurchasing relief using sequestration,” the petitioners did not describe, in any reasonable manner, what specific action available under TSCA section 6 the petitioners seek in order to achieve that outcome (Ref. 1). For example, although the petitioners state that “stabilizing atmospheric concentration to prevent further acidification of the oceans would require about an 80% decrease in all emissions,” the petitioners did not specify a regulatory approach for achieving such a reduction in the United States (EPA clearly could not require emission reductions abroad under TSCA), or estimate the costs and benefits of such a regulation (Ref. 1). Among the costs EPA would want to evaluate would be the impacts of further emission reductions on energy and transportation reliability and affordability. Similarly, although the petitioners argue that EPA has the authority to require the mitigation of past emissions through sequestration, and identify a variety of methods for sequestering carbon, the petitioners provided no specifics on how EPA might impose mandatory carbon sequestration actions on current and past emitters of CO2 that are subject to TSCA.

    The finding of unreasonable risk under TSCA section 6 encompasses both the anticipated benefits of regulatory action as well as the anticipated costs. As noted above, EPA has acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions impact ocean acidification and the petitioners have provided evidence that CO2 contributes to ocean acidification and therefore poses a risk to the environment within the meaning of TSCA. The petitioners have also provided information on the benefits that might be expected from reductions in CO2 emissions and/or mitigation or sequestration of past CO2 emissions globally. However, the petitioners present minimal information on CO2 emission controls or the costs of reducing CO2 emissions or sequestering past emissions. The petitioners conclude that “many industries could employ existing technology to achieve meaningful emissions reductions affordably,” and cite a couple of EPA documents that review available technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Ref. 1). While these documents are indeed useful as a survey of the state of the industry on emission controls and reductions, they do not provide the kind of evidence or data EPA would need in order to estimate the costs of any rule that EPA might impose under TSCA section 6 to regulate CO2 emissions. In addition, the petitioners provide no basis for EPA to estimate the benefits of any particular rule that EPA might impose. While the combined effects of global CO2 emissions create significant environmental and human health concerns, and the elimination or reduction of those emissions would have substantial benefits, any particular TSCA rule could address only a portion of those emissions. The analysis EPA would have to undertake in assessing the unreasonableness of the identified risks would involve assessing the costs and benefits of particular rulemaking actions under TSCA, and the petitioners simply have not provided sufficient information about either the rule they think EPA should promulgate or the likely costs and benefits of such a rule to enable EPA to perform such an analysis.

    In addition to a TSCA section 6 rule regulating CO2 emissions, the petitioners suggest that EPA could use its authority under TSCA section 6(a)(7)(C) to require emitters to take steps to mitigate or sequester past CO2 emissions. According to the petitioners, this provision, which gives EPA the authority to require manufacturers and processors to replace or repurchase chemical substances or mixtures, also gives EPA the authority to “remediate existing harm by requiring that responsible parties mitigate past CO2 emissions” (Ref. 1). The petitioners go on to discuss a wide variety of mitigation and sequestration methods and processes that EPA should evaluate and potentially impose under this authority, including land use and agricultural practice changes, programs directed at consumer choice (like EPA's existing ENERGY STAR program), and sequestration of CO2 in products, infrastructure and waste management. The petition supplement provides additional detail on mitigation and sequestration methods, including bio-char, the use of more structural timber in buildings, and sequestration in products such as “green” cement and foam insulation (Ref. 2).

    The petitioners' suggestion to consider TSCA section 6(a)(7)(C) is misplaced. While EPA agrees that this provision gives EPA some authority to address past harms, it is intended to address chemical substances and mixtures that move in the stream of commerce, not air pollution that is a byproduct of industrial and other activity on a global scale. According to the statute, when the appropriate findings are made, EPA can require manufacturers or processors to repurchase or replace chemical substances or mixtures, but the regulated manufacturers and processors must be permitted to decide whether to repurchase or replace. In EPA's view, the authority to require replacement or repurchase of a chemical substance or mixture does not include the authority to require extraction from the environment of widely dispersed chemicals. EPA reads this provision as applying when a distinct person or persons who received the chemical substance or mixture and from whom the manufacturer or processor can elect to repurchase or replace can be identified. Applying this provision to past anthropogenic CO2 emissions does not make sense where emitted CO2 has mixed throughout the global atmosphere and there is no way to connect the CO2 with any one entity for repurchase.

    In addition, TSCA section 9(b) requires EPA's Administrator to coordinate actions taken under TSCA with actions taken under other laws administered by EPA. When EPA determines that actions under other authorities can eliminate or reduce a risk to health or the environment to a sufficient extent, the Administrator must use the other authorities unless she determines it is in the public interest to protect against the risk by action taken under TSCA. While the petitioners recognize that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are being regulated under the CAA, they assert that those efforts are inadequate to protect marine species from climate change and ocean acidification. However, even if petitioners had requested a TSCA rule with reasonable specificity, EPA would likely determine that actions related to ocean acidification taken under other laws administered by EPA, both those already underway and those planned for the future, could reduce the risks to a sufficient extent under TSCA section 9(b). Because CO2 is a global pollutant, domestic actions alone cannot eliminate the risks, but the Administration has engaged in a set of coordinated domestic actions and international negotiations to reduce CO2 emissions in order to reduce the risks of climate change and ocean acidification. EPA sees no sound reason to exercise authorities available under TSCA to further address any such risk or to deviate from EPA's regulatory efforts and programs already underway.

    The CAA is the comprehensive federal law designed to regulate air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. As discussed above, EPA has issued rules under the CAA that address CO2 emissions from a variety of sources, including power plants and mobile sources. The Clean Power Plan, for example, represents real action and leadership on climate change by ensuring meaningful reductions in carbon pollution from power plants while maintaining energy reliability and affordability. EPA does not understand why the petitioners seem to believe that TSCA, which is intended to address toxic substances generally, would be an appropriate vehicle for addressing emissions of CO2 when the Agency is already doing so under the federal statute specifically designed to regulate air emissions. In fact, the petitioners acknowledge that “full implementation of our flagship environmental laws, particularly the Clean Air Act, would provide an effective and comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction strategy” (Ref. 1). The petitioners go on to contend that, due to the alleged non-implementation of these laws, “existing domestic regulatory mechanisms must be considered inadequate to protect marine species from climate change and ocean acidification” (Ref. 1). The Agency notes that the CAA and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) provide mechanisms to ask the Agency to take administrative action, see APA 553(e), 5 U.S.C. 553(e) (providing the right to petition an agency for issuance, amendment or repeal of a rule), and avenues to seek judicial redress where the Agency has unreasonably delayed in responding to such requests. See APA 706(1), 5 U.S.C. 706(1) (establishing claim for unreasonable delay), and CAA 304(a), 42 U.S.C. 7604(a) (establishing jurisdiction and notice requirements for unreasonable delay claims). One of the petitioners, the Center for Biological Diversity, has regularly participated in development of EPA actions to address the concerns related to those in the petition.

    In addition to the CAA, the CWA provides some limited authorities that may be used to reduce the risk associated with ocean acidification. As noted above, EPA has explained that states should continue to list waters that do not attain applicable water quality standards, including marine pH water quality criteria, on the lists of impaired waters submitted to EPA, and should continue to solicit existing and readily available data and information regarding pollutants contributing to and conditions associated with ocean acidification using the current CWA section 303(d) listing program framework. Where such data and information supports a finding that a water body is impaired, the state must establish a total maximum daily load for relevant pollutants and implement a plan to control the pollutants from contributing sources. Thus far, neither EPA nor any states have listed any water bodies as impaired due to pollutants contributing to nor conditions associated with ocean acidification.

    The petitioners also requested that EPA promulgate a test rule under TSCA section 4 if EPA was unable to determine, based on available data, whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions present an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment within the meaning of TSCA. EPA notes that it did not construe the petitioners' request for rulemaking under TSCA section 4 as a strictly contingent request, and EPA has independently reviewed the TSCA section 21 petition itself to determine whether it sets forth facts sufficient to justify the initiation of rulemaking to require testing under TSCA section 4.

    In order to promulgate a test rule under TSCA section 4, EPA must find that data and experience are insufficient to reasonably determine or predict the effects of a chemical substance or mixture on health or the environment and that testing of the substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop the missing data. EPA must also find that either the chemical substance or mixture may present an unreasonable risk or that it is produced in substantial quantities and may either result in significant or substantial human exposure or result in substantial environmental release. EPA does not dispute that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are produced in substantial quantities and result in substantial environmental releases. However, the petitioners have not made the case that testing of the chemical substance is necessary to develop missing data. The fact that atmospheric CO2 affects ocean pH is not in dispute, and there are numerous studies documenting the effect of ocean pH on marine organisms (Refs. 21, 22). TSCA section 4 testing authority primarily speaks to testing of a chemical substance's or mixture's effects on health and the environment. Much of the testing recommended by the petitioners does not fit this description and probably could not be required by EPA under TSCA section 4. For instance, development of information on the costs and effectiveness of CO2 emission control technology is not a test of the effect of a substance on health or the environment.

    Regardless of whether the information described by the petitioners is information that can be developed using the authority of TSCA section 4, EPA and other federal agencies are working diligently to further our collective understanding of the impacts of ocean acidification. Some research underway matches the petitioners' recommendations for information to seek under TSCA section 4. For example, the petitioners suggest conducting vulnerability assessments for marine and coastal species and ecosystems. In the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, NOAA, the Department of the Interior (DOI), EPA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation were tasked with developing best practices for climate change and ocean acidification vulnerability assessments for Federally-funded and/or Federally-managed coastal and ocean facilities and infrastructure in high-hazard areas (Ref. 9). In August of 2014, EPA issued “Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans” (Ref. 25). This document provides guidance for conducting risk-based climate change vulnerability assessments and developing adaptation action plans. In addition, EPA and NOAA have collaborated on studies of coastal acidification impacts on shellfish in Narragansett Bay, and EPA is working with the University of Rhode Island on studies of plankton communities and macroalgal responses to acidification. The petitioners suggest studying the economic values of ecosystems that are at risk from ocean acidification. In recent years, NOAA and EPA have allocated funding for socioeconomic studies related to ocean acidification. EPA supported the development of biophysical models and new methodologies to determine the economic and intrinsic value of coral reefs and shellfish. EPA has also conducted research to assess the economic impacts of ocean acidification on US mollusk fisheries for the purpose of including these impacts in monetary estimates of damages from greenhouse gas emissions. Further, the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan calls for developing data on job trends to assess the economic impact of ocean acidification (Ref. 9). NOAA's Digital Coast Web site provides access to two datasets containing coastal and ocean job trends (Ref. 8).

    Several other EPA actions were requested in the supplement. The petitioners suggest action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) would be triggered if EPA issues a TSCA section 7 “notice informing the public of the serious risks to coral reefs associated with ocean acidification, its causes, and what must be done to mitigate it” (Ref. 1). As an initial matter, under TSCA section 21, a petitioner is limited to requesting relief under TSCA sections 4, 5, 6, or 8. In addition, the action authorized under TSCA section 7 is for EPA to bring a civil action in district court to seize an imminently hazardous chemical or seek other relief. Section 7 does not provide authority to make a finding of imminent hazard independent of a civil action.

    The supplement also outlines potential EPA actions under other statutes, such as Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the CAA (Ref. 2). EPA is asked to reevaluate pesticide tolerances based on the increased grain consumption that will occur as fish farming increases due to ocean acidification. To the extent that fish farming increases grain consumption, EPA will consider that in any need for changes to pesticide tolerances during the Agency's regular reassessment of those tolerances.

    The supplement also discusses the possibility of giving formal notification under section 115(a) of the CAA to the Governors of States found to emit pollution that endangers public health and welfare in other countries. The supplement, however, does not seek to demonstrate that the prerequisites for action under CAA section 115 have been met at this time or that any specific notifications are warranted. Moreover, to the extent that the discussion of potentially available CAA remedies constitutes a request for action, EPA denies the requests because they are not actions that can be petitioned for under TSCA section 21. The relief that may be requested under TSCA section 21 is limited to actions under TSCA sections 4, 5, 6, or 8.

    VI. References

    The following is a listing of the documents that are specifically referenced in this document. The docket includes these documents and other information considered by EPA, including documents that are referenced within the documents that are included in the docket, even if the referenced document is not physically located in the docket. For assistance in locating these other documents, please consult the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    1. Center for Biological Diversity and Donn J. Viviani, Ph.D. Petition for Rulemaking Pursuant to Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2620, Concerning the Regulation of Carbon Dioxide. June 30, 2015. 2. Donn J. Viviani, Ph.D. Supplement to the Petition for Rulemaking Pursuant to Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2620, Concerning the Regulation of Carbon Dioxide. June 30, 2015. 3. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity (Eds: S. Hennige, J.M. Roberts & P. Williamson). Technical Series No. 75. 2014. 4. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP Emerging Issues: Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification: A Threat to Food Security. 2010. 5. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Coastal Services Center, National Summary: The United States Ocean and Great Lakes Economy. 2011. 6. EPA. Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. Federal Register. 74 FR 66496, December 15, 2009 (FRL-9091-8). 7. Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification. Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification. March 2014. 8. Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability of the National Science and Technology Council. Third Report on Federally Funded Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring. April 2015. 9. National Ocean Council. National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan. April 2013. 10. Executive Office of the President. The President's Climate Action Plan. June 2013. 11. EPA, Department of Transportation-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (DOT-NHTSA). Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule. Federal Register. 75 FR 25324, May 7, 2010 (FRL-9134-6). 12. EPA, DOT-NHTSA. 2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule. Federal Register. 77 FR 62624, October 15, 2012 (FRL-9706-5). 13. EPA, DOT-NHTSA. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles; Final Rule. Federal Register. 76 FR 57106, September 15, 2011 (FRL-9455-1). 14. EPA, DOT-NHTSA. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2; Proposed Rule. Federal Register. 80 FR 40138, July 13, 2015 (FRL-9927-21-OAR). 15. EPA. Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units; Final Rule. Signed August 3, 2015 and pending publication in the Federal Register. Until publication, a pre-publication version of the signed document is available at: http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/cpp-final-rule.pdf. 16. EPA. Reconsideration of Interpretation of Regulation That Determine Pollutants Covered by Clean Air Act Permitting Programs; Final Rule. Federal Register. 75 FR 17004, April 2, 2010 (FRL-9133-6). 17. EPA. Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule; Final Rule. Federal Register. 75 FR 31514, June 3, 2010 (FRL-9152-8). 18. EPA. Action to Ensure Authority to Issue Permits Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Finding of Failure to Submit State Implementation Plan Revisions Required for Greenhouse Gases; Final Rule. Federal Register. 75 FR 81874, December 29, 2010 (FRL-9244-7). 19. EPA. Action to Ensure Authority to Issue Permits under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Federal Implementation Plan; Final Rule. Federal Register. 75 FR 82246, December 30, 2010 (FRL-9245-3). 20. EPA. Determinations Concerning Need for Error Correction, Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval, and Federal Implementation Plan Regarding Texas's Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program; Final Rule. Federal Register. 76 FR 25178, May 3, 2011 (FRL-9299-9). 21. EPA. Ocean Acidification and Marine pH Water Quality Criteria; Notice of Data Availability (NODA). Federal Register. 74 FR 17484, April 15, 2009 (FRL-8892-5). 22. EPA. Clean Water Act Section 303(d): Notice of Call for Public Comment on 303(d) Program and Ocean Acidification; Request for Public Comment. Federal Register. 75 FR 13537, March 22, 2010 (FRL-9128-8). 23. EPA. Integrated Reporting and Listing Decisions Related to Ocean Acidification. November 15, 2010. 24. Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25945 (W.D. Wash. March 2, 2015). 25. EPA. Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans. August 2014. Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.

    Dated: September 25, 2015. James J. Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25164 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Chapter I [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0626; FRL-9934-71] Mercury; TSCA Section 21 Petition; Reasons for Agency Response AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Petition; reasons for Agency response.

    SUMMARY:

    This document provides the reasons for EPA's denial of a petition it received under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA section 21 petition was received from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA) on June 24, 2015. The petitioners requested EPA to “promulgate a TSCA section 8(a) rule that requires persons who manufacture, process, or import into the United States mercury, mercury compounds, or mercury-added products to keep records of and submit information to EPA concerning such manufacture, processing, or importation of mercury.” After careful consideration, EPA denied the TSCA section 21 petition for the reasons discussed in this document.

    DATES:

    EPA's response to this TSCA section 21 petition was signed September 21, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For technical information contact: Thomas Groeneveld, National Program Chemicals Division (7404M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: 202-566-1188; email address: [email protected].

    For general information contact: The TSCA-Hotline, ABVI-Goodwill, 422 South Clinton Ave., Rochester, NY 14620; telephone number: (202) 554-1404; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    This action is directed to the public in general. This action may, however, be of interest to those persons who manufacture, process, or distribute in commerce mercury, mercury compounds, or mercury-added products. Since other entities may also be interested, the Agency has not attempted to describe all the specific entities that may be affected by this action.

    B. How can I access information about this petition?

    The docket for this TSCA section 21 petition, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0626, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Docket (OPPT Docket), Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. TSCA Section 21 A. What is a TSCA section 21 petition?

    Under TSCA section 21 (15 U.S.C. 2620), any person can petition EPA to initiate a rulemaking proceeding for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule under TSCA section 4, 6, or 8 or an order under TSCA section 5(e) or 6(b)(2). A TSCA section 21 petition must set forth the facts that are claimed to establish the necessity for the action requested. EPA is required to grant or deny the petition within 90 days of its filing. If EPA grants the petition, the Agency must promptly commence an appropriate proceeding. If EPA denies the petition, the Agency must publish its reasons for the denial in the Federal Register. A petitioner may commence a civil action in a U.S. District Court to compel initiation of the requested rulemaking proceeding within 60 days of either a denial or the expiration of the 90-day period.

    B. What criteria apply to a decision on a TSCA section 21 petition?

    Section 21(b)(1) of TSCA requires that the petition “set forth the facts which it is claimed establish that it is necessary” to issue the rule or order requested. 15 U.S.C. 2620(b)(1). Thus, TSCA section 21 implicitly incorporates the statutory standards that apply to the requested actions. In addition, TSCA section 21 establishes standards a court must use to decide whether to order EPA to initiate rulemaking in the event of a lawsuit filed by the petitioner after denial of a TSCA section 21 petition. 15 U.S.C. 2620(b)(4)(B). Accordingly, EPA has relied on the standards in TSCA section 21 and in the provisions under which actions have been requested to evaluate this TSCA section 21 petition.

    III. Summary of the TSCA Section 21 Petition A. What action was requested?

    On June 24, 2015, NRDC and NEWMOA petitioned EPA to “promulgate a TSCA section 8(a) rule that requires persons who manufacture, process, or import into the United States mercury, mercury compounds, or mercury-added products to keep records of and submit information to EPA concerning such manufacture, processing, or importation of mercury” (Ref. 1). In describing the framework for the envisioned rule, the petitioners offer definitions for various terms and modifications to exemptions to TSCA section 8(a) information-gathering rules (see 40 CFR 704.5); describe persons who would be required to report in the envisioned information collecting and reporting apparatus; explain why existing quantity- and sales-based reporting thresholds should or should not apply to the persons who must report; establish the minimal amounts of information EPA should request via sets of example questions applicable to mercury, mercury compounds, mixtures containing mercury, and mercury-added products; and set forth their preferred frequency and format for reporting, as well as certification and recordkeeping requirements (Ref. 1).

    B. What support do the petitioners offer?

    The petitioners state that a “lack of comprehensive data on mercury production and use in the United States has been acknowledged by virtually all of the federal and state agencies involved in tracking or regulating the chemical in commerce” (Ref. 1). The petitioners state that there is “no mechanism in place to obtain such data,” which is underscored by describing data gaps in the Interstate Mercury Education Reduction Clearinghouse (IMERC) and discussing the limitations of Agency resources, including the September 2014 “EPA Strategy to Address Mercury-Containing Products” (EPA Strategy or Strategy) (Ref. 2), the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program (Ref. 3), and the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule (Ref. 4). Collecting comprehensive data is necessary, the petitioners say, to “prevent unreasonable risks of injury to human health and the environment created by the ongoing manufacture, processing, and importation of mercury and mercury compounds” (Ref. 1). As such, the petitioners argue that a TSCA section 8(a) rule is “warranted” because available data are inadequate to determine whether mercury used in products and processes, in fact, creates unreasonable risk and, if so, the appropriate means to reduce such risk (Ref. 1). The petitioners also point to the obligations of the Minamata Convention on Mercury (Minamata Convention), which the United States signed and joined on November 6, 2013, that they believe will go unfulfilled without the collection of comprehensive data. In addition, the petitioners argue that “incomplete and non-comprehensive data hampers EPA's ability to effectively assess risks from exposure to mercury” and, therefore, the TSCA section 8(a) rule envisioned “would result in substantial benefits” (Ref. 1). Based on these assertions, as well as a discussion of the toxicity, exposure pathways, and risks associated with mercury used in products and processes, the petitioners state that “there is a reasonable—indeed, an ample—basis to conclude that a section 8(a) reporting rule for mercury is necessary to protect health and the environment against an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment from ongoing domestic uses of mercury in products and processes” (Ref. 1).

    IV. Disposition of TSCA Section 21 Petition A. What is EPA's response?

    After careful consideration, EPA denied the petition. EPA found that the continued implementation of its published EPA Strategy (Ref. 2) is sufficient to carry out TSCA, as well as preferable for achieving the goal it shares with the petitioners: To acquire the information needed to allow EPA to better understand continuing uses of mercury, to further reduce such uses, and to prevent potential exposure and risk to human health and the environment linked to releases of mercury into the environment. A copy of the Agency's response, which consists of a letter to the petitioners, is available in the docket for this TSCA section 21 petition.

    B. What is EPA's reason for this response?

    EPA agrees with many aspects of the petition. The Agency agrees that mercury poses potential risks to human health and the environment and that there is value in gathering additional information to better understand continuing uses of mercury, to further reduce such uses, and to prevent potential risks to human health and the environment from mercury exposure. However, EPA believes that continued implementation of its EPA Strategy is a faster, more efficient pathway towards achieving our shared goals and is confident that the actions contemplated under the Strategy are both sufficient to carry out TSCA and preferable to the requested rulemaking.

    1. Background on TSCA section 8. TSCA section 8(a) (15 U.S.C. 2607(a)) authorizes EPA to promulgate rules under which manufacturers (including importers) and processors of chemical substances must maintain records and submit such information as the EPA Administrator may reasonably require. TSCA section 8(a) also authorizes EPA to promulgate rules under which manufacturers and processors of mixtures must maintain records and submit information to the extent the EPA Administrator determines the maintenance of records or submission of reports, or both, is necessary for the effective enforcement of TSCA. TSCA section 8(a) generally excludes small manufacturers and processors of chemical substances or mixtures from the reporting requirements (see 15 U.S.C. 2507(a)). However, EPA is authorized by TSCA section 8(a)(3)(A)(ii) to require TSCA section 8(a) reporting from small manufacturers and processors with respect to any chemical substance or mixture that is the subject of a rule proposed or promulgated under TSCA section 4, 5(b)(4), or 6, or that is the subject of an order in effect under TSCA section 5(e), or that is the subject of relief granted pursuant to a civil action under TSCA section 5 or 7. TSCA section 8(a) also provides that, to the extent feasible, the EPA Administrator must not require reporting under TSCA section 8(a)(1) that is unnecessary or duplicative. If the Agency denies a petition submitted under TSCA section 21, judicial review for TSCA section 8(a) requires the petitioner to show by a “preponderance of the evidence that . . . there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the issuance of such a rule or order is necessary to protect health or the environment against an unreasonable risk of injury” (15 U.S.C. 2620(b)(4)(B)(ii)).

    2. State of domestic mercury marketplace. The United States has seen a strong downward trend of more than 97 percent in the domestic use of mercury in products over the past three decades. In 1980, the United States used more than 1,800 metric tons of mercury annually; in 2010, the continued annual use of mercury in manufactured or imported products was approximately 52 metric tons. Likewise, the use of mercury in industrial processes, such as chlor-alkali manufacturing, has also fallen dramatically from 358 metric tons in 1980 to an estimated 38 metric tons in 2001. This shifting landscape can be attributed to a number of factors, including market trends leading to the voluntary reduction of use of mercury in products and processes; federal, regional, state, and local programs that encourage the use of effective and economically feasible non‐mercury substitutes; state laws or regulations that prohibit or reduce the use of mercury in products; and Congressional actions that banned the sale of a range of mercury batteries and prohibited the export of mercury (e.g., the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-142) and the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 (MEBA) (Pub. L. 110-114)). The United States also negotiated and joined the Minamata Convention, which contains requirements aimed at reducing the use of mercury. The convergence of such historic trends and actions, as well as continued downward trends in mercury use in products in more recent years, helped identify categories of mercury-added products of greatest concern and guided the development of the EPA Strategy.

    3. The EPA Strategy: Development and implementation. In developing the EPA Strategy, the Agency did not believe it made sense to promulgate a comprehensive information-gathering rule for mercury, on top of the existing regulatory and statutory information collection requirements applicable to chemical substances generally. Rather, EPA decided to adopt a more targeted approach and to create a framework that was flexible and adaptive to observed trends in the use of mercury. As a result, the EPA Strategy seeks to build on the “demonstrated success for more than three decades of reducing mercury use in traditional product and process categories . . . to further reduce mercury use in products and certain processes in order to prevent future releases to the environment” (Ref. 2).

    The EPA Strategy consists of five phases: (1) Update EPA's information on mercury products and certain processes; (2) analyze updated mercury use information; (3) plan and prioritize mercury reduction activities; (4) take non-regulatory actions to reduce use; and (5) take regulatory actions to reduce use, if needed (Ref. 2). The Strategy is structured to provide a logical progression from the gathering of information to taking actions to reduce the use of mercury and, as necessary, mercury compounds. However, the Strategy is also intended to allow for proceeding immediately to such use reduction options should information warrant such actions, as well as reassessment of an intended course of action (e.g., methodology for gathering information) at any point during its implementation.

    The EPA Strategy specifically targets updating data regarding mercury quantities in “new products entering the market, with particular attention to switches and relays” and “as appropriate, processes that use mercury as a catalyst” (Ref. 2). For example, the use of mercury in switches and relays (including thermostats) sold in the United States decreased from approximately 68 metric tons in 2001 to approximately 18 metric tons in 2010—a nearly 74 percent decrease in under a decade. However, at 33 percent of mercury used in products sold in the United States, switches and relays also represent the largest category of mercury-added products. In fact, in joining the Minamata Convention, the United States demonstrated that mercury used in eight of nine subject categories was reduced to de minimis levels. The lone category for which such a demonstration was not made was switches and relays. As a result, the Agency identified switches and relays as a priority category of mercury use in the EPA Strategy.

    The Agency has sufficient information on the use of mercury in certain categories of other mercury-added products (e.g., batteries, lamps, measuring devices). Yet, despite the aforementioned downward trend of use of mercury in products and manufacturing processes in general, EPA is interested in learning more about mercury-added products that continue to enter the market (i.e., new products) and the prevalence of the use of mercury and mercury compounds in catalysts.

    The Agency is currently in the first phase of implementing its Strategy, which lists priority mercury-added product and process categories (switches, relays, new products, and catalysts), describes the progression of stakeholders from whom information is to be collected (mercury manufacturers and importers, mercury processors, and other stakeholders), and commits to conducting outreach throughout the implementation of the Strategy (Ref. 2). Following this phase, EPA will assess information gathered and compare data to existing Agency baselines derived from IMERC, the TRI program, the CDR Rule, and other research (Phase 2). Results of the second phase will be used to define or modify product categories and identify remaining data gaps or other limitations that could affect the planning and prioritization of reduction activities (Phase 3). At this juncture, the Agency could consider the use of voluntary efforts to reduce the use of mercury (Phase 4), as well as a Section 8(a) rule or other appropriate regulatory measure (Phase 5). At this point in time, however, EPA believes the implementation of the EPA Strategy, which uses a variety of both voluntary and regulatory measures as needed, is sufficient to carry out TSCA.

    4. The EPA Strategy is working and will continue to work. The petitioners accurately identify the Agency's goals to continue to collect and analyze information to better understand the current and future use of mercury. However, the petitioners focus exclusively on the voluntary information-collection component within the first of five phases to conclude that “the voluntary approach has not worked thus far, and there is no reasonable basis to believe it ever will” and “the need for and the utility of a rulemaking that would require mandatory reporting from all mercury, mercury-compound, and mercury-mixture manufacturers has been demonstrated” (Ref. 1). By focusing on the Agency's preference to initially proceed on a voluntary basis, the petitioners overlook that the Strategy contemplates “additional available regulatory steps being necessary” (Ref. 2). In fact, the Agency finds that the best approach is to employ voluntary or regulatory mechanisms to collect information based on particular circumstances. For example, after publishing the EPA Strategy in September 2014, the Agency conducted a series of letter requests and teleconferences with companies identified as nine key players in the mercury marketplace in October and November 2014.

    While the petitioners express skepticism with this approach due to its initiation with only nine companies, this was a strategic approach that the Agency expected to yield relevant information. The initial list of nine was derived from more than one hundred potential companies based on thorough research and professional judgment to identify companies likely to provide a reasonably complete picture of the domestic market for recycling and selling mercury. This approach allowed for the systematic elimination of companies less likely to have significant information from consideration and minimized the potential burden to both stakeholders and the Agency. In fact, the information received led EPA to further narrow its investigation to five companies it believes to be the primary recyclers and distributors of mercury in the United States. Based on those efforts—and the failure of certain companies from the narrowed list of five to voluntarily provide agreed to information—EPA issued subpoenas in March 2015 to those five companies (Ref. 5).

    5. Effective use of regulatory tools via the EPA Strategy. The subpoenas consisted of twelve information requests designed to ascertain specific information on quantities of mercury manufactured (including imported), processed, stored on-site, or distributed in commerce (including transferred off-site, sold and exported), as well as lists of customers to whom mercury was sold (Ref. 5). The activities related to mercury were selected to cross-reference with similar reporting requirements for the TRI program and CDR Rule. Of particular interest to the Agency were quantities reported for mercury manufactured and processed (e.g., recycled from various waste streams), sold, imported, and exported, which represents key aspects of the domestic mercury marketplace. EPA requested this information to better understand how mercury flows through the five primary facilities that recycle and sell mercury with the goal of identifying the amount of mercury likely being used to produce mercury-added products or in manufacturing processes in the United States. The subpoenas requested that annual totals of mercury in pounds for such activities be reported for 2010 and 2013. These years were selected to not only coincide with IMERC reporting years, but also because they could provide a before-and-after illustration of how two mercury-related measures affected the domestic mercury market place: MEBA and the conclusion of the negotiation of the Minamata Convention. The reporting years also were selected to allow a trend comparison for reported quantities without creating undue burden on the companies subject to the subpoenas. The subpoenas also requested customer lists for each company as of January 1, 2015. This date was selected as a fixed and recent date relative to the issuance of the subpoenas in March 2015. Each of the five companies subject to the subpoenas supplied the information requested in full.

    Due to extensions granted to certain companies, some responses were submitted after the initial 30-day deadline. This resulted in the initial completion of the full data set at the end of June 2015, only days after the petitioners submitted their petition that concluded that certain approaches outlined in the EPA Strategy were inadequate. The Agency is currently evaluating the information submitted in response to the five March 2015 subpoenas. As necessary, EPA has followed up with companies and clarified responses submitted. Based on its initial review of submitted information, the Agency now has a better understanding of the flow of mercury in the U.S. marketplace and has an inventory of recent lists of companies that purchase elemental mercury from the five companies, including volumes and trends of mercury in key channels of commerce (e.g., manufactured, stored, sold, imported, and exported). The Agency understands that this information collection approach cannot account for imports of mercury-added products or mercury compounds that are not processed by the five companies subject to the March 2015 subpoenas. However, EPA intends to collect such data either through voluntary compliance with letters or through subpoenas, as it determines to be necessary for an adequate understanding of mercury use in the United States through further implementation of EPA Strategy and use of existing Agency resources.

    The petitioners express disappointment with the “months” that elapsed since the initiation of the voluntary inquiries to companies in October 2014 and the submission of their petition in June 2015 (Ref. 1). In fact, the Agency conducted the voluntary portion of data collection between October 2014 and December 2014. When that process was not fruitful, the subpoenas were sent in March 2015. Responses to the March 2015 subpoenas were received by the end of June 2015. For comparison, new federal rulemakings often take several years to complete from development through the proposal, public comment, and finalization phases. A final information collection rule would then need to provide for some period of time following promulgation for the submission of the required information. EPA notes that it already collected data on mercury voluntarily and via subpoena and, based on that experience, could expeditiously issue any further needed subpoenas, whereas the timing of a rulemaking process is less predictable. The Agency gathered information via its Strategy in several months, new data to be collected by the petitioners' requested rule—or another Section 8(a) rule—may not be obtained for several years. For those reasons, EPA believes that the current approach used to collect information from companies that manufacture, recycle, and distribute in commerce elemental mercury has been successful, is more efficient than the development of a new rule, and is sufficient—with some adaptation of the substance of information requests for companies that use mercury in products and processes—to carry out TSCA.

    6. The EPA Strategy avoids unnecessary or duplicative reporting. Based on the above discussion, EPA disagrees that there is “no other federal or state mechanism in place that collects the data on mercury production and use in the United States necessary to inform risk-reduction activities” (Ref. 1). As articulated by the petitioners, IMERC, the TRI program, and the CDR Rule each collect data in whole or in part related to mercury and mercury compounds. All of these reporting mechanisms are accessible online. While a single information collection and reporting apparatus identical to the petitioners' requested rule does not currently exist, existing tools, as implemented through the EPA Strategy, are sufficient to gather such data as necessary for the effective implementation of TSCA. EPA is committed to gathering such data, including—as appropriate—through the future use of TSCA section 8. For the same reasons, EPA also disagrees that the EPA Strategy “implicitly acknowledges that the CDR Rule and its other existing reporting mechanisms are not sufficient to gather the data necessary to make sound decisions about mercury risk-reduction activities” (Ref. 1).

    The petitioners also describe various ways in which the TRI program and CDR Rule collect data on mercury and mercury compounds yet how idiosyncrasies within each program prevent the reporting of the specific information they request to be collected. Where the petitioners see insufficiency, the Agency sees opportunity to use existing tools and resources to pinpoint specific data gaps, which may or may not require new regulatory or voluntary actions to gather information. EPA is using quantitative and qualitative information, particularly activity and use information reported to the TRI program, to help narrow the scope of potential stakeholders to be contacted as needed to collect information that EPA determines to be necessary. For example, EPA is reviewing information reported to the TRI program to identify and prioritize how to gather such information.

    The TRI program requires facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use more than 10 pounds of mercury or mercury compounds during the calendar year to report amounts released to the environment or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment (Ref. 6). While the TRI program does not require quantitative reporting for all manufacturing, processing, or use categories, a facility is required to report activities and uses of the toxic chemical including, but not limited to “import,” “for sale/distribution,” “as a reactant,” “as an article component,” and “as a chemical processing aid” (Ref. 7). In this instance, EPA does not see the lack of quantitative reporting as a dead end, but rather as a tool to narrow the number of companies to ask for more specific information related to the use of mercury in their products and processes. For example, a review of data submitted to the TRI program for “mercury” in 2013 yields 447 facilities that manufactured, processed, or otherwise used mercury. That number can be narrowed to 60 facilities that processed mercury “as an article component” (e.g., used in a product). When the same search is conducted for “mercury compounds,” more than 1,100 facilities can be narrowed to 48 facilities reporting processing into articles. The use of such data allows EPA to reduce the scope of potential manufacturers of mercury-added products by more than 90 percent that under the petitioners' proposed rule would be required to supply detailed, quantitative data. EPA will perform similar data sorting among facilities that report “import” and “for sale/distribution” of mercury or mercury compounds, which will help further describe how such materials flow through the domestic marketplace. The Agency also plans to examine uses “as a reactant” and “as a chemical processing aid” to help identify the use of mercury or mercury compounds in manufacturing processes. As these examples demonstrate, the Agency believes that it can use existing data to better identify individual facilities for more targeted efforts to collect information.

    It is important to note that the 2016 reporting cycle for the CDR Rule (applicable to production volume information for calendar years 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015; submission period from June 1, 2016, to September 30, 2016) will collect information from persons who manufacture mercury in quantities greater than or equal to 2,500 pounds (Ref. 4); the reporting threshold for mercury in the previous cycle was 25,000 pounds and 100,000 pounds for process and use information. As such, the Agency anticipates receiving quantitative data on mercury in the domestic marketplace from a larger pool of companies that manufacture (including import) and process mercury. In conjunction with the analysis of TRI program data, EPA plans to use the identities of companies reporting per the lowered threshold to further clarify the pool of potential entities from whom to collect more detailed information. Thus, EPA finds its existing resources, such as the TRI program and CDR Rule, can be instrumental not only in carrying out TSCA, but also to tailor future efforts to collect information on discrete categories of mercury products and processes.

    7. EPA intends to target specific information requests to specific entities. EPA anticipates that subsequent efforts to gather information from companies that produce or import mercury-added products and use mercury or mercury compounds in manufacturing processes may require contacting more entities than the nine EPA contacted in late 2014. EPA anticipates using a similar process of research and professional judgment to identify and prioritize companies to contact and will follow appropriate procedures to reach as many companies as needed to obtain relevant information, as necessary. For example, EPA is considering using TSCA section 11 to ask other companies the same kinds of questions posed in the March 2015 subpoenas, but with an emphasis on quantities of mercury and mercury compounds used in the production of products or in manufacturing processes.

    Looking at the specific information requested in the petition, the petitioners request two sets of notification requirements between two categories: (1) Mercury, mercury compounds, and mixtures containing mercury; and (2) mercury-added products. The petitioners' request of eight notification requirements for information to be reported for mercury, mercury compounds, and mixtures containing mercury can be broken down into three general categories. The first category consists of location and contact information for company headquarters, facilities that manufacture or process such substances, and technical staff. For mercury and mercury compounds, information comparable to the requests in the first category of notification requirements is reported to the TRI program and the CDR Rule. The second category includes quantitative data on such substances manufactured and processed for distribution in commerce, sold or transferred off-site, and stored on-site. Due to the similarity with questions posed in the March 2015 subpoenas, EPA is satisfied that it ascertained sufficient quantitative information for how mercury is used in such activities. For mercury compounds, EPA believes that information reported to the TRI program for activities and uses can be used to identify and prioritize companies and facilities that could be contacted using the same approach that the Agency used when reaching out to and ultimately issuing subpoenas to individual recyclers and distributors of mercury. The third category requests narrative descriptions of manufacturing and processing processes and end uses of such materials. EPA is not persuaded that such information for mercury or mercury compounds is necessary to carry out TSCA. In particular, it is more appropriate to pose questions regarding end uses to companies or facilities that use mercury or mercury compounds in products or manufacturing processes and not companies that recover mercury from various waste streams. Finally, the Agency is not persuaded that information on mixtures containing mercury is necessary to carry out TSCA. To the best of the Agency's knowledge, the only point in the cycle of mercury manufacture, use, recovery, and reuse when mixtures play a significant role is when mercury is recovered from mercury waste such as contaminated soil or impure laboratory mercury. The resulting elemental mercury is used, but EPA is not aware of any significant manufacture, processing, or use of mercury mixtures. As EPA reviews the information it has and will collect on mercury and mercury compounds, it will assess the need for information on mixtures and pursue such data as needed.

    For mercury-added products, the petitioners also request eight notification requirements. As discussed in regard to mercury, mercury compounds, and mixtures containing mercury, the notification requirements for location and contact information for company headquarters and technical staff pertain to comparable information reported to the TRI program or the CDR Rule. The Agency agrees that collection of the kinds of information listed in three of the eight notification requests suggested by the petitioners can be valuable: Quantities of mercury used in products (per unit and total for all units produced in a calendar year), descriptions of product categories produced, and a breakdown of products manufactured (including imported), sold domestically, and exported. Such requirements would provide quantitative information that would benefit the implementation of TSCA by helping to define the overall volume of mercury used, particularly in the priority category of switches and relays. EPA also agrees that it is helpful to ascertain information related to whether switches or relays are “manufactured or processed solely for the purpose of replacement where no feasible mercury-free alternative for replacement is available” (Ref. 1). This information would help the Agency better estimate costs and benefits associated with not only ongoing uses of the switches and relays themselves, but also the larger equipment and systems that use them as components. However, the Agency is not persuaded that notification requirements for descriptions of mercury-added components, including the number of and location in larger products, is necessary. At this time, EPA anticipates that quantitative data on amounts of mercury contained in or added to such products and processes is likely to be sufficient to make regulatory determinations.

    As previously discussed, switches and relays are the largest remaining domestic use of mercury in products by volume in the United States. Better defining the total quantity of mercury in that category, especially given the cessation of reporting of such information via IMERC, is a priority data point within a priority product category. Regardless, even in instances where EPA agrees with the notification requirements proposed by the petitioners, the Agency is not persuaded that the overarching proposed Section 8(a) rule is the appropriate means to collect such information. At this time, the Agency continues to implement its Strategy to determine its next steps, including, but not limited to using TSCA section 11, to collect information from additional companies on mercury used in products and processes. The assessment of information collected to date under the EPA Strategy will inform next steps in the current and future phases of the implementation. In so doing, the Agency is employing the variety of existing tools, including IMERC, the TRI program, and the CDR Rule, as well as the aforementioned voluntary outreach and targeted subpoenas, as necessary. This process is expedient, efficient, and does not duplicate the reporting requirements of IMERC, the TRI program, and the CDR Rule. As the assessment of collected information dictates, the Agency continues to use the tools currently available, while not eliminating the possibility of implementing other voluntary and regulatory options if deemed necessary. Thus, EPA disagrees with the petitioners' conclusions as to the ultimate efficacy of the EPA Strategy, its sufficiency to carry out TSCA, and the need for EPA to immediately pursue a TSCA section 8(a) rulemaking.

    8. The EPA Strategy minimizes undue burdens. The Agency also disagrees with the petitioners' claim that their requested TSCA section 8(a) rule “would result in substantial benefits” (Ref. 1). As previously stated, the Agency agrees that there is value in gathering more information for certain, individual categories of mercury-added products and processes identified by the petitioners. However, EPA is not persuaded that a TSCA section 8(a) rule at this time—as opposed to continued implementation of the EPA Strategy—would produce substantial or different benefits associated with collecting and reporting information on the use of mercury in products and processes. The EPA Strategy intends to provide for flexibility in the approach to “better understand continuing uses of mercury in . . . products and processes” and “further reduce mercury use in products and certain processes in order to prevent future releases to the environment” (Ref. 2). The Strategy allows for a dynamic and iterative process that can be adapted to specific categories of concern and makes clear that “initiation of future phases may not necessarily be dependent on preceding phases” (Ref. 2). Where the petitioners see a TSCA section 8(a) rule as the remedy to existing EPA resources that do not deliver the data they seek in the format they prefer, the Agency is wary of the potential for duplication of reporting requirements. The rule outlined by the petitioners not only creates potential overlap in the kind of data being submitted under the TRI program and CDR Rule, but also adds another mercury-based reporting requirement, with an incongruous reporting timeline, on top of these two established information-gathering programs. This scenario would require reporting under TSCA section 8(a)(1) that is unnecessary and, in some instances, duplicative. Thus, where the petitioners may interpret the measure of benefit for the rule they request to derive from the breadth and depth of information collected, the Agency is focusing on more discrete areas of need (i.e., individual product and process categories) that can provide for less burdensome requirements for potential stakeholders and a more efficient approach for the Agency to carry out TSCA in regard to mercury and mercury compounds. As a result, the petitioners' requested TSCA section 8(a) rule would be unduly burdensome both to the Agency and regulated entities.

    9. Petitioners failed to demonstrate the requested rule is necessary to protect against unreasonable risk. EPA disagrees that “there is a reasonable . . . basis to conclude that a section 8(a) reporting rule for mercury is necessary to protect health and the environment against an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment from ongoing domestic uses of mercury in products and processes” (Ref. 1). Central to the petitioners' claim is that:

    The lack of adequate data on mercury use in products and processes prevents a complete accounting of the full extent of the human health risks from exposure to mercury . . . [and] EPA cannot fully address the health and environmental risks from mercury exposure without adequate data about ongoing mercury uses . . . In addition, such data collection is necessary to allow EPA to monitor any development of new mercury uses, so that the agency can assess the risks to human health that may be presented by such new uses. (Ref. 1).

    The petitioners go on to state “incomplete and non-comprehensive data hampers EPA's ability to effectively assess risks from exposure to mercury” (Ref. 1). The petitioners then cite various EPA statements regarding risk management decision-making that speak to the availability and adequacy of information, as well as the EPA Strategy and its intent to gather more and updated information related to mercury used in products and processes (Ref. 1). The petitioners then conclude that without “comprehensive national data about ongoing mercury uses in products and processes . . . EPA cannot make informed, sound decisions about how to further reduce risks from mercury exposure” (emphasis added) (Ref. 1). The Agency disagrees with this conclusion. EPA is unaware of statutory authority, applicable case law, or Agency policy that would preclude risk assessment or actions to reduce risk based on the fact that available information is limited. While EPA risk assessment guidance lists the quality and comprehensiveness of data as factors that can diminish uncertainty, an “acceptable data set is one that is consistent with the scope, depth, and purpose of the assessment, and is both relevant and adequate” (Ref. 8). In this context, adequacy can be determined “by evaluating the amount of data available and the accuracy of the data” (Ref. 8). The same guidance also states that “[d]ata of insufficient quality will have little value for problem solving, while data of quality vastly in excess of what is needed to answer the questions asked provide few, if any, additional advantages” (Ref. 8). To achieve its stated goals to “acquire a more robust baseline of mercury quantities used in products and processes . . . [and] enhance data on manufacture, export, and import for certain categories of mercury use” (Ref. 2), the Agency's current approach will provide data on mercury that are not only adequate and relevant, but also more narrowly tailored to products and processes of greatest concern (e.g., switches, relays, new products, and catalysts). While EPA recognizes that these products and processes are not exhaustive, these are the categories that EPA has rationally chosen to focus on first. EPA is aware that mercury may be added to other products listed by the petitioners (e.g., rotational balancers, wheel weights, and additives in a variety of children's products). If EPA determines that additional information targeted to these products is necessary, EPA will take steps necessary to collect it.

    At this stage of implementing the strategy, the Agency also is uncertain what, if any, information is needed on mercury compounds beyond use as catalysts in manufacturing processes. Where products are concerned, for example, the product category of greatest concern (switches and relays) contains elemental mercury, not mercury compounds. Although certain batteries contain mercury oxide, that product group is of lesser concern than switches and relays. EPA will collect information on use of mercury compounds in products if, in the course of carrying out its Strategy, the Agency determines such information to be necessary. At this stage, requiring reporting for mercury compounds in all products while an Agency assessment of needs for such information is pending would require unnecessary reporting under TSCA section 8(a)(1).

    Thus, while the Agency is mindful of the petitioners' analysis of mercury-related concerns (e.g., toxicity, exposure, risks presented by releases into the environment, and risk reduction), EPA cannot reach the petitioners' conclusion that “a section 8(a) reporting rule for mercury is necessary to protect health and the environment against an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment from ongoing domestic uses of mercury in products and processes” (Ref. 1). While the petitioners articulate how the collection of comprehensive and national data could provide the Agency with more information to weigh in determining unreasonable risk, EPA finds that its current approach could be equally successful while imposing considerably less burden on both EPA and the regulated community in its implementation of TSCA, as well as allowing the Agency to move more quickly on the highest priority product categories. To date, this approach has yielded satisfactory information and the Agency expects that continued implementation of the EPA Strategy will be an appropriate and effective means to acquire the information needed to allow EPA to better understand continuing uses of mercury, to further reduce such uses, and to prevent potential exposure and risk for human health and the environment linked to releases of mercury into the environment.

    Furthermore, while the petition discusses the toxicity and potential risk associated with exposure to mercury and methylmercury, it does not provide a basis for finding that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk. The finding of unreasonable risk under TSCA encompasses consideration of both the anticipated benefits of action under consideration as well as the anticipated costs. In this instance, the petition would need to provide a basis for EPA to conclude that any additional risk reduction that would be achieved by the requested rule, beyond that which will be achieved by EPA's current efforts, would justify the additional costs to EPA and the regulated community.

    In discussing risks associated with releases of mercury, the petitioners describe how mercury releases during the product lifecycle “significantly” contribute to the total reservoir of “mercury pollution” (Ref. 1). After release, the petitioners describe how mercury cycles through environmental media, can be converted to methylmercury, and can potentially contaminate fish and humans (Ref. 1). The petitioners provide an estimate of the number of newborns exposed to methylmercury (376 to 14,293 cases annually) from all sources and the costs to care for children exposed to levels of methylmercury associated with cognitive impairment considered mental retardation ($500 million to $17.9 billion annually) (Ref. 1). The petitioners then cite several EPA significant new use rules (SNURs) applicable to mercury used in various motor vehicle switches (Ref. 9); flow meters, natural gas manometers, and pyrometers (Ref. 10); and barometers, manometers, hygrometers, and psychrometers (Ref. 11), to demonstrate previous Agency efforts to reduce risks from mercury based on potential releases of mercury during the product lifecycle (Ref. 1). The petitioners also cite estimated reporting costs for a TSCA section 8(a) rule of “approximately $8,000 to $9,000 per report for the initial cycle . . . and between $5,000 and $6,000 for each reporting cycle” (Ref. 1). However, the information provided in the petition on the impacts of mercury exposure, including the monetized risk estimate, relates to all sources of mercury pollution; it provides limited information to support the need for the requested rule to collect information as to ongoing uses. In addition, the petition does not provide a basis to conclude that the requested rule would provide for any additional risk reduction beyond that which will be achieved by EPA's current efforts, or that any such reduction would justify the additional cost to EPA and the regulated community. EPA notes in this regard that the petition misstates the baseline for judging the benefits of the requested rule by not accounting for the significant reduction in the CDR reporting threshold for mercury, as discussed above.

    10. EPA will continue its successful voluntary and regulatory efforts. Furthermore, the Agency is already taking voluntary and regulatory measures related to mercury, some of which are listed in the petition (e.g., SNURs for various mercury-added products, proposed rule for dental effluent guidelines, emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam-generating units, and the March 2015 subpoenas) (Ref. 1). EPA leads a voluntary initiative to phase out use of mercury in industrial and laboratory thermometers, which led to the development of the document “A Guide for Federal Agencies on Replacing Mercury-Containing Non-Fever Thermometers” (Ref. 12). The Agency also collaborates in voluntary programs such as the Energy Star Program co-sponsored by EPA and the Department of Energy, under which participating manufacturers agree to limit the mercury content of lamps, and the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program and follow-on initiatives, which manages, on a nationwide basis, programs to collect, transport, retort, recycle, or dispose of elemental mercury from automotive switches. Finally, EPA leads the mercury in products partnership within the United Nations Environment Program's Global Mercury Partnership, an international, voluntary effort that strives to phase out and eventually eliminate mercury in products and to eliminate releases during manufacturing and other industrial processes via environmentally sound production, transportation, storage, and disposal procedures (Ref. 13).

    In sum, the Agency finds that the requested promulgation of a TSCA section 8(a) is neither timely nor warranted to carry out TSCA pending the continued implementation of the approaches set forth in the EPA Strategy.

    V. References

    The following is a listing of the documents that are specifically referenced in this document. The docket includes these documents and other information considered by EPA, including documents that are referenced within the documents that are included in the docket, even if the referenced document is not physically located in the docket. For assistance in locating these other documents, please consult the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    1. NRDC/NEWMOA. Petition to Promulgate Reporting Rules for Mercury Manufacturing, Processing, and Importation Under Section 8(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act. June 24, 2015. 2. EPA. EPA Strategy to Address Mercury-Containing Products. September 2014. Available at http://www.epa.gov/mercury/pdfs/productsstrategy.pdf. 3. EPA. Toxic Chemical Release Reporting; Community Right-to-Know. Federal Register. 53 FR 4500, February 16, 1988 (FRL-3298-2). 4. EPA. TSCA Inventory Update Reporting Modifications: Chemical Data Reporting. Federal Register. 76 FR 50816, August 16, 2011 (FRL-8872-9). 5. EPA. Subpoena and Information Request. March 20, 2015. Available at http://www.epa.gov/mercury/pdfs/Hg_FormalRequest_SIGNED_03-20-2015.pdf. 6. EPA. Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act—Section 313: Guidance for Reporting Toxic Chemicals: Mercury and Mercury Compounds Category. August 2001. Available at http://www.epa.gov/tri/reporting_materials/guidance_docs/pdf/2001/2001hg.pdf. 7. EPA. Form R. Available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-01/documents/2014_form_r.pdf. 8. EPA. Guidelines for Exposure Assessment. May 29, 1992. Available at http://www.epa.gov/raf/publications/pdfs/GUIDELINES_EXPOSURE_ASSESSMENT.PDF. 9. EPA. Mercury Switches in Motor Vehicles; Significant New Use Rule. Federal Register. 72 FR 56903, October 5, 2007 (FRL-8110-5). 10. EPA. Elemental Mercury Used in Flow Meters, Natural Gas Manometers, and Pyrometers; Significant New Use Rule. Federal Register. 75 FR 42330, July 21, 2010 (FRL-8832-2). 11. EPA. Elemental Mercury Used in Barometers, Manometers, Hygrometers, and Psychrometers; Significant New Use Rule. Federal Register. 77 FR 31728, May 30, 2012 (FRL-9345-9). 12. EPA. A Guide for Federal Agencies on Replacing Mercury-Containing Non-Fever Thermometers. June 2013. Available at http://epa.gov/mercury/pdfs/Non-Fever-Mercury-Thermometers-Guide-for-Federal-Agencies-FINAL.pdf. 13. UNEP. Mercury-Containing Products Partnership Area Business Plan. June 28, 2013. Available at http://www.unep.org/chemicalsandwaste/Mercury/GlobalMercuryPartnership/Products/tabid/3565/language/en-US/Default.aspx. Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.

    Dated: September 21, 2015. James J. Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-24849 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration 49 CFR Part 271 [Docket No. FRA-2009-0038] 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 September 29, 2015, the RRP Working Group of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) held a meeting to review and discuss comments received in response to both the NPRM and an August 27, 2015, public hearing on the NPRM. FRA is reopening the comment period for this proceeding to allow interested parties to submit written comments in response to views or information provided at the RRP Working Group meeting.

    DATES:

    The comment period for this proceeding, consisting of the proposed rule published February 27, 2015, at 80 FR 10950, the August 27, 2015, hearing, announced at 80 FR 45500, July 30, 2015, and a prior notice of comment period reopening, announced at 80 FR 55285, September 15, 2015, is reopened. Written comments must be received by October 21, 2015. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible without incurring additional expense or delay.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments: 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: 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, 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 (RSIA) 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 acctions to mitigate that risk. Each RRP is statutorily required to be supported by a risk analysis and an RRP Plan, which must include a Technology Implementation Plan and a Fatigue Management Plan. On February 27, 2015, FRA published an NPRM that would require certain railroads to develop an RRP. FRA also held a public hearing on August 27, 2015, to provide interested persons an opportunity to provide oral comments on the proposal. See 80 FR 10950, Feb. 27, 2015 and 80 FR 45500, Jul. 30, 2015.

    On September 29, 2015, the RSAC's RRP Working Group held a meeting to review and discuss comments received in response to both the NPRM and the public hearing. FRA established RSAC as a collaborative forum to provide advice and recommendations to FRA on railroad safety matters. The RSAC includes representatives from all of the agency's major stakeholder groups, representing various railroad industry perspectives. See the RSAC Web site for details on prior RSAC activities and pending tasks at http://rsac.fra.dot.gov/. Please refer to the notice published in the Federal Register on March 11, 1996 (61 FR 9740), for additional information about the RSAC.

    FRA is reopening the comment period for this proceeding to allow interested parties to submit written comments in response to views or information provided at the RRP Working Group meeting on September 29, 2015. Written comments must be received by October 21, 2015. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible without incurring additional expense or delay.

    Privacy Act Statement

    Consistent 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.

    Robert C. Lauby, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety, Chief Safety Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25461 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 49 CFR Parts 393 and 396 [Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0176] RIN 2126-AB81 Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance; General Amendments AGENCY:

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    FMCSA proposes to amend the regulations for “Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation,” and “Inspection, Repair and Maintenance,” of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) in response to several petitions for rulemaking from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and two safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Specifically, the Agency proposes to add a definition of “major tread groove;” revise the rear license plate lamp requirement to provide an exception for truck tractors registered in States that do not require tractors to have a rear license plate; provide specific requirements regarding when violations or defects noted on a roadside inspection report need to be corrected; amend Appendix G to the FMCSRs, “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards,” to include provisions for the inspection of antilock braking systems (ABS), automatic brake adjusters, and brake adjustment indicators, speed-restricted tires, and motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages; and amend the periodic inspection rules to eliminate the option for motor carriers to use a violation—free roadside inspection report as proof of completing a comprehensive inspection at least once every 12 months. In addition, the Agency proposes to eliminate introductory text from Appendix G to the FMCSRs because the discussion of the differences between the North American Standard Inspection out-of-service criteria and FMCSA's periodic inspection criteria is unnecessary.

    DATES:

    You must submit comments on or before December 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number FMCSA-2015-0176 using any one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: 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.

    Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” heading under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions about this proposed rule, call or email Mr. Mike Huntley, Vehicle and Roadside Operations Division, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and Operations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, telephone: 202-366-5370; [email protected]. If you have questions about viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Ms. Barbara Hairston, Program Manager, Docket Services, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary

    FMCSA is responsible for regulations to ensure that all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained and that all parts and accessories necessary for the safe operation of CMVs are in safe and proper operating condition at all times. In response to several petitions for rulemaking from CVSA and ATA and two safety recommendations from the NTSB, FMCSA proposes to amend various provisions in parts 393 and 396 of the FMCSRs. The proposed amendments generally do not involve the establishment of new or more stringent requirements, but instead clarify existing requirements to increase consistency of enforcement activities.

    Specifically, the Agency proposes to (1) add a definition of “major tread groove” in § 393.5; (2) delete the requirement in Table 1 of § 393.11 for truck tractors to have a rear license plate light when State law does not require the vehicle to have a rear license plate; (3) clarify § 396.9 regarding when violations or defects noted on a roadside inspection report need to be corrected; (4) amend Appendix G to the FMCSRs, “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards,” to include provisions for the inspection of (a) ABS, automatic brake adjusters, and brake adjustment indicators, (b) speed-restricted tires, and (c) motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages; (5) amend § 396.17(f) to eliminate references to roadside inspections; and (6) amend § 396.19(b) regarding inspector qualifications as a result of the amendments to § 396.17(f) described above. In addition, the Agency proposes to eliminate as unnecessary a portion of Appendix G to the FMCSRs that describes the differences between the out-of-service criteria and FMCSA's annual inspection.

    The Agency believes the potential economic impact of these changes is negligible because the proposed amendments generally do not involve new or more stringent requirements, but a clarification of existing requirements.

    Public Participation and Request for Comments

    FMCSA encourages you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related materials.

    Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (FMCSA-2015-0176), indicate the heading of 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 or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your document so the Agency can contact you if it has questions regarding your submission.

    To submit your comment online, go to www.regulations.gov, type the docket number, “FMCSA-2015-0176” in the “Keyword” box, and click “Search.” When the new screen appears, click the “Comment Now!” button and type your comment into the text box in the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party, and click ”Submit.”

    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.

    FMCSA will consider all comments and material received during the comment period and may change this proposed rule based on your comments. FMCSA may issue a final rule at any time after the close of the comment period.

    Viewing Comments and Documents

    To view comments and as well as any documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to www.regulations.gov, insert the docket number, “FMCSA-2015-0176” in the “Keyword” box, and click “Search.” Next, click the “Open Docket Folder” button and choose the document listed to review. If you do not have access to the Internet, you may view the docket online by visiting the Docket Services in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    Privacy Act

    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.

    Legal Basis for the Rulemaking

    This rulemaking is based on the authority of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935 [1935 Act] and the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 [1984 Act].

    The 1935 Act, as amended, provides that “[t]he Secretary of Transportation may prescribe requirements for—(1) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees of, and safety of operation and equipment of, a motor carrier; and (2) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees of, and standards of equipment of, a private motor carrier, when needed to promote safety of operation” (49 U.S.C. 31502(b)).

    This NPRM would amend the FMCSRs to respond to several petitions for rulemaking. The adoption and enforcement of such rules is specifically authorized by the 1935 Act. This proposed rulemaking rests squarely on that authority.

    The 1984 Act provides concurrent authority to regulate drivers, motor carriers, and vehicle equipment. It requires the Secretary to “prescribe regulations on commercial motor vehicle safety.” The regulations shall prescribe minimum safety standards for CMVs. At a minimum, the regulations shall ensure that: (1) CMVs are maintained, equipped, loaded, and operated safely; (2) the responsibilities imposed on operators of CMVs do not impair their ability to operate the vehicles safely; (3) the physical condition of operators of CMVs is adequate to enable them to operate vehicles safely; (4) the operation of CMVs does not have a deleterious effect on the physical condition of the operators; and (5) that drivers are not coerced by motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries to operate a vehicle in violation of a regulation promulgated under 49 U.S.C. 31136 (which is the basis for much of the FMCSRs) or 49 U.S.C. chapters 51 or 313 (49 U.S.C. 31136(a)).

    This proposed rule concerns (1) parts and accessories necessary for the safe operation of CMVs, and (2) the inspection, repair, and maintenance of CMVs. It is based primarily on section 31136(a)(1) and (2), and secondarily on section 31136(a)(4). This rulemaking would ensure that CMVs are maintained, equipped, loaded, and operated safely by requiring certain vehicle components, systems, and equipment to meet minimum standards such that the mechanical condition of the vehicle is not likely to cause a crash or breakdown. Section 31136(a)(3) is not applicable because this rulemaking does not deal with driver qualification standards. Because the amendments proposed by this rule are primarily technical changes that clarify existing requirements and improve enforcement consistency, FMCSA believes they will be welcomed by motor carriers and drivers alike and that coercion to violate them will not be an issue.

    Before prescribing any such regulations, FMCSA must consider the “costs and benefits” of any proposal (49 U.S.C. 31136(c)(2)(A) and 31502(d)). As discussed in greater detail in the “Regulatory Analyses” section, FMCSA has determined that this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action. The Agency believes the potential economic impact is negligible because the proposed amendments generally do not involve the adoption of new or more stringent requirements, but rather the clarification of existing requirements. As such, the costs of the rule would not approach the $100 million annual threshold for economic significance.

    Background

    The fundamental purpose of 49 CFR part 393, “Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation,” is to ensure that no employer operates a CMV or causes or permits it to be operated, unless it is equipped in accordance with the requirements and specifications of that part. However, nothing contained in part 393 may be construed to prohibit the use of additional equipment and accessories, not inconsistent with or prohibited by part 393, provided such equipment and accessories do not decrease the safety of operation of the motor vehicles on which they are used. Compliance with the rules concerning parts and accessories is necessary to ensure vehicles are equipped with the specified safety devices and equipment.

    On August 15, 2005, FMCSA published a final rule amending part 393 of the FMCSRs to remove obsolete and redundant regulations; respond to several petitions for rulemaking; provide improved definitions of vehicle types, systems, and components; resolve inconsistencies between part 393 and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (49 CFR part 571); and codify certain FMCSA regulatory guidance concerning the requirements of part 393 (70 FR 48008).

    Since publication of the 2005 final rule, FMCSA has received petitions for rulemaking to amend part 393 from CVSA, requesting that § 393.5 be amended to include a definition of “major tread groove,” and from ATA, requesting that Table 1 to § 393.11 be amended to delete the requirement for operable rear license plate lights on truck tractors registered in States that do not require a rear license plate to be displayed. In addition, FMCSA received a separate petition from CVSA requesting that the Agency amend Appendix G to the FMCSRs, “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards,” to include provisions for the inspection of ABS. Like the revisions made in the August 2005 final rule, the amendments requested by CVSA and ATA would simply clarify existing requirements.

    Proper inspection, repair, and maintenance of CMVs are essential to the safety of motor carrier operations. The purpose of 49 CFR part 396, “Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance,” is to ensure that every motor carrier (1) systematically inspects, repairs, and maintains all motor vehicles subject to its control to ensure that all parts and accessories are in safe and proper operating condition at all times, and (2) maintains records of these inspections, repairs, and maintenance. Generally, systematic means a regular or scheduled program to keep vehicles in a safe operating condition. Part 396 does not specify inspection, repair, or maintenance intervals because such intervals are fleet specific, and in some instances, vehicle specific. The inspection, repair, and maintenance intervals are to be determined by the motor carrier. The requirements in part 396 concerning driver pre- and post-trip inspections and periodic (annual) inspections are in addition to the systematic inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements.

    FMCSA has also received several petitions from CVSA seeking amendments to part 396. First, while § 396.9(d)(2) requires violations or defects noted on roadside inspection reports to be “corrected,” CVSA requested that the Agency clarify when such vehicle and driver violations or defects must be corrected. Second, CVSA requested that the Agency remove the words “or roadside” from the existing regulatory language of § 396.17 to separate the roadside inspection program conducted by law enforcement officials from the periodic (annual) inspection requirements of § 396.17. Third, CVSA asked that § 396.19 be amended to delete the references to the “random roadside inspection program.” Finally, CVSA requested that FMCSA amend Appendix G to the FMCSRs by deleting the “Comparison of Appendix G, and the new North American Uniform Driver-Vehicle Inspection Procedure (North American Commercial Vehicle Critical Safety Inspection Items and Out-of-Service Criteria.)” As with the proposed amendments to part 393, the proposed revisions to part 396 merely clarify existing requirements.

    In addition to the CVSA and ATA petitions for rulemaking, the NTSB issued two safety recommendations to FMCSA relating to Appendix G of the FMCSRs as a result of its investigation of an October 13, 2003, crash in Tallulah, Louisiana, involving a motorcoach and a tractor semitrailer combination. First, investigators discovered that the motorcoach had been equipped with speed-restricted tires. While the tires were designed for speeds not to exceed 55 mph, and to provide high-load capacity and durability for inner city transit-bus-type vehicles (which typically do not exceed speeds of 55 mph), the motorcoach was being operated on the interstate at speeds exceeding 55 mph at the time of the crash. The NTSB noted that if a speed-restricted tire is used in service above its rated speed for extended periods, a catastrophic failure can result. The NTSB concluded that because the CMV inspection criteria used by FMCSA and others do not address the identification and appropriate use of speed-restricted tires, they overlook an important vehicle safety factor and can result in CMVs intended for highway use being operated with tires not suited for highway speeds. The NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-05-03 to FMCSA, recommending that the Agency revise Appendix G “to include inspection criteria and specific language to address a tire's speed rating to ensure that it is appropriate for a vehicle's intended use.”

    Second, investigators found that during the crash sequence, many passenger seats did not remain in their original positions because they had been improperly secured to the floor of the vehicle. The NTSB concluded that improperly secured motorcoach passenger seats are not likely to be identified during CMV inspections because no criteria or procedures are available for the inspection of motorcoach seating anchorage systems. The NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-05-05 to FMCSA, recommending that the Agency (1) develop a method for inspecting motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages, and (2) revise Appendix G of the FMCSRs to require inspection of these anchorages.

    Discussion of Proposed Rulemaking

    Section 393.5, Definition of “Major tread groove.” Section 393.75 of the FMCSRs specifies the requirements for tires on CMVs operated in interstate commerce. Paragraph (b) states that “Any tire on the front wheels of a bus, truck, or truck tractor shall have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 4/32 of an inch when measured at any point on a major tread groove. The measurements shall not be made where tie bars, humps, or fillets are located” [emphasis added]. In addition, § 393.75(c) states that, “Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, tires shall have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 2/32 of an inch when measured in a major tread groove. The measurement shall not be made where tie bars, humps or fillets are located” [emphasis added].

    In its petition, CVSA stated:

    The absence of a definition for what constitutes a major tread groove leads to confusion for both enforcement and industry. There are several grooves in a tire and not all of them are necessarily major tread grooves. Dependent on where the tire is worn and what the person understands to be a major tread groove is the important and costly decision on whether or not the tire is required to be replaced. A clear definition will reduce unnecessary disposal of tires due to improper tread depth measurements, as well as reduce improper violations/citations related to § 393.75.

    CVSA contacted ATA's Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) S.2 Tire & Wheel Study Group Task Force and asked them to (1) review the regulatory language in § 393.75(b) and (c), and (2) develop a definition for “major tread groove.” The TMC Task Force recommended that a major tread groove be defined as “The space between two adjacent tread ribs or lugs on a tire that contains a tread wear indicator or wear bar. (In most cases, the locations of tread wear indicators are designated on the upper sidewall/shoulder of the tire on original tread tires.)”

    CVSA contends that it “is imperative that measurements for tire wear are taken in consistent locations to help promote uniformity and consistency in both enforcement and maintenance.” The proposed definition of “major tread groove” was submitted to, reviewed, and approved by CVSA's Vehicle Committee (consisting of enforcement, government, and industry representatives) prior to the development and submission of the petition for rulemaking to FMCSA. The petition requests that § 393.5 be amended to include the TMC Task Force's suggested definition of “major tread groove.”

    FMCSA agrees that uniformity and consistency in enforcement and maintenance are critical. By including a definition of “major tread groove” in § 393.5—a term that is currently included in the regulatory text of § 393.75(b) and (c), but not specifically defined—the Agency expects increased consistency in the application and citation of § 393.75 during roadside inspections.

    FMCSA proposes to amend § 393.5 to include a definition for “major tread groove” that is consistent with the definition as proposed by the TMC Task Force. In addition, the following illustration will be added to § 393.75, where the arrows indicate the location of tread wear indicators or a wear bars signifying a major tread groove:

    EP07OC15.201

    Table 1 to § 393.11, License Plate Lights. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, “Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment,” requires all newly-manufactured passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), trucks, and buses to be equipped with a single white license plate light, located at the rear, to illuminate the license plate from the top or sides. The light must be steady burning, and must be activated when the headlamps are activated in a steady burning state or when the parking lamps on passenger cars and MPVs, trucks, and buses are activated. Similarly, § 393.11(a)(1) of the FMCSRs requires all CMVs operated in interstate commerce and manufactured on or after December 25, 1968, to meet at least the minimum applicable requirements of FMVSS No. 108 in effect at the time of manufacture of the vehicle. Footnote 11 to Table 1 of § 393.11 requires that the license plate light “be illuminated when tractor headlamps are illuminated.”

    In its petition, ATA states:

    The purpose of the rear license plate lamp is “to illuminate the license plate from the top or sides.” ATA believes that if there is no license plate, there is no need and therefore should be no regulatory requirement for a functioning rear license plate lamp. As simple and commonsensical as this seems, roadside inspectors in some [States] have issued citations to motor carriers when the rear license plate holder is empty and the tractor license plate lamp is either missing or not working. In surveying the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, ATA found that 35 states and the District require only one license plate on a tractor, and it is to be placed on the front. Only 14 states require two license plates, one each on the front and back of the tractor. Therefore, the change we are seeking in the application of the regulation would apply to a significant number of commercial trucks with state-issued plates . . . These changes to the existing regulatory requirements to exempt commercial vehicles with no rear license plates will not adversely impact safety and will help eliminate further unnecessary enforcement actions by roadside inspectors.

    ATA's petition requests that FMCSA amend the license plate lamp requirement in Table 1 to § 393.11 to read “At rear license plate to illuminate the plate from the top or sides, except that no license plate lamp is required where state law does not require a license plate to be present.”

    As noted in both FMVSS No. 108 and the FMCSRs, the only function of the rear license plate lamp is to illuminate the rear license plate. FMCSA agrees with ATA that if a truck tractor is not required to display a rear license plate, then there is no corresponding safety need for a functioning rear license plate light. Uniformity and consistency in enforcement are critical.

    FMCSA proposes to amend Footnote 11 to Table 1 of § 393.11 to indicate that no rear license plate lamp is required on truck tractors registered in States that do not require tractors to display a rear license plate.”

    Appendix G to the FMCSRs—ABS. Section 210 of the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 required the Secretary of Transportation to establish standards for the annual (i.e., periodic) or more frequent inspection of all CMVs engaged in interstate or foreign commerce. In response, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a final rule on December 7, 1988, adopting § 396.17, which requires all CMVs to be inspected at least once every 12 months (53 FR 49402, as amended on December 8, 1989 (54 FR 50722)). In establishing specific criteria for the newly required annual inspection, FHWA looked to inspection criteria that had been developed based on the specifications in part 393, notably (1) the CVSA vehicle out-of-service criteria and (2) the vehicle portion of the FHWA National Uniform Driver-Vehicle Inspection Procedure (NUD-VIP). FHWA decided to use the vehicle portion of the NUD-VIP as the criteria for successful completion of the annual inspection, and in the December 1988 rule, established Appendix G to the FMCSRs as the minimum periodic inspection standards for § 396.17. FHWA noted that utilization of the NUD-VIP would (1) provide the necessary inspection-related pass/fail criteria for the periodic inspection at a more stringent level than the vehicle out-of-service criteria, and (2) provide the proper level of Federal oversight in establishing and revising the criteria.

    NHTSA did not require medium and heavy vehicles to be equipped with an ABS to improve lateral stability and steering control during braking until 1995, when it published a final rule amending FMVSS No. 105, “Hydraulic Brake Systems,” and FMVSS No. 121, “Air Brake Systems” (60 FR 13216, March 10, 1995). In addition to requiring ABS on medium and heavy vehicles, the 1995 rule also required all powered vehicles to be equipped with an in-cab lamp to indicate ABS malfunctions. Truck tractors and other trucks equipped to tow air-braked trailers are required to have two separate in-cab lamps: One indicating malfunctions in the towing vehicle ABS and the other in the trailer ABS.

    Part 393 of the FMCSRs was amended in 1998 to require carriers to maintain ABS installed on truck tractors, single unit trucks, buses, trailers, and converter dollies (63 FR 24454, May 4, 1998). Although the final rule clearly placed on interstate motor carriers the responsibility to maintain the ABS in operable condition at all times, it did not add provisions regarding the periodic inspection of the ABS/ABS malfunction indicator to the minimum periodic inspection standards in Appendix G. This means that a vehicle could pass the periodic inspection with an inoperable ABS/ABS malfunction indicator. However, the operation of the vehicle with the inoperable ABS/ABS malfunction indicator would be a violation of the FMCSRs and would preclude the vehicle from receiving a roadside inspection decal.

    In its petition, CVSA requested that the Agency amend Appendix G to include specific language regarding the inspection of the ABS system/malfunction indicator during periodic/annual inspections. CVSA stated:

    While we realize that 49 CFR part 393—Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation has requirements relating to ABS in § 393.55, periodic inspections are typically conducted using Appendix G as a guide (and not Part 393) and as such, ABS operational status is frequently neglected since it is not part of Appendix G. Furthermore, many versions of the preprinted forms used by personnel who conduct periodic inspections do not mention or list ABS as an inspection item.

    The failure of some motor carriers to check ABS as a part of their preventative maintenance programs is found by roadside inspectors while conducting random roadside inspections. Inspectors are frequently finding commercial motor vehicles with missing or inoperative ABS malfunction indicators or indicators that are constantly illuminated indicating a fault in the ABS. A study was conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute for FMCSA to assess the status of the ABS warning system on in-service air-braked commercial vehicles. Data from approximately 1,000 CMVs were collected in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, by enforcement personnel who had been specifically trained to inspect the ABS warning lamp. With an ABS lamp check problem defined as falling into one of three categories; no lamp, lamp inoperative, or lamp on (thus indicating an active ABS system fault), a snapshot of this aspect of the CMV population was created. Results indicated that about one in six power units manufactured after March 1, 1997 showed some problem with their ABS warning lamp system. One in three trailers manufactured after March 1, 1998 showed a problem. Furthermore, the study indicated that ABS problems increased with vehicle age so the percentages would likely be higher if the study was repeated today since there are now older vehicles on the road with ABS.

    FMCSA agrees that the failure of a motor carrier to properly maintain an important safety technology such as ABS should result in the vehicle failing the periodic inspection. And although CVSA did not mention automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators in its petition, FMCSA believes these brake components should also be included in Appendix G to ensure that vehicles cannot pass the periodic inspection without this important safety equipment. FMCSA amended 49 CFR part 393 on September 6, 1995 (60 FR 46245) to require that interstate motor carriers maintain these devices, but as with the ABS final rule, the Agency did not include automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators in Appendix G.

    ABS and automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicator requirements have been included in part 393 for approximately 20 years. Therefore, FMCSA believes that it is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of motor carriers currently include a review of these devices and systems in their annual inspection programs despite the fact that there are no explicit requirements in Appendix G to do so. As such, the Agency believes that amending Appendix G to include a review of ABS and automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators simply maintains consistency between part 393 and Appendix G, and will result in a de minimis added burden to motor carriers.

    Section 396.9, Inspection of motor vehicles and intermodal equipment in operation. Section 396.9 of the FMCSRs authorizes special agents of FMCSA, as defined in Appendix B to the FMCSRs, to enter upon and perform inspections of a motor carrier's vehicles in operation, i.e., to perform roadside inspections. Drivers receiving reports from such inspections are required to provide a copy of the report to the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider (1) upon his/her arrival at the next terminal or facility, or (2) immediately via mail, fax, or other means if the driver is not scheduled to arrive at a terminal or at a facility of the intermodal equipment provider within 24 hours. Section 396.9(d)(2) requires that “Motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers shall examine the report. Violations or defects noted thereon shall be corrected. Repairs of items of intermodal equipment placed out-of-service are also to be documented in the maintenance records for such equipment.” However, § 396.9(d)(2) does not expressly state when such violations or defects need to be remedied.

    CVSA asked FMCSA to amend § 396.9(d)(2) to specifically require that violations or defects noted in a roadside inspection report “be corrected prior to redispatching the driver and/or vehicle.” In support of its petition, CVSA stated:

    Upon review of the North American Standard Level I Inspection (Part “A”—Driver) training materials, it was noted that the regulatory language “prior to redispatch” does not currently exist in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The language has been used exclusively in the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria (OOSC) and in the Appendix since the early beginnings of the North American Standard Inspection Program. By adding the regulatory language, it will provide enforcement and industry with a clear understanding of the regulatory intent of when vehicle and driver violations or defects must be corrected.

    Every driver is required to prepare a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) in writing at the completion of each day's work on each that he or she vehicle operated that lists “any defect or deficiency discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown” (§ 396.11(a)(2) [emphasis added]). Any defects or violations noted during a roadside inspection conducted during that work day, and documented in a report provided to the driver by an inspection official, must be included in the DVIR prepared by the driver at the end of the work day. In addition, § 396.11(a)(3) specifies that prior to requiring or permitting a driver to operate a vehicle, every motor carrier or its agent shall (1) repair any defect or deficiency listed on the DVIR which would be likely to affect the safety of operation of the vehicle (§ 396.11(a)(3)(i)), and (2) certify on the original DVIR that all defects or deficiencies have been repaired or that repair is unnecessary before the vehicle is operated again (§ 396.11(a)(3)(ii)).

    Section 396.11(a)(3) makes it clear that all defects and deficiencies discovered by or reported to a driver—including those identified during a roadside inspection conducted under the authority of § 396.9—must be corrected (or a certification provided stating that repair is unnecessary) before a vehicle is operated each day. However, the Agency agrees that the language of § 396.9(d)(2) is not as explicit as it could be, and could lead to uncertainty and/or inconsistency in both the enforcement community and the motor carrier industry regarding when violations and defects noted on roadside inspection reports need to be corrected.

    While CVSA suggested inclusion of language that would require violations or defects to be corrected “prior to redispatching the driver and/or vehicle,” the Agency believes that use of the term “redispatching” could be troublesome in some operations, for example in long-haul, multi-day cross country trips where a vehicle may be “dispatched” only at the trip's point of origin. On such trips, a driver is required under § 396.11 to ensure—at the beginning of each day—that any defects or deficiencies discovered by or reported to the driver on the previous day have been satisfactorily addressed according to § 396.11(a)(3)(i) and (ii). FMCSA is concerned that amending § 396.9(d)(2) using CVSA's recommended “prior to redispatch” language could improperly imply that repairs are not required each day on multi-day trips where the vehicle is not “redispatched” every day.

    Instead, to clarify the intent of § 396.9(d)(2) as discussed above, FMCSA proposes to amend that section by including a specific cross reference to § 396.11(a)(3).

    The Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1990 required that violations found during inspections funded under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) be corrected in a timely manner, and that States participating in the MCSAP adopt a verification program to ensure that CMVs and operators thereof found in violation of safety requirements have subsequently been brought into compliance. [Sec. 15(d), Pub. L. 101-500, Nov. 3, 1990, 104 Stat. 1219]. Section 396.9(d)(3) requires motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers, within 15 days, to (1) certify that all violations noted have been corrected by completing the “Signature of Carrier/Intermodal Equipment Provider Official, Title, and Date Signed” portions of the roadside inspection form, (2) return the completed roadside inspection form to the issuing agency, and (3) retain a copy of the completed form for 12 months from the date of the inspection.

    In a final rule implementing revisions to the MCSAP published on September 8, 1992, the FHWA noted that the ATA had asked “that carriers be given more time to return inspection reports and file a report at the terminal where the vehicle is maintained.” Specifically, the ATA requested that the carrier be allowed 60 days to file a copy of each roadside inspection report. FHWA declined to adopt ATA's request, stating “Currently, § 396.9 allows 15 days for the motor carrier to certify correction of defects found in inspections. The FHWA believes that this is sufficient time and, moreover, that these reports on safety violations found on trucks and buses operating on the highways require immediate attention and follow-up by the motor carrier” (57 FR 40946, 40951, Sept. 8, 1992). FMCSA requests comments regarding whether the existing 15-day requirement in § 396.9(d)(3) remains appropriate, or whether a different time period should be considered.

    Section 396.17, Periodic Inspection. Section 396.17(f) states that “Vehicles passing roadside or periodic inspections performed under the auspices of any State government or equivalent jurisdiction or the FMCSA, meeting the minimum standards contained in appendix G of this subchapter, will be considered to have met the requirements of an annual inspection for a period of 12 months commencing from the last day of the month in which the inspection was performed. If a vehicle is subject to a mandatory State inspection program, as provided in § 396.23(b)(1), a roadside inspection may only be considered equivalent if it complies with the requirements of that program.”

    In its petition, CVSA recommended that § 396.17(f) be amended by removing the words “roadside or” from the current regulatory language. CVSA stated:

    It is our strong belief that the roadside inspection program and the annual/periodic inspection program need to be decoupled from each other. The roadside inspection program and the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria (OOSC) are not equivalent to a “government mandated maintenance standard” for annual or periodic inspections. The North American Standard Inspection Program and North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria have been in place for more than two decades and were never intended to serve this purpose . . .

    The roadside inspection is the “last line of defense” for highway safety. When a driver or vehicle is placed out of service during a roadside inspection it is indicative that the motor carrier likely has a failing or defective preventative maintenance and/or driver trip inspection program . . .

    Far too many drivers, roadside inspectors, mechanics, company safety professionals and owner operators reference the OOSC as the “DOT” standard. In our judgment it is a mistake and a misuse of the intent of the OOSC. The OOSC serves as a uniform set of guidelines for law enforcement officials when determining whether a driver and/or vehicle are an imminent hazard. The Policy Statement under Part II of the OOSC states “These criteria are neither suited nor intended to serve as vehicle maintenance or performance standards.”

    FMCSA emphasizes that under the existing regulatory language, only roadside inspections “meeting the minimum standards contained in appendix G” may be considered to be equivalent to a periodic/annual inspection. This distinction was clearly and extensively discussed in the December 1988 FHWA final rule discussed earlier that established the periodic/annual inspection requirements of § 396.17. In that rule, FHWA stated:

    As noted in the NPRM, the commenters pointed out the differences between random critical element roadside inspections and what they perceived as the intent of § 210 of the [1984] Act. They indicated that a random roadside inspection was basically concerned with ensuring that the vehicle did not pose an imminent danger on the roadway. The focus is on checking the more critical components such as brakes, headlights, brake lights, and steering and suspension systems. In contrast, a periodic inspection should be more concerned with the general overall safety condition of the vehicle, including those parts, which if defective, worn, or missing do not pose an immediate danger but nevertheless should be corrected as soon as possible. Therefore, the rule requires that roadside inspections meet the minimum standards contained in Appendix G in order to meet the periodic inspection requirements . . .

    The current inspection standards associated with the CVSA or NUD-VIP focus on random roadside inspections and examine certain key components of a vehicle to detect those defects most often identified as causing or contributing to the severity of commercial motor vehicle accidents. The CVSA or NUD-VIP standards, by their very nature, do not require disassembly of parts to effect a thorough inspection. The FHWA believes that the criteria on which to judge whether or not the vehicle passes the [periodic] inspection should be more thorough than that used during roadside inspections . . .

    Vehicles subjected to random roadside vehicle checks which inspect vehicles using the criteria included in Appendix G will be considered to have met the requirements of this rule if they pass the inspection. Note that the current CVSA out-of-service criteria, while very similar to that contained in Appendix G, are not identical. The fact that a vehicle is subjected to and passes roadside inspection (e.g., receiving a CVSA decal) does not necessarily satisfy the requirements of the periodic inspection under this rule. In order to meet the requirements for a periodic inspection, the inspection must be performed using, as a minimum, the criteria contained in Appendix G of this subchapter [emphasis added in all].

    FMCSA emphasizes that the purpose of the periodic inspection rule was to have motor carriers take full responsibility for having a qualified mechanic do a thorough inspection of the vehicles the carrier controls. FMCSA does not believe it is appropriate to continue to allow carriers relief from this responsibility by using a roadside inspection conducted by enforcement officials. Motor carriers are responsible for having the means of ensuring the completion of a periodic inspection irrespective of whether a roadside inspection is performed and this rulemaking would require them to do so at least once every 12 months, irrespective of whether a roadside inspection is performed during that period.

    For the reasons explained above, FMCSA proposes to amend § 396.17(f) to remove the words “roadside or” from the current regulatory text as suggested by CVSA in its petition. This proposed amendment would eliminate any uncertainties and make clear that a roadside inspection is not equivalent to the periodic/annual inspection required under § 396.17, even if it is conducted in accordance with the provisions of Appendix G.

    In addition, CVSA requested that FMCSA remove the section at the end of Appendix G titled “Comparison of Appendix G, and the new North American Uniform Driver-Vehicle Inspection Procedure (North American Commercial Vehicle Critical Safety Inspection Items and Out-Of-Service Criteria). In light of the proposed amendments to § 396.17(f) described above, and to further decrease the possibility of confusion regarding differing requirements of the roadside inspection program and the periodic/annual inspection program, FMCSA proposes to delete the section as suggested by CVSA.

    Section 396.19, Inspector Qualifications. Section 396.19 of the FMCSRs prescribes the minimum qualifications for individuals performing periodic/annual inspections under § 396.17(d). Specifically, § 396.19(b) states that “Motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers must retain evidence of that individual's qualifications under this section. They must retain this evidence for the period during which that individual is performing annual motor vehicle inspections for the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider, and for one year thereafter. However, motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers do not have to maintain documentation of inspector qualifications for those inspections performed either as part of a State periodic inspection program or at the roadside as part of a random roadside inspection program.”

    Consistent with the proposed amendments to § 396.17 discussed above, CVSA's petition recommended that FMCSA delete the language regarding “a random roadside inspection program” in § 396.19(b).

    FMCSA agrees and proposes to amend § 396.19(b) as suggested by CVSA.

    NTSB Recommendations, Speed-restricted tires and motorcoach seat anchorage strength in Appendix G.

    Speed-restricted tires. After investigating a 2003 motorcoach crash, NTSB recommended that the Agency revise Appendix G “to include inspection criteria and specific language to address a tire's speed rating to ensure that it is appropriate for a vehicle's intended use.”

    FMVSS No. 119, “New pneumatic tires for motor vehicles with a GVWR [Gross Vehicle Weight Rating] of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) and motorcycles,” requires certain information to be marked on the tire sidewall. S6.5(d) of the standard requires that each tire's maximum load rating for single and dual applications and the corresponding inflation pressure be labeled on the sidewall, which provides information to the vehicle operator to ensure proper selection and use of tires.

    However, a tire's maximum speed rating is not required to be labeled on the sidewall, except for tires that are speed-restricted to 90 km/h (55 mph) or below.1 For speed-restricted tires, S6.5(e) of the standard requires that the label on the sidewall be as follows: “Max Speed _km/h (_mph).” 2 For tires that are not speed-restricted, inspection officials have no way to determine from the sidewall labeling the design maximum speed capability of the tire for the specified maximum load rating and corresponding inflation pressure.

    1 NHTSA published an NPRM on September 29, 2010 proposing to upgrade FMVSS No. 119 (75 FR 60036) to require a maximum speed rating label for radial truck tires with load ranges F and above. No final rule has been published to date.

    2 With respect to the tires on the motorcoach in the Tallulah, LA crash, the NTSB Highway Accident Report notes “The restricted speed information was embossed on each tire's outer sidewall and was clearly visible.”

    FMCSA agrees that speed-restricted tires should not be used on CMVs operating on highways in excess of 55 mph for extended periods of time. However, the adoption of a requirement regarding a tire's speed rating in Appendix G, as recommended by the NTSB in Safety Recommendation H-05-03, absent a regulatory requirement for tires to be so marked, would result in inconsistent enforcement. As an alternative, FMCSA proposes to add language to section 10 of Appendix G that will prohibit the use of speed-restricted tires on CMVs subject to the FMCSRs unless the use of such tires is specifically designated by the motor carrier.

    Motorcoach seat anchorage strength. Investigators found that during the Tallulah crash sequence, many passenger seats did not remain securely attached to the floor. The NTSB recommended that the Agency (1) develop a method for inspecting motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages, and (2) revise Appendix G of the FMCSRs to require inspection of these anchorages.

    Section 393.93(a)(3) requires buses manufactured on or after January 1, 1972, to conform to the requirements of FMVSS No. 207, “Seating systems.” FMVSS No. 207 establishes requirements for seats, their attachment assemblies, and their installation to minimize the possibility of their failure by forces acting on them as a result of vehicle impact. For most vehicles required by FMVSS No. 208, “Occupant crash protection,” to have seat belts, the seat belt anchorages must be certified to the strength requirements of FMVSS No. 210, “Seat belt assembly anchorages,” and the seats must be certified to FMVSS No. 207. Part of the FMVSS No. 207 requirements tests the forward strength of the seat attachment to the vehicle replicating the load that would be applied through the seat center of gravity by inertia in a 20 g vehicle deceleration.

    However, FMVSS No. 207 specifically exempts (at S.4.2) all bus passenger seats, including motorcoaches, except for small school bus passenger seats. As such, there are no performance standards in place in the FMVSSs specifically for motorcoach seat anchorages. Following its investigation of the Tallulah crash, NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-05-01 to NHTSA to “develop performance standards for passenger seat anchorages in motorcoaches.”

    On November 25, 2013, NHTSA published a final rule requiring lap/shoulder belts to be installed for each passenger seating position on (1) all over-the-road buses 3 manufactured on or after November 28, 2016, and (2) all buses other than over-the-road buses manufactured on or after November 28, 2016, with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds, with certain exclusions (78 FR 70416). This rule requires the seat belt anchorages, both torso and lap, on passenger seats to be integrated into the seat structure, and these seat belt anchorages to meet the performance requirements of FMVSS No. 210. Testing performed by NHTSA demonstrated that the FMVSS No. 210 requirement ensures that restraints integrated into seats are tested adequately and that the seat attachment is robust. Thus, NHTSA determined that additional FMVSS No. 207 requirements for motorcoach passenger seats are not needed. In consideration of the above, NTSB reclassified Safety Recommendation H-05-01 as “Closed—Acceptable Alternative Action” on July 22, 2014.

    3 The final rule defines over-the-road bus as “A bus characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment, except a school bus.”

    As noted in the NTSB's report following the Tallulah crash, “Many different seating system designs are used in motorcoaches operating in the United States; each manufacturer uses its own hardware and anchorage designs . . .” The NTSB also noted that it had examined the issue of motorcoach seat anchorage failure in six previous crash investigations. The NTSB stated “Several different seat anchorage system designs were used in the motorcoaches involved in these accidents. Even when properly installed and maintained, some seat anchorage systems failed, while others did not, even in similar accident scenarios.”

    Given the wide range of seat anchorage designs, coupled with the lack of testing requirements specifically for seat anchorage strength in the FMVSSs, it is not practicable for FMCSA to develop a detailed methodology for the inspection of motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages. However, FMCSA proposes to add a new section to Appendix G that will require an examination of motorcoach seats during the conduct of a periodic inspection in accordance with § 396.17 to ensure that they are securely attached to the vehicle structure.

    Amendments to Existing Regulatory Guidance

    If the proposed regulatory amendments are adopted, FMCSA will amend existing regulatory guidance questions/answers as necessary to maintain consistency with the amended regulatory language.

    Regulatory Analyses Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures as Supplemented by E.O. 13563)

    FMCSA has determined that this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866, as supplemented by E.O. 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011), or within the meaning of DOT regulatory policies and procedures (DOT Order 2100.5 dated May 22, 1980; 44 FR 11034, February 2, 1979). The Agency believes the potential economic impact is nominal because the proposed amendments generally do not involve the adoption of new or more stringent requirements, but rather the clarification of existing requirements. As such, the costs of the rule would not approach the $100 million annual threshold for economic significance. Moreover, the Agency does not expect the rule to generate substantial congressional or public interest. This proposed rule therefore has not been formally reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires Federal agencies to consider the effects of their regulatory actions on small business and other small entities and to minimize any significant economic impact. The term “small entities” encompasses small businesses and 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 50,000.4 Accordingly, DOT policy requires an analysis of the impact of all regulations on small entities and mandates that agencies strive to lessen any adverse effects on these businesses.

    4 Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), see National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/laws/regulatory-flexibility/601.html.

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) (Title II, Pub. L. 104-121, 110 Stat. 857, March 29, 1996), the proposed rule is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the proposed amendments generally do not involve the adoption of new or more stringent requirements, but, instead, the clarification of existing requirements. Therefore, there is no disproportionate burden to small entities.

    Consequently, I certify that the proposed action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. FMCSA invites comment from members of the public who believe there will be a significant impact either on small businesses or on governmental jurisdictions with a population of less than 50,000.

    Assistance for Small Entities

    In accordance with section 213(a) of the SBREFA, FMCSA wants to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on themselves and participate in the rulemaking initiative. If the proposed rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please consult the FMCSA point of contact, Mike Huntley, listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of the proposed rule.

    Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce or otherwise determine compliance with Federal regulations to the Small Business Administration's 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 FMCSA, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247). DOT has a policy ensuring the rights of small entities to regulatory enforcement fairness and an explicit policy against retaliation for exercising these rights.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    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, taken together, or by the private sector of $155 million (which is the value equivalent of $100 million in 1995, adjusted for inflation to 2014 levels) or more in any 1 year. Though this proposed rule would not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule would call for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

    Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    A rule has implications for Federalism under Section 1(a) of Executive Order 13132 if it has “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.” FMCSA has determined that this proposal would not have substantial direct costs on or for States, nor would it limit the policymaking discretion of States. Nothing in this document preempts any State law or regulation.

    Executive Order 12988 (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.

    Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    E.O. 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks (62 FR 19885, Apr. 23, 1997), requires agencies issuing “economically significant” rules, if the regulation also concerns an environmental health or safety risk that an agency has reason to believe may disproportionately affect children, to include an evaluation of the regulation's environmental health and safety effects on children. The Agency determined this proposed rule is not economically significant. Therefore, no analysis of the impacts on children is required. In any event, this regulatory action could not present an environmental or safety risk that would disproportionately affect children.

    Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    FMCSA reviewed this notice of proposed rulemaking in accordance with Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights, and has determined it will not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications.

    Privacy

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (Pub. L. 108-447, 118 Stat. 2809, 3268, 5 U.S.C. 552a note), requires the Agency to conduct a privacy impact assessment (PIA) of a regulation that will affect the privacy of individuals. This proposed rule does not require the collection of personally identifiable information (PII).

    The E-Government Act of 2002, Public Law 107-347, section 208, 116 Stat. 2899, 2921 (Dec. 17, 2002), requires Federal agencies to conduct a privacy impact assessment for new or substantially changed technology that collects, maintains, or disseminates information in an identifiable form. No new or substantially changed technology would collect, maintain, or disseminate information as a result of this rule. Accordingly, FMCSA has not conducted a privacy impact assessment.

    Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and activities do not apply to this program.

    Executive Order 13211 (Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use)

    FMCSA has analyzed this proposed rule under E.O. 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use. The Agency has determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under E.O. 13211.

    Executive Order 13175 (Indian Tribal Governments)

    This rule does not have tribal implications under E.O. 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.

    National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through OMB, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) are standards that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. This proposed rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

    Environment (National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Environmental Justice)

    FMCSA analyzed this NPRM for the purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and determined this action is categorically excluded from further analysis and documentation in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under FMCSA Order 5610.1 (69 FR 9680, March 1, 2004), Appendix 2, paragraphs 6(z)(aa) and 6(z)(bb). The Categorical Exclusion (CE) in paragraph 6(z)(aa) covers regulations requiring motor carriers, their officers, drivers, agents, representatives, and employees directly in control of CMVs to inspect, repair, and provide maintenance for every CMV used on a public road. The CE in paragraph 6(z)(bb) covers regulations concerning vehicle operation safety standards (e.g., regulations requiring: Certain motor carriers to use approved equipment which is required to be installed such as an ignition cut-off switch, or carried on board, such as a fire extinguisher, and/or stricter blood alcohol concentration (BAC) standards for drivers, etc.), equipment approval, and/or equipment carriage requirements (e.g. fire extinguishers and flares). The CE determination is available for inspection or copying in the Regulations.gov Web site listed under ADDRESSES.

    FMCSA also analyzed this rule under the Clean Air Act, as amended (CAA), section 176(c) (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), and implementing regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Approval of this action is exempt from the CAA's general conformity requirement since it does not affect direct or indirect emissions of criteria pollutants.

    Under E.O. 12898 (Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations), each Federal agency must identify and address, as appropriate, “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations” in the United States, its possessions, and territories. FMCSA has determined that this proposed rule would have no environmental justice effects, nor would its promulgation have any collective environmental impact.

    List of Subjects 49 CFR Part 393

    Highway safety, Motor carriers, Motor vehicle safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    49 CFR Part 396

    Highways and roads. Motor carriers, Motor vehicle equipment, Motor vehicle safety.

    For the reasons stated above, FMCSA proposes to amend 49 CFR chapter III, subchapter B, as follows:

    PART 393—PARTS AND ACCESSORIES NECESSARY FOR SAFE OPERATION 1. The authority citation for part 393 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 31136, 31151, and 31502; sec. 1041(b) of Pub. L. 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914, 1993 (1991); and 49 CFR 1.87.

    2. Amend § 393.5 to add a definition for “Major tread groove” in alphabetical order to read as follows:
    § 393.5 Definitions.

    Major tread groove is the space between two adjacent tread ribs or lugs on a tire that contains a tread wear indicator or wear bar. (In most cases, the locations of tread wear indicators are designated on the upper sidewall/shoulder of the tire on original tread tires.)

    3. In § 393.11, revise Footnote 11 of Table 1 to read as follows:
    § 393.11 Lamps and reflective devices. Table 1 of § 393.11—Required Lamps and Reflectors on Commercial Motor Vehicles

    Footnote—11 To be illuminated when tractor headlamps are illuminated. No rear license plate lamp is required on truck tractors registered in States that do not require tractors to display a rear license plate.

    PART 396—INSPECTION, REPAIR, AND MAINTENANCE 4. The authority citation for part 396 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 504, 31133, 31136, 31151, and 31502; sec. 32934, Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405, 830; and 49 CFR 1.87.

    5. Revise § 396.9(d)(2) to read as follows:
    § 396.9 Inspection of motor vehicles and intermodal equipment in operation.

    (d) * * *

    (2) Motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers shall examine the report. Violations or defects noted thereon shall be corrected in accordance with § 396.11(a)(3). Repairs of items of intermodal equipment placed out-of-service are also to be documented in the maintenance records for such equipment.

    6. Revise § 396.17(f) to read as follows:
    § 396.17 Periodic inspection.

    (f) Vehicles passing periodic inspections performed under the auspices of any State government or equivalent jurisdiction or the FMCSA, meeting the minimum standards contained in appendix G of this subchapter, will be considered to have met the requirements of an annual inspection for a period of 12 months commencing from the last day of the month in which the inspection was performed.

    7. Revise § 396.19(b) to read as follows:
    § 396.19 Inspector qualifications.

    (b) Motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers must retain evidence of that individual's qualifications under this section. They must retain this evidence for the period during which that individual is performing annual motor vehicle inspections for the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider, and for one year thereafter. However, motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers do not have to maintain documentation of inspector qualifications for those inspections performed as part of a State periodic inspection program.

    8. Amend Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III by: a. Adding Section 1.l; b. Revising Section 10.c; c. Adding Section 14; and d. Removing “Comparison of Appendix G, and the New North American Uniform Driver Vehicle Inspection Procedure (North American Commercial Vehicle Critical Safety Inspection Items and Out-Of-Service Criteria)”, including the introductory text and paragraphs 1.—13.

    The additions and revision read as follows:

    Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III—Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards 1. Brake System l. Antilock Brake System  1

    1 This section is applicable to tractors with air brakes built on or after March 1, 1997, and all other vehicles with air brakes built on or after March 1, 1998. This section is also applicable to vehicles over 10,000 lbs. GVWR with hydraulic brakes built on or after March 1, 1999.

    (1) Missing ABS malfunction indicator components (bulb, wiring, etc.).

    (2) ABS malfunction indicator that does not illuminate when power is first applied to the ABS controller (ECU).

    (3) ABS malfunction indicator that stays illuminated while power is continuously applied to the ABS controller (ECU).

    (4) Other missing or inoperative ABS components.

    10. Tires c. Installation of speed-restricted tires (unless specifically designated by motor carrier) 14. Motorcoach Seats

    a. Any passenger seat that is not securely fastened to the vehicle structure.

    Issued under the authority of delegation in 49 CFR 1.87 on: September 24, 2015. T. F. Scott Darling, III, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-24921 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 131108946-5860-01] RIN 0648-BD76 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States and Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Amendments 7/33 AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 7 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery off the Atlantic States (Dolphin and Wahoo FMP) and Amendment 33 to the FMP for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP) (Amendments 7/33), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would revise the landing fish intact provisions for vessels that lawfully harvest dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper in or from Bahamian waters and return to the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The U.S. EEZ as described in this proposed rule refers to the Atlantic EEZ for dolphin and wahoo and the South Atlantic EEZ for snapper-grouper species. The purpose of this proposed rule is to improve the consistency and enforceability of Federal regulations with regards to landing fish intact provisions for vessels transiting from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ and to increase the social and economic benefits related to the recreational harvest of these species, in accordance with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2015-0047” by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0047, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Nikhil Mehta, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Electronic copies of Amendments 7/33, which includes an environmental assessment, regulatory impact review, and Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/generic/2015/dw7_sg33/index.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nikhil Mehta, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The dolphin and wahoo fishery is managed under the Dolphin and Wahoo FMP and the snapper-grouper fishery is managed under the Snapper-Grouper FMP. The FMPs were prepared by the Council and are implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    Background

    Current Federal regulations require that dolphin or wahoo or snapper-grouper species onboard a vessel traveling through the U.S. EEZ must be maintained with the heads and fins intact and not be in fillet form. However, as implemented through Amendment 8 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP, an exception applies to snapper-grouper species that are lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and are onboard a vessel returning to the U.S. through the U.S. EEZ (63 FR 38298, July 16, 1998). Amendment 8 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP allows that in the South Atlantic EEZ, snapper-grouper lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, provided valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel and the vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ. A vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct and continuous course through the South Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the South Atlantic EEZ.

    The Bahamas does not allow for the commercial harvest of dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper by U.S. vessels in Bahamian waters. Therefore, the measures proposed in this rule only apply to the recreational harvest of these species by vessels returning from The Bahamas to the U.S. EEZ. This proposed rule would not change potential liability under the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to import, export, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase fish that are taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any foreign law.

    Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would revise the landing fish intact provisions for vessels that lawfully harvest dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper in Bahamian waters and return to the U.S. EEZ. The proposed rule would allow for dolphin and wahoo fillets to enter the U.S. EEZ after lawful harvest in The Bahamas; specify the condition of any dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper fillets; describe how the recreational bag limit would be determined for any fillets; explicitly prohibit the sale or purchase of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper recreationally harvested in The Bahamas; specify the required documentation to be onboard any vessels that have these fillets, and specify transit and stowage provisions for any vessels with fillets.

    Landing Fish Intact

    Currently, all dolphin or wahoo on vessels within the Atlantic EEZ are required to be maintained with head and fins intact. These fish may be eviscerated, gilled, and scaled, but must otherwise be maintained in a whole condition. This proposed rule would allow for dolphin or wahoo lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters to be exempt from this provision when returning through the Atlantic EEZ. Dolphin or wahoo harvested in or from Bahamian waters would be able to be stored on ice more effectively in fillet form for transit through the U.S. EEZ, given the coolers generally used on recreational vessels. Allowing these vessels to be exempt from the landing fish intact regulations would increase the social and economic benefits for recreational fishers returning to the U.S. EEZ from Bahamian waters. This proposed rule would also allow for increased consistency between the dolphin and wahoo and snapper-grouper regulations for vessels transiting from Bahamian waters. This proposed measure would not be expected to substantially increase recreational fishing pressure or otherwise change recreational fishing behavior, because any fish harvested in Bahamian waters and brought back through the U.S. EEZ would not be exempt from U.S. bag limits, fishing seasons, size limits, or other management measures in place in the U.S. EEZ, including prohibited species (e.g., goliath grouper and Nassau grouper). Therefore, there are likely to be neither positive nor negative additional biological effects to these species.

    Snapper-grouper possessed in the South Atlantic EEZ are currently exempt from the landing fish intact requirement under certain conditions if the vessel lawfully harvested the snapper-grouper in The Bahamas. Amendments 7/33 and this proposed rule would retain this exemption and revise it to include additional requirements.

    The Council and NMFS note that this exemption only applies to the landing fish intact provisions for fish in the U.S. EEZ, and does not exempt fishers from any other Federal fishing regulations such as fishing seasons, recreational bag limits, and size limits.

    Condition of Fillets

    Amendment 8 to the Snapper-Grouper FMP allowed a vessel with snapper-grouper fillets to be in transit in the South Atlantic EEZ after lawful harvest in Bahamian waters; however, no fillet requirements were specified (63 FR 38298, July 16, 1998). To better allow for identification of the species of any fillets in the U.S. EEZ, this proposed rule would require that the skin be left intact on the entire fillet of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper carcass on a vessel in transit from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ. This requirement is intended to assist law enforcement in identifying fillets to determine whether they are the species lawfully exempted by this proposed rule.

    Recreational Bag Limits

    Currently, all dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species harvested or possessed in or from the U.S. EEZ are required to adhere to the U.S. bag and possession limits. This proposed rule would not revise the bag and possession limits, but would specify how fillets are counted with respect to determining the number of fish onboard a vessel in transit from Bahamian waters through the U.S. EEZ and ensuring compliance with U.S. bag and possession limits. This proposed rule would specify that for any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and onboard a vessel in the U.S. EEZ in fillet form, two fillets of the respective species of fish, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one fish. This measure will assist law enforcement in enforcing the relevant U.S. bag and possession limits. This measure would not revise the bag and possession limits in the U.S. EEZ for any of the species in this proposed rule. All recreational fishers in Federal waters would continue to be required to comply with the U.S. bag and possession limits, regardless of where any fish were harvested.

    Sale and Purchase Restrictions of Recreationally Harvested Dolphin, Wahoo or Snapper-Grouper

    This proposed rule would explicitly prohibit the sale or purchase of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species recreationally harvested in Bahamian waters and returned to the U.S. through the U.S. EEZ. The Council determined that establishing a specific prohibition on the sale or purchase of any of these species from The Bahamas was necessary to ensure consistency with the current Federal regulations that prohibit recreational bag limit sales of these species. The Council wanted to ensure that Amendments 7/33 and the accompanying rulemaking did not create an opportunity for these fish to be sold or purchased.

    Required Documentation

    This proposed rule would revise the documentation requirements for snapper-grouper species and implement documentation requirements for dolphin and wahoo harvested in Bahamian waters and onboard a vessel in transit through the U.S. EEZ. For snapper-grouper lawfully harvested under the existing exemption, the current requirement is that valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on the vessel. This proposed rule would continue to require that valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are onboard and additionally require that all vessel passengers have valid government passports with current stamps and dates. These documentation requirements would apply when dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper is onboard a vessel in transit through the U.S. EEZ from Bahamian waters. Requiring valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits on the vessel and requiring each vessel passenger to have a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas increases the likelihood that the vessel and passengers were lawfully fishing in The Bahamas, and thereby increases the likelihood that any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper fillets on the vessel were lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters and not in the U.S. EEZ.

    Transit and Stowage Provisions

    Vessels operating under the current snapper-grouper exemption have specific transit requirements when in the South Atlantic EEZ. These vessels are required to be in transit when they enter the South Atlantic EEZ with Bahamian snapper-grouper onboard. As described at § 622.186(b), a vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ when it is on “a direct and continuous course through the South Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the EEZ.” This proposed rule would revise the snapper-grouper transit provisions, also apply the transit provisions to vessels operating under the proposed exemption for dolphin and wahoo, and require fishing gear to be appropriately stowed on a vessel transiting through the U.S. EEZ with fillets of these species. The proposed definition for “fishing gear appropriately stowed” would mean that “terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately.” The Council determined that specifying criteria for transit and fishing gear stowage for vessels returning from The Bahamas under the exemption would assist in the enforceability of the proposed regulations and increase consistency with the state of Florida's gear stowage regulations.

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendments 7/33, the FMPs, the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is as follows:

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to adjust the possession requirements in the U.S. EEZ for dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species legally harvested in Bahamian waters in order to increase for U.S. fishermen the social and economic benefits related to the harvest of these species. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule.

    NMFS expects that this proposed rule, if implemented, would directly apply to any angler traveling by fishing vessel, and to any operator or owner of a fishing vessel capable of traveling, to The Bahamas to engage in saltwater recreational fishing in Bahamian waters and returning with dolphin or wahoo or snapper grouper species to U.S. waters. This proposed rule would revise the possession requirements for certain saltwater species lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters. Some, but not all, of these vessels may be classified as small entities. The recreational anglers who will be affected by the proposed regulations are not small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Similarly, the owner or operator of a for-hire vessel would not be a small entity under the RFA when that vessel is being used for non-commercial purposes. However, the proposed documentation, transit, and gear storage requirements would apply if the vessel is being operated as a for-hire vessel; the owner or operator may then qualify as a small entity.

    For-hire vessels, which may be classified as either charter vessels or headboats, are used for the sale of fishing services which include the harvest of dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species, among other species to recreational anglers. These vessels provide a platform for the opportunity to fish and not a guarantee to catch or harvest any species, though expectations of successful fishing, however defined, likely factor into the decision to purchase these services. Changing the possession requirements of fish lawfully harvested in The Bahamas would only define what may be kept (in identity and condition) and not explicitly limit the offer of, or opportunity to acquire, for-hire fishing services. In response to a change in possession requirements, catch and release fishing for a target species could continue unchanged, as could fishing for other species. Because the proposed changes in the possession requirements for these species would not directly alter the service provided by the for-hire businesses, this proposed rule would not directly apply to or regulate their operations. The for-hire businesses would continue to be able to offer their core product, which is an attempt to “put anglers on fish,” provide the opportunity for anglers to catch those fish their skills enable them to catch, and keep those fish that they desire to keep and are legal to keep. Any change in demand for these fishing services, and associated economic affects, as a result of changing these possession requirements would be a consequence of behavioral change by anglers, secondary to any direct effect on anglers and, therefore, an indirect effect of the proposed rule. Because any effects on the owners or operators of for-hire vessels as a result of changing possession requirements would be indirect, they fall outside the scope of the RFA.

    The owners or operators of for-hire vessels would be directly affected by the proposed documentation, transit, and gear storage requirements. The number of vessels that may be used for the offer for-hire services and would be directly affected by the proposed requirements, however, cannot be meaningfully determined with available data. One could assume that the vessels most likely to travel to The Bahamas are vessels that are currently operated as for-hire fishing vessels in the U.S. EEZ. In 2014, at least 1,430 vessels held one or more Federal permits to be operated as for-hire vessels (separate Federal permits are required to harvest different species) in the U.S. EEZ. Additionally, federally permitted commercial vessels, of which over 1,900 had one or more Federal commercial permits in 2014, may also be capable of traveling to The Bahamas and being operated as for-hire vessels. Having a Federal permit would not be a factor in determining eligible vessels, however, and neither of these totals includes vessels that do not have a Federal permit and are operated only in U.S. state waters. In practice, although only a portion of these vessels would be expected to travel to The Bahamas and operate as a for-hire fishing vessel, no data are available on the number of vessels that currently engage in this practice to support estimating, within this universe of permitted and unpermitted vessels, the number of vessels which might be directly affected by this proposed rule.

    NMFS has not identified any other small entities that would be expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule.

    The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S., including fish harvesters. A business involved in the for-hire fishing industry is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $7.5 million (NAICS code 487210, for-hire businesses) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The average charter vessel is estimated to receive approximately $115,000 (2013 dollars) in annual revenue and the average headboat is estimated to receive approximately $204,000 (2013 dollars) in annual revenue. As a result, all for-hire businesses that might be directly affected by this proposed rule are believed to be small business entities.

    Three components of this proposed rule, the proposed documentation, transit, and gear storage requirements, would be expected to directly affect some small entities, but none would be expected to result in a significant adverse economic effect on any of the affected entities. The proposed documentation requirements (permits and passport) are already required for travel to, fishing in, and returning from Bahamian waters and, thus, would not impose any additional costs. The proposed transit requirement would not be expected to have any adverse economic effect because the vessel must return to the U.S. anyway and a direct and continuous transit would be the most economically efficient means of returning (indirect and discontinuous sailing would encompass more time and higher fuel expenses). The proposed gear storage requirement would be expected to either encompass normal gear storage behavior when traveling long distances while not actively fishing, or require a minor increase in labor, that should be able to be completed during the vessel's return prior to entering the U.S. EEZ, and not an increase in monetary operating costs. As a result, this proposed requirement would not be expected to reduce vessel profits. Otherwise, the proposed changes may increase demand for for-hire fishing services and result in a beneficial economic effect on the affected small entities. As discussed above, however, these would be indirect effects and, therefore, outside the scope of the RFA.

    Based on the discussion above, NMFS has determined that this proposed rule, if implemented, would not have a significant adverse economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Atlantic, Dolphin, Fisheries, Fishing, Snapper-Grouper, Wahoo.

    Dated: September 29, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 622.186, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:
    § 622.186 Landing fish intact.

    (b) In the South Atlantic EEZ, snapper-grouper lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, provided that the skin remains intact on the entire fillet of any snapper-grouper carcasses, valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel, each person on the vessel has a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas, and the vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ with fishing gear appropriately stowed. For the purpose of this paragraph, a vessel is in transit through the South Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct and continuous course through the South Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the EEZ. For the purpose of this paragraph, fishing gear appropriately stowed means that terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately. See § 622.187(a)(3) for the limit of snapper-grouper fillets lawfully harvested from Bahamian waters that may transit through the South Atlantic EEZ.

    3. In § 622.187, paragraph (a)(3) is added to read as follows:
    § 622.187 Bag and possession limits.

    (a) * * *

    (3) In the South Atlantic EEZ, a vessel that lawfully harvests snapper-grouper in Bahamian waters, as per § 622.186 (b), must comply with the bag and possession limits specified in this section. For determining how many snapper-grouper are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of snapper-grouper, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one snapper-grouper. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any snapper-grouper carcass.

    4. In § 622.192, paragraph (k) is added to read as follows:
    § 622.192 Restrictions on sale/purchase.

    (k) Snapper-grouper possessed pursuant to the bag and possession limits specified in § 622.187(a)(3) may not be sold or purchased.

    5. In § 622.276, paragraphs (a) and (b) are revised to read as follows:
    § 622.276 Landing fish intact.

    (a) Dolphin or wahoo in or from the Atlantic EEZ must be maintained with head and fins intact, except as specified in paragraph (b) of this section. Such fish may be eviscerated, gilled, and scaled, but must otherwise be maintained in a whole condition. The operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ is responsible for ensuring that fish on that vessel in the EEZ are maintained intact and, if taken from the EEZ, are maintained intact through offloading ashore, as specified in this section.

    (b) In the Atlantic EEZ, dolphin or wahoo lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters are exempt from the requirement that they be maintained with head and fins intact, provided that the skin remains intact on the entire fillet of any dolphin or wahoo carcasses, valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permits are on board the vessel, each person on the vessel has a valid government passport with current stamps and dates from The Bahamas, and the vessel is in transit through the Atlantic EEZ with fishing gear appropriately stowed. For the purpose of this paragraph, a vessel is in transit through the Atlantic EEZ when it is on a direct and continuous course through the Atlantic EEZ and no one aboard the vessel fishes in the EEZ. For the purpose of this paragraph, fishing gear appropriately stowed means that terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately.

    6. In § 622.277, paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) are revised to read as follows:
    § 622.277 Bag and possession limits.

    (a) * * *

    (1) Dolphin. (i) In the Atlantic EEZ—10, not to exceed 60 per vessel, whichever is less, except on board a headboat, 10 per paying passenger.

    (ii) In the Atlantic EEZ and lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters (as per § 622.276(b))—10, not to exceed 60 per vessel, whichever is less, except on board a headboat, 10 per paying passenger. For the purposes of this paragraph, for determining how many dolphin are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of dolphin, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one dolphin. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any dolphin carcass.

    (2) Wahoo. (i) In the Atlantic EEZ—2.

    (ii) In the Atlantic EEZ and lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters (as per § 622.276(b))—2. For the purposes of this paragraph, for determining how many wahoo are on board a vessel in fillet form when harvested lawfully in Bahamian waters, two fillets of wahoo, regardless of the length of each fillet, is equivalent to one wahoo. The skin must remain intact on the entire fillet of any wahoo carcass.

    7. In § 622.279, paragraph (d) is added to read as follows:
    § 622.279 Restrictions on sale/purchase.

    (d) Dolphin or wahoo possessed pursuant to the bag and possession limits specified in § 622.277(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2)(ii) may not be sold or purchased.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25487 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 150603502-5502-01] RIN 0648-BF14 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 3 AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes regulations to implement Framework Amendment 3 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources (CMP) in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP) (Framework Amendment 3), as prepared and submitted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). This proposed rule would modify the trip limit, accountability measures (AMs), dealer reporting requirements, and gillnet permit requirements for commercial king mackerel landed by run-around gillnet fishing gear in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). The purpose of this proposed rule is to increase the efficiency, stability, and accountability, and to reduce the potential for regulatory discards of king mackerel in the commercial gillnet component of the CMP fishery.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2015-0101” by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0101, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Electronic copies of Framework Amendment 3, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/2015/framework_am3/index.html.

    Comments regarding the burden-hour estimates, clarity of the instructions, or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule (see the Classification section of the preamble) may be submitted in writing to Adam Bailey, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; or the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), by email at [email protected], or by fax to 202-395-5806.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan Gerhart, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: s[email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The CMP fishery in the Gulf and Atlantic is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Gulf and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

    Background

    Current Federal regulations allow for run-around gillnets to be used to commercially harvest king mackerel only in the Florida west coast southern subzone of the Gulf. This subzone includes waters off Collier County, Florida, year-round, and off Monroe County, Florida, from November 1 to March 30. To use gillnets for king mackerel, vessels must have on board a general Federal commercial king mackerel permit and a Federal king mackerel gillnet permit. A vessel with a gillnet permit is prohibited from fishing for king mackerel with hook-and-line gear. This proposed rule would modify management of the king mackerel gillnet component of the CMP fishery by increasing the commercial trip limit, revising AMs, modifying dealer reporting requirements, and requiring a documented landing history for a king mackerel gillnet permit to be renewed.

    Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule Commercial Trip Limit

    This proposed rule would increase the commercial trip limit for vessels harvesting king mackerel by gillnets from 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) to 45,000 lb (20,411 kg). The size of a school of king mackerel can be difficult to estimate precisely and king mackerel landed in gillnets experience very high discard mortality, which makes releasing fish in excess of the trip limit wasteful and impractical. Fishermen can cut the net and leave the section with excess fish in the water and another vessel may be able to retrieve the partial net, but this process damages gear, which takes time and money to repair. Fishermen have indicated that more than 90 percent of successful gillnet gear deployments yield less than 45,000 lb (20,411 kg) of fish. Therefore, increasing the current trip limit should reduce the number of trips that result in king mackerel landings in excess of the commercial trip limit and the associated discard mortality.

    Accountability Measures

    Currently, the commercial AM for the king mackerel gillnet component of the fishery is an in-season closure when the annual catch limit for the gillnet component (gillnet ACL) is reached or is projected to be reached. This proposed rule would add a provision by which any gillnet ACL overage in one year would be deducted from the gillnet ACL in the following fishing year. If the gillnet ACL is not exceeded in that following fishing year, then in the subsequent year the gillnet ACL would return to the original gillnet ACL level as specified in § 622.388(a)(1)(ii). However, if the adjusted gillnet ACL is exceeded in the following fishing year, then the gillnet ACL would be reduced again in the subsequent fishing year by the amount of the most recent gillnet ACL overage. Because the proposed trip limit increase could increase the chance of exceeding the gillnet ACL, a payback provision would help ensure that any overage is mitigated in the following year.

    Dealer Reporting Requirements

    This proposed rule would modify the reporting requirements for federally permitted dealers purchasing commercial king mackerel harvested by gillnets. Currently, such dealers are required to submit an electronic form daily to NMFS by 6 a.m. during the gillnet fishing season for purposes of monitoring the gillnet ACL. However, because some vessels land their catch after midnight and may have long offloading times, some gillnet landings are not reported until the following day. Further, the electronic monitoring system involves processing and quality control time before the data can be passed to NMFS fishery managers. This results in some landings information not reaching NMFS until nearly 2 days after the fish are harvested.

    This proposed rule would change the daily electronic reporting requirement to daily reporting by some other means determined by NMFS, such as using port agent reports or some more direct method of reporting to NMFS fishery managers (e.g., by telephone or internet). If the proposed rule is implemented, NMFS would work with dealers to establish a landings reporting system that would minimize the burden to the dealers as well as the time for landings to reach NMFS fishery managers. NMFS would then provide written notice to the king mackerel gillnet dealers of the requirements of the reporting system, and will also post this information on the NMFS Southeast Regional Office Web site. Prior to the beginning of each subsequent commercial king mackerel gillnet season, NMFS would provided written notice to king mackerel gillnet dealers if the reporting method and deadline change from the previous year, and will also post this information on the NMFS Southeast Regional Office Web site. Dealers would also report gillnet-caught king mackerel in their regular weekly electronic report of all species purchased to ensure king mackerel landings are included in the Commercial Landings Monitoring database maintained by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

    Renewal Requirements for King Mackerel Gillnet Permits

    This proposed rule would change the renewal requirements for a king mackerel gillnet permit. A king mackerel gillnet permit would be renewable only if the vessel associated with the permit landed at least 1 lb (0.45 kg) of king mackerel during any one year between 2006 and 2015. Currently, there are 21 vessels with valid or renewable gillnet permits; 4 of these vessels have had no landings since 2001 and the permits associated with those vessels would no longer be renewable. Some active gillnet fishermen are concerned that permit holders who have not been fishing may begin participating in the gillnet component of the fishery, which would result in increased effort in a sector that already has a limited season. For example, the 2014/2015 season, which closed on February 20, 2015, was 32 days long and included 5 days of active fishing. Requiring a landings history of king mackerel in any one of the last 10 years to renew a gillnet permit would help ensure the continued participation of those permit holders who actively fish or have done so in the more recent past.

    NMFS would notify each king mackerel gillnet permittee to advise them whether the gillnet permit is eligible for renewal based upon NMFS' initial determination of eligibility. If NMFS advises a permittee that the permit is not renewable and they do not agree, a permittee may appeal that initial determination.

    NMFS would establish an appeals process to provide a procedure for resolving disputes regarding eligibility to renew the king mackerel gillnet permit. The NMFS National Appeals Office would process any appeals, which would be governed by the regulations and policy of the National Appeals Office at 15 CFR part 906. Appeals would need to be submitted to the National Appeals Office no later than 90 days after the date the initial determination by NMFS is issued. Determinations of appeals would be based on NMFS' logbook records, submitted on or before 30 days after the effective date of any final rule. If NMFS' logbooks are not available, state landings records that were submitted in compliance with applicable Federal and state regulations on or before 30 days after the effective date of any final rule, may be used.

    Other Changes to the Codified Text

    In addition to the measures described for Framework Amendment 3, this proposed rule would correct an error in the recreational regulations for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. The regulatory text in § 622.388(a)(2), (c)(1), and (e)(1)(i) includes the statement that “the bag and possession limit would also apply in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish has been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters.” This was included in the final rule for Amendment 18 to the FMP included statements (76 FR 82058, December 29, 2011), but the Council did not approve this provision for CMP species. This proposed rule would remove that text.

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Framework Amendment 3, the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, for this proposed rule. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, the objectives of, and legal basis for this action are contained at the beginning of this section in the preamble and in the SUMMARY section of the preamble. A copy of the full analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule. No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been identified.

    In general, the proposed rule is not expected to change current reporting, record-keeping, and other compliance requirements on vessel owners. However, the proposed rule would replace the dealer daily electronic reporting requirement with daily reporting by some other means as determined by NMFS. This could involve reporting to a port agent, as used in the past or some more direct method of reporting to managers (e.g., by telephone or internet). NMFS would work with dealers to establish a system that will minimize the burden to the dealers as well as the time for landings to reach managers. Dealers would still have to report king mackerel gillnet landings through the electronic monitoring system weekly, when they report all species purchased. The weekly reporting would ensure any king mackerel landings are included in the Commercial Landings Monitoring database maintained by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

    This proposed rule, if implemented, is expected to directly affect commercial fishermen with valid or renewable Federal Gulf king mackerel gillnet permits and dealers purchasing king mackerel from vessels with king mackerel gillnet permits. The Small Business Administration established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S. including commercial finfish harvesters (NAICS code 114111), seafood dealers/wholesalers (NAICS code 424460), and seafood processors (NAICS code 311710). A business primarily involved in finfish harvesting is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $20.5 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. A business involved in seafood purchasing and processing is classified as a small business based on either employment standards or revenue thresholds. A business primarily involved in seafood processing is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual employment not in excess of 500 employees for all its affiliated operations worldwide. For seafood dealers/wholesalers, the other qualifiers apply and the employment threshold is 100 employees. The revenue threshold for seafood dealers/wholesalers/processors is $7.5 million.

    The Federal commercial king mackerel permit is a limited access permit, which can be transferred or sold, subject to certain conditions. From 2008 through 2014, the number of commercial king mackerel permits decreased from 1,619 in 2008 to 1,478 in 2014, with an average of 1,534 during this period. As of April 30, 2015, there were 1,342 valid or renewable commercial king mackerel permits. The king mackerel gillnet permit, which acts as an endorsement to a commercial king mackerel permit, is also a limited access permit. Its transferability is more restrictive than that for the commercial king mackerel permit. Specifically, it may be transferred only to another vessel owned by the same entity or to an immediate family member. From 2008 through 2014, there were an average of 23 king mackerel gillnet permits. At present, there are 21 valid or renewable king mackerel gillnet permits. Beginning in 2014, a Federal dealer permit has been required to purchase king mackerel (among other species) harvested in the Gulf or South Atlantic. This dealer permit is an open access permit, and as of May 4, 2015, there were 325 such dealer permits.

    Of the 21 vessels with king mackerel gillnet permits, 11 to 15 vessels landed king mackerel each year from 2006-2014, or an average of 13 vessels landed king mackerel. These vessels generated a combined average of $544,981 in total ex-vessel revenues. These vessels, together with those that did not catch king mackerel, generated average revenues of $427,258 from other species during 2006-2014. Averaging total revenues across all 21 vessels, the average total revenue per vessel was $46,297 annually.

    From 2008 through 2015, the number of dealers that purchased king mackerel from gillnet fishermen ranged from 4 to 6, with an average of 5. On average (2008-2015), these dealers purchased approximately $570,105 (2014 dollars) worth of king mackerel from gillnet fishermen, or an average of $114,021 per dealer. These dealers also purchased other species from Gulf and South Atlantic commercial fishermen, but the total amount cannot be estimated due to the absence of adequate information. The estimated average annual revenue from seafood purchases for dealers with a Gulf and South Atlantic Federal dealer permit is approximately $546,000.

    Based on the revenue figures above, all federally permitted vessels and dealers expected to be directly affected by this proposed rule are assumed for the purpose of this analysis to be small business entities.

    Because all entities expected to be affected by this proposed rule are assumed to be small entities, NMFS has determined that this proposed rule would affect a substantial number of small entities. Moreover, the issue of disproportionate effects on small versus large entities does not arise in the present case.

    Increasing the commercial trip limit would be expected to result in greater king mackerel harvests per vessel per trip. This would directly translate into increased ex-vessel revenues from king mackerel per trip and possibly profits, assuming relatively stable operating costs per trip. However, trip limit increases would be expected to decrease the already limited number of fishing days currently needed to harvest the gillnet portion of the king mackerel quota. Relative to status quo, fewer fishing days would concentrate the same amount of king mackerel over a smaller time interval, possibly depressing the ex-vessel price for king mackerel and canceling out some of the revenue increases expected to result from higher trip limits. Whether the reduction in revenues due to price depression would offset revenue increases from a higher trip limit cannot be determined with available information.

    In the last nine fishing years (2006/2007-2014/2015), the king mackerel gillnet quota was exceeded four times although this has not occurred in the last three years. Under the proposed trip limit increase, however, there is some possibility that the quota would be exceeded, and thus the overage provision (payback) would apply with the following year's quota being reduced by the full amount of the overage. The amount of overage would partly depend on how effectively the landings could be monitored. Regardless of the amount of overage and reduction in the following year's quota, the net economic effects of the overage provision could be negative, neutral, or positive, at least over a two-year period. Revenues and profits could be relatively higher if an overage occurred but the following year's revenues and profits could be lower with a reduced quota. It cannot be ascertained which of the three net economic effects would occur.

    Replacing the requirement for daily electronic reporting by dealers purchasing gillnet-caught king mackerel with an alternative form of daily reporting would not impose an additional reporting burden on dealers. The replacement reporting requirement would be similar to what had been done in previous years or it could be more efficient in monitoring the amount of landings without changing the burden compared with the current daily electronic reporting requirement. NMFS would work with the dealers in developing such a reporting system to ensure timely reporting of landings at no greater burden to the dealers.

    Establishing new renewal requirements for commercial king mackerel gillnet permits based on a landings threshold of one pound would not be expected to result in economic effects other than the potential loss of opportunities to excluded permit holders, should they want to re-enter the gillnet component of the fishery to harvest king mackerel in the future. Of the 21 vessels with valid or renewable gillnet permits, 4 vessels would not meet the renewal requirement. These 4 vessels have not landed any king mackerel using gillnets from 2001 through 2015, and thus have not generated any revenues from such activity. Disallowing these 4 vessels to renew their gillnet permits would have no short-term effects on their revenues and profits. It may also be expected that the remaining vessels in the gillnet component of fishery would not experience revenue increases as a result of eliminating 4 vessels. Despite not having used gillnets to harvest king mackerel, those 4 permit owners have continued to renew their gillnet permits. To an extent, their decision not to exercise their option to re-enter the gillnet component of the fishery in the last 15 years may indicate that they have not undertaken substantial investments, e.g., in boats and gear, in preparation for harvesting king mackerel. The gillnet permit cost they have spent, which is currently $10 annually per gillnet permit, is relatively small. There is a good possibility that if they are not able to renew their permits to re-enter the king mackerel gillnet component of the CMP fishery they would not lose any significant investments. They still would stand to forgo future revenues from using gillnets in fishing for king mackerel. Those remaining in the fishery would not face the possibility of additional competition from those ineligible vessels.

    The following discussion describes the alternatives that were not selected as preferred by the Council.

    Four alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for modifying the commercial daily trip limit for gillnet-caught king mackerel. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the 25,000 lb (11,340 kg) trip limit. This alternative would maintain the same economic benefits per trip but at levels lower than those afforded by the preferred alternative. The second alternative, which would increase the trip limit to 35,000 lb (15,876 kg), would yield lower economic benefits per trip than the preferred alternative. The third alternative would remove the trip limit, and thus would be expected to yield higher economic benefits per trip than the preferred alternative. However, it cannot be determined whether the benefits per trip would translate into total benefits because prices, and thus revenues, would tend to be affected by the amount of landings over a certain time period. This price effect would tend to offset any revenue effects from trip limit changes. That is, larger landings over a shorter period, as in the preferred or no trip limit alternatives, would tend to be associated with lower prices, just as smaller landings over a longer period, as in the no action alternative, would tend to be associated with higher prices. The net economic effects of all these alternatives for increasing the trip limit cannot be determined.

    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for modifying the AM for the gillnet component of the king mackerel fishery. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the in-season AM, which would close king mackerel gillnet fishing in the Florida west coast southern subzone when the quota is met or is projected to be met. This alternative would not alter the level of economic benefits from the harvest of king mackerel by commercial gillnet fishermen. The second alternative would establish an annual catch target (ACT), which is the quota, with various options. The first three options would establish an ACT equal to 95 percent, 90 percent, or 80 percent of the gillnet ACL; the fourth option would set the ACT according to the Gulf Council's ACL/ACT control rule (currently equal to 95 percent of the ACL); and the fifth option, which applies only if an ACT is established, would allow the amount of landings under the quota to be added to the following year's quota but the total quota could not exceed the gillnet ACL. The first four options would result in lower short-term revenues and profits than the preferred alternative by restricting the amount of harvest to less than the gillnet ACL. The fifth option has the potential to yield higher revenues than the preferred alternative, because any unused quota would generate additional revenues in the following year. The absence of an overage provision, however, would have adverse consequences on the status of the king mackerel stock and eventually on vessel revenues and profits. The third alternative, with two options, would establish a payback provision. The first option is the preferred alternative, which would establish a payback provision regardless of the stock status, while the second option would establish a payback provision only if the Gulf migratory group king mackerel stock is overfished. Because the Gulf migratory group king mackerel stock is not overfished, the second option would yield the same economic results as the no action alternative but possibly lower adverse economic impacts than the preferred alternative in the short term should an overage occurs. However, the second option would provide less protection to the king mackerel stock before the stock becomes overfished.

    Three alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for modifying the electronic reporting requirements for dealers first receiving king mackerel harvested by gillnets. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would retain the daily electronic reporting requirements. This alternative would not provide timely reporting of landings because some landings reports could not be processed until the next day. The second alternative would remove the daily electronic reporting requirement but would require a weekly electronic reporting instead. While this would be less burdensome to dealers, it would not allow timely reporting of landings, which is necessary to monitor a season that generally lasts for only a few days.

    Five alternatives, including the preferred alternative, were considered for renewal requirements for king mackerel gillnet permits. The first alternative, the no action alternative, would maintain all current requirements for renewing king mackerel gillnet permits. This alternative would allow all 21 gillnet permit holders to renew their gillnet permits. The second alternative, with three options, would allow renewal of king mackerel gillnet permits if average landings during 2006-2015 exceed 1 lb (0.45 kg), 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), or 25,000 lb (11,340 kg). The third alternative, with three options, would allow renewal of king mackerel gillnet permits if landings for a single year during 2006-2015 exceed 1 lb (0.45 kg), 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), or 25,000 lb (11,340 kg). This alternative with a landings threshold of 1 lb (0.45 kg) is the preferred alternative. The fourth alternative, with three options, would allow renewal of king mackerel gillnet permits if average landings during 2011-2015 exceed 1 lb (0.45 kg), 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), or 25,000 lb (11,340 kg). The fifth alternative, with three options, would allow renewal of king mackerel gillnet permits if landings for a single year during 2011-2015 exceed 1 lb (0.45 kg), 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), or 25,000 lb (11,340 kg). All these other alternatives, except the no action alternative, would eliminate the same or greater number of vessels than the preferred alternative.

    This proposed rule contains collection-of-information requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). NMFS is changing the collection-of-information requirement under OMB Control Number 0648-0013. NMFS estimates that no change to the overall reporting burden would result from modifying the required daily reporting method for dealers that purchase king mackerel caught by gillnets during the fishing season. Instead of submitting an electronic form daily, NMFS would require daily reporting by some other means as developed by NMFS. Other means could involve reporting to the NMFS port agents or some other more direct method of reporting to managers, such as by email or phone. Dealers would report any purchase of king mackerel landed by the gillnet component of the fishery with the current and approved requirement for dealers to report fish purchases on a weekly basis, as specified in 50 CFR 622.5(c). NMFS estimates that this requirement would not change the reporting burden of 10 minutes per response for dealers purchasing king mackerel caught by gillnets. This estimate of the public reporting burden includes the time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection-of-information. NMFS will submit this change request to OMB for approval.

    NMFS seeks public comment regarding:

    • Whether this proposed collection-of-information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    • The accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;

    • The instructions for how to fill out the form or record the information; and

    • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection-of-information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of the collection-of-information requirement, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to NMFS or to OMB (see ADDRESSES).

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection-of-information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection-of-information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Accountability measure, Annual catch limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Gulf of Mexico, King mackerel, Permits, Run-around gillnet.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 622.5, revise paragraph (c)(1)(i) to read as follows:
    § 622.5 Recordkeeping and reporting—general.

    (c) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (i) A person issued a Gulf and South Atlantic dealer permit must submit a detailed electronic report of all fish first received for a commercial purpose within the time period specified in this paragraph via the dealer electronic trip ticket reporting system. These electronic reports must be submitted at weekly intervals via the dealer electronic trip ticket reporting system by 11:59 p.m., local time, the Tuesday following a reporting week. If no fish were received during a reporting week, an electronic report so stating must be submitted for that reporting week. In addition, during the open season, dealers must submit daily reports for Gulf migratory group king mackerel harvested by the run-around gillnet component in the Florida west coast southern subzone via the port agents, telephone, internet, or other similar means determined by NMFS. From the beginning of the open season until the commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the run-around gillnet sector for Gulf migratory group king mackerel is reached, dealers must submit a daily report if no king mackerel were received during the previous day. NMFS will provide written notice to dealers that first receive Gulf king mackerel harvested by the run-around gillnet component prior to the beginning of each fishing year if the reporting methods or deadline change from the previous year.

    3. In § 622.371, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 622.371 Limited access system for commercial vessel permits for king mackerel.

    (a) No applications for additional commercial vessel permits for king mackerel will be accepted. Existing vessel permits may be renewed, are subject to the restrictions on transfer or change in paragraph (b) of this section, and are subject to the requirement for timely renewal in paragraph (c) of this section.

    4. In § 622.372, add paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 622.372 Limited access system for king mackerel gillnet permits applicable in the Florida west coast southern subzone.

    (d) Renewal criteria for a king mackerel gillnet permit. A king mackerel gillnet permit may be renewed only if NMFS determines at least 1 year of landings from 2006 to 2015 associated with that permit was greater than 1 lb (0.45 kg), round or gutted weight.

    (1) Initial determination. On or about [7 days after the date of publication of the final rule in the Federal Register], the RA will mail each king mackerel gillnet permittee a letter via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the permittee's address of record as listed in NMFS' permit files, advising the permittee whether the permit is eligible for renewal. A permittee who does not receive a letter from the RA, must contact the RA no later than [7 days after the date of publication of the final rule in the Federal Register], to clarify the renewal status of the permit. A permittee who is advised that the permit is not renewable based on the RA's determination of eligibility and who disagrees with that determination may appeal that determination.

    (2) Procedure for appealing landings information. The only item subject to appeal is the landings used to determine whether the permit is eligible for renewal. Appeals based on hardship factors will not be considered. Any appeal under this regulation will be processed by the NMFS National Appeals Office. Appeals will be governed by the regulations and policy of the National Appeals Office at 15 CFR part 906. Appeals must be submitted to the National Appeals Office no later than 90 days after the date the initial determination in issued. Determinations of appeals regarding landings data for 2006 to 2015 will be based on NMFS' logbook records, submitted on or before [60 days after the date of publication of the final rule in the Federal Register]. If NMFS' logbooks are not available, state landings records or data for 2006 to 2015 that were submitted in compliance with applicable Federal and state regulations on or before [60 days after the date of publication of the final rule in the Federal Register], may be used.

    5. In § 622.385, revise paragraph (a)(2)(ii)(A)(1) to read as follows:
    § 622.385 Commercial trip limits.

    (a) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (ii) * * *

    (A) * * *

    (1) In the Florida west coast southern subzone, king mackerel in or from the EEZ may be possessed on board or landed from a vessel for which a commercial vessel permit for king mackerel and a king mackerel gillnet permit have been issued, as required under § 622.370(a)(2), in amounts not exceeding 45,000 lb (20,411 kg) per day, provided the gillnet component for Gulf migratory group king mackerel is not closed under § 622.378(a) or § 622.8(b).

    6. In § 622.388: a. Add paragraph (a)(1)(iii); and b. Revise paragraphs (a)(2), (c)(1), and (e)(1)(i) to read as follows:
    § 622.388 Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), and accountability measures (AMs).

    (a) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (iii) If commercial landings for Gulf migratory group king mackerel caught by run-around gillnet in the Florida west coast southern subzone, as estimated by the SRD, exceed the commercial ACL, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the commercial ACL for king mackerel harvested by run-around gillnet in the Florida west coast southern subzone in the following fishing year by the amount of the commercial ACL overage in the prior fishing year.

    (2) Recreational sector. If recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the recreational ACL of 8.092 million lb (3.670 million kg), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to implement a bag and possession limit for Gulf migratory group king mackerel of zero, unless the best scientific information available determines that a bag limit reduction is unnecessary.

    (c) * * *

    (1) If the sum of the commercial and recreational landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock ACL, as specified in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the commercial and recreational sectors for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale and purchase of Gulf migratory group Spanish mackerel is prohibited and the harvest and possession limit of this species in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero.

    (e) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (i) If the sum of all cobia landings, as estimated by the SRD, reaches or is projected to reach the stock quota (stock ACT), specified in § 622.384(d)(1), the AA will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to prohibit the harvest of Gulf migratory group cobia in the Gulf zone for the remainder of the fishing year. On and after the effective date of such a notification, all sale and purchase of Gulf migratory group cobia in the Gulf zone is prohibited and the possession limit of this species in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25486 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 194 Wednesday, October 7, 2015 Notices ADMINISTRATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES Adoption of Statement AGENCY:

    Administrative Conference of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Administrative Conference of the United States adopted one formal statement at its Sixty-Third Plenary Session. The appended statement addresses “Issue Exhaustion in Preenforcement Judicial Review of Administrative Rulemaking.”

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gisselle Bourns, Administrative Conference of the United States, Suite 706 South, 1120 20th Street NW., Washington, DC 20036; Telephone 202-480-2080.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Administrative Conference Act, 5 U.S.C. 591-596, established the Administrative Conference of the United States. The Conference studies the efficiency, adequacy, and fairness of the administrative procedures used by Federal agencies and makes recommendations for improvements to agencies, the President, Congress, and the Judicial Conference of the United States (5 U.S.C. 594(1)). For further information about the Conference and its activities, see www.acus.gov.

    The Conference's Sixty-Third Plenary Session was conducted, for the first time, as a virtual meeting, held via the Internet, in accordance with the Conference's earlier Recommendation, 2011-7, The Federal Advisory Committee Act—Issues and Proposed Reforms. The plenary session was open for participation by Conference members and the public for the period of September 18 through September 25, 2015. The Assembly of the Conference adopted one formal statement. Statement #19, “Issue Exhaustion in Preenforcement Judicial Review of Administrative Rulemaking,” examines judicial application of an issue exhaustion requirement in preenforcement review of administrative rulemaking. It invites courts to consider a series of factors when examining the doctrine of issue exhaustion in the context of preenforcement review of agency rules.

    The Appendix below sets forth the full text of this statement. The Conference will transmit the statement to federal agencies, relevant committees of Congress, and the Judicial Conference of the United States, as appropriate, for their consideration. The statement is not binding, but it represents the collective views of the membership of the Administrative Conference of the United States. The research report prepared for the Conference on this subject is posted at: www.acus.gov/63rd.

    Dated: October 2, 2015. Shawne C. McGibbon, General Counsel. Appendix—Statement of the Administrative Conference of the United States Administrative Conference Statement #19 Issue Exhaustion in Preenforcement Judicial Review of Administrative Rulemaking Adopted September 25, 2015

    The doctrine of issue exhaustion generally bars a litigant challenging agency action from raising issues in court that were not raised first with the agency. Although the doctrine originated in the context of agency adjudication, it has been extended to judicial review of challenges to agency rulemakings. Scholars have observed that issue exhaustion cases “conspicuously lack discussion of whether, when, why, or how [the issue] exhaustion doctrine developed in the context of adjudication should be applied to rulemaking.” 1 The Administrative Conference has studied the issue exhaustion doctrine in an effort to bring greater clarity to its application in the context of preenforcement review of agency rules. The Conference believes that this Statement may be useful by setting forth a series of factors that it invites courts to consider when examining issue exhaustion in that context.2

    1 Jeffrey S. Lubbers, Fail to Comment at Your Own Risk: Does Issue Exhaustion Have a Place in Judicial Review of Rules: 11 (May 5, 2015) (Report to the Administrative Conference of the U.S.) [hereinafter Lubbers Report] (citing Peter L. Strauss, et al. Gellhorn and Byse's Administrative Law 1246 (10th ed. 2003)); see also Koretoff v. Vilsach, 707 F.3d 394, 399 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (Williams, J., concurring) (joining a decision to preclude preenforcement review of new issues but writing separately “primarily to note that in the realm of judicial review of agency rules, much of the language of our opinions on ‘waiver’ has been a good deal broader than the actual pattern of our holdings”).

    2 This Statement does not address the application of the doctrine in the context of a challenge to a rule in an agency enforcement action, where the passage of time and new entrants may complicate the inquiry. The Conference has previously identified issues that Congress should not ordinarily preclude courts from considering when rules are challenged in enforcement proceedings. See Admin. Conf. of the U.S., Recommendation 82-7, Judicial Review of Rules in Enforcement Proceedings (Dec. 17, 1982), http://www.acus.gov/82-7.

    Evolution of the Issue Exhaustion Doctrine

    The requirement that parties exhaust their administrative remedies (“remedy exhaustion”) is a familiar feature of U.S. administrative law. This doctrine generally bars a party from appealing a final agency action to a court unless the party exhausts prescribed avenues for relief before the agency.3

    3 Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51 (1958).

    The related but distinct concept of “issue exhaustion” prevents a party from raising issues in litigation that were not first raised before the agency, even if the petitioner participated in the administrative process.4 As with remedy exhaustion, the issue exhaustion doctrine initially arose in the context of agency adjudications.5

    4See Fiber Tower Spectrum Holdings, LLC v. FCC, No. 14-1039, slip. op. at 9 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 3, 2015), Issue exhaustion statutes may not always be jurisdictional. E.g., EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 134 S. Ct. 1584, 1602-03 (2014) (“A rule may be ‘jurisdictional,’ we have explained. Section7607(d)(7)(B), we hold, is of that character. It does not speak to a court's authority, but only to a party's procedural obligations.”) (citations omitted); see also Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety v. FMSCA, 429 F.3d 1136, 1148 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (“as a general matter, a party's presentation of issues during a rulemaking proceeding is not a jurisdicional matter”) (emphasis in original).

    5See Lubbers Report, supra note 1, at 2-3.

    As the Supreme Court has recognized, “administrative issue-exhaustion requirements are largely creatures of statute.” 6 In several judicial review provisions adopted during the 1930s, prior to the advent of the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, Congress expressly required parties to raise all their objections to agency action before adjudicatory agencies. Since that time, Congress has included issue exhaustion provisions in many statutes governing review of agency orders.7 The typical statute contains an exception for “reasonable grounds” or “extraordinary circumstances” and permits the court to require an agency to take new evidence under certain conditions.8

    6Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000) (plurality opinion).

    7See Lubbers Report, supra note 1, at 4-6.

    8E.g., 15 U.S.C. § 77i(a); 29 U.S.C. § 160(e); 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-8(d)(1).

    Courts have also imposed issue exhaustion requirements in the adjudication context in the absence of an underlying statute or regulation requiring it. The Supreme Court early on characterized the “general rule that courts should not topple over administrative decisions unless the administrative body not only has erred but has erred against objection made at the time appropriate under its practice” as one of “simple fairness,” emphasizing that issue exhaustion promotes orderly procedure and good administration by offering the agency an opportunity to act on objections to its proceedings.9 But questions about the common law application of the doctrine were later raised in Sims v. Apfel, where the Court held that a judicial issue exhaustion requirement was inappropriate on review of the Social Security Administration's informal, non-adversarial adjudicatory benefit determinations, reasoning that “the desirability of a court imposing a requirement of issue exhaustion depends on the degree to which the analogy to normal adversarial litigation applies in a particular administrative proceeding.” 10

    9United States v. L.A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U.S. 33, 37 (1952) (reviewing an adjudicative order issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission after an adversarial hearing); see also Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety v. FMSCA, 429 F.3d 1136, 1149 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (applying the same rationale to rulemaking).

    10Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 108-12 (2000) (plurality opinion).

    Although the issue exhaustion doctrine originated in the adjudication context, it has been extended to preenforcement review of agency rulemakings. Two statutes have been identified by the Conference as explicitly requiring issue exhaustion for review of agency rules—the Clean Air Act and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.11 Both statutes were amended to incorporate issue exhaustion provisions in the 1970s, when Congress enacted numerous regulatory statutes with significant rulemaking provisions. 12

    11 42 U.S.C. 7607(d)(7)(B); 15 U.S.C. 78y(c)(1). However, provisions governing some agencies' “orders” have been held to apply to judicial review of rules. See Citizens Awareness Network v. U.S., 391 F.3d 338, 345-47 (1st Cir. 2004); see also Inv. Co. Inst. v. Bd. of Govs., 551 F.2d 1270, 1276-77 (D.C. Cir. 1977); American Public Gas Ass'n v. Fed. Power Comm'n, 546 F.2d 983, 986-88 (D.C. Cir. 1976).

    12 Lubbers Report, supra note 1, at 4, 11, 13.

    The doctrine has also been extended to the rulemaking context through common law. Despite Sims' focus in the adjudication context on the extent to which the underlying administrative proceeding resembled adversarial litigation for purposes of determining whether the doctrine applied, appellate courts have increasingly applied the doctrine in the absence of a statute requiring it when reviewing preenforcement challenges to agency rules enacted via notice-and-comment proceedings.13 And at least two appellate courts have applied the doctrine to review of administrative rulemaking after specifically considering Sims, 14 although Sims was recently cited by the Ninth Circuit as militating against issue exhaustion in an informal rulemaking issued without notice-and-comment procedures.15

    13 E.g., Koretoff v. Vilsack, 707 F.3d 394, 401 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (Williams, J., concurring) (“[g]enerally speaking, then, the price for a ticket to facial review is to raise objections in the rulemaking”); City of Portland, Or. v. EPA, 507 F.3d 706, 710 (D.C. Cir. 2007); Military Toxics Project v. EPA, 146 F.3d 948, 956-57 (D.C. Cir. 1998); see also Lubbers Report, supra note 1, at 27-30 (describing application of the doctrine as well as varied precedent in appellate courts other than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit). No cases were identified that applied the issue exhaustion doctrine in the context of new issues raised during enforcement challenges to rules.

    14 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety v. FMSCA, 429 F.3d 1136, 1148-49 (D.C. Cir. 2005); Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. Thompson, 363 F.3d 1013, 1020 (9th Cir. 2004).

    15 See Alaska Survival v. Surface Transp. Bd., 705 F.3d 1073, 1080 (9th Cir. 2013) (describing a Surface Transportation Board (STB) exemption proceeding as a rulemaking but applying the Sims rationale to it because the STB's procedures were informal and public comments were not sought).

    Relying on their equitable authority, courts have also fashioned exceptions to the issue exhaustion doctrine.16 The Conference commissioned a consultant's report to identify and articulate the scope of these exceptions in federal appellate case law, as well as to examine the general arguments for or against the doctrine in the rulemaking context.17 Without endorsing every conclusion expressed therein, the Conference believes that the report of its consultant can provide guidance to courts considering the application of the doctrine as it pertains to preenforcement review of administrative rulemaking.

    16E.g., Washington Ass'n for Television and Children (“WATCH”) v. FCC, 712 F.2d 677, 681-82 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (“[Our] cases assume that § 405 contains implied exceptions without explaining why. We understand these cases, however, as implicitly interpreting § 405 to codify the judicially-created doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, which permits courts some discretion to waive exhaustion.”) (footnotes omitted).

    17See generally Lubbers Report, supra note 1.

    Factors for Courts To Consider in Applying the Issue Exhaustion Doctrine

    The Administrative Conference believes that stakeholders, agencies, and courts benefit when issues are raised during rulemaking proceedings with sufficient specificity to give the agency notice and a fair opportunity to address them prior to judicial review.18 Many of the justifications for applying the doctrine in judicial review of agency adjudicatory decisions apply squarely to review of rulemakings. The doctrine promotes active public participation, creates orderly processes for resolution of important legal and policy issues raised in agency proceedings, ensures fully informed decisionmaking by administrative agencies, provides a robust record for judicial review, and lends certainty and finality to agency decisionmaking. Issue exhaustion also avoids the potential for significant disruption to extensive work by the agency, which can result if an issue is raised only during judicial review, after the rule has been developed. Application of the doctrine spares courts from hearing objections that could have been cured at the administrative level and reduces the need for agencies to create post-hoc rationalizations.19

    18Nat'l Ass'n of Mfrs. v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, 134 F.3d 1095, 1111 (D.C. Cir. 1998); see also Ctr. for Sustainable Econ. v. Jewell, 779 F.3d 588, 602 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (holding on review of an agency adjudicatory decision that “the question in determining whether an issue was preserved, however, is not simply whether it was raised in some fashion, but whether it was raised with sufficient precision, clarity, and emphasis to give the agency a fair opportunity to address it”).

    19 The argument for judicial application of the doctrine may be especially strong where the challenged issue concerns the factual basis of a rule, the agency's evaluation of alternatives, or the agency's failure to exercise its discretion in a particular manner. Judicial evaluation of the reasonableness of an agency's action in such cases under an arbitrary and capricious standard of review may depend heavily on the administrative record and on the agency's analysis of those issues. See generally Gage v. Atomic Energy Comm'n, 479 F.2d 1214, 1217-19 (D.C. Cir. 1973).

    On the other hand, the Conference also recognizes some practical and doctrinal concerns with uncritically applying issue exhaustion principles developed in the context of formal adversarial agency adjudications to the context of preenforcement rulemaking review.20 Overbroad application of the doctrine to rulemaking proceedings could serve as a barrier to judicial review for persons or firms who reasonably did not engage in continuous monitoring of the agency in question.21 Issue exhaustion requirements may also contribute to the burdens of participating in a rulemaking proceeding, by exerting pressure on commenters to raise at the administrative level every issue that they might conceivably invoke on judicial review.22 Also, an overbroad exhaustion requirement may result in unnecessary uncertainty and inefficiencies by leaving unaddressed fundamental legal questions—such as a rule's constitutionality or validity under a substantive federal statute. These and other concerns have led some observers to question the value of the doctrine as applied to rulemaking, or at least to call for limitations on its scope.

    20See William Funk, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies—New Dimensions Since Darby, 18 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 1, 17 (2000) (“[u]nfortunately, some courts have ignored the specific statutory origin for [issue exhaustion] and have applied a similar exhaustion requirement in cases totally unrelated to that statute, while citing cases involving application of that statute”).

    21 The impact of such barriers can fall most heavily on persons or entities whose interests are not in close alignment with the interests that have been advanced most forcefully by other participants in a given proceeding. See Koretoff v. Vilsack, 707 F.3d 394, 401 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (Williams, J., concurring).

    22See Wendy E. Wagner, Administrative Law, Filter Failure, and Information Capture, 59 Duke L.J. 1321, 1363-64 (2010); Lubbers Report, supra note 1, at 38-40.

    The Conference has compiled a list of factors—some of which may be dispositive in particular cases—that it invites courts to consider when deciding whether to preclude a litigant from raising issues for the first time during preenforcement review of an agency rule. The list should be understood as a checklist of potentially relevant factors, not a fixed doctrinal formula, and as inapplicable where a statute directs otherwise. Specifically, the list includes consideration of whether:

    • The issue was raised by a participant in the rulemaking other than the litigant.23

    23See Portland Gen. Elec. Co. v. Bonneville Power Admin., 501 F.3d 1009, 1024 (9th Cir. 2007) (“In general, we will not invoke the waiver rule in our review of a notice-and-comment proceeding if an agency has had an opportunity to consider the issue. This is true even if the issue was considered sua sponte by the agency or was raised by someone other than the petitioning party.”).

    • The issue was addressed by the agency on its own initiative in the rulemaking.24

    24Id.

    • The agency failed to address an issue that was so fundamental to the rulemaking proceeding or to the rule's basis and purpose that the agency had an affirmative responsibility to address it.25

    25See NRDC v. EPA, 755 F.3d 1010, 1023 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (“EPA retains a duty to examine key assumptions as part of its affirmative burden of promulgating and explaining a nonarbitrary, non-capricious rule . . .”) (internal quotation marks omitted). This factor may include issues arising under the applicable substantive statute or the APA.

    • The issue involves an objection that the rule violates the U.S. Constitution.26

    26Cf., Noel Canning v. NLRB, 705 F.3d 490, 497 (D.C. Cir. 2013), aff'd NLRB v. Noel Canning, 134 S. Ct. 2550 (2014) (invoking “extraordinary circumstances” exception in statutory provision requiring issue exhaustion to address constitutional issue not raised with the NLRB because the issue went to the very power of the agency to act and implicated fundamental separation of powers concerns). It is worth emphasizing that regardless of whether the issue exhaustion doctrine would apply, participants in a rulemaking should raise constitutional issues during the rulemaking proceeding to give the agency an opportunity to adjust its rule to eliminate the constitutional objection or at least to explain in the administrative record why its rule does not raise constitutional concerns.

    • It would have been futile to raise the issue during the rulemaking proceeding because the agency clearly indicated that it would not entertain comments on or objections regarding that issue.27

    27See Comite De Apoyo A Los Trabajadores Agricolas v. Solis, No. 09-240, 2010 WL 3431761, at *18 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 31, 2010); cf. WATCH v. FCC, 712 F.2d 677, 682 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (remarking that “[a] reviewing court . . . may in some cases consider arguments that it would have been futile to raise before the agency,” but cautioning that “[f]utility should not lightly be presumed”).

    • The issue could not reasonably be expected to have been raised during the rulemaking proceeding because of the procedures used by the agency.28

    28See Alaska Survival v. Surface Transp. Bd., 705 F.3d 1073 (9th Cir. 2013) (declining to apply issue exhaustion because the agency's procedures were informal and “never provided direct notice of or requested public comment” on challenged issue).

    • The basis for the objection did not exist at a time when rulemaking participants could raise it in a timely comment.29

    29Cf. CSX Transp., Inc., v. Surface Transp. Bd., 584 F.3d 1076, 1079-81 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (declining to apply issue exhaustion to a litigant's argument that the final rule was not a logical outgrowth of the noticed rule).

    If an issue exhaustion question arises in litigation, litigants should be given an opportunity to demonstrate that some participant adequately raised the issue during the rulemaking or that circumstances exist to justify not requiring issue exhaustion. And if a court declines to apply issue exhaustion principles to preclude review of new issues, the agency should be given an opportunity to respond to new objections on the merits.30 Where application of the issue exhaustion doctrine forecloses judicial review, the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(e), can provide a procedural mechanism for the public to raise new issues that were not presented to the agency during a rulemaking proceeding: The right to petition agencies for amendment or repeal of rules.

    30 Courts have a variety of options for soliciting the agency's views that should vary depending on the circumstances. These options include permitting the agency to brief the issue or supplement the administrative record, or ordering a remand for the limited purpose of soliciting the agency's views.

    [FR Doc. 2015-25570 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6110-1-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2015-0062] Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Field Use of Vaccines Against Avian Influenza H5 Virus Strains AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    We are advising the public that an environmental assessment has been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service relative to the use of one or more veterinary biological products as a treatment for and as an aid in the reduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) incidence caused by strains such as Eurasian H5 viruses of clade 2.3.4.4 lineage. Any biological products would become part of the measures to reduce the incidence of HPAI in the nation's commercial poultry flocks. Based on the environmental assessment, we have concluded that the use of vaccines as described in the environmental assessment will not have a significant impact on the human environment. We are making this environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact available to the public for review and comment.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0062.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2015-0062, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0062 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Donna Malloy, Operational Support Section, Center for Veterinary Biologics, Policy, Evaluation, and Licensing, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 148, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 851-3426, fax (301) 734-4314.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act (21 U.S.C. 151 et seq.), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is authorized to promulgate regulations designed to ensure that veterinary biological products are pure, safe, potent, and efficacious. Veterinary biological products include viruses, serums, toxins, and analogous products of natural or synthetic origin, such as vaccines, antitoxins, or the immunizing components of microorganisms intended for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of diseases in domestic animals.

    APHIS issues licenses to qualified establishments that produce veterinary biological products and issues permits to importers of such products. APHIS also enforces requirements concerning production, packaging, labeling, and shipping of these products and sets standards for the testing of these products. Regulations concerning veterinary biological products are contained in 9 CFR parts 101 to 124.

    Veterinary biological products meeting the requirements of the regulations may be considered for addition to the U.S. National Veterinary Stockpile (NVS). The NVS is the nation's repository of vaccines and other critical veterinary supplies and equipment. It exists to augment State and local resources in responding to high-consequence livestock diseases that could potentially devastate U.S. agriculture, seriously affect the economy, and threaten public health. NVS vaccines would be used in APHIS programs or under department control or supervision. The addition of vaccines to the stockpile would not preclude private development and use of other poultry vaccines meeting the requirements of the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act.

    The arrival in December 2014 of Eurasian H5 strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and their subsequent dissemination in North America caused a catastrophic outbreak in both domestic poultry and avian wildlife. It is thought that wild, migratory waterfowl carried an H5 virus into North America, which generated reassortants (genetic variants resulting from crosses among AI strains) that spilled over into the domestic poultry population. The H5 viruses are likely to persist within the endemic wild, migratory waterfowl population, which is the primary reservoir of the virus. This viral reservoir will continue to pose a significant threat to U.S. poultry and avian collections.

    Two poultry production sectors, commercial meat turkeys and laying chickens, were heavily impacted by these H5 viruses, resulting in the loss or destruction of over 48 million birds between December 2014 and June 2015. Response by regulatory agencies combined with migration of wild waterfowl and the natural disinfectant action of the summer heat temporarily halted new disease outbreaks. The return of potentially infected migratory waterfowl in autumn, however, may precipitate a new round of outbreaks on an expanded national scale.

    Therefore, we are advising the public that we have prepared an environmental assessment (EA) entitled “For Field Use of Avian Influenza Vaccines Against Avian Influenza H5 Virus Strains (August 2015)” to analyze the potential use of one or more veterinary biological products as a treatment for and as an aid in the reduction of HPAI incidence caused by H5 strain viruses. We are publishing this notice to inform the public that we will accept written comments regarding the EA from interested or affected persons for a period of 30 days from the date of this notice. Based on an individual vaccine's risk analysis and the findings in this EA, APHIS would authorize deployment (including shipment, field testing, addition to the NVS, and use in commercial poultry production) of safe, well-characterized biological products upon making a finding of no significant impact (FONSI).

    After the comment period closes, APHIS will review all written comments received during the comment period and any other relevant information. If APHIS receives substantive comments that were not previously considered, the Agency would consider issuing a supplement to the EA and FONSI. Because timeliness is essential, it is imperative that APHIS authorize shipment and field use of safe, well-characterized vaccines as soon as possible, and possibly prior to the close of the comment period of this notice.

    Possible Field Use Locations: Where Federal and State authorities agree on use.

    The EA has been prepared in accordance with: (1) The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), (2) regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1b), and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372).

    Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 151-159.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 1st day of October 2015. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25445 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Farm Service Agency Information Collection; Direct Loan Making AGENCY:

    Farm Service Agency, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is requesting comments from all interested individuals and organizations on a revision and an extension of a currently approved information collection that supports 7 CFR part 764. The Direct Loan Making regulations specify the application process and requirements for direct loan assistance. FSA is adding additional information collection to the existing collection to reflect the addition of the Direct Farm Ownership Microloan (DFOML). The collected information is used in eligibility and feasibility determinations on farm loan applications.

    DATES:

    We will consider comments that we receive by December 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    We invite you to submit comments on this notice. In your comments, include date, volume, and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Russ Clanton, Branch Chief, Direct Loan Making and Funds Management, USDA/FSA/FLP, STOP 0523, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0503.

    You may also send comments to the Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503. Copies of the information collection may be requested by contacting Russ Clanton at the above address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Russ Clanton, (202) 690-0214.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Farm Loan Programs, Direct Loan Making.

    OMB Number: 0560-0237.

    Expiration Date: 02/29/2016.

    Type of Request: Revision and Extension.

    Abstract: FSA's Farm Loan Programs provide loans to family farmers to purchase real estate and equipment, and to finance agricultural production. Direct Loan Making regulations at 7 CFR part 764 provide the requirements and process for determining an applicant's eligibility for a direct loan.

    Several changes are being made in the estimates for the burden hours and the number of respondents in anticipation of the new DFOML, which will be implemented through rulemaking. FSA anticipates an increase in the use of the forms. Also, the burden hours have changed due to the removal of the existing collection, which was previously included in error. The specific changes are explained below.

    There will be no new or revised forms for DFOMLs. With the planned addition of the DFOML and the new applicants expected to apply for these real estate microloans, FSA anticipates the total burden hours for Direct Loan Making increasing by 1,725 hours. The anticipated 3,530 burden hours for DFOML takes into account the number of regular FO applications normally received for loan requests of $50,000 or less, which have a reduced application process and paperwork burden. The hours for the Land Contract Guarantee Program and Emergency Equine Loss Loan Program, previously merged into the Direct Loan Making total burden hours, have been removed from the collection as they are already accounted for in other existing information collections. Also, the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program is exempted from PRA as specified in 2014 Farm Bill; therefore, those numbers are no longer included in the collection.

    The annual number of responses decreased by 12,751, while the number of respondents increases by 172 in the collection. The annual burden hours increase by 1,725 hours in the collection.

    The formula used to calculate the total burden hour is estimated average time per response in hours times total annual responses.

    Estimate of Respondent Burden: Public reporting burden for the information collection is estimated to average 0.503851 hours per response. The average travel time, which is included in the total burden, is estimated to be 1 hour.

    Respondents: Individuals or households, businesses or other for profit farms.

    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 182,433.

    Estimated Number of Reponses per Respondent: 3.8.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 685,686.

    Estimated Average Time per Response: 0.503851 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 345,484 hours.

    We are requesting comments on all aspects of this information collection to help us to:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of FSA, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of FSA's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected;

    (4) 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.

    All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission for Office of Management and Budget approval.

    Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25425 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-05-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Farm Service Agency Information Collection; Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act Report AGENCY:

    Farm Service Agency, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is requesting comments from all interested individuals and organizations on an extension of a currently approved information collection associated with the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) of 1978.

    DATES:

    We will consider comments that we receive by December 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    We invite you to submit comments on the notice. In your comments, include date, volume, and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Lesa A. Johnson, Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) Program Manager, Natural Resources Analysis Group, Economic and Policy Analysis Staff, USDA, FSA, STOP 0531, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0531.

    You may also send comments to the Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503. Copies of the information collection may be requested by contacting Lesa A. Johnson at the above addresses.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lesa A. Johnson, (202) 720-9223.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act Report.

    OMB Control Number: 0560-0097.

    Expiration Date of Approval: April 30, 2016.

    Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: AFIDA requires foreign persons who hold, acquire, or dispose of any interest in U.S. agricultural land to report the transactions to FSA on an AFIDA report (FSA-153). The information collected is made available to States. Also, although not required by law, the information collected from the AFIDA reports is used to prepare an annual report to Congress and the President concerning the effect of foreign investment upon family farms and rural communities so that Congress may review the annual report and decide if further regulatory action is required. There is no change to the numbers in the collection.

    The formula used to calculate the total burden hour is estimated average time per responses hours times total annual responses.

    Estimate of Respondent Burden: Public reporting burden for the information collection is estimated to average 0.476 hours per response.

    Respondents: Individuals or households, businesses or other for profit farms.

    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 5,525.

    Estimated Number of Reponses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 5,525.

    Estimated Average Time per Response: 0.476 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 2,631.25 hours.

    We are requesting comments on all aspects of this information collection to help us to:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the FSA, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the FSA's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected;

    (4) 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.

    All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission for Office of Management and Budget approval.

    Signed by

    Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25426 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-05-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—USDA Foods in Schools Cost Dynamics AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This is a new collection for a study of USDA Foods in Schools Cost Dynamics.

    DATES:

    Written comments on this notice must be received on or before December 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    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 those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments may be sent to: Dennis Ranalli, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Support, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1014, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Dennis Ranalli at 703-305-2576 or via email to [email protected] Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All written comments will be open for public inspection at the office of the Food and Nutrition Service during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) at 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1014, Alexandria, Virginia 22301.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will be a matter of public record.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information should be directed to Dennis Ranalli at 703-305-2149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: USDA Foods in Schools Cost Dynamics.

    Form Number: N/A.

    OMB Number: Not yet assigned.

    Expiration Date: Not yet determined.

    Type of Request: New collection.

    Abstract: USDA Foods play an important role in school meals and may contribute up to 20% of the foods served in school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). States and School Food Authorities (SFAs) receive a USDA Foods entitlement to acquire products offered through the USDA Foods program. USDA Foods can be directly delivered from USDA's vendor to state warehouses, distributors, buying cooperatives, or SFAs. Fruits and vegetables can be requisitioned through the Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Bulk USDA Foods can be sent directly to a processor to create final products for use in school meals.

    An SFA's costs of using USDA Foods begin with how it spends its entitlement, which is managed by State Distribution Agencies (SDAs). SFAs incur additional costs to obtain USDA Foods for procurement, storage, distribution and administration. These functions are performed by a variety of agencies involved in this process (FNS, SDAs, storage/distribution contractors, SFAs and schools). SDAs may absorb some of these costs. Finally, the model of contracting with food processors may affect the full cost of USDA Foods to SFAs—whether the contract is a payment for final product (with a rebate or discount for the SFA) or a payment for service, i.e., for transforming the USDA Food into a final product.

    While several USDA-funded studies have examined SFA food purchasing practices and have compared foods purchased by SFAs with commercial products, very little research has focused specifically on the full cost of USDA Foods used in school meals. The most recent study on this topic, and the model for the current study, is the State Commodity Distribution System study covering the 1985-86 school year.

    The proposed study will examine the variety of factors that determine the cost and value of USDA Foods to local school and school district food programs. The objectives of the study are to (1) identify distribution models (including procurement, transportation, storage and delivery) used by 49 states and the District of Columbia to distribute USDA Foods to schools; (2) identify 4 to 10 procurement and distribution models that represent the state systems used in School Year (SY) 2015-16; and (3) develop cost estimates for a group of USDA Foods, full processed products made from USDA Foods, and comparable commercial products.

    Affected Public: Respondent groups include: (1) State officials with responsibility for USDA Food provision and (2) directors of school food authorities.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 440-950. The proposed final samples will include State Distribution Agencies in up to 49 States and the District of Columbia, and 112-280 unique SFAs, depending on how many distribution models are studied (Kansas is excluded because it receives cash payments in lieu of USDA foods). The number studied will be determined on the basis of the results of the survey of SDAs.

    Estimated Frequency of Responses per Respondent: All respondents will be asked to respond to each instrument only once.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 440-950, depending on the number of distribution models studied.

    Estimated Time per Response: 43 minutes (0.72 hours). The estimated response time varies from 5 minutes for notifications of the surveys to 360 minutes (6 hours), depending on the survey and the respondent group, as shown in the following table.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 308 to 693 hours.

    Affected public Data collection activity Respondents Estimated number of
  • respondents
  • Frequency of response Total annual responses Average hours per response Total annual burden
  • estimate
  • (hours)
  • State Notify state officials of web survey State education agency financial officer 50 1 50 0.08 4 State Self-Administered Web Survey Non-respondents 3 1 3 0.08 0.2 (Administrative data on USDA Food costs) State education agency financial officer 47 1 47 1.0 47 State Notify state officials of in-person interview State education agency financial officer 8-20 1 8-20 0.25 2-5 State In-person interview of state distribution agency (Additional information on USDA Food costs) State education agency financial officer 8-20 1 8-20 6 48-120 Local and Tribal Notify local and tribal officials of web survey Foodservice director 112-280 1 112-280 0.08 9.0-22.4 Local and Tribal Self-Administered Web Survey Non-respondents 12-30 1 12-30 0.08 1.0-2.4 (Administrative data on USDA Food costs) Foodservice director 100-250 1 100-250 0.75 75.0-187.5 Phone Follow-up Survey Nonrespondents 20-50 1 20-50 0.08 1.6-4.0 (Administrative data on USDA Food costs) Foodservice director 80-200 1 80-200 1.5 120-300 Grand Total 440-950 1 440-950 0.72 308-693
    Dated: September 30, 2015. Telora T. Dean, Acting Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25444 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Revision of Land Management Plan for Carson National Forest; Counties of Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, and Taos, New Mexico AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent to revise the Carson National Forest Land Management Plan and prepare an associated Environmental Impact Statement.

    SUMMARY:

    As directed by the National Forest Management Act, the USDA Forest Service is revising the existing Carson National Forest's Land Management Plan (hereafter referred to as forest plan) through development of an associated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This Notice describes the documents (Assessment Report of Ecological, Social, and Economic Conditions, Trends, and Sustainability for the Carson NF; Summaries of Public Meetings; and Carson NF's Needs to Change Management Direction of Its Existing 1986 Forest Plan) available for review and how to obtain them; summarizes the needs to change the existing forest plan; provides information concerning public participation and engagement, including the process for submitting comments; provides an estimated schedule for the planning process, including the time available for comments, and includes the names and addresses of agency contacts who can provide additional information.

    DATES:

    Comments concerning the Needs to Change and Proposed Action provided in this Notice will be most useful in the development of the draft revised plan and draft EIS if received by November 20, 2015. The agency expects to release a draft revised plan and draft EIS, developed through a collaborative public engagement process, by late Fall/Winter 2016 and a final revised plan and final EIS by Spring 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send written comments to Carson National Forest, Attn: Plan Revision, 208 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, New Mexico 87571. Comments may also be sent via email to [email protected].

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kevin Naranjo, Forest Planner, 575-758-6221. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    More information on the planning process can also be found on the Carson National Forest's Web site at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/carsonforestplan.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Name and Address of the Responsible Official

    James Duran, Forest Supervisor, Carson National Forest, 208 Cruz Alta, Taos, New Mexico 87571.

    Nature of the Decision To Be Made

    The Carson National Forest (NF) is preparing an EIS to revise the existing forest plan. The EIS process is meant to inform the Forest Supervisor so he can decide which alternative best maintains and restores National Forest System terrestrial and aquatic resources, while providing ecosystem services and multiple uses, as required by the National Forest Management Act and the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act.

    The revised forest plan will describe the strategic intent of managing the Carson NF for the next 15 years and will address the needs to change the existing forest plan. The revised forest plan will provide management direction in the form of desired conditions, objectives, standards, guidelines, and suitability of lands. It will identify delineation of new management areas and geographic areas across the Forest; identify the timber sale program quantity; potentially make recommendations to Congress for Wilderness designation; and list rivers and streams eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The revised forest plan will also provide a description of the plan area's distinctive roles and contributions within the broader landscape, identify watersheds that are a priority for maintenance or restoration, include a monitoring program, and contain information reflecting expected possible actions over the life of the plan.

    The revised forest plan will provide strategic direction and a framework for decision making during the life of the plan, but it will not make site-specific project decisions and will not dictate day-to-day administrative activities needed to carry on the Forest Service's internal operations. The authorization of project level activities will be based on the guidance/direction contained in the revised plan, but will occur through subsequent project specific decision-making, including NEPA.

    The revised forest plan will provide broad, strategic guidance that is consistent with other laws and regulations. Though strategic guidance will be provided, no decisions will be made regarding the management of individual roads or trails, such as those might be associated with a Travel Management plan under 36 CFR part 212. Some issues (e.g., hunting regulations), although important, are beyond the authority or control of the National Forest System and cannot be considered. No decision regarding oil and gas leasing availability will be made, though plan components may be brought forward or developed that will help guide oil and gas leasing availability decisions that may be necessary in the future.

    Purpose and Need and Proposed Action

    According to the National Forest Management Act and 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR 219), forest plans are to be revised at least every 15 years. The Proposed Action is to revise the forest plan in order to address the needs to change that were identified through public involvement and the assessment process. Alternatives to the Proposed Action will be developed to address the significant issues that are identified through scoping.

    The purpose and need for revising the current Carson NF forest plan are: (1) To update the forest plan, which was approved in 1986 and is 29 years old; (2) to reflect changes in economic, social, and ecological conditions, new policies and priorities, and new information based on monitoring and scientific research; and (3) to address the needs to change the existing forest plan, that are summarized below. Extensive public and employee involvement, along with science-based evaluations, have helped to identify these needs to change to the existing forest plan.

    What follows is a summary of the identified needs to change. A more fully developed description of the needs to change statements, which has been organized into several resource and management topic sections, is available for review on the plan revision Web site at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/carsonforestplan.

    Throughout the Plan

    There is a need for the revised plan to better recognize and enhance the Carson NF's role in contributing to local economies, including service-based sectors, such as recreation and tourism, timber and forest products, livestock grazing, and other multiple-use related activities and products.

    There is a need to reevaluate management areas in the current plan, to minimize complexity and allow more flexibility for restoration and habitat treatments, as well as update plan content regarding the resources, goods, and services provided by the Carson NF.

    There is a need to include plan direction that allows for adaptive management, to address potential climate change effects.

    There is a need to develop plan direction related to Forest Service land acquisitions, disposals, and exchanges that are not covered by the existing forest plan.

    There is a need to include other plan content or management approaches that: (1) Consider the capacity of local infrastructure, contractors, and markets in moving toward achieving desired conditions; (2) utilize partnership and volunteer opportunities as a management option, to promote movement toward desired conditions; and (3) allow for adapting to fluctuations in forest budgets over the life of the plan, in moving toward achieving desired conditions.

    Ecological Integrity

    There is a need to develop desired conditions regarding forest and woodland structure, composition, and function, as well as objectives, standards, and guidelines that will promote restoration and achievement of desired conditions; support resiliency and sustainability; and minimize risks to ecosystem integrity.

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote the restoration and maintenance of grass productivity, particularly native bunchgrass species, and to limit woody species encroachment and invasive plant establishment, both in grasslands and non-grasslands.

    There is a need to update plan direction that supports integrated pest (weed) management.

    There is a need to update plan direction which allows for an integrated resource approach to prescribed fire activity, as well as flexibility for restoration and maintenance of ecosystems.

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote the use of wildland fire (management of wildfire and prescribed fire) in fire adapted ecosystems, while addressing public safety and health concerns.

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote aspen health and resilience through managing regeneration and existing stands.

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote the maintenance and restoration of soil condition and function (i.e., soil hydrology, soil stability, nutrient cycling), particularly in lower elevation systems.

    There is a need to provide plan direction that promotes the protection, restoration and maintenance of appropriate composition and amount of riparian vegetation.

    There is a need to provide plan direction regarding management of riparian areas around all lakes, perennial and intermittent streams, and wetlands.

    There is a need to provide plan direction that promotes the protection, restoration, and maintenance of wetland condition and function.

    There is a need to provide plan direction for the restoration of watersheds.

    There is a need to provide plan direction for the sustainable management of water resources (e.g., groundwater, springs, wetlands, riparian areas, perennial waters) and their interconnections.

    There is a need to update plan direction on managing for sustainable watersheds for multiple uses (e.g., wildlife, livestock, recreation, and mining) and public water supplies.

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote desired watershed conditions that maintain water quality and quantity, as well as enhance retention.

    Wildlife, Fish, and Plants

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote the recovery and conservation of federally recognized species, the maintenance of viable populations of the species of conservation concern, and the maintenance of common and abundant species within the plan area.

    There is a need to provide plan direction to address sustainability of habitat(s) for plant and animal species important to tribes and traditional communities.

    There is a need to provide plan direction for managing towards terrestrial, riparian, and aquatic habitat connectivity for species movement across the landscape.

    There is a need to provide plan direction that allows for improving aquatic passage in streams where it has been compromised. Plan direction should promote the restoration and expansion of the range of native aquatic species and connectivity of fragmented populations.

    There is a need to provide plan direction that allows for an assortment of management approaches, including timber harvest, thinning, prescribed burning, and other vegetation management methods, to provide wildlife habitat for species that need a variety of forest habitats, such as interior, edge, young, and old forest.

    Cultural and Historic Resources and Uses

    There is a need to update plan direction for Native American traditional cultural properties and sacred sites and places, and non-Native American traditional cultural properties.

    There is a need to provide plan direction addressing management of historic and contemporary cultural and traditional uses, including both economic and non-economic uses for tribes, and for traditional communities not considered under tribal relations (i.e., traditional Hispanic and Anglo communities).

    Areas of Tribal Importance

    There is a need to update plan direction addressing consistency of activities with legally mandated trust responsibilities to tribes.

    There is a need to update plan direction orders, to ensure privacy for tribes engaged in cultural and ceremonial activities.

    There is a need to update plan direction on design, location, installation, maintenance, and abandonment of towers, facilities, and alternative infrastructure within electronic communication sites, while giving due consideration to the value and importance of areas that may be identified as a sacred site or part of an important cultural landscape by tribes.

    Multiple Uses

    There is a need to provide plan direction for the management of commercial and noncommercial use of forest products.

    There is a need to provide plan direction for the livestock grazing program that incorporates adaptive management, to move towards ecosystem-based desired conditions.

    There is a need to update plan direction to promote the sustainable management of wild horses.

    Recreation

    There is a need to provide plan direction that promotes sustainable recreation management and to include management approaches within the revised plan to address user conflicts and demands in moving toward achieving recreation desired conditions.

    There is a need to provide guidance for recreation activities that occur in areas sensitive to resource degradation or at risk, due to high visitation.

    There is a need to update plan direction for the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

    There is a need to update plan direction and guidance for incorporating the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum classifications the Scenery Management System integrity objectives across all programs areas.

    There is a need to update plan direction for over-snow vehicle use and the recreation special uses program.

    Designated Areas

    There is a need to update plan direction for managing existing designated areas, including designated wilderness, research natural areas, and designated and eligible wild and scenic rivers, that promote the maintenance of desired values and characteristics unique to each area, as well as newly designated or potential designated areas.

    Infrastructure

    There is a need to provide plan direction for maintenance of transportation systems in watersheds identified as impaired or at-risk and for the reclamation of non-system roads.

    Land Status and Ownership, Use, and Access

    There is a need to update plan direction to address legal access for public, private landowner, and tribal needs and management, to promote contiguity of the land base and for reducing small unmanageable tracts of National Forest System lands.

    Energy and Minerals

    There is a need to update plan direction for recreational mining-related activities and the permitted use of common mineral materials.

    There is a need to update plan direction for existing or proposed transmission corridors and renewable energy generation, including solar, biomass, and geothermal, while protecting natural resources, heritage and sacred sites, tribal traditional activities, and scenery.

    Public Involvement

    A Notice of initiating the assessment phase of forest plan revision for the Carson NF was published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2014 (79 FR 11074). Subsequently, the Carson NF held or participated in 32 public meetings and collaborative work sessions in communities around the forest, to explain the plan revision process and solicit comments, opinions, data, and ideas from members of the public, governmental entities, tribes, land grants, and nongovernmental organizations. Fifteen meetings were held in June 2014 providing an opportunity for people to express how they value and use the forest and asking what they want the forest to look like in the future. This information was used to inform the assessment for the Carson NF. The Carson and Santa Fe NFs jointly held 3 meetings in April/May of 2015 with members of local land grants, to present and discuss the plan revision process. In June of 2015, the forest held 14 community public meetings to present the key findings of the assessment and to have participants come up with management solutions to address these key findings or other issues of concern. The input from these meetings was used to inform and update both the assessment and needs-to-change statements. Approximately 556 people attended the 32 meetings and nearly 1,800 comment letters or forms were received, either at the meetings or by email, postal mail, or web-form. Public Information to the public was provided by a dedicated forest plan revision Web page and through mailings, flyers, news releases, Twitter, and radio interviews. Any comments related to the Carson NF's assessment report that are received following the publication of this Notice may be considered in the draft and final environmental impact statements.

    Scoping Process

    Written comments received in response to this Notice will be analyzed to complete the identification of the needs for change to the existing plan, further develop the proposed action, and identify potential significant issues. Significant issues will, in turn, form the basis for developing alternatives to the proposed action. Comments on the Needs to Change the Forest Plan and Proposed Action will be most valuable if received by November 20, 2015, and should clearly articulate the reviewer's issues and concerns. Comments received in response to this Notice, including the names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered in the NEPA process; however, anonymous comments will not provide the Agency with the ability to provide the respondent with subsequent environmental documents. See the below Objection Process description, particularly the requirements for filing an objection, on how anonymous comments are handled during the objection process. Refer to the Carson NF's Web site at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/carsonforestplan for information on when public meetings will be scheduled for refining the Proposed Action and identifying possible alternatives to the Proposed Action.

    Applicable Planning Rule

    Preparation of the revised forest plan for the Carson NF began with the assessment of the conditions and trends of the Forest's ecological, social, and economic resources, initiated under the planning procedures contained in the 2012 Forest Service planning rule (36 CFR 219 (2012)).

    Permits or Licenses Required To Implement the Proposed Action

    No permits or licenses are needed for the development or revision of a forest plan.

    Proposed Decisions Are Subject To Objection

    The proposed decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Carson NF will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR part 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). According to 36 CFR 219.53(a), those who may file an objection are individuals and entities who have submitted substantive formal comments related to plan revision, during the opportunities provided for public comment throughout the planning process.

    Documents Available for Review

    The (1) Assessment Report of Ecological, Social, and Economic Conditions, Trends, and Sustainability for the Carson National Forest and (2) Carson National Forest's Needs to Change Management Direction of Its Existing 1986 Forest Plan, as well as summaries of the public meetings and public meeting materials, and public comments are posted on the Carson NF's Web site at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/carsonforestplan. As necessary or appropriate, the material available on this site will be further adjusted as part of the planning process using the provisions of the 2012 planning rule.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1600-1614; 36 CFR part 219 [77 FR 21260-21273].

    Responsible Official

    The responsible official for revision of the Carson NF's forest plan is Forest Supervisor James Duran, Carson National Forest, 208 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, New Mexico 87571.

    Dated: September 29, 2015. James Duran, Forest Supervisor, Carson National Forest.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25519 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-11-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request October 1, 2015.

    The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Comments regarding (a) whether the 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 burden 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 and other forms of information technology.

    Comments regarding this information collection received by November 6, 2015 will be considered. Written comments should be addressed to: Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503. Commentors are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: [email protected] or fax (202) 395-5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250-7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720-8681.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Forest Service

    Title: National Woodland Owner Survey.

    OMB Control Number: 0596-0078.

    Summary of Collection: The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93-278 Sec. 3) and the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 307 Sec. 3) are the legal authorities for conducting the National Woodland Owner Survey. The National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS) collects information to help answer questions related to the characteristics of the landholdings and landowners, ownership objectives, the supply of timber and non-timber products, forest management practices, climate change, wildfires, invasive species, and delivery of the concerns/constraints perceived by the landowners.

    Need and Use of the Information: The NWOS will utilize a mixed-mode survey technique involving cognitive interviews, focus groups, self-administered questionnaires, and telephone interviews. The Forest Service (FS) will use several, interrelated forms: Long, short, state-specific, science modules, corporate, public and urban versions to collect information. Data collected will help FS to determine the opportunities and constraints that private woodland owners typically face; and facilitate planning and implementing forest policies and programs. If the information is not collected the knowledge and understanding of private woodland ownerships and their concerns and activities will be severely limited.

    Description of Respondents: Individuals or households; Business or other for-profit; Not-for-profit Institutions; Farms; State, Local or Tribal Government.

    Number of Respondents: 10,281.

    Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Other (every 5 years).

    Total Burden Hours: 4,452.

    Charlene Parker, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25552 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Intent to Re-establish the Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee call for nominations.

    SUMMARY:

    The Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) intends to re-establish the charter for the Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee (Committee). The purpose of the Committee is to provide advice to the Secretary and to the Federal Interagency Partnership on how the Partnership can best fulfill its duties pursuant to Executive Order 13057 to protect the extraordinary natural, recreational, and ecological resources in the Lake Tahoe Region. The Secretary has determined that the work of the Committee is in the public interest and relevant to the duties of the Department of Agriculture. Therefore, the Secretary continuously seeks nominations to fill vacancies on the Committee. Additional information concerning the Committee can be found by visiting the Committee's Web site at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/LTFAC.

    DATES:

    Nominations must be received on or before November 23, 2015. Nominations must contain a completed application packet that includes the nominee's name, resume, and completed Form AD-755, Advisory Committee or Research and Promotion Background Information. The Form AD-755 may be obtained from the Forest Service contact person or from the following Web site: http://www.ocio.usda.gov/forms/doc/AD-755_Master_2012_508%20Ver.pdf. The packages must be sent to the addresses below.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send nominations and applications to Lynn Wright, Acting Partnership/FACA Coordinator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, California 96150.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lynn Wright, Acting Partnership/FACA Coordinator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, California 96150, or by phone at 530-543-2627, or by email at [email protected]. Individuals who use telecommunications devices or the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    In accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Secretary of Agriculture intends to re-establish the Committee. The Committee will be a discretionary advisory committee. The Committee will operate under the provisions of FACA and will report to the Secretary of Agriculture through the Chief of the Forest Service.

    The Committee provides a critical role in advising the Secretary of Agriculture and the Lake Tahoe Federal Interagency Partnership on coordinating federal programs to achieve the goals of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program.

    Advisory Council Organization

    The Committee charter and membership is renewed every two years. The members will represent a broad array of interests in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Council will be comprised of not more than 20 members. Two representatives will be selected as members-at-large, and one representative will be selected from each of the following sectors:

    1. Gaming 2. Environmental 3. National Environmental 4. Ski resorts 5. North Shore economic/recreation 6. South Shore economic/recreation 7. Resort associations 8. Education 9. Property rights advocates 10. Science and Research 11. California local government 12. Nevada local government 13. Washoe Tribe 14. State of California 15. State of Nevada 16. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency 17. Labor 18. Transportation

    Of these members, one will become the Chairperson who is recognized for their ability to lead a group in a fair and focused manner and who has been briefed on the mission of this Committee. The Committee meets twice a year, but may meet as often as necessary to complete its business. The appointment of members to the Committee is made by the Secretary of Agriculture. Any individual or organization may nominate one or more qualified persons to represent the above vacancies on the Committee. Individuals may also nominate themselves. To be considered for membership, nominees must provide:

    1. Resume describing qualifications for membership to the Committee;

    2. Cover letter with a rationale for serving on the Committee and what they can contribute;

    3. Show their past experience in working successfully as part of a coordinating group;

    4. Complete Form AD-755, Advisory Committee or Research and Promotion Background Information; and

    5. Letters of recommendation are welcome.

    All nominations will be vetted by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A list of qualified applicants from which the Secretary of Agriculture shall appoint to the Committee will be prepared. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit nominations priority mail via United States Post Office to ensure timely receipt by the USDA. Members of the Committee will serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for travel expenses while performing duties on behalf of the Committee, subject to approval by the Designated Federal Officer (DFO).

    Equal opportunity practices, in accordance with USDA policies shall be followed in all appointments to the Committee. To ensure that the recommendation of the Committee have taken into account the needs of the diverse groups served by the Departments, membership should include, to the extent practicable, individuals with demonstrated ability to represent all racial and ethnic groups, women and men, and persons with disabilities.

    Dated: September 29, 2015. Gregory L. Parham, Assistant Secretary for Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25596 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    APPALACHIAN STATES LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE COMMISSION Annual Meeting TIME AND DATE:

    10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. November 6, 2015.

    PLACE:

    Harrisburg Hilton and Towers, One North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.

    STATUS:

    The meeting will be open to the public.

    MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED:

    Portions Open to the Public: The primary purpose of this meeting is to (1) Review the independent auditors' report of the Commission's financial statements for fiscal year 2014-2015; (2) Review the Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW) generation information for 2014; (3) Consider a proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017; (4) Review recent regional and national developments regarding LLRW management and disposal; and (5) Elect the Commission's Officers.

    Portions Closed to the Public: Executive Session, if deemed necessary, will be announced at the meeting.

    CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Rich Janati, Administrator of the Commission, at 717-787-2163.

    Rich Janati, Administrator, Appalachian Compact Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-24940 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 0000-00-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Age Search Service AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)).

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before December 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Cleo Henderson, U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, Jeffersonville, Indiana 47132; phone: (812) 218-3434; or: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    Age Search is a service provided by the U.S. Census Bureau for persons who need official transcripts of personal data as proof of age for pensions, retirement plans, medicare, and social security. The transcripts are also used as proof of citizenship to obtain passports or to provide evidence of family relationship for rights of inheritance. The Age Search forms are used by the public in order to provide the Census Bureau with the necessary information to conduct a search of historical population decennial census records in order to provide the requested transcript. The Age Search service is self-supporting and is funded by the fees collected from the individuals requesting the service.

    II. Method of Collection

    The Form BC-600, Application for Search of Census Records, is a public use form that is submitted by applicants requesting information from the decennial census records. Applicants are requested to enclose the appropriate fee by check or money order with the completed and signed Form BC-600 or BC-600sp and return by mail to the U.S. Census Bureau, Post Office Box 1545, Jeffersonville, Indiana 47131. The Form BC-649 (L), which is called a “Not Found”, advises the applicant that the search for information from the census records was unsuccessful. The BC-658 (L) is sent to the applicant when insufficient information has been received on which to base a search of the census records. These two forms request additional information from the applicant to aid in the search of census records.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607- 0117.

    Form Numbers: BC-600, BC-649(L), BC-658(L).

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 3,479 Total.

    BC-600 2,070. BC-649(L) 396. BC-658(L) 17.

    Estimated Time per Response:

    BC-600 12 minutes. BC-649(L) 6 minutes. BC-658(L) 6 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 456.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost: The Age Search processing fee is $65.00 per case. An additional charge of $20 per case for expedited requests requiring results within one day is also available.

    Respondent's Obligation: Required to obtain or retain benefits.

    Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C., section 8.

    IV. Request for 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 shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (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 .

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: October 2, 2015. Glenna Mickelson, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25493 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Generic Clearance for Master Address File (MAF) and Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) Update Activities AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)).

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before December 7, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230 (or via email at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Mike Benton, U.S. Census Bureau, 5H022D, Washington DC 20233, 301-763-2860 (or via email at [email protected]).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    The Census Bureau presently operates a generic clearance covering activities involving respondent burden associated with updating our Master Address File (MAF) and Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) Database (MTdb). The MTdb is the Census Bureau's integrated address geographic database. We now propose to extend the generic clearance to cover update activities we will undertake during the next three fiscal years.

    Under the terms of the generic clearance, we plan to submit a request for OMB approval that will describe, in general terms, all planned activities for the entire period. We will provide information to OMB at least two weeks before the planned start of each activity giving more exact details, examples of forms, and final estimates of respondent burden. We also will file a year-end summary with OMB after the close of each fiscal year giving results of each activity conducted. The generic clearance enables OMB to review our overall strategy for MTdb updating in advance, instead of reviewing each activity in isolation shortly before the planned start.

    The Census Bureau used the addresses in the MTdb for mailing and delivering questionnaires to households during the 2010 Census and will do so for the 2020 Census. These addresses are also used as a sampling frame for our demographic current surveys. Prior to Census 2000, the Census Bureau built a new address list for each decennial census. The MTdb built for the 2010 Census is designed to be kept up-to-date, thereby eliminating the need to develop a completely new address list for future censuses and surveys. The Census Bureau plans to use the MTdb for post-Census 2010 evaluations and as a sampling frame for the American Community Survey and our other demographic current surveys. The TIGER component of the MTdb is a geographic system that maps the entire country in Census Blocks with applicable address ranges or living quarter location information. The MTdb allows us to assign each address to the appropriate Census Block, produce maps as needed and publish results at the appropriate level of geographic detail. The following are descriptions of activities we plan to conduct under the clearance for the next three fiscal years. The Census Bureau has conducted these activities (or similar ones) previously and the respondent burden remains relatively unchanged from one time to another. The estimated number of respondents is based on historical contact data, and applied to the number of Census Blocks in sample.

    Demographic Area Address Listing (DAAL)

    The Demographic Area Address Listing (DAAL) program encompasses the geographic area updates for the Community Address Updating System (CAUS) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the area and group quarters frame listings for many ongoing demographic surveys (the Current Population Survey, the Consumer Expenditures Survey, etc.), and any other operations which choose to use the Listing and Mapping Application (LiMA) for evaluations, assessments, or to collect updates for the MTdb. Note that LiMA replaced the Automated Listing and Mapping System (ALMI). The CAUS program was designed to address quality concerns relating to areas with high concentrations of noncity-style addresses, and to provide a rural counterpart to the update of city-style addresses the Census Bureau will receive from the U.S. Postal Services's Delivery Sequence File. The ongoing demographic surveys, as part of the 2000 Sample Redesign Program, use the MTdb as one of several sources of addresses from which they select their samples.

    The DAAL program is a cooperative effort among many divisions at the Census Bureau; it includes automated listing software, systems, and procedures that will allow us to conduct listing operations in a dependent manner based on information contained in the MTdb. The DAAL operations will be conducted on an ongoing basis in potentially any county across the country. Field Representatives (FRs) will canvass selected 2010 Census tabulation blocks in an effort to improve the address list in areas where substantial address changes may have occurred that have not been added to the MTdb through regular update operations, and/or in blocks in the area or group quarters frame sample for the demographic surveys. FRs will update existing address information and, when necessary, contact individuals to collect accurate location and mailing address information. In general, contact with a household will occur only when the FR is adding a unit to the address list, there is a missing mailing address flag, and/or the individual's address is not posted or visible to the FR. There is no pre-determined or scripted list of questions asked for households as part of this listing operation. If an address is not posted or visible to the FR, the FR will ask about the address of the structure, the mailing address, and, in some instances, the year the structure was built. If the occupants of these households are not at home, the FR may attempt to contact a neighbor to obtain the correct address information. DAAL will collect Group Quarters (GQ) information from all GQs in the selected blocks, there is not scripted list of questions, the FRs will ask information about the GQ such as the number of beds, the GQ name, and so on.

    DAAL is an ongoing operation. Listing assignments are distributed quarterly with the work conducted throughout the time period. We expect the DAAL listing operation will be conducted throughout the entire time period of the extension.

    MAF Coverage Study

    The MAF Coverage Study (MAFCS) is an ongoing Address Canvassing operation designed to produce MAF coverage estimates at national and sub-national levels. In addition, MAFCS will evaluate the in-office address canvassing operation and provide continuous updates to the MAF for current surveys and the Census. MAFCS leverages existing Census Bureau programs and systems to achieve these objectives. Data collection for MAFCS will occur using DAAL and DAAL staff; hence, there will be a large increase to the DAAL operation workload.

    II. Method of Collection

    The primary method of data collection for most operations/evaluations will be personal observation or personal interview by FRs using the operation/evaluation's listing form or questionnaire. In some cases, the interview could be by telephone callback if no one was home during the initial visit.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607-0809.

    Form Number: Some form numbers for activities have not yet been assigned.

    Type of Review: Regular submission.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households.

    Estimated Number of Respondents:

    FY16: 60,000 HH 2,000 GQs FY17: 60,000 HH 2,000 GQs FY18: 60,000 HH 2,000 GQs

    Estimated Time per Response: 3 min/HH; 10 min/GQ

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours:

    FY16: 3,333 FY17: 3,333 FY18: 3,333

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    Legal Authority: Title 13 United States Code, Sections 141 and 193.

    IV. Request for 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 shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (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.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: October 2, 2015. Glenna Mickelson, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25506 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-848] Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and New Shipper Reviews; 2013-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is conducting an administrative review and new shipper reviews of the antidumping duty order on freshwater crawfish tail meat from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The period of review (POR) for the administrative review and new shipper reviews is September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014. The Department preliminarily determines that China Kingdom (Beijing) Import & Export Co., Ltd. (China Kingdom), Deyan Aquatic Products and Food Co., Ltd. (Deyan Aquatic), Hubei Yuesheng Aquatic Products Co., Ltd. (Hubei Yuesheng), and Weishan Hongda Aquatic Food Co., Ltd (Weishan Hongda) have not made sales of subject merchandise in the United States at prices below normal value. With respect to Shanghai Ocean Flavor International Trading Co., Ltd. (Shanghai Ocean), see section below entitled “Separate Rate for a Non-Selected Company.”

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 7, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Hermes Pinilla (China Kingdom), Andre Gziryan (Deyan Aquatic), Bryan Hansen (Hubei Yuesheng) or Catherine Cartsos (Weishan Hongda), 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) 482-3477, (202) 482-2201, (202) 482-3683, or (202) 482-1757, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Scope of the Order

    The merchandise subject to the antidumping duty order is freshwater crawfish tail meat, which is currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers 1605.40.10.10, 1605.40.10.90, 0306.19.00.10, and 0306.29.00.00. On February 10, 2012, the Department added HTSUS classification number 0306.29.01.00 to the scope description pursuant to a request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). While the HTSUS numbers are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description is dispositive. A full description of the scope of the order is contained in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.1

    1See the memorandum from Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, to Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and New Shipper Reviews: Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the People's Republic of China” dated concurrently with and hereby adopted by this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Methodology

    The Department conducted these reviews in accordance with section 751(a)(2) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). Export Price is calculated in accordance with section 772(c) of the Act. Because the PRC is a non-market economy (NME) within the meaning of section 771(18) of the Act, normal value has been calculated in accordance with section 773(c) of the Act.

    For a full description of the methodology underlying our conclusions, see Preliminary Decision Memorandum. The Preliminary 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 Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly on the Internet at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Preliminary Decision Memorandum and the electronic versions are identical in content.

    Separate Rate for a Non-Selected Company

    Shanghai Ocean is the only exporter of crawfish tail meat from the PRC that demonstrated its eligibility for a separate rate which was not selected for individual examination in this administrative review. The calculated rates of the respondents selected for individual examination are all zero. We conclude that, in this case a reasonable method for determining the rate for the non-selected company, Shanghai Ocean, is to apply the average of the zero margins calculated for the two mandatory respondents in the administrative review, China Kingdom and Deyan Aquatic. For a detailed discussion, see Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Preliminary Results of Reviews

    The Department determines that the following preliminary dumping margins exist for the administrative review covering the period September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014:

    Producer/exporter Weighted
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • China Kingdom (Beijing) Import & Export Co., Ltd 0.00 Deyan Aquatic Products and Food Co., Ltd 0.00 Shanghai Ocean Flavor International Trading Co., Ltd 0.00

    As a result of the new shipper reviews, the Department preliminarily determines that dumping margins of 0.00 percent exist for merchandise produced and exported by Hubei Yuesheng Aquatic Products Co., Ltd. and for merchandise produced and exported by Weishan Hongda Aquatic Food Co., Ltd. covering the period September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014.

    Disclosure and Public Comment

    The Department will disclose calculations performed in these preliminary results to parties within five days after the date of publication of this notice.2 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c), interested parties may submit cases briefs no later than 30 days after the date of publication of these preliminary results of review.3 Parties who submit arguments are requested to submit with the argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be filed no later than five days after the time limit for filing the case briefs, as specified by 19 CFR 351.309(d).

    2See 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    3See 19 CFR 351.309(c).

    Interested parties who wish to request a hearing, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. All documents must be filed electronically using ACCESS which is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov. An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by ACCESS by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice.4 Requests should contain (1) the party's name, address, and telephone number; (2) the number of participants; and (3) a list of issues to be discussed. Issues raised in the hearing will be limited to those raised in the respective case briefs. If a request for a hearing is made, we will inform parties of the scheduled date for the hearing, which will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and location to be determined.5 Parties should confirm by telephone or email the date, time, and location of the hearing.

    4See 19 CFR 351.310(c).

    5Id.

    Unless the deadline is extended pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(B)(iv) of the Act, the Department will issue the final results of these reviews, including the results of its analysis of issues raised by parties in their comments, within 120 days after the publication of these preliminary results, pursuant to section 751(a)(3)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h).

    Assessment Rates

    Upon issuing the final results, the Department will determine, and CBP shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by these reviews.6 If a respondent's weighted average dumping margin is above de minimis (i.e., 0.50 percent) in the final results of these reviews, the Department will calculate an importer-specific assessment rate on the basis of the ratio of the total amount of dumping calculated for each importer's examined sales and, where possible, the total entered value of sales, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1). In these preliminary results, the Department applied the assessment rate calculation method adopted in the Final Modification for Reviews, i.e., on the basis of monthly average-to-average comparisons using only the transactions associated with the importer with offsets being provided for non-dumped comparisons.7 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. 8

    6See 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).

    7See Antidumping Proceeding: Calculation of the Weighted-Average Dumping Margin and Assessment Rate in Certain Antidumping Duty Proceedings; Final Modification, 77 FR 8101 (February 14, 2012) (Final Modification for Reviews).

    8See 19 CFR 351.106(c)(2).

    Pursuant to the Department's assessment practice in NME cases,9 for entries that were not reported in the U.S. sales databases submitted by companies individually examined during this review, the Department will instruct CBP to liquidate such entries at the PRC-wide rate. We intend to issue assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the date of publication of the final results of these reviews.

    9 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 these reviews for shipments of the subject merchandise from the PRC entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the publication date, as provided by section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) For the companies listed above that have a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be that established in the final results of these reviews (except if the rate is zero or de minimis, i.e., less than 0.5 percent, then no cash deposit will be required) (2) for previously investigated or reviewed PRC and non-PRC 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 PRC 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 PRC-wide entity; and (4) for all non-PRC exporters of subject merchandise which have not received their own rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the PRC exporter that supplied that non-PRC exporter.

    With respect to Hubei Yuesheng, a new shipper respondent, the Department established a combination cash deposit rate for this company consistent with its practice as follows: (1) For subject merchandise produced and exported by Hubei Yuesheng, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for Hubei Yuesheng in the final results of the NSR; (2) for subject merchandise exported by Hubei Yuesheng, but not produced by Hubei Yuesheng, the cash deposit rate will be the rate for the PRC-wide entity; and (3) for subject merchandise produced by Hubei Yuesheng but not exported by Hubei Yuesheng, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the exporter.

    With respect to Weishan Hongda, a new shipper respondent, the Department established a combination cash deposit rate for this company consistent with its practice as follows: (1) For subject merchandise produced and exported by Weishan Hongda, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for Weishan Hongda in the final results of the NSR; (2) for subject merchandise exported by Weishan Hongda, but not produced by Weishan Hongda, the cash deposit rate will be the rate for the PRC-wide entity; and (3) for subject merchandise produced by Weishan Hongda but not exported by Weishan Hongda, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the exporter.

    These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice serves as a preliminary 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 these PORs. 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.

    We are issuing and publishing the preliminary results of these reviews in accordance with sections 751(a)(1), 751(a)(2)(B)(iv), 751(a)(3), 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h), 351.214 and 351.221(b)(4).

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum 1. Summary 2. Background 3. Scope of the Order 4. Bona Fides Analysis 5. Verification 6. Non-Market-Economy Country Status 7. Surrogate Country 8. Separate Rates 9. Absence of De Jure Control 10. Absence of De Facto Control 11. Separate Rate for a Non-Selected Company 12. Fair Value Comparisons 13. U.S. Price 14. Normal Value 15. Surrogate Values 16. Currency Conversion 17. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2015-25412 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [Application No. 14-1A004] Export Trade Certificate of Review ACTION:

    Notice of Issuance of an Amended Export Trade Certificate of Review to DFA of California, Application no. 14-1A004.

    SUMMARY:

    The Secretary of Commerce, through the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis (“OTEA”) of the International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, issued an amended Export Trade Certificate of Review to DFA of California on September 17, 2015. The original Certificate was issued on March 2, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joseph Flynn, Director, Office of Trade and Economic Analysis, International Trade Administration, (202) 482-5131 (this is not a toll-free number) or email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title III of the Export Trading Company Act of 1982 (15 U.S.C. 4001-21) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to issue Export Trade Certificates of Review. An Export Trade Certificate of Review protects the holder and the members identified in the Certificate from State and Federal government antitrust actions and from private treble damage antitrust actions for the export conduct specified in the Certificate and carried out in compliance with its terms and conditions. The regulations implementing Title III are found at 15 CFR part 325 (2015). OTEA is issuing this notice pursuant to 15 CFR 325.6(b), which requires the Secretary to publish a summary of the certificate in the Federal Register. Under Section 305(a) of the Act and 15 CFR 325.11(a), any person aggrieved by the Secretary's determination may, within 30 days of the date of this notice, bring an action in any appropriate district court of the United States to set aside the determination on the ground that the determination is erroneous.

    Description of the Amendment to the Certificate: Add the following six companies as Members of DFA's Certificate, with respect to the covered products listed below:

    • Walnuts: CR Crain and Sons, Inc. (Los Molinos, CA); RPC Packing, Inc. (Porterville, CA); CAPEX (Corning, CA)

    • Prunes: Taylor Brothers Farms, Inc (Yuba City, CA); RPC Packing, Inc. (Porterville, CA); Sun-Maid Growers of California (Kingsburg, CA)

    • Figs: Fig Garden Packing, Inc. (Fresno, CA)

    DFA's Export Trade Certificate of Review complete amended Membership is listed below:

    1. Alpine Pacific Nut Company, Hughson, CA 2. Andersen & Sons Shelling, Vina, CA 3. Avanti Nut Company, Inc., Stockton, CA 4. Berberian Nut Company, LLC, Chico, CA 5. Carriere Family Farms, Inc., Glenn, CA 6. California Almond Packers and Exporters (CAPEX), Corning, CA 7. Continente Nut LLC, Oakley, CA 8. C. R. Crain & Sons, Inc., Los Molinos, CA 9. Crain Walnut Shelling, Inc., Los Molinos, CA 10. Crisp California Walnuts, Stratford, CA 11. Diamond Foods, Inc., Stockton, CA 12. Empire Nut Company, Colusa, CA 13. Fig Garden Packing, Inc., Fresno, CA 14. Gold River Orchards, Inc., Escalon, CA 15. Grower Direct Nut Company, Hughson, CA 16. GSF Nut Company, Orosi, CA 17. Guerra Nut Shelling Company, Hollister, CA 18. Hill View Packing Company Inc., Gustine, CA 19. Linden Nut Company, Linden, CA 20. Mariani Nut Company, Winters, CA 21. Mariani Packing Company, Inc., Vacaville, CA 22. Mid Valley Nut Company Inc., Hughson, CA 23. National Raisin Company, Fowler, CA 24. Poindexter Nut Company, Selma, CA 25. Prima Noce Packing, Linden, CA 26. RPC Packing Inc., Porterville, CA 27. Sacramento Packing, Inc., Yuba City, CA 28. Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers, Inc., Yuba City, CA 29. San Joaquin Figs, Inc., Fresno, CA 30. Shoei Foods USA, Inc., Olivehurst, CA 31. Stapleton-Spence Packing, Gridley, CA 32. Sun-Maid Growers of California, Kingsburg, CA 33. Sunsweet Growers Inc., Yuba City, CA 34. Taylor Brothers Farms, Inc., Yuba City, CA 35. T.M. Duche Nut Company, Inc., Orland, CA 36. Wilbur Packing Company, Inc., Live Oak, CA 37. Valley Fig Growers, Fresno, CA Dated: October 1, 2015. Joseph E. Flynn, Director, Office of Trade and Economic Analysis, International Trade Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25449 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-583-844] Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge from Taiwan; Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is conducting an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on narrow woven ribbons with woven selvedge from Taiwan. The review covers two producers/exporters of the subject merchandise. The Department selected one mandatory respondent for individual examination, Roung Shu Industry Corporation (Roung Shu). The POR is September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014. We preliminarily determine that sales of subject merchandise to the United States have been made at prices below normal value (NV). We invite all interested parties to comment on these preliminary results.

    DATES:

    Effective date: October 7, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Crespo or Alice Maldonado, 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) 482-3693 and (202) 482-4682, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Scope of the Order

    The merchandise subject to this order covers narrow woven ribbons with woven selvedge.1 The merchandise subject to this order is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) statistical categories 5806.32.1020; 5806.32.1030; 5806.32.1050 and 5806.32.1060. Subject merchandise also may enter under subheadings 5806.31.00; 5806.32.20; 5806.39.20; 5806.39.30; 5808.90.00; 5810.91.00; 5810.99.90; 5903.90.10; 5903.90.25; 5907.00.60; and 5907.00.80 and under statistical categories 5806.32.1080; 5810.92.9080; 5903.90.3090; and 6307.90.9889. The HTSUS statistical categories and subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes; however, the written description of the merchandise covered by this order is dispositive.

    1 For a complete description of the scope of the Order, see “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Results of the Administrative Review of the Antidumping Duty Order on Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge from Taiwan,” from Gary Taverman, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, to Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance (Preliminary Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this notice.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this review in accordance with section 751(a)(2) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). Export price is calculated in accordance with section 772 of the Act. NV is calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act.

    For a full description of the methodology underlying our conclusions, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum. A list of the topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is attached as an Appendix to this notice. The Preliminary 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 Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://trade.gov/enforcement. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    Rate for Non-Selected Companies

    The statute and the Department's regulations do not address what rate to apply to respondents not selected for individual examination when the Department limits its examination in an administrative review pursuant to section 777A(c)(2) of the Act. Generally, the Department looks to section 735(c)(5) of the Act, which provides instructions for calculating the all-others rate in an investigation, for guidance when calculating the rate for non-selected respondents that are not examined individually in an administrative review. Section 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act states that the all-others rate should be calculated by averaging the weighted-average dumping margins for individually-examined respondents, excluding rates that are zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available. Section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act provides that, where all rates are zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available, the Department may use “any reasonable method” for assigning a rate to non-examined respondents.

    For these preliminary results, we calculated a zero margin for Roung Shu. Therefore, we preliminarily determine that, consistent with section 735(c)(5)(B), we will assign A-Madeus Textile Ltd. (A-Madeus), the respondent not selected for individual examination, the most recent above de minimis margin calculated for a mandatory respondent, which is from the previous administrative review. As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, this is consistent with the Department's practice and the documented history of dumping in this case since the imposition of the order. Using this method, we are preliminarily assigning a margin of 30.64 percent to A-Madeus for these preliminary results.2

    2 This margin is from the 2012-2013 administrative review. See Narrow Woven Ribbons With Woven Selvedge From Taiwan; Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2012-2013, 80 FR 19635 (April 13, 2015).

    Preliminary Results of the Review

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Producer/exporter Dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Roung Shu Industry Corporation (Roung Shu) 0.00 A-Madeus Textile Ltd. (A-Madeus) 30.64
    Disclosure and Public Comment

    The Department intends to disclose the calculations performed in connection with these preliminary results to interested parties within five days after the date of publication of this notice.3 Interested parties may submit case briefs to the Department no later than 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in the case briefs, may be filed no later than five days after the time limit for filing case briefs.4 Parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this proceeding are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.5 Case and rebuttal briefs should be filed using ACCESS.6

    3See 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    4See 19 CFR 351.309(d).

    5See 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2).

    6See 19 CFR 351.303.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, filed electronically via ACCESS. An electronically-filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by ACCESS by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice.7 Hearing requests should contain: (1) The party's name, address, and telephone number; (2) the number of participants; and (3) a list of issues to be discussed. Issues raised in the hearing will be limited to issues raised in the briefs. If a request for a hearing is made, parties will be notified of the time and date for the hearing to be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.8

    7See 19 CFR 351.310(c).

    8Id.

    The Department intends to issue the final results of this administrative review, including the results of its analysis of the issues raised in any written briefs, no later than 120 days after the date of publication of this notice, pursuant to section 751(a)(3)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h), unless this deadline is extended.

    Assessment Rates

    Upon issuance of the final results, the Department shall determine, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review.9

    9See 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).

    We will instruct CBP to assess antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review if any importer-specific assessment rate calculated in the final results of this review is above de minimis. Where either the respondent's weighted-average dumping margin is zero or de minimis, or an importer-specific rate is zero or de minimis, we will instruct CBP to liquidate the appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties. For the company which was not selected for individual review (i.e., A-Madeus), we will assign an assessment rate based on the methodology described in the “Rate for Non-Selected Companies” section, above. 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.10

    10See section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act.

    We intend to issue liquidation instructions to CBP 15 days after publication of the final results of this review.

    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 each specific company listed above will be equal to the dumping margins established in the final results of this administrative review, unless the rate is less than 0.50 percent and, therefore, de minimis within the meaning of 19 CFR 351.106(c)(1), in which case the cash deposit rate will be zero; (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; (3) if the exporter is not a firm covered in this review, or the original investigation, but the manufacturer is, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for the most recently completed segment for the manufacturer of the merchandise; and (4) the cash deposit rate for all other manufacturers or exporters will continue to be 4.37 percent, the all-others rate determined in the less-than-fair-value investigation.11 These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    11See Narrow Woven Ribbons With Woven Selvedge From Taiwan and the People's Republic of China: Amended Antidumping Duty Orders, 75 FR 56982, 56985 (Sept. 17, 2010).

    Notification to Importers

    This notice also serves as a preliminary 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 to Interested Parties

    We are issuing and publishing these results in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum 1. Summary 2. Background 3. Scope of the Order 4. Discussion of the Methodology a. Normal Value Comparisons b. Determination of Comparison Method c. Results of Differential Pricing Analysis d. Product Comparisons e. Date of Sale f. Export Price g. Normal Value i. Home Market Viability ii. Level of Trade iii. Cost of Production Analysis iv. Calculation of Normal Value Based on Comparison Market Prices v. Calculation of Normal Value Based on Constructed Value h. Currency Conversion i. Rate for Non-Selected Companies 5. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2015-25571 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-533-843] Certain Lined Paper Products From India: Notice of Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is conducting an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on certain lined paper products (CLPP) from India.1 The period of review (POR) is September 1, 2013, through August 31, 2014.2 We preliminarily determine that during the POR, mandatory respondent Kokuyo Riddhi 3 made sales of subject merchandise at less than normal value (NV) and mandatory respondent SAB International (SAB) did not. Interested parties are invited to comment on these preliminary results.

    1See Notice of Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Certain Lined Paper Products from the People's Republic of China; Notice of Antidumping Duty Orders: Certain Lined Paper Products from India, Indonesia and the People's Republic of China; and Notice of Countervailing Duty Orders: Certain Lined Paper Products from India and Indonesia, 71 FR 56949 (September 28, 2006) (CLPP Order).

    2 The Department initiated the review with regard to seven companies: Kokuyo Riddhi Paper Products Private Limited (Kokuyo Riddhi), Marisa International (Marisa), Navneet Publications (India) Ltd./Navneet Education Limited (Navneet), Pioneer Stationery Private Limited (Pioneer), Riddhi Enterprises (Riddhi), SAB International (SAB), and Super Impex (AKA M/S Super Impex) (Super Impex). See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 79 FR 64565 (October 30, 2014). We subsequently rescinded the review for three companies: Marisa, Pioneer, and Super Impex. See Certain Lined Paper Products From India: Partial Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2013-2014, 80 FR 15553 (March 24, 2015).

    3 The Department has determined that Kokuyo Riddhi Paper Products Private Limited (Kokuyo Riddhi) is the successor-in-interest to Riddhi Enterprises. See Certain Lined Paper Products From India: Notice of Final Results of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances Review, 80 FR 18373 (April 6, 2015) (Final Results of CCR—Kokuyo Riddhi), and the accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum. Accordingly, we refer to Kokuyo Riddhi and Riddhi Enterprises as Kokuyo Riddhi in this review.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 7, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cindy Robinson or George McMahon, AD/CVD Operations, Office III, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington DC 20230; telephone (202) 482-3797 or (202) 482-1167, respectively.

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise covered by the CLPP Order is certain lined paper products. The merchandise subject to this order is currently classified under the following Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings: 4811.90.9035, 4811.90.9080, 4820.30.0040, 4810.22.5044, 4811.90.9050, 4811.90.9090, 4820.10.2010, 4820.10.2020, 4820.10.2030, 4820.10.2040, 4820.10.2050, 4820.10.2060, and 4820.10.4000. Although the HTSUS numbers are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written product description remains dispositive.4

    4 For a complete description of the Scope of the Order, see Memorandum from Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, to Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, “Decision Memorandum for Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review: Certain Lined Paper Products from India; 2013-2014” dated concurrently with these results and hereby adopted by this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this review in accordance with Section 751(a)(2) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). Export prices have been calculated in accordance with section 772 of the Act. Normal value has been calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act. Because we disregarded the below-cost sales of Kokuyo Riddhi in the most recent administrative review of these companies completed before the initiation of this review,5 we have reasonable grounds to believe or suspect that Kokuyo Riddhi's sales of the foreign like product under consideration for the determination of normal value in this review have been made at prices below the cost of production (COP). Accordingly, pursuant to section 773(b) of the Act, we have conducted a COP analysis of Kokuyo Riddhi's sales. Based on this test, we disregarded certain sales made by Kokuyo Riddhi in its comparison market which were made at below-cost prices.6

    5See Certain Lined Paper Products From India: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2010-2011, 78 FR 22232 (April 15, 2013), as amended in Certain Lined Paper Products from India: Notice of Correction to the Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2010-2011, 80 FR 29300 (May 21, 2015).

    6 On June 29, 2015, the President of the United States signed into law the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (TPEA), which made numerous amendments to the AD and countervailing duty law, including amendments to section 773(b)(2) of the Act, regarding the Department's requests for information on sales at less than cost of production. See Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-27, 129 Stat. 362 (2015) (TPEA). The 2015 law does not specify dates of application for those amendments. On August 6, 2015, the Department published an interpretative rule, in which it announced the applicability dates for each amendment to the Act, except for amendments contained to section 771(7) of the Act, which relate to determinations of material injury by the ITC. See Dates of Application of Amendments to the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Laws Made by the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, 80 FR 46793 (August 6, 2015). The amendments to section 773(b)(2) of the Act are applicable to determinations in which the complete initial questionnaire has not been issued as of August 6, 2015. Id., 80 FR at 46795. Because in this review questionnaires had been issued prior to the applicability date, these specific amendments do not apply to this review. Id., 80 FR at 46794-95. The 2015 amendments may be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1295/text/pl.

    For a full description of the methodology underlying our conclusions, please see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum. The Preliminary 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 (CRU), room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly on the Internet at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Preliminary Decision Memorandum and the electronic version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    Calculation of Normal Value Based on Constructed Value

    SAB reported that it made no sales to the home market.7 Pursuant to 773(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act, we examined SAB's third country sales and have determined that such sales do not constitute a viable comparison market (CM) within the meaning of section 773(a)(1)(B)(ii)(II) of the Act.8 Therefore, for these preliminary results, we relied on constructed value (CV) as the basis for calculating NV, in accordance with section 773(a)(4) and (e) of the Act.9

    7See SAB's Section A questionnaire response dated January 26, 2015 (SAB's Sec AQR) at Exhibit A-1 and page 2.

    8See SAB's Sec AQR; see also revised data in SAB's Section A-D supplemental questionnaire response dated April 27, 2015 at Exhibits S1-1 (a), Exhibits S1-1 (b), and the accompanying SAB's U.S. and Third Country sales database for sales during the POR.

    9See Preliminary Decision Memorandum at 12.

    Preliminary Results of the Review

    As a result of this review, we preliminarily determine the following weighted-average dumping margins for the POR:

    10 The margin for Navneet is the calculated weighted-average margin of Kokuyo Riddhi, the sole mandatory respondent receiving a margin that is above de minimis in these preliminary results. For further discussion, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum at the “Margin for Company Not Selected for Individual Examination” section.

    Producer/exporter Weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Kokuyo Riddhi Paper Products Private Limited (formerly known as Riddhi Enterprises) 11.77 SAB International de minimis Navneet Publications (India) Ltd./Navneet Education Limited 10 11.77
    Assessment Rate

    Upon issuance of the final results, the Department shall determine, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review. For any individually examined respondents whose weighted-average dumping margin is above de minimis, we will calculate importer-specific ad valorem duty assessment rates based on the ratio of the total amount of dumping calculated for the importer's examined sales to the total entered value of those same sales in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).11 We will instruct CBP to assess antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review when the importer-specific assessment rate calculated in the final results of this review is above de minimis (i.e., 0.50 percent). 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. 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 where applicable.

    11 In these preliminary results, the Department applied the assessment rate calculation method adopted in Antidumping Proceedings: Calculation of the Weighted-Average Dumping Margin and Assessment Rate in Certain Antidumping Proceedings: Final Modification, 77 FR 8101 (February 14, 2012).

    In accordance with the Department's “automatic assessment” practice, for entries of subject merchandise during the POR produced by each respondent for which they did not know that their merchandise was destined for the United States, 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).

    We intend to issue instructions to CBP 15 days after publication of the final results of this review.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash 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 publication date of the final results of this administrative review, as provided by section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) The cash deposit rate for Kokuyo Riddhi and SAB will be the rates 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 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 less-than-fair-value 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 3.91 percent, the all-others rate established in the investigation.

    Disclosure and Public Comment

    The Department intends to disclose to interested parties to this proceeding the calculations performed in connection with these preliminary results within five days after the date of publication of this notice.12 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(1)(ii), interested parties may submit case briefs not later than 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in the case briefs, may be filed not later than five days after the date for filing case briefs.13 Parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this proceeding are requested to submit with the argument: (1) A statement of the issue, (2) a brief summary of the argument, and (3) a table of authorities.14 All case and rebuttal briefs must be filed electronically using ACCESS, and must also be served on interested parties.15 An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by the Department's electronic records system, ACCESS, by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Executive summaries should be limited to five pages total, including footnotes.

    12See 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    13See 19 CFR 351.309(d).

    14See 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2).

    15See 19 CFR 351.303(f).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce. All documents must be filed electronically using ACCESS. An electronically-filed request must be received successfully in its entirety by ACCESS by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice.16 Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    16See 19 CFR 351.310(c).

    Unless the deadline is extended pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(B)(iv) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h)(2), the Department intends to issue the final results of this administrative review, including the results of our analysis of the issues raised by the parties in their case and rebuttal briefs, within 120 days after the publication of these preliminary results, pursuant to section 751(a)(3)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h).

    Notification to Importers

    This notice serves as a preliminary reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping and/or countervailing 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 and/or countervailing duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    These preliminary results of review are issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background A. Initiation of the Administrative Review B. Partial Rescission of the 2013-2014 Administrative Review C. Selection of Respondents for Individual Examination D. Kokuyo Riddhi E. SAB III. Scope of the Order IV. Discussion of Methodology A. Date of Sale B. Comparisons to Normal Value C. Product Comparisons D. Determination of the Comparison Method E. Results of the DP Analysis 1. Kokuyo Riddhi 2. SAB F. U.S. Price G. Normal Value 1. Home Market Viability and Comparison Market Selection 2. Kokuyo Riddhi 3. SAB 4. Level of Trade H. Cost of Production Analysis 1. Calculation of COP 2. Test of Comparison Market Prices and COP 3. Results of COP Test 4. Calculation of Normal Value Based on Comparison Market Prices 5. Calculation of Normal Value Based on Constructed Value I. Margin for Company Not Selected for Individual Examination J. Currency Conversion V. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2015-25572 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Notice of Intent To Conduct Scoping and To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wisconsin—Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary AGENCY:

    Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent to conduct scoping, hold public scoping meetings and to prepare a draft environmental impact statement and management plan.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with section 304(a) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), and based on the resources and boundaries described in the community-based nomination submitted to NOAA on December 2, 2014 (www.nominate.noaa.gov/nominations), NOAA is initiating a process to consider designating an area of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan as a national marine sanctuary. The designation process, as required by the NMSA, will be conducted concurrently with a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). This notice also informs the public that NOAA will coordinate its responsibilities under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470) with its ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.8(a), including the use of NEPA documents and public and stakeholder meetings to also meet the requirements of section 106. The public scoping process is intended to solicit information and comments on the range of issues and the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in an environmental impact statement related to designating this area as a national marine sanctuary. The results of this scoping process will assist NOAA in moving forward with the designation process and in formulating alternatives for the draft environmental impact statement and proposed regulations, including developing national marine sanctuary boundaries. It will also inform the initiation of any consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by January 15, 2016. Public scoping meetings will be held as detailed below:

    (1) Manitowoc, WI Date: November 17, 2015 Location: Wisconsin Maritime Museum Address: 75 Maritime Drive, Manitowoc, WI Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m. (2) Port Washington, WI Date: November 18, 2015 Location: Wilson House Address: 200 N. Franklin St., Port Washington, WI Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m. (3) Sheboygan, WI Date: November 19, 2015 Location: University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, Main Building, Wombat Room (Room 2114) Address: 1 University Drive, Sheboygan, WI Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m. ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov//#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2015-0112, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Ellen Brody, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator, 4840 S State Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48108-9719.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily submitted by the commenter will be publicly accessible. NOAA will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ellen Brody, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator, 734-741-2270, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The NMSA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to designate and protect as national marine sanctuaries areas of the marine environment that are of special national significance due to their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, cultural, archeological, educational, or esthetic qualities. Day-to-day management of national marine sanctuaries has been delegated by the Secretary to ONMS. The primary objective of the NMSA is to protect the biological and cultural resources of the sanctuary system, such as coral reefs, marine animals, historic shipwrecks, historic structures, and archaeological sites.

    The area being considered for designation as a national marine sanctuary is a region that includes 875 square miles of Lake Michigan waters and bottomlands adjacent to Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee counties and the cities of Port Washington, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, and Two Rivers. It includes 80 miles of shoreline and extends 9 to 14 miles from the shoreline. The area contains an extraordinary collection of submerged maritime heritage resources as demonstrated by the listing of 15 shipwrecks on the National Register of Historic Places. The area includes 39 known shipwrecks, 123 reported vessel losses, numerous other historic maritime-related features, and is adjacent to communities that have embraced their centuries-long relationship with Lake Michigan.

    This collection of shipwrecks is nationally significant because of the architectural and archaeological integrity of the shipwrecks, the representative nature of the sample of vessels, their location on one of the nation's most important transportation corridors, and the potential for the discovery of other shipwrecks and submerged pre-contact cultural sites. The historic shipwrecks are representative of the vessels that sailed and steamed this corridor, carrying grain and raw materials east as other vessels came west loaded with coal. Many of the shipwrecks retain an unusual degree of architectural integrity, with 15 vessels that are intact. NOAA encourages the public to review the full nomination at www.nominate.noaa.gov/nominations.

    II. Need for Action

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, on behalf of the State of Wisconsin; the Cities of Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Port Washington; the Counties of Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee submitted a nomination to NOAA on December 2, 2014 through the Sanctuary Nomination Process (SNP) (79 FR 33851) asking NOAA to consider designating this area of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters as a national marine sanctuary. The State of Wisconsin's selection of this geographic area for the nomination drew heavily from a 2008 report conducted by the Wisconsin History Society and funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (Wisconsin's Historic Shipwrecks: An Overview and Analysis of Locations for a State/Federal Partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Program, 2008). This report analyzed all Wisconsin shipwrecks in both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, concluding that the 875-square-mile area in the nomination had the best potential for a national marine sanctuary designation based on the national significance of the shipwrecks. The nomination also identified opportunities for NOAA to strengthen and expand on resource protection, education, and research programs by state of Wisconsin agencies and in the four communities along the Lake Michigan coast.

    NOAA is initiating the process to designate this area as a national marine sanctuary based on the nomination submitted to the agency as part of the SNP. NOAA's review of the nomination against the criteria and considerations of the SNP, including the requirement for broad-based community support indicated strong merit in proposing this area as a national marine sanctuary. NOAA completed its review of the nomination on February 5, 2015, and added the area to the inventory of nominations that are eligible for designation. Designation under the NMSA would allow NOAA to supplement and complement work by the State of Wisconsin and other federal agencies to protect this collection of nationally significant shipwrecks.

    III. Process

    The process for designating the Wisconsin-Lake Michigan area as a national marine sanctuary includes the following stages:

    1. Public Scoping Process— Information collection and characterization, including the consideration of public comments received during scoping;

    2. Preparation and release of draft designation documents including a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that identifies boundary alternatives, a draft management plan (DMP), as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to define proposed sanctuary regulations. Draft documents would be used to initiate consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate;

    3. Public review and comment on the DEIS, DMP and NPRM;

    4. Preparation and release of a final environmental impact statement, final management plan, including a response to public comments, with a final rule and regulations, if appropriate.

    With this notice, NOAA is initiating a public scoping process to:

    1. Gather information and public comments from individuals, organizations, and government agencies on the designation of the Wisconsin-Lake Michigan area as a national marine sanctuary based on the community-based nomination of December 2014, especially: (a) The spatial extent of the proposed boundary; and (b) the resources that would be protected;

    2. Help determine the scope and significance of issues to be addressed in the preparation of an environmental analysis under NEPA including socioeconomic impacts of designation, effects of designation on cultural and biological resources, and threats to resources within the proposed area;

    3. Help determine the proposed action and possible alternatives pursuant to NEPA and to conduct any appropriate consultations.

    IV. Consultation Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

    This notice confirms that NOAA will fulfill its responsibility under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) through the ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.8(a) including the use of NEPA documents and public and stakeholder meetings to meet the section 106 requirements. The NHPA specifically applies to any agency undertaking that may affect historic properties. Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.16(1)(1), historic properties includes: “any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure or object included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the Secretary of the Interior. The term includes artifacts, records, and remains that are related to and located within such properties. The term includes properties of traditional religious and cultural importance to an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and that meet the National Register criteria.”

    In fulfilling its responsibility under the NHPA and NEPA, NOAA intends to identify consulting parties; identify historic properties and assess the effects of the undertaking on such properties; initiate formal consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, and other consulting parties; involve the public in accordance with NOAA's NEPA procedures, and develop in consultation with identified consulting parties alternatives and proposed measures that might avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties and describe them in any environmental assessment or draft environmental impact statement.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq

    Dated: September 30, 2015. John Armor, Acting Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25509 Filed 10-5-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XS35 Marine Mammals; File No. 14450 AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of permit amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that a major amendment to Permit No. 14450-03 has been issued to the National Marine Fisheries Service's Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC), 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL 33149 [Responsible Party: Bonnie Ponwith, Ph.D.].

    ADDRESSES:

    The permit amendment and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following offices: Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer Skidmore or Amy Hapeman, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 9, 2015, notice was published in the Federal Register (80 FR 39411) that a request for an amendment to Permit No. 14450-02 to conduct research on cetaceans had been submitted by the above-named applicant. The requested permit amendment has been issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216).

    The permit amendment authorizes takes by harassment of non-ESA listed cetaceans during vessel surveys to support NMFS stock assessments as follows: 40 Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni), 40 of each species of short-finned (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and long-finned (G. melas) pilot whales, and 20 individuals each of the 21 other authorized non-listed cetacean species, annually. Tags would be either suction cup attachments or minimally invasive dart attachments. A maximum of 2 tags could be placed on an animal at one time. Adults of both sexes without calves would be tagged. In addition, import and export of marine mammal samples from sources, other than current biopsy sampling, is authorized. The permit expires on February 28, 2019.

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), a final determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

    Dated: October 1, 2015. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25502 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE230 Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; Horseshoe Crabs; Application for Exempted Fishing Permit, 2015 AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notification of a proposal to conduct exempted fishing; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, has made a preliminary determination that the subject exempted fishing permit (EFP) application submitted by Limuli Laboratories of Cape May Court House, NJ, contains all the required information and warrants further consideration. The proposed EFP would allow the harvest of up to 10,000 horseshoe crabs from the Carl N. Shuster Jr. Horseshoe Crab Reserve (Reserve) for biomedical purposes and require, as a condition of the EFP, the collection of data related to the status of horseshoe crabs within the reserve. The Director has also made a preliminary determination that the activities authorized under the EFP would be consistent with the goals and objectives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (Commission) Horseshoe Crab Interstate Fisheries Management Plan (FMP). However, further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, proposes to recommend that an EFP be issued that would allow up to two commercial fishing vessels to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations promulgated under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (Atlantic Coastal Act). The EFP would allow for an exemption from the Reserve.

    Regulations under the Atlantic Coastal Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed EFPs.

    DATES:

    Written comments on this action must be received on or before October 19, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments should be sent to Alan Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13362, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Mark the outside of the envelope “Comments on Horseshoe Crab EFP Proposal.” Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 713-0596. Comments on this notice may also be submitted by email to: [email protected]. Include in the subject line of the email comment the following document identifier: “Horseshoe Crab EFP Proposal Comments.”

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Derek Orner, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, (301) 427-8567.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Limuli Laboratories submitted an application for an EFP dated January 31, 2014, to collect up to 10,000 horseshoe crabs for biomedical and data collection purposes from the Reserve. The applicant has applied for, and received, a similar EFP every year from 2001-2013. The current EFP application specifies that: (1) The same methods would be used that were used in years 2001-2013, (2) at least 15 percent of the bled horseshoe crabs would be tagged, and (3) there had not been any sighting or capture of marine mammals or endangered species in the trawling nets of fishing vessels engaged in the collection of horseshoe crabs since 1993. The project submitted by Limuli Laboratories would provide morphological data on horseshoe crab catch, would tag a portion of the caught horseshoe crabs, and would use the blood from the caught horseshoe crabs to manufacture Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL), an important health and safety product used for the detection of endotoxins. The LAL assay is used by medical professionals, drug companies, and pharmacies to detect endotoxins in intravenous pharmaceuticals and medical devices that come into contact with human blood or spinal fluid.

    Result of 2013 EFP

    During the 2013 season, a total of 3,500 horseshoe crabs were gathered over a period of ten days, from the Reserve for the manufacture of LAL. After transportation to the laboratory, the horseshoe crabs were inspected for size, injuries, and responsiveness. The injured horseshoe crabs numbered 272, or 7.8% of the total, while 36, or 1.0%, were noted as slow moving. In addition, three horseshoe crabs were rejected due to small size. Overall, 3,189 horseshoe crabs were used (bled) in the manufacture of LAL. Two hundred of the bled horseshoe crabs were randomly selected for activity, morphometric and aging studies. The activity level was categorized as “active” for 192 studied animals and “extremely active” for eight. Morphometric studies noted that average inter-ocular distances, the prosoma widths and the weights of these 200 horseshoe crabs trended toward the higher end of the range established over the study period (2001-2011). Of the 200 horseshoe crabs examined in 2013, more than half (57%) were categorized as medium aged followed by young (37%). Older animals numbered 10 or 5% which is much less than the percentages reported in 2010 and 2011 and similar to the 2007 year.

    The 200 studied horseshoe crabs and 325 additional bled horseshoe crabs were tagged and released into the Delaware Bay. To date, 116 live re-sightings have occurred from the release of 5,463 horseshoe crabs collected from the Reserve. The observed horseshoe crabs were found 1 to 8 years after release, primarily along the Delaware Bay shores during their spawning season.

    Data collected under previous EFPs were supplied to NMFS, the Commission and the State of New Jersey. There was no EFP issued for 2014.

    Proposed 2015 EFP

    Limuli Laboratories proposes to conduct an exempted fishery operation in 2015 using the same means, methods, and seasons proposed/utilized during the EFPs in 2001-2013. Limuli proposes to annually continue to tag at least 15 percent of the bled horseshoe crabs as they did in 2013. NMFS would require that the following terms and conditions be met for issuance of the EFP for 2015:

    1. Limiting the number of horseshoe crabs collected in the Reserve to no more than 500 crabs per day and to a total of no more than 10,000 crabs per year;

    2. Requiring collections to take place over a total of approximately 20 days during the months of July, August, September, October, and November. (Horseshoe crabs are readily available in harvestable concentrations nearshore earlier in the year, and offshore in the Reserve from July through November.);

    3. Requiring that a 51/2 inch (14.0 cm) flounder net be used by the vessel to collect the horseshoe crabs. This condition would allow for continuation of traditional harvest gear and adds to the consistency in the way horseshoe crabs are harvested for data collection;

    4. Limiting trawl tow times to 30 minutes as a conservation measure to protect sea turtles, which are expected to be migrating through the area during the collection period, and are vulnerable to bottom trawling;

    5. Requiring that the collected horseshoe crabs be picked up from the fishing vessels at docks in the Cape May Area and transported to local laboratories, bled for LAL, and released alive the following morning into the Lower Delaware Bay; and

    6. Requiring that any turtle take be reported to NMFS, Northeast Region, Assistant Regional Administrator of Protected Resources Division, within 24 hours of returning from the trip in which the incidental take occurred.

    As part of the terms and conditions of the EFP, for all horseshoe crabs bled for LAL, NMFS would require that the EFP holder provide data annually on sex ratio and daily harvest. Also, the EFP holder would be required to examine at least 200 horseshoe crabs annually for morphometric data. Terms and conditions may be added or amended prior to the issuance of the EFP or on an annual basis.

    The proposed EFP would exempt two commercial vessels from regulations at 50 CFR 697.7(e) and 697.23(f), which prohibit the harvest and possession of horseshoe crabs from the Reserve on a vessel with a trawl or dredge gear aboard.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 2, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25540 Filed 10-6-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Mallows Bay—Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary AGENCY:

    Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent to conduct scoping, hold public scoping meetings and to prepare a draft environmental impact statement and management plan.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with section 304(a) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) and based on the resources and boundaries described in the community-based nomination submitted to NOAA on September 16, 2014 (nominate.noaa.gov/nominations) NOAA is initiating a process to consider designating Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary. The designation process, as required by the NMSA, will be conducted concurrently with a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). This notice also informs the public that NOAA will coordinate its responsibilities under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470) with its ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.8(a), including the use of NEPA documents and public and stakeholder meetings to also meet the requirements of section 106. The public scoping process is intended to solicit information and comments on the range of issues and the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in an environmental impact statement related to designating this area as a national marine sanctuary. The results of this scoping process will assist NOAA in moving forward with the designation process and in formulating alternatives for the draft environmental impact statement and proposed regulations, including developing sanctuary boundaries. It will also inform the initiation of any consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by January 15, 2016. Public scoping meetings will be held as detailed below:

    (1) La Plata, MD Date: November 4, 2015 Location: Charles County Government Building Auditorium Address: 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, MD Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m. (2) Annapolis, MD Date: November 10, 2015 Location: Annapolis Maritime Museum Address: 723 Second Street, Annapolis, MD Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m. ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2015-0111, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Paul Orlando, Regional Coordinator, Northeast and Great Lakes Region, 410 Severn Ave, Suite 207-A, Annapolis MD 21403.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily submitted by the commenter will be publicly accessible. NOAA will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paul Orlando, Regional Coordinator, Northeast and Great Lakes Region, (240) 460-1978, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    The NMSA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to designate and protect as national marine sanctuaries areas of the marine environment that are of special national significance due to their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, cultural, archeological, educational, or esthetic qualities. Day-to-day management of national marine sanctuaries has been delegated by the Secretary to ONMS. The primary objective of the NMSA is to protect the biological and cultural resources of the sanctuary system, such as coral reefs, marine animals, historical shipwrecks, historic structures, and archaeological sites.

    The Mallows Bay area of the tidal Potomac River being considered for designation as a national marine sanctuary is an area 40 miles south of Washington, DC off the Nanjemoy Peninsula of Charles County, MD. The area includes submerged lands along the Potomac River that begin at the mean high tide water mark off Sandy Point and extend westward to the low water line just east of the Maryland-Virginia border near Clifton Point, VA. From there, the area extends southward following the Maryland-Virginia border to Brent's Point, VA. It then extends northeast to Smith Point, MD and follows the low water mark north along the Maryland shoreline back to Sandy Point. This area includes the waters of Wades Bay, Blue Banks, Mallows Bay, Liverpool Cove and the Mallows Bay “Burning Basin” as far east as the egress for Marlow Creek into the basin itself.

    This is an area of national significance featuring unique historical, archaeological, cultural, ecological, and esthetic resources and qualities, which offer opportunities for conservation, education, recreation, and research. Its maritime landscape is home to a diverse collection of historic shipwrecks from the Revolutionary War through the present, totaling nearly 200 known vessels including the remains of the largest “Ghost Fleet” of World War I, wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet.

    The area's archaeological and cultural resources cover centuries of history from the earliest American Indian presence in the region circa 12,000 years ago to the roles that this area played in the Revolutionary, Civil and two World Wars, as well as in successive regimes of Potomac fishing industries. Its largely undeveloped landscape and waterscape have been identified as one of the most ecologically valuable areas in Maryland, providing important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened and endangered species. NOAA encourages the public to review the full nomination at www.nominate.noaa.gov/nominations.

    II. Need for action

    On September 16, 2014, pursuant to Section 304 of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Sanctuary Nomination Process (79 FR 33851), a coalition of community groups submitted a nomination asking NOAA to designate Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary. The nomination cited conservation goals to protect and conserve the fragile remains of the Nation's cultural heritage as well as the opportunities to expand public access, recreation, tourism, research, and education to the area.

    The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland Department of Tourism, and Charles County, MD, have worked together with community partners to initiate additional conservation and compatible public access strategies in and around Mallows Bay, consistent with numerous planning and implementation documents. In 2010, DNR purchased a portion of land adjacent to Mallows Bay and made it available to Charles County to create and manage Mallows Bay County Park, the main launch point for access to the historic shipwrecks. Pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, Maryland Historical Trust has stewardship and oversight responsibility for the shipwrecks, along with hundreds of other historic sites around the state. Maryland DNR manages the waterbody and associated ecosystem resources, including land use, resource conservation and extraction activities. The lands on either side of Mallows Bay County Park are held by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management and a private citizen.

    DNR and the Mallows Bay Steering Committee convened a committee to discuss the concept of a national marine sanctuary and ultimately to develop the nomination that was submitted to NOAA. The committee, which represented a broad base of constituency groups, employed a consensus-based process to discuss a variety of issues, considerations, and priorities leading up to the nomination. The nomination was endorsed by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, regional and national levels including elected officials, businesses, Native Americans, environmental, recreation, conservation, fishing, tourism, museums, historical societies, and education groups. The nomination identified opportunities for NOAA to protect, study, interpret, and manage the area's unique resources, including by building on existing local, county, and State of Maryland efforts to manage the area for the protection of shipwrecks.

    NOAA is initiating the process to designate this area as a national marine sanctuary based on the nomination submitted to the agency as part of the Sanctuary Nomination Process (SNP). NOAA's review of the nomination against the criteria and considerations of the SNP, including the requirement for broad-based community support indicated strong merit in proposing this area as a national marine sanctuary. NOAA completed its review of the nomination in accordance with the Sanctuary Nomination Process and on January 12, 2015 added the area to the inventory of nominations that are eligible for designation. Designation under the NMSA would allow NOAA to supplement and complement work by the State of Maryland and other federal agencies to protect this collection of nationally significant shipwrecks.

    III. Process

    The process for designating Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary includes the following stages:

    1. Public Scoping Process—Information collection and characterization, including the consideration of public comments received during scoping;

    2. Preparation and release of draft designation documents including a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that identifies boundary alternatives, a draft management plan (DMP), as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to define proposed sanctuary regulations. Draft documents would be used to initiate consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate;

    3. Public review and comment on the DEIS, DMP, and NPRM;

    4. Preparation and release of a final environmental impact statement, final management plan, including a response to public comments, with a final rule and regulations, if appropriate.

    With this notice, NOAA is initiating a public scoping process to:

    1. Gather information and public comments from individuals, organizations, and government agencies on the designation of Mallows Bay—Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary based on the community-based nomination of September 2014, especially: a) the spatial extent of the proposed boundary; and b) the resources that would be protected;

    2. Help determine the scope and significance of issues to be addressed in the preparation of an environmental analysis under NEPA including socioeconomic impacts of designation, effects of designation on cultural and biological resources, and threats to resources within the proposed area;

    3. Help determine the proposed action and possible alternatives pursuant to NEPA and to conduct any appropriate consultations.

    IV. Consultation Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

    This notice confirms that NOAA will fulfill its responsibility under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) through the ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.8(a) including the use of NEPA documents and public and stakeholder meetings to meet the section 106 requirements. The NHPA specifically applies to any agency undertaking that may affect historic properties. Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.16(1)(1), historic properties includes: “any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure or object included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the Secretary of the Interior. The term includes artifacts, records, and remains that are related to and located within such properties. The term includes properties of traditional religious and cultural importance to an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and that meet the National Register criteria.” In fulfilling its responsibility under the NHPA and NEPA, NOAA intends to identify consulting parties; identify historic properties and assess the effects of the undertaking on such properties; initiate formal consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, and other consulting parties; involve the public in accordance with NOAA's NEPA procedures, and develop in consultation with identified consulting parties alternatives and proposed measures that might avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties and describe them in any environmental assessment or draft environmental impact statement.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. John Armor, Acting Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
    [FR Doc. 2015-25510 Filed 10-5-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE069 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements Project AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) to incidentally harass four species of marine mammals during activities related to the reconstruction of the existing ferry terminal at Pier 1 in Kodiak, AK.

    DATES:

    This authorization is effective from September 30, 2015, through September 29, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Pauline, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability

    An electronic copy of DOT&PF's application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process by which citizens of the U.S. can apply for an authorization to incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment. Section 101(a)(5)(D) establishes a 45-day time limit for NMFS' review of an application followed by a 30-day public notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental harassment of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny the authorization. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as “any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].”

    Summary of Request

    On March 27, 2015, NMFS received an application from the DOT&PF for the taking of marine mammals incidental to reconstructing the existing ferry terminal at Pier 1 in Kodiak, Alaska, referred to as the Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements project (State Project Number 68938). On June 18, 2015 NMFS received a revised application. NMFS determined that the application was adequate and complete on June 25, 2015. DOT&PF proposed to conduct in-water work that may incidentally harass marine mammals (i.e., pile driving and removal). This IHA is valid from September 30, 2015 through September 29, 2016.

    Activities included as part of the Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements project (Pier 1 project) with potential to affect marine mammals include vibratory and impact pile-driving operations and use of a down-the-hole (DTH) drill/hammer to install piles in bedrock. The use of impact and vibratory pile driving as well as DTH drilling is expected to produce underwater sound at levels that have the potential to result in limited injury and behavioral harassment of marine mammals. Species with the expected potential to be present during the project timeframe include transient killer whale (Orcinus orca), western distinct population segment (wDPS) of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus jubatus), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii).

    Description of the Specified Activity Overview

    DOT&PF requested an IHA for work that includes removal of the old timber dock and piles and installation of the new dock, including mooring and fender systems. The existing decking, piles, and other dock materials will be removed. Temporary steel H-piles will be installed to support temporary false work structures (i.e., templates). The new dock will be supported by steel piles, and dock fenders will include steel piles and timber piles.

    Dates and Duration

    Pile installation and extraction associated with the Pier 1 project will begin no sooner than September 30, 2015 and will be completed no later than September 29, 2016 (1 year following IHA issuance). To minimize impacts to pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) fry and coho salmon (O. kisutch) smolt, all in-water pile extraction and installation is planned to be completed by April 30, 2016. If work cannot be completed by April 30, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) recommended that the DOT&PF refrain from impact pile installation without a bubble curtain from May 1 through June 30 within the 12-hour period beginning daily at the start of civil dawn (Marie 2015). ADF&G stated that this is the daily time period when the majority of juvenile salmon are moving through the project area, and a 12-hour quiet period may protect migrating juvenile salmon from excessive noise (Frost 2015). Impact pile installation would be acceptable without a bubble curtain from May 1 through June 30 in the evenings, beginning at 12 hours past civil dawn (Marie 2015). At this time, DOT&PF does not propose using bubble curtains. However, it is possible that in-water work may extend past April 30 in compliance with the mitigation for salmon as recommended by ADF&G.

    The Kodiak Pier 1 Project is estimated to require 120 total days of in-water pile extraction and installation construction work, which includes vibratory driving, impact driving, and down-hole drilling. The total number of in-water pile extraction and installation days (120 days) includes approximately 80 days of vibratory pile extraction and installation, 22 days of impact hammering, and 60 days of down-hole drilling. The 22 days of impact hammering are subsumed within the same 80 days during which extraction and installation will occur. The construction schedule assumes that approximately 20 days of drilling will overlap with impact and vibratory pile driving activities. The project will require an estimated 60 hours of vibratory hammer time, 440 hours of down-hole drilling time, and 2 hours of impact hammer time. DOT&PF has conservatively added a contingency of 25% to the total hours required resulting in 75 hours of vibratory hammer time, 550 hours of down-hole drilling time, and 3 hours of impact hammer time.

    Specific Geographic Region

    The Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock at Pier 1 is located in the City of Kodiak, Alaska, at 57°47′12.78″ N., 152°24′09.73″ W., on the northeastern corner of Kodiak Island, in the Gulf of Alaska. Pier 1 is an active ferry terminal and multi-use dock located in Near Island Channel, which separates downtown Kodiak from Near Island.

    Detailed Description of Activities

    We provided a description of the proposed action in our Federal Register notice announcing the proposed authorization (80 FR 51211; August 24, 2015). Please refer to that document; we provide only summary information here.

    DOT&PF plans to construct a new ferry terminal at Pier 1 in Kodiak. The project includes the removal of 196 timber piles and 14 steel piles using a vibratory hammer, crane, and/or clamshell bucket. DOT&PF would install and remove 88 temporary steel pipe or H-piles using a vibratory hammer; install 8 16-in timber and 10 18-in steel piles using a vibratory hammer, and install 88 24-in steel piles using a vibratory hammer, down-hole drill/hammer, and impact hammer. The activities are expected to take place over 120 days, weather permitting. DOT&PF would limit pile driving and removal activities to daylight hours only, however, drilling, would not be limited to daylight hours.

    Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue an IHA was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2015 (80 FR 51211). During the 30-day public comment period, the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) submitted a letter. The letter is available on the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. All comments specific to the DOT&PF's application that address the statutory and regulatory requirements or findings NMFS must make to issue an IHA are addressed in this section of the Federal Register notice.

    Comment 1: The Commission recommended that NMFS require AK DOT to (1) re-estimate the Level A and B harassment zones for both vibratory and impact pile driving of the various types of piles based on a 15 log R transmission loss value and/or a Level B harassment threshold of 120-dB re 1 µPa threshold for vibratory pile driving and (2) conduct monitoring of those revised zones rather than the zones stipulated in the Federal Register notice.

    Response: While we agree generally with the Commission's points, we feel that the deviations from standard practice are supportable. As such, we elect to use transmission loss values based on 18logR for vibratory pile driving and 17logR for impact pile driving while noting that the Alaska Regional Office agreed with our ZOI calculations and used the same methods in their analysis pursuant to section 7 of the ESA. The Commission acknowledges that these issues do not affect the estimated number of takes authorized, and recommends simply that we require DOT&PF to re-estimate the ZOIs and conduct monitoring of the revised zones rather than those stipulated in our notice of proposed authorization. We partially concur with the Commission's recommendation and will require DOT&PF to monitor the revised ZOIs, with the exception of the larger ZOI associated with vibratory driving. The project site is located in a narrowly constrained water body, and local topography and existing structures make it unlikely that the actual insonified area would exceed that estimated in our notice of proposed authorization. We therefore retain that ZOI in the IHA. NMFS appreciates the Commissions concerns and will encourage future applicants to utilize NMFS' methodologies when measuring ambient sound levels for incorporation into future IHA applications.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    There are four marine mammal species known to occur in the vicinity of the project area which may be subjected to Level A and Level B harassment. These are the killer whale, Steller sea lion, harbor porpoise, and harbor seal.

    We have reviewed DOT&PF's detailed species descriptions, including life history information, for accuracy and completeness and refer the reader to Section 3 of DOT&PF's application as well as the proposed incidental harassment authorization published in the Federal Register (80 FR 51211) instead of reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals) for generalized species accounts which provide information regarding the biology and behavior of the marine resources that occur in the vicinity of the project area. We provided additional information for the potentially affected stocks, including details of stock-wide status, trends, and threats, in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (80 FR 51211).

    Table 1 lists marine mammal stocks that could occur in the vicinity of the existing ferry terminal at Pier 1that may be subject to Level A and B harassment and summarizes key information regarding stock status and abundance. Please see NMFS' Stock Assessment Reports (SAR), available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, for more detailed accounts of these stocks' status and abundance.

    Table 1—Marine Mammal Species Potentially Present in the Project Area Species Stock(s)
  • abundance
  • estimate 1
  • ESA* status MMPA**
  • status
  • Frequency of
  • occurrence
  • Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Eastern N. Pacific, Alaska Resident Stock 2,347 Non-depleted Occasional. Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
  • Eastern N. Pacific, Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient Stock
  • 587 Non-depleted Occasional.
    Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) Gulf of Alaska Stock 31,046 Non-depleted and Strategic Occasional. Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus) wDPS Stock 52,200 Endangered Depleted and
  • Strategic
  • Common.
    Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) South Kodiak Stock 11,117 Non-depleted Occasional. 1 NOAA/NMFS 2014 marine mammal stock assessment reports at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/species.htm. *ESA = Endangered Species Act **MMPA = Marine Mammal Protection Act
    Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals

    The Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (80 FR 51211) provides a general background on sound relevant to the specified activity as well as a detailed description of marine mammal hearing and of the potential effects of these construction activities on marine mammals, and is not repeated here.

    Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    We described potential impacts to marine mammal habitat in detail in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization. In summary, the project activities would not modify existing marine mammal habitat. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range. Because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations

    Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, “and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking” for certain subsistence uses.

    Measurements from similar pile driving events were utilized to estimate zones of influence (ZOI; see “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment”). ZOIs are often used to establish a mitigation zone around each pile (when deemed practicable) to identify where Level A harassment to marine mammals may occur, and also provide estimates of the areas Level B harassment zones. ZOIs may vary between different diameter piles and types of installation methods. DOT&PF will employ the following mitigation measures:

    (a) Conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and DOT&PF's staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

    (b) For in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving (using, e.g., standard barges, tug boats, barge-mounted excavators, or clamshell equipment used to place or remove material), if a marine mammal comes within 10 m, operations shall cease and vessels shall reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions. This type of work could include the following activities: (1) Movement of the barge to the pile location or (2) positioning of the pile on the substrate via a crane (i.e., stabbing the pile).

    (c) Utilize pile caps when impact driving is underway.

    Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving

    The following measures apply to DOT&PF's mitigation through shutdown and disturbance zones:

    Shutdown Zone—For all pile driving activities, the DOT&PF's will establish a shutdown zone. Shutdown zones are intended to contain the area within which shutdown of activity would occur upon sighting of a marine mammal (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus preventing injury of marine mammals. A conservative 4-meter shutdown zone will be in effect for Steller sea lions and harbor seals. Note that pile driving operations do not need to shut down if Steller sea lions are observed in the Shutdown zone. Occurrences of sea lions in that zone will be recorded as Level A takes. The shutdown zone for harbor porpoises and killer whales will be 20 meters. DOT&PF, would also implement a minimum shutdown zone of 10 m radius for all marine mammals for in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving. These precautionary measures are intended to further reduce the unlikely possibility of injury from direct physical interaction with construction operations.

    Disturbance Zone—The disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting incidents of Level B harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see “Proposed Monitoring and Reporting”). Nominal radial distances for disturbance zones are shown in Table 2.

    During impact driving, the disturbance zone shall extend to 350 meters for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and killer whales. This 350-meter distance will serve as a shutdown zone for all other marine mammals for which take is not authorized (e.g. humpback whale, Dall's porpoise, gray whale, fin whale, or any other) to avoid Level B take. Level B take of humpback whales, Dall's porpoises, gray whales, and fin whales is not requested and will be avoided by shutting down before individuals of these species enter the Level B zone.

    During vibratory pile installation and removal, the disturbance zone shall extend to 1,150 meters for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and killer whales. This distance will also serve as a shutdown zone for all other marine mammals for which take is not authorized to avoid Level B take.

    During DTH drilling, the disturbance zone shall extend to 300meters for species for which take is authorized. This distance will serve as a shutdown zone for all other marine mammals for which take is not authorized to avoid Level B take. Note that per request from the applicant we considered additional information for purposes of developing an appropriate DTH monitoring zone. Our findings are based on 2015 hydroacoustic monitoring conducted near Pier 3 in Kodiak provided recent sound source level values (PND 2015). We considered this the best available information for DTH proxy source levels and used it to derive the DTH disturbance zone radius for this project. This change has no effect on estimated take levels associated with DTH drilling.

    Thresholds for Level A and Level B harassment are shown in Table 2.

    Table 2—Minimum Radial Distance to Shutdown and Disturbance Zones Method Level A Pinnipeds Cetaceans Level B Pinnipeds and cetaceans Vibratory hammer 1150 m Down-hole Drill (continuous) 300 m Impact hammer (all with Caps) 4 20 350 m

    Time Restrictions—For all in-water pile driving activities, the DOT&PF shall operate up to a maximum of 10 hours per day, which allows time for twilight operations during shortened winter days.

    In order to document observed incidents of harassment, observers record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The observer's location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from the pile and the estimated ZOIs for relevant activities (i.e., pile installation and removal). This information may then be used to extrapolate observed takes to reach an approximate understanding of actual total takes.

    Ramp Up or Soft Start—The use of a soft start procedure is believed to provide additional protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity, and typically involves a requirement to initiate sound from the hammer at reduced energy followed by a waiting period. This procedure is repeated two additional times. It is difficult to specify the reduction in energy for any given hammer because of variation across drivers. The project will utilize soft start techniques for all vibratory and impact pile driving. We require the DOT&PF to initiate sound from vibratory hammers for fifteen seconds at reduced energy followed by a 1-minute waiting period, with the procedure repeated two additional times. For impact driving, we require an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a 1-minute waiting period, then two subsequent three strike sets. Soft start will be required at the beginning of each day's pile driving work and at any time following a cessation of pile driving of 30 minutes or longer.

    If a marine mammal is present within the Level A harassment zone, ramping up will be delayed until the animal(s) leaves the Level A harassment zone. Activity will begin only after the Wildlife Observer has determined, through sighting, that the animal(s) has moved outside the Level A harassment zone or 15 minutes have passed for small odontocetes and pinnipeds and 30 minutes have passed for large and medium-sized whales, including killer whales, without re-detection of the animal.

    If a Steller sea lion, harbor seal, harbor porpoise, or killer whale is present in the Level B harassment zone, ramping up will begin and a Level B take will be documented. Ramping up will occur when these species are in the Level B harassment zone whether they entered the Level B zone from the Level A zone, or from outside the project area.

    If any marine mammal other than Steller sea lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoises, or killer whales is present in the Level B harassment zone, ramping up will be delayed until the animal(s) leaves the zone. Ramping up will begin only after the Wildlife Observer has determined, through sighting, that the animal(s) has moved outside the harassment zone or 15 minutes have passed for small odontocetes and pinnipeds and 30 minutes have passed for large and medium-sized whales without re-detection of the animal.

    Monitoring

    Monitoring Protocols—Monitoring would be conducted before, during, and after pile driving. In addition, observers shall record all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with distance from piles being driven. Observations made outside the shutdown zone will not result in shutdown and that pile segment would be completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, at which point all pile driving activities would be halted. Monitoring will take place from thirty minutes prior to initiation through thirty minutes post-completion of pile driving activities. Pile driving activities include the time to remove a single pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes.

    The following additional measures apply to visual monitoring:

    (1) Monitoring will be conducted by at least two qualified observers, who will be stationed to provide adequate view of the harassment zone mammals. One observer will be stationed on Pier 1 while a second observer may be located on Near Island or another site offering optimal viewing. Observers must be in a location that allows them to implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. Monitoring will take place from 30 minutes prior to initiation through 30 minutes post-completion of pile driving activities.

    Qualified observers are trained biologists, with the following minimum qualifications:

    (a) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target;

    (b) Education, training, or suitable combination thereof in biological science, wildlife management, mammalogy or related fields. Observers should have field experience in identification and behavior of marine mammals and project-specific training.

    (c) Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience);

    (d) Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors;

    (e) Experience or training in protocols to communicate with contractors and operators, including shut down procedures.

    (f) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary

    (g) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations;

    (h) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown zone; and marine mammal behavior; and

    (g) Must read and understand the monitoring plan and the IHA; agree to enforce the conditions presented therein, be able to coordinate and communicate with other personnel, and identify and report incidental harassment of marine mammals.

    (h) Have no other project-related responsibility other than marine mammal monitoring, documentation, and reporting during observation periods.

    (2) Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone will be monitored for 30 minutes to ensure that it is clear of marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals; animals will be allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own volition) and their behavior will be monitored and documented. The shutdown zone may only be declared clear, and pile driving started, when the entire shutdown zone is visible (i.e., when not obscured by dark, rain, fog, etc.).

    If waters exceed a sea-state which restricts the observers' ability to make observations within the marine mammal shutdown zone (e.g. excessive wind or fog), pile installation will cease. Pile driving will not be initiated until the entire shutdown zone is visible.

    The waters will be scanned 30 minutes prior to commencing pile driving at the beginning of each day, prior to commencing pile driving after any stoppage of 30 minutes or greater, and 30 minutes after driving operations have ceased for the day. If marine mammals enter or are observed within the designated marine mammal shutdown zone during or 30 minutes prior to pile driving, the monitors will notify the on-site construction manager to not begin until the animal has moved outside the designated radius.

    If any marine mammal species are encountered during activities that are not listed in Table 1 for authorized taking and are likely to be exposed to sound pressure levels (SPLs) greater than or equal to 120 dB re 1mPa (rms), then the Holder of this Authorization must stop pile driving activities and report observations to NMFS' Office of Protected Resources.

    If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone during the course of vibratory pile driving operations, activity will be halted and delayed until he animal has voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone. If a marine mammal is seen above water and then dives below, the contractor would wait 15 minutes for pinnipeds and 30 minutes for cetaceans. If no marine mammals are seen by the observer in that time it will be assumed that the animal has moved beyond the exclusion zone.

    Monitoring will be conducted throughout the time required to drive a pile. Marine mammal presence within