Federal Register Vol. 80, No.204,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 204 (October 22, 2015)

Page Range63889-64304
FR Document

80_FR_204
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 64303 - National Forest Products Week, 2015PDF
80 FR 64299 - National Character Counts Week, 2015PDF
80 FR 63996 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 64030 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 64038 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 63975 - Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria-Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected YouthPDF
80 FR 63957 - Subsidy Programs Provided by Countries Exporting Softwood Lumber and Softwood Lumber Products to the United States; Request for CommentPDF
80 FR 63911 - Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2016PDF
80 FR 63916 - Special Local Regulation for Battle of Hampton; Hampton River, Hampton, VAPDF
80 FR 63923 - Safety Zone; Mississippi River Between Mile 467.0 and 472.0; Transylvania, LAPDF
80 FR 63918 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; English Kills, Brooklyn, NYPDF
80 FR 63926 - Safety Zone; Mississippi River Between Mile 488.0 and 480.5; Lake Providence, LAPDF
80 FR 63921 - Safety Zone; Pago Pago Harbor, American SamoaPDF
80 FR 63974 - National Board for Education SciencesPDF
80 FR 63889 - Defining Bona Fide Cotton Spot Markets for the World Cotton Futures ContractPDF
80 FR 63909 - Soybean Promotion and Research: Amend the Order To Adjust Representation on the United Soybean BoardPDF
80 FR 64010 - Filing of Plats of Survey: Oregon/WashingtonPDF
80 FR 64060 - Application To Renew Information Collection Request OMB No. 2105-0551PDF
80 FR 64061 - West Los Angeles VA Medical Center; Preliminary Draft Final Master Plan-Public Comment PeriodPDF
80 FR 63935 - Amendments to Regional Consistency RegulationsPDF
80 FR 64002 - Sunshine Act; Notice of ETAC MeetingPDF
80 FR 64022 - Request for Comments on Circular No. A-130, Managing Information as a Strategic ResourcePDF
80 FR 63995 - Administrative Agreement and Order on Consent for Post Removal Site Control Activities by Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser: Rocky Flats Industrial Park Superfund Site, Jefferson County, ColoradoPDF
80 FR 63994 - Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Chemical Safety for Sustainability Subcommittee; Public Teleconference Meeting-November 2015PDF
80 FR 63993 - Proposed Settlement AgreementPDF
80 FR 63936 - Basic Health Program; Federal Funding Methodology for Program Years 2017 and 2018PDF
80 FR 63972 - Proposed Changes in Levels of Service at Locks and Dams on the Ouachita and Black RiversPDF
80 FR 63928 - Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Network Penetration Reporting and Contracting for Cloud Services (DFARS Case 2013-D018)PDF
80 FR 63973 - Availability of a Final Integrated Feasibility Report (Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report), Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CAPDF
80 FR 64049 - Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Meeting NoticePDF
80 FR 64052 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Application for Certificate of Waiver or AuthorizationPDF
80 FR 64055 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Hazardous Materials Training RequirementsPDF
80 FR 64054 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Suspected Unapproved Parts NotificationPDF
80 FR 64051 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Training and Qualification Requirements for Check Airmen and Flight InstructorsPDF
80 FR 64053 - Notice of Approval of Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision (FONSI/ROD) for the Proposed Replacement Airport (XWA) Serving D-III Aircraft in Williston, North DakotaPDF
80 FR 63929 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Georges Bank Haddock Catch Cap HarvestedPDF
80 FR 63912 - Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UASPDF
80 FR 63930 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management AreaPDF
80 FR 64011 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
80 FR 64053 - Notice of Availability for Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Proposed Part 139 Operating Certificate and Related Actions and Notice for Public Hearing at Paulding Northwest Atlanta AirportPDF
80 FR 64002 - Proposed Vaccine Information Materials for HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Gardasil®-9 VaccinePDF
80 FR 64028 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; the Options Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing of Advance Notice of and No Objection to the Options Clearing Corporation's Proposal To Enter a New Credit Facility AgreementPDF
80 FR 64050 - Twenty-Fifth Meeting: RTCA Special Committee (217) Aeronautical Databases Joint with EUROCAE WG-44-Aeronautical DatabasesPDF
80 FR 64050 - Eleventh Meeting: RTCA Tactical Operations Committee (TOC)PDF
80 FR 64051 - Seventh Meeting: RTCA Special Committee (231) Terrain Awareness Warning Systems (TAWS)PDF
80 FR 64053 - Fifth Meeting: RTCA Special Committee (232) Airborne Selective Calling EquipmentPDF
80 FR 64051 - Twenty-First Meeting: RTCA Special Committee (222) AMS(R)SPDF
80 FR 64054 - Ninth Meeting: RTCA Special Committee (228) Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Unmanned Aircraft SystemsPDF
80 FR 64025 - Construction Permit Application for the SHINE Medical Radioisotope Production FacilityPDF
80 FR 64026 - Submission of Information Collection for OMB Review; Comment Request; Qualified Domestic Relations Orders Submitted to PBGCPDF
80 FR 63958 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Civilian Port Defense Activities at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 63989 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Nevada MeetingPDF
80 FR 63990 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Oak Ridge Reservation MeetingPDF
80 FR 63989 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Savannah River Site MeetingPDF
80 FR 63988 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah MeetingPDF
80 FR 64009 - Eastern States: Filing of Plats of SurveyPDF
80 FR 63914 - Schedule of Fees for Access to NOAA Environmental Data, Information, and Related Products and ServicesPDF
80 FR 64005 - Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 64000 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 64003 - Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 63950 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization ProgramPDF
80 FR 64004 - Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 63933 - Virginia Regulatory ProgramPDF
80 FR 64005 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 63957 - Proposed Amendment to the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management ProgramPDF
80 FR 64008 - Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder InputPDF
80 FR 63973 - Notice of Proposed Methodology for the 2016 Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment ReportPDF
80 FR 63973 - Notice of Public Hearing and Business Meeting November 10 and December 9, 2015PDF
80 FR 63992 - Pacific Gas and Electric Company; Notice of Application Accepted for Filing, Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and ProtestsPDF
80 FR 63991 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 64008 - Draft Environmental Assessment; Dallas Zoo Management; Dallas, TexasPDF
80 FR 63971 - Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB ReviewPDF
80 FR 63919 - Safety Zone; Ironman 70.3 Miami; Miami, FLPDF
80 FR 63988 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Application for Grants Under the Educational Opportunity Centers Program (1894-0001)PDF
80 FR 64017 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Safety Standards for Roof Bolts in Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Underground Coal MinesPDF
80 FR 64018 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Health Standards for Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure in Underground Metal and Nonmetal MinesPDF
80 FR 64016 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption for Cross-Trades of Securities by Index and Model-Driven FundsPDF
80 FR 64012 - Investigations Regarding Eligibility To Apply for Worker Adjustment AssistancePDF
80 FR 64014 - Notice of Determinations Regarding Eligibility to Apply for Worker Adjustment AssistancePDF
80 FR 64020 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Monitoring Report and One-Stop Career Center Complaint/Referral RecordPDF
80 FR 64019 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Ground Control Plans for Surface Coal Mines and Surface Work Areas of Underground Coal MinesPDF
80 FR 64024 - Comment Request: Biological Sciences Proposal Classification FormPDF
80 FR 64048 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Request and Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 64031 - Order Extending Temporary Conditional Exemption for Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations From Requirements of Rule 17g-5(A)(3) Under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Request for CommentPDF
80 FR 63919 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Willamette River, Portland, ORPDF
80 FR 64027 - New Postal ProductPDF
80 FR 64000 - Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 64010 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
80 FR 64020 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Unemployment Compensation for Federal EmployeesPDF
80 FR 64042 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; International Securities Exchange, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Schedule of FeesPDF
80 FR 64046 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ISE Gemini, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Schedule of FeesPDF
80 FR 64041 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; International Securities Exchange, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Schedule of FeesPDF
80 FR 64039 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.; Notice of Amendment No. 1 and Order Granting Accelerated Approval to a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1, To Require an Indicator When a TRACE Report Does Not Reflect a Commission or Mark-up/Mark-downPDF
80 FR 64027 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Designation of a Longer Period for Commission Action on Proposed Rule Change Regarding a Change to the Reference Index of the Market Vectors Short High Yield Municipal Index ETFPDF
80 FR 64037 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; International Securities Exchange, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Schedule of FeesPDF
80 FR 64033 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ISE Gemini, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Schedule of FeesPDF
80 FR 64057 - Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential NoncompliancePDF
80 FR 64056 - Mack Trucks, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential NoncompliancePDF
80 FR 64058 - Ford Motor Company, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential NoncompliancePDF
80 FR 64021 - Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, Training and Employer Outreach (ACVETEO): MeetingPDF
80 FR 63993 - Combined Notice of Filings #2 (October 9, 2015)PDF
80 FR 63990 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 64000 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
80 FR 63932 - Investment and Deposit Activities-Bank NotesPDF
80 FR 64023 - NASA Advisory Council; Institutional Committee; Meeting.PDF
80 FR 64024 - NASA Advisory Council; Aeronautics Committee MeetingPDF
80 FR 64023 - International Space Station National Laboratory Advisory Committee; Charter RenewalPDF
80 FR 64022 - Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel; Charter RenewalPDF
80 FR 63996 - Notice of Establishment of Housing Price IndexPDF
80 FR 64007 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 63890 - Agriculture Priorities and Allocations SystemPDF
80 FR 64025 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on Metallurgy and Reactor Fuels; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 64048 - Data Collection Available for Public CommentsPDF
80 FR 64191 - 2013 Liquid Chemical Categorization UpdatesPDF
80 FR 64261 - Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule: 2015 Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations for Petroleum and Natural Gas SystemsPDF
80 FR 64159 - Air Plan Approval; Minnesota and Michigan; Revision to Taconite Federal Implementation PlanPDF
80 FR 64063 - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting RulePDF

Issue

80 204 Thursday, October 22, 2015 Contents Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service RULES Defining Bona Fide Cotton Spot Markets for the World Cotton Futures Contract, 63889-63890 2015-26953 Soybean Promotion and Research: Order to Adjust Representation on the United Soybean Board; Amendment, 63909-63910 2015-26952 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Farm Service Agency

Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Proposed Vaccine Information Materials: HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Gardasil-9 Vaccine, 64002-64003 2015-26868 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services PROPOSED RULES Basic Health Programs: Federal Funding Methodology for Program Years 2017 and 2018, 63936-63950 2015-26907 Children Children and Families Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2015-26841 64003-64005 2015-26843 2015-26845 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: English Kills, Brooklyn, NY, 63918-63919 2015-26957 Willamette River, Portland, OR, 63919 2015-26819 Safety Zones: Ironman 70.3 Miami; Miami, FL, 63919-63921 2015-26832 Mississippi River between Mile 467.0 and 472.0; Transylvania, LA, 63923-63926 2015-26958 Mississippi River between Mile 488.0 and 480.5; Lake Providence, LA, 63926-63928 2015-26956 Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa, 63921-63923 2015-26955 Special Local Regulations: Battle of Hampton, Hampton River, Hampton, VA, 63916-63918 2015-26962 PROPOSED RULES Liquid Chemical Categorization Updates, 64192-64259 2015-26371 Commerce Commerce Department See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 63971-63972 2015-26833 Defense Acquisition Defense Acquisition Regulations System RULES Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplements: Network Penetration Reporting and Contracting for Cloud Services, 63928-63929 2015-26887 Defense Department Defense Department See

Defense Acquisition Regulations System

See

Engineers Corps

Delaware Delaware River Basin Commission NOTICES Meetings, 63973-63974 2015-26837 Proposed Methodology for the 2016 Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment Report, 63973 2015-26838 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Grants under the Educational Opportunity Centers Program, 63988 2015-26831 Meetings: National Board for Education Sciences, 63974-63975 2015-26954 Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria: Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth, 63975-63987 2015-26965 Employment and Training Employment and Training Administration NOTICES Worker Adjustment Assistance Eligibility; Determinations, 64014-64016 2015-26825 Worker Adjustment Assistance Eligibility; Investigations, 64012-64014 2015-26826 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

NOTICES Meetings: Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Nevada, 63989 2015-26855 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Oak Ridge Reservation, 63990 2015-26854 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah, 63988-63989 2015-26852 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Savannah River Site, 63989-63990 2015-26853
Engineers Engineers Corps NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Final Integrated Feasibility Report, Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA, 63973 2015-26886 Proposed Changes in Levels of Service at Locks and Dams on the Ouachita and Black Rivers, 63972 2015-26888 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Greenhouse Gas Reporting: Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems; Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations, 64262-64298 2015-25840 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Electronic Reporting, 64064-64158 2015-24954 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Minnesota and Michigan; Revision to Taconite Federal Implementation Plan, 64160-64189 2015-25023 Amendments to Regional Consistency Regulations, 63935-63936 2015-26942 NOTICES Administrative Agreements: Post Removal Site Control Activities by Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser, Rocky Flats Industrial Park Superfund Site, Jefferson County, CO, 63995-63996 2015-26938 Meetings: Board of Scientific Counselors Chemical Safety for Sustainability Subcommittee; Public Teleconference, 63994-63995 2015-26937 Proposed Settlement Agreements: WildEarth Guardians; Sierra Club, 63993-63994 2015-26919 Farm Service Farm Service Agency RULES Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System, 63890-63909 2015-26766 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Clarification of Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration, 63912-63914 2015-26874 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Certificate of Waiver or Authorization, 64052 2015-26883 Hazardous Materials Training Requirements, 64055 2015-26882 Suspected Unapproved Parts Notification, 64054-64055 2015-26881 Training and Qualification Requirements for Check Airmen and Flight Instructors, 64051-64052 2015-26880 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Proposed Part 139 Operating Certificate and Related Actions; Public Hearing at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, 64053 2015-26869 Meetings: Fifth RTCA Special Committee 232 Airborne Selective Calling Equipment, 64053 2015-26863 Ninth RTCA Special Committee 228 Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 64054 2015-26861 RTCA Special Committee 222 AMS(R)S, 64051 2015-26862 RTCA Special Committee 231 Terrain Awareness Warning Systems, 64051 2015-26864 RTCA Special Committee Aeronautical Databases Joint with EUROCAE WG-44—Aeronautical Databases, 64050-64051 2015-26866 RTCA Tactical Operations Committee, 64050 2015-26865 Records of Decision: Proposed Replacement Airport Serving D-III Aircraft, Williston, ND, 64053-64054 2015-26879 Federal Election Federal Election Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 63996 2015-27087 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input, 64008 2015-26839 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications: Pacific Gas and Electric Co., 63992 2015-26836 Combined Filings, 63991-63993 2015-26797 2015-26798 2015-26835 Federal Housing Finance Agency Federal Housing Finance Agency NOTICES Establishment of Housing Price Index, 63996-64000 2015-26778 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 64000-64002 2015-26817 Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 64000 2015-26792 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 64000 2015-26847 Federal Retirement Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 64002 2015-26941 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Dallas Zoo Management; Dallas, TX, 64008-64009 2015-26834 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Guidance for Industry and Staff: Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use, 64005-64007 2015-26849 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Children and Families Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

RULES Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation: Fiscal Year 2016, 63911-63912 2015-26963
Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Office

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Subsidy Programs Provided by Countries Exporting Softwood Lumber and Softwood Lumber Products to the U.S., 63957 2015-26964 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public Interest, 64011-64012 2015-26870 Complaints: Certain Air Mattress Systems, Components Thereof, and Methods of Using the Same, 64010-64011 2015-26816 Labor Department Labor Department See

Employment and Training Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Ground Control Plans for Surface Coal Mines and Surface Work Areas of Underground Coal Mines, 64019 2015-26823 Health Standards for Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure in Underground Metal and Nonmetal Mines, 64018 2015-26828 Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Monitoring Report and One-Stop Career Center Complaint/Referral Record, 64020 2015-26824 Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption for Cross-Trades of Securities by Index and Model-Driven Funds, 64016-64017 2015-26827 Safety Standards for Roof Bolts in Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Underground Coal Mines, 64017 2015-26829 Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees, 64020-64021 2015-26815 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, Training and Employer Outreach, 64021-64022 2015-26800
Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Filings of Plats of Surveys: Oregon/Washington, 64010 2015-26951 Plats of Survey: Eastern States, 64009-64010 2015-26851 Management Management and Budget Office NOTICES Circular No. A-130, Managing Information as a Strategic Resource; Draft Revisions, 64022 2015-26939 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Charter Renewals: Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, 64022-64023 2015-26784 International Space Station National Laboratory Advisory Committee, 64023 2015-26785 Meetings: NASA Advisory Council; Aeronautics Committee, 64024 2015-26786 NASA Advisory Council; Institutional Committee, 64023 2015-26787 National Credit National Credit Union Administration PROPOSED RULES Investment and Deposit Activities—Bank Notes, 63932-63933 2015-26788 National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NOTICES Petitions for Inconsequential Noncompliance: Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., 64057-64058 2015-26804 Ford Motor Co., 64058-64060 2015-26802 Mack Trucks, Inc., 64056-64057 2015-26803 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 64007 2015-26774 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, 63930-63931 2015-26871 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Atlantic Herring Fishery; Georges Bank Haddock Catch Cap Harvested, 63929-63930 2015-26875 Schedule of Fees for Access to NOAA Environmental Data, Information, and Related Products and Services, 63914-63916 2015-26850 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program, 63950-63956 2015-26844 NOTICES Proposed Amendment to the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program, 63957-63958 2015-26840 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: U.S. Navy Civilian Port Defense Activities at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA, 63958-63971 2015-26856 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Biological Sciences Proposal Classification Form, 64024-64025 2015-26822 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Construction Permit Application for the SHINE Medical Radioisotope Production Facility, 64025 2015-26860 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Subcommittee on Metallurgy and Reactor Fuels, 64025-64026 2015-26735 Pension Benefit Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, 64026-64027 2015-26858 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 64027 2015-26818 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: National Character Counts Week (Proc. 9351), 64299-64302 2015-27106 National Forest Products Week (Proc. 9352), 64303-64304 2015-27107 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 2015-26972 64030-64031, 64038 2015-27066 Orders: Temporary Conditional Exemption for Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations from Requirements under the Securities Exchange Act, 64031-64033 2015-26820 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., 64039-64041 2015-26808 International Securities Exchange, LLC, 2015-26806 64037-64038, 64041-64046 2015-26809 2015-26811 ISE Gemini, LLC, 64033-64037, 64046-64048 2015-26805 2015-26810 NYSE Arca, Inc., 64027-64028 2015-26807 Options Clearing Corp., 64028-64030 2015-26867 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 64048 2015-26664 Social Social Security Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 64048-64049 2015-26821 State Department State Department NOTICES Meetings: Overseas Security Advisory Council, 64049-64050 2015-26884 Surface Mining Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Office PROPOSED RULES Virginia Regulatory Program, 63933-63935 2015-26842 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

RULES Clarification of Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration, 63912-63914 2015-26874 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 64060-64061 2015-26950
Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Preliminary Draft Final Master Plan: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 64061-64062 2015-26945 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Environmental Protection Agency, 64064-64158 2015-24954 Part III Environmental Protection Agency, 64160-64189 2015-25023 Part IV Homeland Security Department, Coast Guard, 64192-64259 2015-26371 Part V Environmental Protection Agency, 64262-64298 2015-25840 Part VI Presidential Documents, 64299-64304 2015-27106 2015-27107 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.

80 204 Thursday, October 22, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 27 [Doc. #AMS-CN-14-0050] RIN 0581-AD38 Defining Bona Fide Cotton Spot Markets for the World Cotton Futures Contract AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is amending the regulatory language to designate which bona fide cotton spot markets will be used to determine actual commercial differences in value for various grades above or below the basis grade in the settlement of World cotton futures contracts on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Designating bona fide cotton spot markets for the World cotton futures contract in the regulatory language will allow for AMS to collect spot market price data and publish spot quotes for the settlement of these specific contracts.

DATES:

Effective Date: November 23, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Darryl Earnest, Deputy Administrator, Cotton & Tobacco Program, AMS, USDA, 3275 Appling Road, Room 11, Memphis, TN 38133. Telephone (901) 384-3060, facsimile (901) 384-3021, or email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to access 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, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. This action has been designated as a “non-significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and therefore has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Executive Order 13175

This action has been reviewed in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments. The review reveals that this regulation would not have substantial and direct effects on Tribal governments and would not have significant Tribal implications.

Executive Order 12988

This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. There are no administrative procedures that must be exhausted prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of this rule.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

Pursuant to 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 and has determined that its implementation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.

The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions so that small businesses will not be disproportionately burdened. There are approximately sixty cotton merchant organizations of various sizes active in trading U.S. cotton. Many of these cotton merchants are small businesses under the criteria established by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201). Small business entities that are merchants in the U.S. cotton industry are defined as having fewer than 100 employees. Amendments to the regulation concerning bona fide cotton spot market designations will not significantly affect small businesses as defined in the RFA because:

(1) How spot prices are estimated are not expected to be impacted by this action;

(2) Business practices of the U.S. cotton industry are not expected to change as a result of this action;

(3) Costs associated with providing market news services will not be significantly changed by this action;

(4) Market news services are paid for by appropriated funds, therefore users are not charged fees for the provision of the services.

Paperwork Reduction Act

In compliance with OMB regulations (5 CFR part 1320), which implement the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501), the information collection requirements contained in the provisions to be amended by this proposed rule have been previously approved by OMB and were assigned OMB control number 0581-0009, Cotton Classification and Market News Service.

Background

The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized under the United States Cotton Futures Act (7 U.S.C. 15b) to designate at least five bona fide cotton spot markets from which cotton price information can be collected. A spot market—also called the “cash market” or “physical market”—is a market where commodities are sold on the spot for cash at current market prices and delivered immediately. Designation of these bona fide cotton spot markets and the determination of which counties and states compose each of these spot markets was most recently published in the Federal Register on April 30, 2013 (78 FR 25181). For each of these bona fide cotton spot markets, the Cotton and Tobacco Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service collects market price information under the United States Cotton Futures Act (7 U.S.C. 15b), the Cotton Statistics and Estimates Act (7 U.S.C. 473b) and the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1622(g)). This price information is then used to calculate price differences for the settlement of cotton futures contracts.

In order to better manage price risk in the global cotton market, the American Cotton Shippers Association (ACSA) and the International Cotton Association (ICA) requested that the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) offer a World cotton futures contract. In response, ICE announced its intention to begin offering World cotton contracts beginning in the fourth quarter of 2015. To determine actual commercial differences in value for various grades above or below the basis grade in the settlement of this new World cotton futures contract, AMS was asked by these same stakeholders to collect and publish cotton spot market price information relevant to the World cotton contract. Therefore, AMS is amending § 27.94 to designate the same bona fide cotton spot markets for the World cotton futures contract as have been designated for the No. 2 cotton futures contract.

Summary of Comments

A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2014, with a comment period of December 16, 2014 through January 16, 2015 (79 FR 74654). No comments were received by AMS.

The U.S. cotton industry and ICE requested that AMS, Cotton and Tobacco Program to collect and publish cotton spot market price information relevant to the World cotton contract prior to the offering of this new futures contract, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2015.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 27

Commodity futures, Cotton.

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 27 is amended as follows:

PART 27—[Amended] 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 27 continues to read as follows: Authority:

7 U.S.C. 15b, 7 U.S.C. 473b, 7 U.S.C. 1622(g).

2. In § 27.94, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
§ 27.94 Spot markets for contract settlement purposes.

(a) For cotton delivered in settlement of any Cotton No. 2 or World Cotton contract on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE); the spot markets are Southeastern, North and South Delta, Eastern Texas and Oklahoma, West Texas, and Desert Southwest.

Dated: October 19, 2015. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-26953 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Farm Service Agency 7 CFR Part 789 RIN 0560-AH68 Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System AGENCY:

Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is establishing the regulation for the Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System (APAS). Food is a critical commodity essential to the national defense (including civil emergency preparedness and response). To avoid civilian hardship during national defense emergencies, it may be necessary to regulate the production, processing, storage, and wholesale distribution of food. Through the APAS rule, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will respond to requests to place priority ratings on contracts or orders (establishing priority on which contracts or orders are filled first) for agriculture commodities up through the wholesale levels, including agriculture production equipment, and allocate resources, as specified in the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, as amended, if the necessity arises. FSA is implementing this rule as a way to redirect the agriculture commodities and resources to areas of hardship or potential hardship due to national emergencies. In most cases, there is likely to be no economic impact in filling priority orders because it would generally just be changing the timing in which orders are completed.

DATES:

Effective December 21, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Robert Haughton, telephone (202) 702-0135. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary

APAS is a USDA program that supports not only national defense needs (such as food for combat rations), but also emergency preparedness initiatives by addressing essential civilian needs (food and food resources) through the placing of priorities on contracts for items and services or allocating resources, as necessary. Although a specific Presidential disaster designation is not required, the ability to prioritize or allocate items or services can be triggered by a determination by the President or designated entities that this action is necessary or appropriate to promote national defense including the imminent need for emergency preparedness. Under DPA (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 to 2170, 2171, and 2172), the term “national defense” includes emergency preparedness, response, and critical infrastructure protection and restoration. Authority for priorities and allocations is specified in DPA and further defined in Executive Order 13603, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” dated March 16, 2012. Executive Order 13603 replaced Executive Order 12919 (referenced in the proposed rule) and further defined jurisdictional areas and national defense preparedness roles and responsibilities for specific Departments. Executive Order 13603 did not change the intent of DPA as it applies to USDA's functions in national defense, including emergency preparedness; instead it gave additional jurisdiction to USDA for livestock, veterinary, and plant health resources.

For the final rule, only those sections in the “Supplementary Information” part of the proposed rule preamble that required modifications due to Executive Order 13603 or for other reasons are further discussed in the “Supplementary Information” section of this final rule. A more thorough explanation along with examples of APAS applicability was provided in the proposed rule that was published on May 19, 2011 (76 FR 29084-29106). References in those examples to Executive Order 12919 should be read to mean Executive Order 13603. Also contained in this summary are descriptions of comments received and responses developed on the proposed rule. We are not reiterating the “Section by Section Discussion of Rule” section of the proposed rule preamble in this document. Any changes to those sections are discussed in this document.

Jurisdiction

Title I of DPA and Executive Order 13603 authorize jurisdictional areas for each Department that is involved in national defense including emergency preparedness. USDA has jurisdiction for items that fall under the categories of:

(1) Food resources (including potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers) and food resource facilities;

(2) Livestock resources, veterinary resources, and plant health resources; and

(3) Domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer.

USDA cannot use its DPA authority for items or services not in its jurisdiction. Those persons 1 in need of items or services that do not fall under the jurisdiction of USDA will request priorities or allocations assistance from the applicable resource agency.2 USDA will direct the requesters to the appropriate resource agency if the request comes to USDA.

1 The term “person” as used here refers to the requester of the priority rating. A person includes an individual, corporation, partnership, association, or any other organized group of persons, or legal successor or representative thereof, or any State or local government or agency thereof, or any Federal agency.

2 The term “resource agency” as used here refers to any Federal agency that is delegated priorities and allocations authority as specified in § 789.2 of this final rule.

USDA intends to work with other resource agencies to address instances where USDA does not have jurisdiction for all of the items necessary to complete the order. For example, if an order for the delivery of milk needs to be prioritized, USDA would have jurisdiction over the milk as a food resource, but it would not have jurisdiction over the truck or fuel for the vehicle. Therefore, USDA intends to work with the other resource agencies to receive delegations to prioritize contracts or orders for other items or services necessary for use in support of programs approved for use by USDA (see next section). Until such delegations are received, USDA will follow the procedure described in the previous paragraph.

USDA also plans to provide delegations to other resource agencies to ensure they can respond timely to emergency events.

APAS Programs Approved for Use by USDA

USDA has three approved programs for priorities and allocations support under section 202 of Executive Order 13603. Items or services for which USDA may provide priorities or allocations support must fall under one of the following programs:

(1) Food and food resources (civilian): Programs involving food and food resources processing and storage in support of emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to Title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. 5195-5197h).

(2) Agriculture and food critical infrastructure protection and restoration (civilian): Programs to protect or restore the agriculture and food system from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

(3) Military food rations: Programs to provide the Department of Defense with food resources for combat rations.

For all other requests for items under USDA's jurisdiction that are not covered by these three programs, USDA will request concurrence from the Secretary of Homeland Security before placing a priority rating on the items.

Scope

APAS covers only those government and private entities that have national defense, or emergency preparedness, response, and recovery responsibilities. This small realm strictly limits the participants eligible to request assistance through APAS. Also, the vendors that supply agriculture related items (food, food resources) and in the quantity that is expected to be requested is inherently limited in scope. Only a limited number of vendors are able to produce or deliver the large quantities of items required for emergency preparedness activities that would fall under the authority of Title I of DPA. For example, for preparations in advance of Hurricane Ike hitting the Texas Coast in 2008, one Federal agency considered requesting 1 million meals-ready-to-eat. In this example, it is clear that there would be limited companies that would be able to quickly supply 1 million meals-ready-to-eat. This is a representative example of the type of needs for which a priority rating would be requested through APAS. As a result, this program has a very limited customer base of large manufacturers and suppliers as well as those Government and public agencies (for example, the Red Cross), having national defense, or emergency preparedness, response, and recovery responsibilities.

Government organizations may request priority ratings through APAS to ensure that they are able to obtain critical resources during or in anticipation of an emergency to lessen the effects of the hazard on civilian populations.

As an example of how the Department of Commerce (DOC) has needed to use its Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) (15 CFR part 700), during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, after the request was endorsed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), DOC authorized a railroad to place a priority rated order with Company X for equipment to repair the damages to the railroad system supporting commodity movements in and around the New Orleans area. This rated order allowed the vendor responsible for repairing the railroad infrastructure around the New Orleans area to complete repairs in the fastest time possible. This allowed the response organizations to quickly receive items in bulk quantities needed to support the mass care and housing of those displaced by the hurricane and its aftermath. When the railroad placed the rated order for equipment, Company X was required to fill the railroad's order first, before any other orders, unless Company X had a legal basis for rejecting the rated order. In addition, all customers currently under contract obligations from Company X would not have breach-of-contract cause of action against Company X if their orders could not be filled by the original agreed-to time due to unplanned delays due to filling the rated order.

DPA Priorities and Allocations Authority

Section 101 of DPA (50 U.S.C. App. 2071) establishes the broad authority for the President to require the acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to support or promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense. This is commonly referred to as “priorities and allocations” authority. Through Executive Order 13603 the President delegated the DPA section 101 priorities and allocations authority to the following agency heads:

• The Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources (including potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers), food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer.

• The Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy.

• The Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources.

• The Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation.

• The Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources.

• The Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

Since the initial enactment, Congress has continued to reauthorize DPA. On September 30, 2009, Congress enacted the Defense Production Act Reauthorization (DPAR) of 2009 (Pub. L.111-67). A significant difference in that reauthorization was the requirement for Departments other than DOC to initiate rulemaking to implement their responsibilities under DPA. Specifically, section 101(d) of DPA (50 U.S.C. App. 2071(d)), as added by DPAR, directed the head of each Federal agency to issue final rules that establish standards and procedures to use the authority of section 101 to promote the national defense under both emergency and nonemergency conditions and, as appropriate and to the extent necessary, consult with the heads of other Federal agencies to develop a consistent and unified Federal Priorities and Allocations System (FPAS).

DPA was extended again through September 30, 2019, by Pub. L. 113-172 (Sept. 26, 2014). In the most recent reauthorization, Congress retained the requirement in section 101(d) (50 U.S.C. App. 2071(d)) to issue final rules but also added a requirement to annually review and update those regulations whenever appropriate.

FEMA in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for coordinating priorities and allocations rulemaking efforts among the six Federal agencies that have been delegated DPA section 101 authority (referred to as “resource agencies”) to ensure consistency and uniformity of rule language and provisions across resource agency jurisdictions. Together, the priorities and allocations system regulations of each resource agency will constitute FPAS.

USDA is working with FEMA and the other Departments that have DPA authority to have common rules for the implementation of priorities and allocations. Those Departments are in various stages of developing and publishing their own rules covering the jurisdictional areas outlined in Executive Order 13603. DOC published a final rule revising its DPAS regulation on August 14, 2014 (79 FR 47560). The Department of Energy published the rule for the Energy Priorities and Allocations System on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33615); the Department of Transportation published the rule for the Transportation Priorities and Allocations System on October 1, 2012 (77 FR 59793); and the Department of Health and Human Services published the rule for the Health Resources Priority and Allocations System on July 17, 2015 (80 FR 42408-42423).

Within USDA, authority to administer APAS has been delegated to the FSA Administrator. FSA will manage APAS for all USDA.

This rule establishes APAS, one-part of the FPAS, to implement USDA's administration of its delegated authority under DPA section 101 and other related statutes such as the priorities provisions of the Military Selective Service Act 3 (50 U.S.C. App. 468) (see Executive Order 12742, “National Security Industrial Responsiveness,” dated Jan. 8, 1991). APAS is consistent with the existing DPAS regulation (15 CFR part 700) implemented by DOC to provide continuity with long-established priorities system procedures and to make use of a proven foundation for a consistent and unified FPAS, as appropriate and to the extent practicable.4

3 References to the Military Selective Service Act apply to those required deliveries to the Government exclusively for the use of the armed forces or for the use of the Atomic Energy Commission.

4 DPAS regulations provided the starting point for development of the common rule language discussed above.

APAS Description

APAS provides guidance and procedures for use of DPA priorities and allocations authority with respect to the resource areas delegated by the President to the Secretary of Agriculture as specified in Executive Order 13603: Food resources; food resource facilities; livestock, veterinary, and plant health resources; and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer. As specified in Executive Order 13603, section 202, priorities and allocations may be used only to support programs that have been determined in writing “as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense” by:

(a) The Secretary of Defense with respect to military production and construction, military assistance to foreign nations, military use of civil transportation, stockpiles managed by the Department of Defense, space, and directly related activities;

(b) The Secretary of Energy with respect to energy production and construction, distribution and use, and directly related activities; or

(c) The Secretary of Homeland Security, with respect to all other national defense programs, including civil defense and continuity of Government.

Under DPA, the term “national defense” specifically includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act.5 The Stafford Act, in section 602(b) of title VI, also cross-references DPA by stating that “[t]he terms `national defense' and `defense', as used in [DPA], includes [sic] emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to this title.” (See 42 U.S.C. 5195a(b).) Emergency preparedness activities include a broad range of measures to be taken in preparation for, during, and in response to natural disasters or accidental or man-caused events (that is, hazards).6 Priority ratings are expected to be used most for:

5 The term “national defense” is defined in section 702(14) of DPA as “programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity. Such term includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the [Stafford Act] and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.” See 50 U.S.C. App. 2152(14).

6 The term “emergency preparedness” is defined in section 602(a) of the Stafford Act as “all those activities and measures designed or undertaken to prepare for or minimize the effects of a hazard upon the civilian population, to deal with the immediate emergency conditions which would be created by the hazard, and to effectuate emergency repairs to, or the emergency restoration of, vital utilities and facilities destroyed or damaged by the hazard.” (See 42 U.S.C. 5195a(a).) Section 602(a) also provides a non-exhaustive list of specific measures that constitute emergency preparedness.

(1) Preparedness, including actions taken before an event occurs to lessen the severity of hardships to civilians,

(2) Response, including actions taken immediately after the event happens, but before any recovery actions are taken, to relieve the effects on civilians; response includes both the anticipation of the event and the immediate response to it; and

(3) Recovery, including actions taken to restore critical infrastructure and key resources to normal operations.

USDA expects the requests for priority ratings will predominately be from Federal government agencies, and the State and local governments with a responsibility in emergency preparedness. USDA expects that a request from a private entity will be for the purpose of fulfilling a government contract; however, USDA will act on other requests that are appropriate for the regulation.

According to Executive Order 13603 the priorities and allocations authority of DPA may be used by the Secretary of Agriculture only to support programs that have been determined in writing as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense. USDA has coordinated with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Defense to identify and approve programs that will cover everything for which we expect to need to provide priorities and allocations as covered in this regulation.

USDA has two programs that have been approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security for priorities and allocations support pursuant to the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security as currently reflected in section 202(c) of Executive Order 13603:

(1) Food and food resources (civilian): Programs involving food and food resources processing and storage in support of emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to Title VI of the Stafford Act. Such programs involve activities and measures designed or undertaken to prepare for or minimize the effects of a hazard upon the civilian population, to handle immediate emergency conditions that would be created by the hazard, and to make emergency repairs to, or the emergency restoration of, vital utilities and food resource facilities destroyed or damaged by the hazard.

(2) Agricultural and food critical infrastructure protection and restoration: Programs to protect or restore the agriculture and food system from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. In Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-9, “Defense of United States Agriculture and Food,” dated January 30, 2004, such programs involve activities and measures to:

• Identify and prioritize critical infrastructure and key resources in the agriculture and food system for establishing protection requirements;

• Develop awareness and early warning capabilities to recognize threats;

• Mitigate vulnerabilities at critical production and processing nodes;

• Enhance screening procedures for domestic and imported products; and

• Enhance response and recovery procedures.

These programs support the national defense by providing for essential civilian needs to ensure a viable food and agriculture sector during an emergency preparedness event or a military conflict. Both programs involve emergency preparedness activities and the maintenance and restoration of the critical infrastructure and key resources.

USDA has one program, Food Resources (combat rations), that has been approved by the Secretary of Defense for priorities and allocations support pursuant to the authority of the Secretary of Defense as currently reflected in section 202(a) of Executive Order 13603. USDA delegated implementation authority of the agricultural portion of DPA to DOC. DOC in turn delegated authority to the Department of Defense to administer a “priorities” program for combat rations to meet troop requirements (an agreement between DOC and USDA, dated January 28, 1991, and approved by FEMA on February 1, 1991). USDA is rescinding the delegation of authority with DOC and delegating authority directly to the Department of Defense to administer the combat rations programs.

The approved programs are listed in Schedule I of the APAS regulation (see Schedule I at the end of this document for a complete list of approved programs).

Before USDA can exercise its priorities or allocations authority for any requirements not covered under the approved programs, as specified in section 202 of Executive Order 13603, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, or Homeland Security, as appropriate, would have to concur, in writing, with USDA that use of priorities or allocations authority by USDA would be necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense.

Commodities covered under the APAS regulation include those items required for production of agriculture commodities (including fertilizer, agriculture seed, and livestock feed), raw and processed agriculture products for wholesale distribution, and agriculture production equipment.

Priorities and Allocations

APAS has two principal components: Priorities and allocations.

Priorities

In the “priorities” component of APAS, certain contracts between the government and private parties, or contracts between private parties, would be required to be given priority (priority rating) over other respective contracts to ensure timely delivery of an item needed for an “approved program.” “Approved program” is defined in 7 CFR 789.8 as a program determined by the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Energy, or the Secretary of Homeland Security to be necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, as specified in section 202 of Executive Order 13603. As stated above, certain USDA programs have been approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and by the Secretary of Defense as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense. Other programs could be approved in the future.

Use of Priority Ratings

If you (as a vendor) receive a rated order, you must give it preferential treatment as required by subpart C, §§ 789.10 through 789.18 (see the proposed rule for the section by section discussion of the regulation). This means that you must accept and fill rated orders for items that you normally supply and consistent with regularly established terms of sale (see § 789.13(a)). Failure to comply with the provisions of the rated order may result in legal actions and fines against the recipient of the rated order. However, certain grounds for mandatory rejection or optional rejection of the rated order may apply (see § 789.13(b) and (c)). Rated orders must be accepted or rejected within specified time frames (see §§ 789.13(d) and 789.13(e)).

All rated orders must be scheduled in a manner and to the extent possible to ensure timely delivery by the required delivery date contained in each order (see § 789.14(a)).

The existence of previously accepted unrated orders or contracts or lower rated orders is not sufficient reason for rejecting a rated order. In fact, you (as a supplier or vendor) are required to displace or defer lower rated or unrated orders if they conflict with your performance against a higher rated order (see § 789.14(b)). When you receive multiple rated orders for specific goods or services and the orders have the same rating level and scheduled date, you must give precedence to the conflicting order in the sequence in which they are to be delivered or performed (not to the receipt dates). If the conflicting orders are scheduled to be delivered or performed on the same day, the person must give precedence to those orders that have the earliest receipt dates (see § 789.14(c)).

To ensure that contracts and orders for authorized programs are completed in a timely fashion, you (as a supplier or vendor) must place, as necessary, a priority rating on all the contracts and orders you issue with suppliers for items needed to fill rated orders you have received (see § 789.15). This requirement ensures that priority treatment will be afforded your orders by your suppliers and from vendor to vendor throughout the supply chain. Other requirements apply to changes or cancellations of priority ratings and rated orders (see § 789.16) and use of rated orders for certain items (see § 789.17).

You may place a priority rating on your contracts or orders only if you are in receipt of a rated order or if you have been otherwise explicitly authorized to do so by USDA or a delegate agency (see § 789.18 for other limitations on placing rated orders).

Allocations

An “allocation” is defined in § 789.8 as the control of the distribution of materials, services, or facilities for a purpose deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense. As specified in the allocations component of the APAS regulation (see subpart E, §§ 789.30 through 789.37), USDA has the authority to allocate specified items to promote the national defense.

Allocations authority would be used only when there is insufficient supply of a material, service, or facility to satisfy national defense supply requirements through the use of priorities authority or when the use of the priorities authority would cause a severe and prolonged disruption in the supply of materials, services, or facilities available to support normal U.S. economic activities (see § 789.30(a)). Under no circumstances would allocations be used to ration materials or services at the retail level (see § 789.30(a)). Allocations orders would be distributed equitably among the suppliers of the resource(s) being allocated and would not require any person to relinquish a disproportionate share of the civilian market (see § 789.30(b)).

Additionally, as specified in DPA section 101(b) and section 201(e) of Executive Order 13603, USDA may not use an allocation to control the general distribution of a material in the civilian market unless:

• The Secretary has made a written finding that such material is a scarce and critical material essential to the national defense and the requirements of the national defense for such material cannot otherwise be met without a significant dislocation of the normal distribution of such material in the civilian market to such a degree as to create appreciable hardship;

• The Secretary has submitted the finding for the President's approval through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and

• The President has approved the finding (see § 789.33).

DOC has extensive experience using its priorities authority (under its DPAS regulation), but has not used its allocations authority in more than 50 years. Much like DPAS, APAS is expected to primarily be used for prioritizing contracts and to a much lesser extent for making allocations. However, USDA is including allocations in the regulation to have the option ready, if needed. The allocations standards and procedures provide strong assurance that allocations would only be used in situations where the circumstances justify such orders.

For example, in a situation where dairy operations are brought to a standstill due to a detected presence of Foot and Mouth disease. The output of milk produced in the United States is curtailed by 80 percent as a result of reduced herd numbers in response to the outbreak. Prices for processed and unprocessed milk would skyrocket. In such an example, when USDA determines that allocating milk commodities to processors or wholesalers is necessary to promote the national defense, namely, as an emergency response action under Title VI of the Stafford Act (which is an approved program by the Secretary of Homeland Security under section 202(c) of Executive Order 13603). Because allocating this commodity would involve controlling its general distribution in the market, USDA then makes the required finding as specified in DPA section 101(b) for allocating this food commodity and forwards that finding to the President through the National Security Advisor. After Presidential concurrence with the determination, per Executive Order 13603, USDA may allocate this commodity on a pre-determined basis to processors or wholesalers. The purpose of this allocation would be to control the distribution of milk to ensure civilian hardships are minimized. USDA would allocate existing and new milk sources to redistribute milk products in a way that ensures previously established priorities for this food product (for example, school food programs and nutritional programs for mothers and infant children to continue to provide some level of resources for those already enrolled in such programs) are met and would continue implementing allocation policies until USDA determines that this food source shortfall no longer meets the requirements for allocation programs.

Proposed Rule Comments

FSA's proposed rule had a 60-day comment period that ended on July 18, 2011. This final rule addresses the comments received on the proposed rule; and makes minor revisions to address the public comments and the recently published Executive Order 13603. As explained above, Executive Order 13603 added new categories to USDA's jurisdiction. These additional categories did not require substantive changes to the regulation; therefore, additional comments are not being requested.

FSA received two comments; one comment was from a pet food association and the other comment was submitted jointly by a grain and feed association (representing all sectors of the grain and feed industry—not limited to food) and a trade association. The comments raised the same set of concerns about APAS, including concerns on how APAS will be initiated or triggered, and how APAS will affect the agricultural sectors in potential cases of market disturbances or disruptions. The following summarizes each issue raised by the commenters and FSA's response to each issue.

Comment: Improper use of APAS authority poses a risk of undermining the United States' hard-fought reputation as a reliable supplier of agricultural products to domestic and foreign markets.

Response: APAS authority is granted to USDA by DPA and Executive Order 13603. APAS provides the ability to expedite the provision of agricultural resources to areas affected by a disaster, and is only authorized for times when the normal market channels cannot provide the resources to the disaster areas in a timely manner. If normal market channels are capable of providing the resources, APAS will not be used to expedite delivery of the resources. Further, with respect to allocations, FSA expects that the allocations section of this regulation would be used only in worst case scenarios, relying first on priorities authority to respond to emergency conditions. This is evident by the fact that DOC has the same allocations authority under DPA and has not used the allocations authority in over 50 years. Additionally, even if allocations orders were issued, the regulation has strict parameters in place. As stated in § 789.30(b), allocation orders, when used, will be distributed equitably among the suppliers of the materials, services, or facilities being allocated and not require any person to relinquish a disproportionate share of the civilian market. As a result, FSA expects that if APAS were used in the event of an emergency, domestic and foreign markets would not be adversely affected, including the United States' ability to readily supply agricultural products to domestic and foreign markets. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: USDA should fully investigate whether it has sufficient existing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act or other laws to execute orders to prioritize and reallocate the distribution of food resources.

Response: The CCC Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714-714p) was established with the intent to stabilize commodity market prices for agricultural producers during volatile economic periods through price support and disaster programs. The intent of the CCC Charter Act was never to provide immediate food and food resource assistance to a civilian population that has been impacted by a disaster. As a result, the CCC has no jurisdiction in this area of national defense and emergency preparedness. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: Craft language in the regulation itself specifying the triggering events(s) under which USDA would activate APAS, and more clearly define the `national defense' aspects of APAS, differentiating those from a limited regional or local natural disaster for which the ability to respond effectively already exists.

Response: The term “national defense” is defined in DPA. In implementing DPA, Executive Order 13603 also uses that definition. The Federal Departments that collaborated on developing a priorities and allocations common regulation use the definition found in Executive Order 13603 in their respective regulation. FEMA and other Federal agencies responsible for emergency response and recovery by law cannot enter a disaster impacted zone unless specific protocols have been met. The protocols are to ensure that first response is the responsibility of State, local, and Tribal authorities, and only when those State, local, and Tribal authorities are overwhelmed and national security is at risk, then the Federal agencies begin to play a role. If the disaster or event is of such a magnitude that the State, local, and Tribal authorities cannot meet the needs of the public, then APAS could be used by Federal Departments with response functions to request priority ratings to support the efforts of first responders in national defense (including emergency preparedness) initiatives. Under DPA and Executive Order 13603, Federal Departments do not need a Stafford Act declaration to use their priorities and allocations authorities. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: The proposed regulation, if finalized, should vest in the President the sole power to activate the use of APAS's priority-ranking and allocations-order authority. Further, the Secretary of Agriculture should have sole power to authorize the actual issuance of any order under APAS.

Response: Executive Order 13603 delegates the President's priorities and allocations authorities under DPA to the heads of specific Federal agencies. This includes the authority to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, as well as authority to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense. Subject to the Executive Order's limitation that the priorities and allocations authority be used only to support programs that have been determined in writing (by the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, or Homeland Security, depending on the activity) as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, the agency heads have broad discretion in determining the circumstances in which the priorities or allocations authority will be used. The President has delegated these authorities to the Secretary of Agriculture in Executive Order 13603 with respect to certain resource areas (and previously in Executive Order 12919). The Secretary of Agriculture has re-delegated DPA authority to the FSA Administrator through the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (see 7 CFR 2.16(a)(6); 2.42(a)(5)). Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment; however, minor changes were made in this rule as a result of the release of Executive Order 13603 to include a revised definition of “food resources.”

Comment: The proposed rule dismisses and fails to accurately assess the economic cost of APAS to the agriculture industry and other sectors, including transporters, if USDA uses its authority to issue orders that circumvent existing commercial and governmental contracts.

Response: As noted above, there is a limited group of participants eligible for participation in the APAS program; therefore, there were limited data available to analyze the economic costs. DOC's use of DPAS, which has been used for similar priority ratings using its delegation of authority from the Secretary of Agriculture, has not resulted in known economic hardships to participants involved in the agricultural industry and other sectors. USDA and other Federal agencies will not use APAS to circumvent existing commercial and government contracts. Instead, they will use APAS to speed up delivery of items under contract or increase amounts procured under contract. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: As proposed, APAS requires that parties accept or reject priority orders received in response to emergency preparedness conditions within 6 to 12 hours, as opposed to the 15 days generally provided under the DPAS. Such a requirement may be unreasonably short to make such a management-level decision.

Response: The requirement for acceptance or rejection of a rated order for certain emergency preparedness conditions within 6 hours (where the order is issued in response to a hazard that has occurred) or the greater of 12 hours or the time specified in the order (where the order is issued to prepare for an imminent hazard) was based on the principle that food and drinking water are critical elements to sustain human life and any delays after this timeframe can cause life-threatening hardships. The 15 days requirement for DO-rated orders pertains to other conditions, when time is not as critical to provide food resources to the population. If a vendor cannot meet the requirement of the 6 to 12 hours to accept a rated order, it must reject the order on the basis that it cannot meet the required timeframe. Vendors should not accept rated orders if they are unsure of their capacity to fill the order. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: The FSA Administrator should not be authorized to reject a request for an informal hearing to appeal a rated order, particularly since the agency would continue to require that contract performance under the order not be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

Response: Due to the nature of this regulation and the potential life and death situations that warrant use of priority ratings, we cannot grant every request for an informal hearing during an appeal. The FSA Administrator will address each request on a case by case basis. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Comment: If USDA proceeds to finalize an APAS rule, it needs to reexamine and improve upon the proposed language currently found in § 789.70, which provides legal protection to private-sector companies that find it necessary to cancel or delay their performance on other commercial contracts so they can fulfill any APAS-related orders prioritized by USDA.

Response: The text of 7 CFR 789.70 restates the liability protection provisions of DPA (50 U.S.C. app. 2157). USDA believes that the DPA liability protection from damages or penalties for actions resulting directly or indirectly from compliance with APAS extends to legal actions brought by private parties and covers not only the vendor(s) receiving a rated order or subject to an allocations order, but also to other vendors whose contracts are affected as a result of the other vendor's compliance with the rated order or allocation. Therefore, no change was made to the regulation in response to this comment.

Other Rule Changes

As explained above, the jurisdiction delegated by the President to the Secretary of Agriculture as specified in Executive Order 13603 was expanded to include livestock, veterinary, and plant health resources, in addition to the previous delegations for food resources, food resource facilities, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer. Therefore, nondiscretionary changes were made throughout the regulation to include livestock, veterinary, and plant health resources in the following places:

• § 789.1, “Purpose;”

• Section 789.2, “Priorities and Allocations Authority,” which summarizes the delegations of priorities and allocations authority; and

• Section 789.8, “Definitions.”

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service developed the definitions that were added for the new jurisdiction for livestock, veterinary, and plant health resources. These new definitions are:

• “Animal” means any member of the animal kingdom (except a human).7

7 Definition of “animal” from the Animal Health Protection Act (Pub. L. 107-171, Title X, Subtitle E).

• “Livestock” means all farm-raised animals.8

8 Definition of “livestock” from the Animal Health Protection Act (Pub. L. 107-171, Title X, Subtitle E).

• “Livestock resources” means materials, facilities, vehicles, health supplies, services, and equipment required for the production and distribution of livestock.

• “Plant health resources” means biological products, materials, facilities, vehicles, supplies, services, and equipment required to prevent the impairment of, improve, or restore plant health conditions.

• “Veterinary resources” means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, vehicles, health supplies, services, and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the health conditions of the animal population.

Executive Order 13603 modifies the following definitions: “Civil transportation,” “energy,” “food resources,” “food resource facilities,” “health resources,” and “water resources.” The most significant changes are in the definitions of “food resources” and “water resources,” which establish that the jurisdiction for potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers belongs to the Secretary of Agriculture. All other modifications clarify existing definitions.

In addition, several non-substantive changes were made for consistency with the related regulations being implemented by other agencies. For example, minor edits were made to this rule to parallel edits made to the final DPA rule published by the Department of Transportation on October 1, 2012 (77 FR 59793-59818). The nature of all of these changes was minor clarifying changes, for example:

• Updated the Executive Order number from 12919 to 13603 and updated the citation,

• Updated the references to the authorizing jurisdictions throughout for consistency with the changes made by Executive Order 13603,

• Revised the definitions for “civil transportation,” “energy,” “food resources,” “food resource facilities,” “health resources,” and “water resources” for consistency with Executive Order 13603,

• Removed, to avoid confusion, the reference to the Federal Priorities and Allocations System because it is only the concept of the combination of all of the priorities and allocations rules being implemented by each of the agencies required to implement DPA,

• Added a citation to the DOC regulation, and

• Updated titles for clearances required for the President's approval, and

• Corrected minor typographical errors.

Executive Order 12866

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) designated this rule as significant under Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review,” and has reviewed this rule. A summary of the cost benefit analysis is provided below; the cost benefit analysis is available at www.regulations.gov with the supporting materials for this rule.

Summary of Cost Benefit Analysis

DPA requires the head of each Federal agency to which the President delegates authority to prioritize contracts and orders to meet the needs of national defense. In Executive Order 13603 the President delegated DPA authority with respect to food resources; food resource facilities; livestock, veterinary, and plant health resources; and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer to the Secretary of Agriculture. To implement DPA, FSA is implementing the APAS regulation, which is modeled after DPAS.

Food is essential to national defense including civil emergency response. APAS is designed to use the DPA authority to help ensure that food is available when and where it is needed most, such as after a hurricane or an earthquake. The authority under DPA extends beyond emergency conditions to also cover nonemergency conditions. Under DPA, USDA may develop plans and programs to expedite and expand the supply of critical resources from the private sector for the production, processing, storage, and distribution of agricultural commodities to promote national defense and to prevent civilian hardship in the food marketplace. In addition, DPA enables USDA to further support domestic emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities, critical infrastructure protection and restoration, and homeland security activities.

The impact of APAS on private companies receiving priority orders is expected to vary depending on economic factors. In most cases, there is likely to be no economic impact in filling priority orders because it would generally just be changing the timing in which orders are completed. No data were provided by the commenters to change this analysis, anecdotally, the comments stated that “manufacturing and distribution processes . . . would be altered by allocation orders . . . will have a negative economic impact.”

APAS is expected to primarily be used for prioritizing contracts and to a lesser extent for determining allocations. USDA does not expect any program outlays under APAS for prioritizing contracts and potentially determining allocations. USDA will likely incur administrative expenses associated with assessing priorities and allocations requests and providing oversight for approved requests. The administrative expenses are expected to be marginal as APAS will presumably be administered using existing USDA personnel.

APAS is expected to have an overall positive impact on the U.S. public and industry by maintaining and restoring the production, processing, storage, and distribution of agricultural commodities during times of both emergency and nonemergency conditions to promote national defense and to prevent civilian hardship in the food marketplace. While USDA has not yet administered APAS under DPA authority, the continued use of the Department of Commerce's DPAS by the Department of Defense proves the usefulness of a priorities and allocations system.

As discussed above, FSA received one comment about the analysis, as follows:

Comment: The proposed rule dismisses and fails to accurately assess the economic cost of APAS to the agriculture industry and other sectors, including transporters, if USDA uses its authority to issue orders that circumvent existing commercial and governmental contracts.

Response: As noted above, there are a limited group of participants eligible for participation in the APAS program; therefore, there were limited data available to analyze the economic costs. DOC's use of DPAS, which has been used for similar priority ratings using its delegation of authority from the Secretary of Agriculture, has not resulted in any known economic hardships to participants involved in the agricultural industry and other sectors. USDA and other Federal agencies will not use APAS to circumvent existing commercial and government contracts. Instead, they will use APAS to speed up delivery of items under contract or increase procurement of items under contract. Therefore, no change was made to the analysis in response to this comment.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to the notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) or any other statute, unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. FSA has determined that this rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities for the reasons explained below. Consequently, FSA has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis.

Small entities include small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions. For purposes of assessing the impacts of this rule on small entities, a small business, as described in the Small Business Administration's Table of Small Business Size Standards Matched to North American Industry Classification System Codes (August 2008 Edition), has a maximum annual revenue of $33.5 million and a maximum of 1,500 employees (for some business categories, these numbers are lower). Due to the scope of this rule and for consistency with DPAS and other regulations implementing DPA, these general size standards were used for this analysis. The range of small business size standards varies. For example, SBA classifies a small business for Food Manufacturing as one that has a maximum annual revenue of $750,000 and for Crop or Animal Production a maximum of 500 employees. Due to the wide variety of businesses that could be involved in APAS, and that the potential impacts are expected to be minor, the more narrow categories were not used for this analysis. A small governmental jurisdiction is a government of a city, town, school district or special district with a population of less than 50,000. A small organization is any not-for-profit enterprise that is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.

This rule establishes criteria under which USDA (or agencies to which USDA delegates authority) will authorize prioritization of certain orders or contracts as well as criteria under which USDA would issue orders allocating resources or production facilities. Because the rule affects commercial transactions, USDA believes that small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions are unlikely to be affected by this rule. However, FSA has no basis on which to estimate the number of small businesses that are likely to be affected by this rule.

FSA believes that any impact that this rule might have on small businesses would be minor. The rule has two principal components: Prioritization and allocation. Prioritization is the process that is, by far, more likely to be used. Under prioritization, USDA designates certain orders, which may be placed by Government or by private entities, and assigned under one of two possible priority levels. Once so designated, such orders are referred to as “rated orders.” The recipient of a rated order must give it priority over an unrated order. The recipient of a rated order with a higher priority rating must give that order priority over any rated orders with the lower priority rating and over unrated orders as necessary to meet the delivery requirements of each rated order. A recipient of a rated order may place more than one order at the same priority level with suppliers and subcontractors for supplies and services necessary to fulfill the recipient's rated order and the suppliers and subcontractors must treat the request from the rated order recipient as a rated order with the same priority level as the original rated order. The rule does not require recipients to fulfill rated orders if the price or terms of sale are not consistent with the price or terms of sale of similar non-rated orders. The rule provides a defense from any liability for damages or penalties for actions or inactions made in compliance with the rule.

Although rated orders could require a recipient to fill one order prior to filling another, they would not require a reduction in the total volume of orders nor would they require the recipient to reduce prices or provide rated orders with more favorable terms than a similar non-rated order. Under these circumstances, the economic effects on the rated order recipient of substituting one order for another are likely to be mutually offsetting, resulting in no net loss.

Allocations could be used to control the general distribution of materials or services in the civilian market. Specific allocations actions that FSA might take are set-asides, allocations directives, and allotments. Any allocations actions would be used only in extraordinary circumstances. As required by section 101(b) of DPA (50 U.S.C. App. 2071) and by section 201(e) of Executive Order 13603, allocations may be implemented only if the Secretary of Agriculture made, and the President approved, a finding: (1) That the material [or service] is a scarce and critical material [or service] essential to the national defense, and (2) that the requirements of the national defense for such material [or service] cannot otherwise be met without creating a significant dislocation of the normal distribution of such material [or service] in the civilian market to such a degree as to create appreciable hardship.

Any allocations actions would also have to comply with section 701(e) of DPA (50 U.S.C. app. sec. 2151(e)), which provides that small business be included. To the extent practicable, a fair share of the material, including services, will be provided to small business in proportion to the share received by such business concerns under normal conditions. Although FSA cannot determine precisely the number of small entities that would be affected by this rule, FSA believes that the overall impact on such entities would not be significant. In most instances, rated contracts would be in addition to other (unrated) contracts and would not reduce the total amount of business the firm receives. Because allocations can be imposed only after a determination by the President, and there have been no allocations actions under DPA authority in more than 50 years, allocations are expected to be a rare occurrence. Therefore, estimating the impact of an allocation, should one occur, is difficult. FSA believes that the requirement for a Presidential determination and the provisions of section 701 of the DPA provide reasonable assurance that any impact on small business will not be significant.

Therefore, for the reasons set forth above, FSA certifies that this action would not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Environmental Review

The environmental impacts of this rule have been considered in a manner consistent with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508), and the FSA regulation for compliance with NEPA (7 CFR part 799). The provisions of this rule are specifically related to acquisition and are considered solely administrative in nature. Therefore, FSA has determined that NEPA does not apply to this rule and no environmental assessment or environmental impact statement will be prepared.

Executive Order 12372

Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” requires consultation with State and local officials. The objectives of the Executive Order are to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened Federalism, by relying on State and local processes for State and local government coordination and review of proposed Federal Financial assistance and direct Federal development. This rule does not provide Federal financial assistance, direct Federal development, grants, or cooperative agreements. Therefore, this program is not subject to Executive Order 12372.

Executive Order 12988

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, “Civil Justice Reform.” This rule would not preempt State and or local laws, and regulations, or policies unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule. Before any judicial action may be brought concerning the provisions of this rule, appeal provisions of 7 CFR parts 11 and 780 would need to be exhausted.

Executive Order 13132

This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 13132, “Federalism.” The policies contained in this rule do not have any substantial direct effect on States, the relationship between the Federal government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Nor does this rule impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments. Therefore, consultation with the States is not required.

Executive Order 13175

This final rule has been reviewed for compliance with Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.” The policies contained in this rule do not have Tribal implications that preempt Tribal law. FSA continues to consult with Tribal officials to have a meaningful consultation and collaboration on the development and strengthening of FSA regulations.

Unfunded Mandates

Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA, Pub. L. 104-4) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their regulatory actions on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector. Agencies generally must prepare a written statement, including a cost benefit analysis, for proposed and final rules with Federal mandates that may result in expenditures of $100 million or more in any 1 year for State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or to the private sector. UMRA generally requires agencies to consider alternatives and adopt the more cost effective or least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule. This rule contains no Federal mandates as defined by Title II of UMRA for State, local, or tribal governments or for the private sector. Therefore, this rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of UMRA.

Paperwork Reduction Act

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), FSA described the new information collection activities in the request for public comment in the proposed rule. No comments related to the Paperwork Reduction Act were received, and no change to the information collection was required. The currently approved information collection is covered under OMB control number 0560-0280.

E-Government Act Compliance

FSA 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.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 789

Administrative practice and procedure, Business and industry, Government contracts, National defense, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, FSA adds 7 CFR part 789 to read as follows: PART 789—AGRICULTURE PRIORITIES AND ALLOCATIONS SYSTEM (APAS) Subpart A—General Sec. 789.1 Purpose. 789.2 Priorities and allocations authority. 789.3 Program eligibility. Subpart B—Definitions 789.8 Definitions. Subpart C—Placement of Rated Orders 789.10 Delegations of authority. 789.11 Priority ratings. 789.12 Elements of a rated order. 789.13 Acceptance and rejection of rated orders. 789.14 Preferential scheduling. 789.15 Extension of priority ratings. 789.16 Changes or cancellations of priority ratings and rated orders. 789.17 Use of rated orders. 789.18 Limitations on placing rated orders. Subpart D—Special Priorities Assistance 789.20 General provisions. 789.21 Requests for priority rating authority. 789.22 Examples of assistance. 789.23 Criteria for assistance. 789.24 Instances where assistance must not be provided. Subpart E—Allocations Actions 789.30 Policy. 789.31 General procedures. 789.32 Precedence over priority rated orders. 789.33 Controlling the general distribution of a material in the civilian market. 789.34 Types of allocations orders. 789.35 Elements of an allocations order. 789.36 Mandatory acceptance of allocations orders. 789.37 Changes or cancellations of allocations orders. Subpart F—Official Actions 789.40 General provisions. 789.41 Rating authorizations. 789.42 Directives. 789.43 Letters of understanding. Subpart G—Compliance 789.50 General provisions. 789.51 Audits and investigations. 789.52 Compulsory process. 789.53 Notification of failure to comply. 789.54 Violations, penalties, and remedies. 789.55 Compliance conflicts. Subpart H—Adjustments, Exceptions, and Appeals 789.60 Adjustments or exceptions. 789.61 Appeals. Subpart I—Miscellaneous Provisions 789.70 Protection against claims. 789.71 Records and reports. 789.72 Applicability of this part and official actions. 789.73 Communications.

Schedule I to Part 789—Approved Programs and Delegate Agencies

Authority:

50 U.S.C. App. 2061-2170, 2171, and 2172; 42 U.S.C. 5195-5197h.

Subpart A—General
§ 789.1 Purpose.

This part provides guidance and procedures for use of the Defense Production Act priorities and allocations authority by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer in this part. (The guidance and procedures in this part are consistent with the guidance and procedures provided in other regulations issued under Executive Order 13603. Guidance and procedures for use of the Defense Production Act priorities and allocations authority with respect to other types of resources are as follows: For all forms of energy, refer to the Department of Energy's Energy Priorities and Allocations System (EPAS) regulation in 10 CFR part 217; for all forms of civil transportation, refer to the Department of Transportation's Transportation Priorities and Allocations System (TPAS) regulation in 49 CFR part 33; for water resources, refer to the Department of Defense; for health resources, refer to the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources Priorities and Allocations System in 45 CFR part 101; and for all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials, refer to the Department of Commerce's Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) regulation in 15 CFR part 700.)

§ 789.2 Priorities and allocations authority.

(a) Section 201 of Executive Order 13603 (3 CFR, 2012 Comp., p. 225) delegates the President's authority under section 101 of the Defense Production Act to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts and orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense to the following agencies. Essentially, this allows the following agencies to place priority on the performance of contracts for items and materials under their jurisdiction as required for national defense initiatives including emergency preparedness activities:

(1) The Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2) The Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3) The Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4) The Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5) The Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6) The Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

(b) Section 202 of Executive Order 13603 specifies that the priorities and allocations authority may be used only to support programs that have been determined in writing as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense by:

(1) The Secretary of Defense with respect to military production and construction, military assistance to foreign nations, military use of civil transportation, stockpiles managed by the Department of Defense, space, and directly related activities;

(2) The Secretary of Energy with respect to energy production and construction, distribution and use, and directly related activities; or

(3) The Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to all other national defense programs, including civil defense and continuity of Government.

§ 789.3 Program eligibility.

Certain programs that promote the national defense are eligible for priorities and allocations support. These include programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity. Other eligible programs include emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to Title VI of the Stafford Act and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.

Subpart B—Definitions
§ 789.8 Definitions.

Allocations means the control of the distribution of materials, services, or facilities for a purpose deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense.

Allocations order means an official action to control the distribution of materials, services, or facilities for a purpose deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense.

Allotment means an official action that specifies the maximum quantity for a specific use of a material, service, or facility authorized to promote the national defense.

Animal means any member of the animal kingdom (except a human).

APAS means the Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System established by this part.

Applicant means the person applying for assistance under APAS. (See definition of “person.”)

Approved program means a program determined by the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Energy, or the Secretary of Homeland Security to be necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, as specified in section 202 of Executive Order 13603.

Civil transportation includes movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce within the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia, and related public storage and warehousing, ports, services, equipment and facilities, such as transportation carrier shop and repair facilities. “Civil transportation” also includes direction, control, and coordination of civil transportation capacity regardless of ownership. “Civil transportation” does not include transportation owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, use of petroleum and gas pipelines, and coal slurry pipelines used only to supply energy production facilities directly.

Construction means the erection, addition, extension, or alteration of any building, structure, or project, using materials or products that are to be an integral and permanent part of the building, structure, or project. Construction does not include maintenance and repair.

Critical infrastructure means any systems and assets, whether physical or cyber-based, so vital to the United States that the degradation or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on national security, including, but not limited to, national economic security and national public health or safety.

Defense Production Act means the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 to 2170, 2171, and 2172).

Delegate agency means a government agency authorized by delegation from USDA to place priority ratings on contracts or orders needed to support approved programs.

Directive means an official action that requires a person to take or refrain from taking certain actions in accordance with the provisions.

Emergency preparedness means all those activities and measures designed or undertaken to prepare for or minimize the effects of a hazard upon the civilian population, to deal with the immediate emergency conditions that would be created by the hazard, and to make emergency repairs to, or the emergency restoration of, vital utilities and facilities destroyed or damaged by the hazard. Emergency preparedness includes the following:

(1) Measures to be undertaken in preparation for anticipated hazards (including the establishment of appropriate organizations, operational plans, and supporting agreements, the recruitment and training of personnel, the conduct of research, the procurement and stockpiling of necessary materials and supplies, the provision of suitable warning systems, the construction or preparation of shelters, shelter areas, and control centers, and, when appropriate, the non-military evacuation of the civilian population).

(2) Measures to be undertaken during a hazard (including the enforcement of passive defense regulations prescribed by duly established military or civil authorities, the evacuation of personnel to shelter areas, the control of traffic and panic, and the control and use of lighting and civil communications).

(3) Measures to be undertaken following a hazard (including activities for fire fighting, rescue, emergency medical, health and sanitation services, monitoring for specific dangers of special weapons, unexploded bomb reconnaissance, essential debris clearance, emergency welfare measures, and immediately essential emergency repair or restoration of damaged vital facilities).

Energy means all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquefaction and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy.

Facilities includes all types of buildings, structures, or other improvements to real property (but excluding farms, churches or other places of worship, and private dwelling houses), and services relating to the use of any such building, structure, or other improvement.

Farm equipment means equipment, machinery, and repair parts manufactured for use on farms in connection with the production or preparation for market use of food resources.

Feed is a nutritionally adequate manufactured food for animals (livestock and poultry raised for agriculture production); and by specific formula is compounded to be fed as the sole ration and is capable of maintaining life and promoting production without any additional substance being consumed except water.

Fertilizer means any product or combination of products that contain one or more of the elements—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—for use as a plant nutrient.

Food resources means all commodities and products (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products suitable for sale for human or animal consumption. Food resources also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product.

Food resource facilities means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on-farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation for that distribution).

Hazard means an emergency or disaster resulting from a natural disaster; or from an accidental or man-caused event.

Health resources means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services, and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate, or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.

Homeland security includes efforts:

(1) To prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;

(2) To reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism;

(3) To minimize damage from a terrorist attack in the United States; and

(4) To recover from a terrorist attack in the United States.

Industrial resources means all materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials, but not including: Food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer; all forms of energy; health resources; all forms of civil transportation; and water resources.

Item means any raw, in process, or manufactured material, article, commodity, supply, equipment, component, accessory, part, assembly, or product of any kind, technical information, process, or service.

Letter of understanding means an official action that may be issued in resolving special priorities assistance cases to reflect an agreement reached by all parties (USDA, the Department of Commerce (if applicable), a delegate agency (if applicable), the supplier, and the customer).

Livestock means all farm-raised animals.

Livestock resources means materials, facilities, vehicles, health supplies, services, and equipment required for the production and distribution of livestock.

Maintenance and repair and operating supplies (MRO) means:

(1) Maintenance is the upkeep necessary to continue any plant, facility, or equipment in working condition.

(2) Repair is the restoration of any plant, facility, or equipment to working condition when it has been rendered unsafe or unfit for service by wear and tear, damage, or failure of parts.

(3) Operating supplies are any resources carried as operating supplies according to a person's established accounting practice. Operating supplies may include hand tools and expendable tools, jigs, dies, fixtures used on production equipment, lubricants, cleaners, chemicals, and other expendable items.

(4) MRO does not include items produced or obtained for sale to other persons or for installation upon or attachment to the property of another person, or items required for the production of such items; items needed for the replacement of any plant, facility, or equipment; or items for the improvement of any plant, facility, or equipment by replacing items that are still in working condition with items of a new or different kind, quality, or design.

Materials includes:

(1) Any raw materials (including minerals, metals, and advanced processed materials), commodities, articles, components (including critical components), products, and items of supply; and

(2) Any technical information or services ancillary to the use of any such materials, commodities, articles, components, products, or items.

National defense means programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity. Such term includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to Title VI of the Stafford Act and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.

Official action means an action taken by USDA or another resource agency under the authority of the Defense Production Act, Executive Order 13603, or this part. Such actions include the issuance of rating authorizations, directives, set-asides, allotments, letters of understanding, demands for information, inspection authorizations, and administrative subpoenas.

Person includes an individual, corporation, partnership, association, or any other organized group of persons, or legal successor or representative thereof, or any State or local government or agency thereof, or any Federal agency.

Plant health resources means biological products, materials, facilities, vehicles, supplies, services, and equipment required to prevent the impairment of, improve, or restore plant health conditions.

Rated order means a prime contract, a subcontract, or a purchase order in support of an approved program issued as specified in the provisions of this part. Persons may request an order (contract) be rated in response to a need that is defined in this part. However, an order does not become rated until the request is approved by USDA. USDA will assign a rating priority for each rating request approved that designates the priority of that order over other orders that have similar order specifics.

Resource agency means any agency that is delegated priorities and allocations authority as specified in § 789.2.

Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture.

Seed is used with its commonly understood meaning and includes all seed grown for and customarily sold to users for planting for the production of agriculture crops.

Services includes any effort that is needed for or incidental to:

(1) The development, production, processing, distribution, delivery, or use of an industrial resource or a critical technology item;

(2) The construction of facilities;

(3) The movement of individuals and property by all modes of civil transportation; or

(4) Other national defense programs and activities.

Set-aside means an official action that requires a person to reserve materials, services, or facilities capacity in anticipation of the receipt of rated orders.

Stafford Act means the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5195-5197h).

USDA means the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Veterinary resources means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, vehicles, health supplies, services, and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the health conditions of the animal population.

Water resources means all usable water, from all sources, within the jurisdiction of the United States, that can be managed, controlled, and allocated to meet emergency requirements, except water resources does not include usable water that qualifies as food resources.

Subpart C—Placement of Rated Orders
§ 789.10 Delegations of authority.

(a) [Reserved]

(b) Within USDA, authority to administer APAS has been delegated to the Administrator, Farm Service Agency, through the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. (See §§ 2.16(a)(6) and 2.42(a)(5) of this title.) The Farm Service Agency Administrator will coordinate APAS implementation and administration through the Director, USDA Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Coordination, as delegated by the Assistant Secretary for Administration. (See §§ 2.24(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 2.24(a)(8)(v); 2.95(b)(1)(i) and 2.95(b)(4) of this title.)

§ 789.11 Priority ratings.

(a) Levels of priority. Priority levels designate differences between orders based on national defense including emergency preparedness requirements.

(1) There are two levels of priority established by APAS, identified by the rating symbols “DO” and “DX.”

(2) All DO-rated orders have equal priority with each other and take precedence over unrated orders. All DX-rated orders have equal priority with each other and take precedence over DO-rated orders and unrated orders. (For resolution of conflicts among rated orders of equal priority, see § 789.14(c).)

(3) In addition, a directive regarding priority treatment for a given item issued by the resource agency with priorities jurisdiction for that item takes precedence over any DX-rated order, DO-rated order, or unrated order, as stipulated in the directive. (For more information on directives, see § 789.42.)

(b) Program identification symbols. Program identification symbols indicate which approved program is being supported by a rated order. The list of currently approved programs and their identification symbols are listed in Schedule I. For example, P1 identifies a program involving food and food resources processing and storage. Program identification symbols, in themselves, do not connote any priority. Additional programs may be approved under the procedures of Executive Order 13603 at any time.

(c) Priority ratings. A priority rating consists of the rating symbol DO or DX followed by the program identification symbol, such as P1 or P2. Thus, a contract for the supply of livestock feed will contain a DO-P1 or DX-P1 priority rating.

§ 789.12 Elements of a rated order.

(a) Each rated order must include:

(1) The appropriate priority rating (for example, DO-P1 for food and food resources processing and storage);

(2) A required delivery date or dates. The words “immediately” or “as soon as possible” do not constitute a delivery date. Some purchase orders, such as a “requirements contract,” “basic ordering agreement,” “prime vendor contract,” or similar procurement document, bearing a priority rating may contain no specific delivery date or dates if it provides for the furnishing of items or services from time-to-time or within a stated period against specific purchase orders, such as calls, requisitions, and delivery orders. Specific purchase orders must specify a required delivery date or dates and are to be considered as rated as of the date of their receipt by the supplier and not as of the date of the original procurement document;

(3) The written signature on a manually placed order, or the digital signature or name on an electronically placed order, of an individual authorized to sign rated orders for the person placing the order. The signature or use of the name certifies that the rated order is authorized under this part and that the requirements of this part are being followed; and

(4) A statement as follows:

(i) A statement that reads:

This is a rated order certified for national defense use, and you are required to follow all the provisions of the Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System regulation in 7 CFR part 789.

(ii) If the rated order is placed in support of emergency preparedness requirements and expedited action is necessary and appropriate to meet these requirements, the following sentences should be added following the statement specified in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section:

This rated order is placed for the purpose of emergency preparedness. It must be accepted or rejected within six (6) hours after receipt of the order if the order is issued in response to a hazard that has occurred; or within the greater of twelve (12) hours or the time specified in the order, if the order is issued to prepare for an imminent hazard, in accordance with 7 CFR 789.13(e).

(b) [Reserved]

§ 789.13 Acceptance and rejection of rated orders.

(a) Mandatory acceptance. A person must accept a rated order in accordance with the following requirements:

(1) Except as otherwise specified in this section, a person must accept every rated order received and must fill such orders regardless of any other rated or unrated orders that have been accepted.

(2) A person must not discriminate against rated orders in any manner such as by charging higher prices or by imposing different terms and conditions than for comparable unrated orders.

(b) Mandatory rejection. Unless otherwise directed by USDA for a rated order involving food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, or the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer:

(1) A person must not accept a rated order for delivery on a specific date if unable to fill the order by that date. However, the person must inform the customer of the earliest date on which delivery can be made and offer to accept the order on the basis of that date. Scheduling conflicts with previously accepted lower rated or unrated orders are not sufficient reason for rejection in this section.

(2) A person must not accept a DO-rated order for delivery on a date that would interfere with delivery of any previously accepted DO- or DX-rated orders. However, the person must offer to accept the order based on the earliest delivery date otherwise possible.

(3) A person must not accept a DX-rated order for delivery on a date that would interfere with delivery of any previously accepted DX-rated orders, but must offer to accept the order based on the earliest delivery date otherwise possible.

(4) If a person is unable to fill all of the rated orders of equal priority status received on the same day, the person must accept, based upon the earliest delivery dates, only those orders that can be filled, and reject the other orders. For example, a person must accept order A requiring delivery on December 15 before accepting order B requiring delivery on December 31. However, the person must offer to accept the rejected orders based on the earliest delivery dates otherwise possible.

(5) A person must reject the rated order if the person is prohibited by Federal law from meeting the terms of the order.

(c) Optional rejection. Unless otherwise directed by USDA for a rated order involving food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, or the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer, rated orders may be rejected in any of the following cases as long as a supplier does not discriminate among customers:

(1) If the person placing the order is unwilling or unable to meet regularly established terms of sale or payment;

(2) If the order is for an item not supplied or for a service not capable of being performed;

(3) If the order is for an item or service produced, acquired, or provided only for the supplier's own use for which no orders have been filled for 2 years prior to the date of receipt of the rated order. If, however, a supplier has sold some of these items or provided similar services, the supplier is obligated to accept rated orders up to that quantity or portion of production or service, whichever is greater, sold or provided within the past 2 years;

(4) If the person placing the rated order, other than the Federal Government, makes the item or performs the service being ordered;

(5) If acceptance of a rated order or performance against a rated order would violate any other regulation, official action, or order of USDA, issued under the authority of the Defense Production Act or another relevant law.

(d) Customer notification requirements. A person in receipt of a rated order is required to provide to the customer placing the order written or electronic notification of acceptance or rejection of the order.

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a person must accept or reject a rated order in writing or electronically within fifteen (15) working days after receipt of a DO-rated order and within ten (10) working days after receipt of a DX-rated order. If the order is rejected, the person must give reasons in writing or electronically for the rejection.

(2) If a person has accepted a rated order and subsequently finds that shipment or performance will be delayed, the person must notify the customer immediately, give the reasons for the delay, and advise of a new shipment or performance date. If notification is given verbally, written or electronic confirmation must be provided within 5 working days.

(e) Exception for emergency preparedness conditions. If the rated order is placed for the purpose of emergency preparedness and includes the additional statement as specified in § 789.12(a)(4)(ii), a person must accept or reject a rated order and send the acceptance or rejection in writing or in an electronic format:

(1) Within 6 hours after receipt of the order if the order is issued in response to a hazard that has occurred; or

(2) Within the greater of 12 hours or the time specified in the order, if the order is issued to prepare for an imminent hazard.

§ 789.14 Preferential scheduling.

(a) A person must schedule operations, including the acquisition of all needed production items or services, in a timely manner to satisfy the delivery requirements of each rated order. Modifying production or delivery schedules is necessary only when required delivery dates for rated orders cannot otherwise be met.

(b) DO-rated orders must be given production preference over unrated orders, if necessary to meet required delivery dates, even if this requires the diversion of items being processed or ready for delivery or services being performed against unrated orders. Similarly, DX-rated orders must be given preference over DO-rated orders and unrated orders. (Examples: If a person receives a DO-rated order with a delivery date of June 3 and if meeting that date would mean delaying production or delivery of an item for an unrated order, the unrated order must be delayed. If a DX-rated order is received calling for delivery on July 15 and a person has a DO-rated order requiring delivery on June 2 and operations can be scheduled to meet both deliveries, there is no need to alter production schedules to give any additional preference to the DX-rated order.)

(c) For conflicting rated orders:

(1) If a person finds that delivery or performance against any accepted rated orders conflicts with the delivery or performance against other accepted rated orders of equal priority status, the person must give precedence to the conflicting orders in the sequence in which they are to be delivered or performed (not to the receipt dates). If the conflicting orders are scheduled to be delivered or performed on the same day, the person must give precedence to those orders that have the earliest receipt dates.

(2) If a person is unable to resolve rated order delivery or performance conflicts as specified in this section, the person should promptly seek special priorities assistance as provided in §§ 789.20 through 789.24. If the person's customer objects to the rescheduling of delivery or performance of a rated order, the customer should promptly seek special priorities assistance as specified in §§ 789.20 through 789.24. For any rated order against which delivery or performance will be delayed, the person must notify the customer as provided in § 789.13(d)(2).

(d) If a person is unable to purchase needed production items in time to fill a rated order by its required delivery date, the person must fill the rated order by using inventoried production items. A person who uses inventoried items to fill a rated order may replace those items with the use of a rated order as provided in § 789.17(b).

§ 789.15 Extension of priority ratings.

(a) A person must use rated orders as necessary with suppliers to obtain items or services needed to fill a rated order. The person must use the priority rating indicated on the customer's rated order, except as otherwise provided in this part or as directed by USDA.

(b) The priority rating must be included as necessary on each successive order placed to obtain items or services needed to fill a customer's rated order. This continues from contractor to subcontractor to supplier throughout the entire procurement chain.

§ 789.16 Changes or cancellations of priority ratings and rated orders.

(a) The priority rating on a rated order may be changed or canceled by:

(1) An official action of USDA; or

(2) Written notification from the person who placed the rated order.

(b) If an unrated order is amended so as to make it a rated order, or a DO rating is changed to a DX rating, the supplier must give the appropriate preferential treatment to the order as of the date the change is received by the supplier.

(c) An amendment to a rated order that significantly alters a supplier's original production or delivery schedule constitutes a new rated order as of the date of its receipt. The supplier must accept or reject the amended order according to the provisions of § 789.13.

(d) The following amendments do not constitute a new rated order:

(1) A change in shipping destination;

(2) A reduction in the total amount of the order;

(3) An increase in the total amount of the order that has a negligible impact upon deliveries;

(4) A minor variation in size or design; or

(5) A change that is agreed upon between the supplier and the customer.

(e) If a person no longer needs items or services to fill a rated order, any rated orders placed with suppliers for the items or services, or the priority rating on those orders, must be canceled.

(f) When a priority rating is added to an unrated order, or is changed or canceled, all suppliers must be promptly notified in writing.

§ 789.17 Use of rated orders.

(a) A person must use rated orders as necessary to obtain:

(1) Items that will be physically incorporated into other items to fill rated orders, including that portion of such items normally consumed or converted into scrap or by-products in the course of processing;

(2) Containers or other packaging materials required to make delivery of the finished items against rated orders;

(3) Services, other than contracts of employment, needed to fill rated orders; and

(4) MRO needed to produce the finished items to fill rated orders.

(b) A person may use a rated order to replace inventoried items (including finished items) if such items were used to fill rated orders, as follows:

(1) The order must be placed within 90 days of the date of use of the inventory.

(2) A DO rating and the program identification symbol indicated on the customer's rated order must be used on the order. A DX rating must not be used even if the inventory was used to fill a DX-rated order.

(3) If the priority ratings on rated orders from one customer or several customers contain different program identification symbols, the rated orders may be combined. In this case, the program identification symbol P4 must be used (that is DO-P4).

(c) A person may combine DX- and DO-rated orders from one customer or several customers if the items or services covered by each level of priority are identified separately and clearly. If different program identification symbols are indicated on those rated orders of equal priority, the person must use the program identification symbol P4 (that is DO-P4 or DX-P4).

(d) For combining rated and unrated orders:

(1) A person may combine rated and unrated order quantities on one purchase order provided that:

(i) The rated quantities are separately and clearly identified; and

(ii) The four elements of a rated order, as required by § 789.12, are included on the order with the statement required in § 789.12(a)(4)(i) modified to read:

This purchase order contains rated order quantities certified for national defense use, and you are required to follow all the provisions of the Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System regulation in 7 CFR part 789 only as it pertains to the rated quantities.

(2) A supplier must accept or reject the rated portion of the purchase order as provided in § 789.13 and give preferential treatment only to the rated quantities as required by this part. This part must not be used to require preferential treatment for the unrated portion of the order.

(3) Any supplier who believes that rated and unrated orders are being combined in a manner contrary to the intent of this part or in a fashion that causes undue or exceptional hardship may submit a request for adjustment or exception as specified in § 789.60.

(e) A person may place a rated order for the minimum commercially procurable quantity even if the quantity needed to fill a rated order is less than that minimum. However, a person must combine rated orders as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, if possible, to obtain minimum procurable quantities.

(f) A person is not required to place a priority rating on an order for less than $75,000 or one-half of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (as established in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) (see 48 CFR 2.101) or in other authorized acquisition regulatory or management systems) whichever amount is greater, provided that delivery can be obtained in a timely fashion without the use of the priority rating.

§ 789.18 Limitations on placing rated orders.

(a) General limitations. Rated orders may be placed only by persons with the proper authority for items and services that are needed to support approved programs.

(1) A person must not place a DO- or DX-rated order unless authorized by USDA to do so under this part.

(2) Rated orders must not be used to obtain:

(i) Delivery on a date earlier than needed;

(ii) A greater quantity of the item or services than needed, except to obtain a minimum procurable quantity. Separate rated orders must not be placed solely for the purpose of obtaining minimum procurable quantities on each order;

(iii) Items or services in advance of the receipt of a rated order, except as specifically authorized by USDA (see § 789.21(c) for information on obtaining authorization for a priority rating in advance of a rated order);

(iv) Items that are not needed to fill a rated order, except as specifically authorized by USDA or as otherwise permitted by this part;

(v) Any of the following items unless specific priority rating authority has been obtained from USDA or the Department of Commerce, as appropriate:

(A) Items for plant improvement, expansion, or construction, unless they will be physically incorporated into a construction project covered by a rated order; and

(B) Production or construction equipment or items to be used for the manufacture of production equipment. For information on requesting priority rating authority, see § 789.21; or

(vi) Any items related to the development of chemical or biological warfare capabilities or the production of chemical or biological weapons, unless such development or production has been authorized by the President or the Secretary of Defense.

(b) Jurisdictional limitations. (1) Unless authorized by the resource agency with jurisdiction (see § 789.10), the provisions of this part are not applicable to the following resources:

(i) All forms of energy (Resource agency with jurisdiction—Department of Energy);

(ii) Health resources (Resource agency with jurisdiction—Department of Health and Human Services);

(iii) All forms of civil transportation (Resource agency with jurisdiction—Department of Transportation);

(iv) Water resources (Resource agency with jurisdiction—Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers);

(v) All materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials for which the authority has not been delegated to other agencies under Executive Order 13603 (Resource agency with jurisdiction—Department of Commerce); and

(2) The priorities and allocations authority in this part may not be applied to communications services subject to Executive Order 13618 of July 6, 2012 (3 CFR, 2012 Comp., p. 273).

Subpart D—Special Priorities Assistance
§ 789.20 General provisions.

(a) APAS is designed to be largely self-executing. However, if production or delivery problems arise, a person should immediately contact the Farm Service Agency Administrator for special priorities assistance pursuant to §§ 789.20 through 789.24 and as directed by § 789.73. If the Farm Service Agency is unable to resolve the problem or to authorize the use of a priority rating and believes additional assistance is warranted, USDA may forward the request to another resource agency, as appropriate, for action. Special priorities assistance is a service provided to alleviate problems.

(b) Special priorities assistance is available for any reason consistent with this part. Generally, special priorities assistance is provided to expedite deliveries, resolve delivery conflicts, place rated orders, locate suppliers, or verify information supplied by customers and vendors. Special priorities assistance may also be used to request rating authority for items that are not normally eligible for priority treatment.

(c) A request for special priorities assistance or priority rating authority must be submitted on Form AD-2102 (OMB Control Number 0560-0280) to the Farm Service Agency as provided in paragraph (a) of this section. Form AD-2102 may be obtained from USDA by downloading the form and instructions from http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eForms/welcomeAction.do?Home or by contacting the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency as specified in § 789.73. Either mail or fax the form to USDA, using the address or fax number shown on the form.

§ 789.21 Requests for priority rating authority.

(a) Rating authority for items or services not normally rated. If a rated order is likely to be delayed because a person is unable to obtain items or services not normally rated under this part, the person may request the authority to use a priority rating in ordering the needed items or services.

(b) Rating authority for production or construction equipment. For a rated order for production or construction equipment not under the resource jurisdiction of USDA, follow the regulation in 15 CFR part 700.

(1) A request for priority rating authority for production or construction equipment must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce on Form BIS-999 (see 15 CFR 700.51). Form BIS-999 may be obtained from USDA as specified in § 789.20(c) or from the Department of Commerce as specified in 15 CFR 700.50.

(2) When the use of a priority rating is authorized for the procurement of production or construction equipment, a rated order may be used either to purchase or to lease such equipment. However, in the latter case, the equipment may be leased only from a person engaged in the business of leasing such equipment or from a person willing to lease rather than sell.

(c) For rating authority in advance of a rated prime contract:

(1) In certain cases and upon specific request, USDA, in order to promote the national defense, may authorize a person to place a priority rating on an order to a supplier in advance of the issuance of a rated prime contract. In these instances, the person requesting advance rating authority must obtain sponsorship of the request from USDA. The person assumes any business risk associated with the placing of a rated order if the order has to be canceled in the event the rated prime contract is not issued.

(2) The person must state the following in the request:

It is understood that the authorization of a priority rating in advance of our receiving a rated prime contract from USDA and our use of that priority rating with our suppliers in no way commits USDA or any other government agency to enter into a contract or order or to expend funds. Further, we understand that the Federal Government will not be liable for any cancellation charges, termination costs, or other damages that may accrue if a rated prime contract is not eventually placed and, as a result, we must subsequently cancel orders placed with the use of the priority rating authorized as a result of this request.

(3) In reviewing requests for rating authority in advance of a rated prime contract, USDA will consider, among other things, the following criteria:

(i) The probability that the prime contract will be awarded;

(ii) The impact of the resulting rated orders on suppliers and on other authorized programs;

(iii) Whether the contractor is the sole source;

(iv) Whether the item being produced has a long lead time; and

(v) The time period for which the rating is being requested.

(4) USDA may require periodic reports on the use of the rating authority granted through paragraph (c) of this section.

(5) If a rated prime contract is not issued, the person will promptly notify each supplier who has received any rated order related to the advanced rating authority that the priority rating on the order is canceled.

§ 789.22 Examples of assistance.

(a) While special priorities assistance may be provided for any reason in support of this part, it is usually provided in situations in which:

(1) A person is experiencing difficulty in obtaining delivery against a rated order by the required delivery date; or

(2) A person cannot locate a supplier for an item or service needed to fill a rated order.

(b) Other examples of special priorities assistance include:

(1) Ensuring that rated orders receive preferential treatment by suppliers;

(2) Resolving production or delivery conflicts between various rated orders;

(3) Assisting in placing rated orders with suppliers;

(4) Verifying the urgency of rated orders; and

(5) Determining the validity of rated orders.

§ 789.23 Criteria for assistance.

(a) Requests for special priorities assistance should be timely (for example, the request has been submitted promptly and enough time exists for USDA to meaningfully resolve the problem), and must establish that:

(1) There is an urgent need for the item; and

(2) The applicant has made a reasonable effort to resolve the problem.

(b) [Reserved]

§ 789.24 Instances in which assistance must not be provided.

(a) Special priorities assistance is provided at the discretion of USDA when it is determined that such assistance is warranted to meet the objectives of this part. Examples in which assistance must not be provided include situations in which a person is attempting to:

(1) Secure a price advantage;

(2) Obtain delivery prior to the time required to fill a rated order;

(3) Gain competitive advantage;

(4) Disrupt an industry apportionment program in a manner designed to provide a person with an unwarranted share of scarce items; or

(5) Overcome a supplier's regularly established terms of sale or conditions of doing business.

(b) [Reserved]

Subpart E—Allocations Actions
§ 789.30 Policy.

(a) It is the policy of the Federal Government that the allocations authority under Title I of the Defense Production Act may:

(1) Only be used when there is insufficient supply of a material, service, or facility to satisfy national defense supply requirements through the use of the priorities authority or when the use of the priorities authority would cause a severe and prolonged disruption in the supply of materials, services, or facilities available to support normal U.S. economic activities; and

(2) Not be used to ration materials or services at the retail level.

(b) Allocations orders, when used, will be distributed equitably among the suppliers of the materials, services, or facilities being allocated and not require any person to relinquish a disproportionate share of the civilian market.

§ 789.31 General procedures.

(a) When USDA plans to execute its allocations authority to address a supply problem within its resource jurisdiction, USDA will develop a plan that includes the following information:

(1) A copy of the written determination made in accordance with section 202 of Executive Order 13603, that the program or programs that would be supported by the allocations action are necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense;

(2) A detailed description of the situation to include any unusual events or circumstances that have created the requirement for an allocations action;

(3) A statement of the specific objective(s) of the allocations action;

(4) A list of the materials, services, or facilities to be allocated;

(5) A list of the sources of the materials, services, or facilities that will be subject to the allocations action;

(6) A detailed description of the provisions that will be included in the allocations orders, including the type(s) of allocations orders, the percentages or quantity of capacity or output to be allocated for each purpose, and the duration of the allocations action (for example, anticipated start and end dates);

(7) An evaluation of the impact of the proposed allocations action on the civilian market; and

(8) Proposed actions, if any, to mitigate disruptions to civilian market operations.

(b) [Reserved]

§ 789.32 Precedence over priority rated orders.

If a conflict occurs between an allocations order and an unrelated rated order or priorities directive, the allocations order takes precedence.

§ 789.33 Controlling the general distribution of a material in the civilian market.

(a) No allocations by USDA may be used to control the general distribution of a material in the civilian market, unless the Secretary has:

(1) Made a written finding that:

(i) Such material is a scarce and critical material essential to the national defense; and

(ii) The requirements of the national defense for such material cannot otherwise be met without creating a significant dislocation of the normal distribution of such material in the civilian market to such a degree as to create appreciable hardship;

(2) Submitted the finding for the President's approval through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and

(3) The President has approved the finding.

(b) [Reserved]

§ 789.34 Types of allocations orders.

(a) The three types of allocations orders that may be used for allocations actions are:

(1) Set-asides;

(2) Directives; and

(3) Allotments.

(b) [Reserved]

§ 789.35 Elements of an allocations order.

(a) Each allocations order will include:

(1) A detailed description of the required allocations action(s);

(2) Specific start and end calendar dates for each required allocations action;

(3) The Secretary's written signature on a manually placed order, or the digital signature or name on an electronically placed order, of the Secretary. The signature or use of the name certifies that the order is authorized as specified in this part and that the requirements of this part are being followed;

(4) A statement that reads: “This is an allocations order certified for national defense use. [Insert the legal name of the person receiving the order] is required to comply with this order, in accordance with the provisions of 7 CFR part 789;” and

(5) A current copy of the APAS regulation (7 CFR part 789).

(b) [Reserved]

§ 789.36 Mandatory acceptance of allocations orders.

(a) A person must accept every allocations order received that the person is capable of fulfilling, and must comply with such orders regardless of any rated order that the person may be in receipt of or other commitments involving the resource(s) covered by the allocations order.

(b) A person must not discriminate against an allocations order in any manner such as by charging higher prices for resources covered by the order or by imposing terms and conditions for contracts and orders involving allocated resources(s) that differ from the person's terms and conditions for contracts and orders for the resource(s) prior to receiving the allocations order.

(c) If circumstances prevent a person from being able to accept an allocations order, the person must comply with the provisions specified in § 789.60 upon realization of the inability to accept the order.

§ 789.37 Changes or cancellations of allocations orders.

An allocations order may be changed or canceled by an official action of USDA.

Subpart F—Official Actions
§ 789.40 General provisions.

(a) USDA may take specific official actions to implement the provisions of this part.

(b) Several of these official actions (rating authorizations, directives, and letters of understanding) are discussed in this subpart. Other official actions that pertain to compliance (administrative subpoenas, demands for information, and inspection authorizations) are discussed in § 789.51(c).

§ 789.41 Rating authorizations.

(a) A rating authorization is an official action granting specific priority rating authority that:

(1) Permits a person to place a priority rating on an order for an item or service not normally ratable under this part; or

(2) Authorizes a person to modify a priority rating on a specific order or series of contracts or orders.

(b) To request priority rating authority, see section § 789.21.

§ 789.42 Directives.

(a) A directive is an official action that requires a person to take or refrain from taking certain actions in accordance with the provisions of the directive.

(b) A person must comply with each directive issued. However, a person may not use or extend a directive to obtain any items from a supplier, unless expressly authorized to do so in the directive.

(c) A priorities directive takes precedence over all DX-rated orders, DO-rated orders, and unrated orders previously or subsequently received, unless a contrary instruction appears in the directive.

(d) An allocations directive takes precedence over all priorities directives, DX-rated orders, DO-rated orders, and unrated orders previously or subsequently received, unless a contrary instruction appears in the directive.

§ 789.43 Letters of understanding.

(a) A letter of understanding is an official action that may be issued in resolving special priorities assistance cases to reflect an agreement reached by all parties (USDA, the Department of Commerce (if applicable), a delegate agency (if applicable), the supplier, and the customer).

(b) A letter of understanding is not used to alter scheduling between rated orders, to authorize the use of priority ratings, to impose restrictions under this part, or to take other official actions. Rather, letters of understanding are used to confirm production or shipping schedules that do not require modifications to other rated orders.

Subpart G—Compliance
§ 789.50 General provisions.

(a) USDA may take specific official actions for any reason necessary or appropriate to the enforcement or the administration of the Defense Production Act and other applicable statutes, this part, or an official action. Such actions include administrative subpoenas, demands for information, and inspection authorizations.

(b) Any person who places or receives a rated order or an allocations order must comply with the provisions of this part.

(c) Willful violation of the provisions of Title I or section 705 of the Defense Production Act and other applicable statutes, this part, or an official action of USDA, is a criminal act, punishable as provided in the Defense Production Act and other applicable statutes, and as specified in § 789.54.

§ 789.51 Audits and investigations.

(a) Audits and investigations are official examinations of books, records, documents, other writings, and information to ensure that the provisions of the Defense Production Act and other applicable statutes, this part, and official actions have been properly followed. An audit or investigation may also include interviews and a systems evaluation to detect problems or failures in the implementation of this part.

(b) When undertaking an audit, investigation, or other inquiry, USDA will:

(1) Scope and purpose. Define the scope and purpose in the official action given to the person under investigation; and

(2) Information not available. Have ascertained that the information sought or other adequate and authoritative data are not available from any Federal or other responsible agency.

(c) In administering this part, USDA may issue the following documents that constitute official actions:

(1) Administrative subpoenas. An administrative subpoena requires a person to appear as a witness before an official designated by USDA to testify under oath on matters of which that person has knowledge relating to the enforcement or the administration of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or official actions. An administrative subpoena may also require the production of books, papers, records, documents, and physical objects or property.

(2) Demands for information. A demand for information requires a person to furnish to a duly authorized representative of USDA any information necessary or appropriate to the enforcement or the administration of the Defense Production Act and other applicable statutes, this part, or official actions.

(3) Inspection authorizations. An inspection authorization requires a person to permit a duly authorized representative of USDA to interview the person's employees or agents, to inspect books, records, documents, other writings, and information, including electronically-stored information, in the person's possession or control at the place where that person usually keeps them or otherwise, and to inspect a person's property when such interviews and inspections are necessary or appropriate to the enforcement or the administration of the Defense Production Act and other related laws, this part, or official actions.

(d) The production of books, records, documents, other writings, and information will not be required at any place other than where they are usually kept if, prior to the return date specified in the administrative subpoena or demand for information, a duly authorized official of USDA is furnished with copies of such material that are certified under oath to be true copies. As an alternative, a person may enter into a stipulation with a duly authorized official of USDA as to the content of the material.

(e) An administrative subpoena, demand for information, or inspection authorization will include the name, title, or official position of the person to be served, the evidence sought, and its general relevance to the scope and purpose of the audit, investigation, or other inquiry. If employees or agents are to be interviewed; if books, records, documents, other writings, or information are to be produced; or if property is to be inspected; the administrative subpoena, demand for information, or inspection authorization will describe the requirements.

(f) Service of documents will be made in the following manner:

(1) In person. Service of a demand for information or inspection authorization will be made personally, or by certified mail-return receipt requested at the person's last known address. Service of an administrative subpoena will be made personally. Personal service may also be made by leaving a copy of the document with someone at least 18 years old at the person's last known dwelling or place of business.

(2) Other than to the named individual. Service upon other than an individual may be made by serving a partner, corporate officer, or a managing or general agent authorized by appointment or by law to accept service of process. If an agent is served, a copy of the document will be mailed to the person named in the document.

(3) Delivering individual and documentation. Any individual 18 years of age or over may serve an administrative subpoena, demand for information, or inspection authorization. When personal service is made, the individual making the service must prepare an affidavit specifying the manner in which service was made and the identity of the person served, and return the affidavit, and in the case of subpoenas, the original document, to the issuing officer. In case of failure to make service, the reasons for the failure will be stated on the original document.

§ 789.52 Compulsory process.

(a) If a person refuses to permit a duly authorized representative of USDA to have access to any premises or source of information necessary to the administration or the enforcement of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or official actions, the USDA representative may seek compulsory process. Compulsory process is the institution of appropriate legal action, including ex parte application for an inspection warrant or its equivalent, in any forum of appropriate jurisdiction.

(b) Compulsory process may be sought in advance of an audit, investigation, or other inquiry, if, in the judgment of USDA, there is reason to believe that a person will refuse to permit an audit, investigation, or other inquiry, or that other circumstances exist that make such process desirable or necessary.

§ 789.53 Notification of failure to comply.

(a) At the conclusion of an audit, investigation, or other inquiry, or at any other time, USDA may inform the person in writing when compliance with the requirements of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action was not met.

(b) In cases in which USDA determines that failure to comply with the provisions of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action was inadvertent, the person may be informed in writing of the particulars involved and the corrective action to be taken. Failure to take corrective action may then be construed as a willful violation of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action.

§ 789.54 Violations, penalties, and remedies.

(a) Willful violation of the Defense Production Act, the priorities provisions of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 468), this part, or an official action, is a crime and upon conviction, a person may be punished by fine or imprisonment, or both. The maximum penalty provided by the Defense Production Act is a $10,000 fine, or 1 year in prison, or both. The maximum penalty provided by the Military Selective Service Act is a $50,000 fine, or 3 years in prison, or both.

(b) The Government may also seek an injunction from a court of appropriate jurisdiction to prohibit the continuance of any violation of, or to enforce compliance with, the Defense Production Act, this part, or an official action.

(c) In order to secure the effective enforcement of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, and official actions, certain actions as follows are prohibited:

(1) Soliciting, influencing, or permitting another person to perform any act prohibited by, or to omit any act required by, the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action.

(2) Conspiring or acting in concert with any other person to perform any act prohibited by, or to omit any act required by, the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action.

(3) Delivering any item if the person knows or has reason to believe that the item will be accepted, redelivered, held, or used in violation of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action. In such instances, the person must immediately notify USDA that, in accordance with this provision, delivery has not been made.

§ 789.55 Compliance conflicts.

If compliance with any provision of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action would prevent a person from filling a rated order or from complying with another provision of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, this part, or an official action, the person must immediately notify USDA for resolution of the conflict.

Subpart H—Adjustments, Exceptions, and Appeals
§ 789.60 Adjustments or exceptions.

(a) A person may submit a request to the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management, as directed in § 789.73, for an adjustment or exception on the ground that:

(1) A provision of this part or an official action results in an undue or exceptional hardship on that person not suffered generally by others in similar situations and circumstances; or

(2) The consequences of following a provision of this part or an official action is contrary to the intent of the Defense Production Act and other applicable laws, or this part.

(b) Each request for adjustment or exception must be in writing and contain a complete statement of all the facts and circumstances related to the provision of this part or official action from which adjustment is sought and a full and precise statement of the reasons why relief should be provided.

(c) The submission of a request for adjustment or exception will not relieve any person from the obligation of complying with the provision of this part or official action in question while the request is being considered unless such interim relief is granted in writing by the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management.

(d) A decision of the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management under this section may be appealed to the Farm Service Agency Administrator. (For information on the appeal procedure, see § 789.61.)

§ 789.61 Appeals.

(a) Any person whose request for adjustment or exception has been denied by the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management as specified in § 789.60, may appeal to the Farm Service Agency Administrator who will review and reconsider the denial.

(b) A person must submit the appeal in writing to the Farm Service Agency Administrator as follows:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, an appeal must be received by the Farm Service Agency Administrator no later than 45 days after receipt of a written notice of denial from the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management. After the 45-day period, an appeal may be accepted at the discretion of the Farm Service Agency Administrator if the person shows good cause.

(2) For requests for adjustment or exception involving rated orders placed for the purpose of emergency preparedness (see § 789.13(e)), an appeal must be received by the Farm Service Agency Administrator no later than 15 days after receipt of a written notice of denial from the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management.

(c) Contract performance under the order may not be stayed pending resolution of the appeal.

(d) Each appeal must be in writing and contain a complete statement of all the facts and circumstances related to the appealed action and a full and precise statement of the reasons the decision should be modified or reversed.

(e) In addition to the written materials submitted in support of an appeal, an appellant may request, in writing, an opportunity for an informal hearing. This request may be granted or denied at the discretion of the Farm Service Agency Administrator.

(f) When a hearing is granted, the Farm Service Agency Administrator may designate an employee of the Farm Service Agency to conduct the hearing and to prepare a report. The hearing officer will determine all procedural questions and impose such time or other limitations deemed reasonable. If the hearing officer decides that a printed transcript is necessary, the transcript expenses must be paid by the appellant.

(g) When determining an appeal, the Farm Service Agency Administrator may consider all information submitted during the appeal as well as any recommendations, reports, or other relevant information and documents available to USDA, or consult with any other person or group.

(h) The submission of an appeal under this section will not relieve any person from the obligation of complying with the provision of this part or official action in question while the appeal is being considered unless such relief is granted in writing by the Farm Service Agency Administrator.

(i) The decision of the Farm Service Agency Administrator will be made within 5 days after receipt of the appeal, or within 1 day for appeals pertaining to emergency preparedness, and will be the final administrative action. The Administrator will issue a written statement of the reasons for the decision to the appellant.

Subpart I—Miscellaneous Provisions
§ 789.70 Protection against claims.

A person will not be held liable for damages or penalties for any act or failure to act resulting directly or indirectly from compliance with any provision of this part, or an official action, even if such provision or action is subsequently declared invalid by judicial or other competent authority.

§ 789.71 Records and reports.

(a) Persons are required to make and preserve for at least 3 years, accurate and complete records of any transaction covered by this part or an official action.

(b) Records must be maintained in sufficient detail to permit the determination, upon examination, of whether each transaction complies with the provisions of this part or any official action. However, this part does not specify any particular method or system to be used.

(c) Records required to be maintained by this part must be made available for examination on demand by duly authorized representatives of USDA as provided in § 789.51.

(d) In addition, persons must develop, maintain, and submit any other records and reports to USDA that may be required for the administration of the Defense Production Act and other applicable statutes, and this part.

(e) Section 705(d) of the Defense Production Act, as implemented by Executive Order 13603, provides that information obtained under that section which the Secretary deems confidential, or with reference to which a request for confidential treatment is made by the person furnishing such information, will not be published or disclosed unless the Secretary determines that the withholding of this information is contrary to the interest of the national defense. Information required to be submitted to USDA in connection with the enforcement or administration of the Defense Production Act, this part, or an official action, is deemed to be confidential under section 705(d) of the Defense Production Act and will be handled in accordance with applicable Federal law.

§ 789.72 Applicability of this part and official actions.

(a) This part and all official actions, unless specifically stated otherwise, apply to transactions in any State, territory, or possession of the United States and the District of Columbia.

(b) This part and all official actions apply not only to deliveries to other persons but also include deliveries to affiliates and subsidiaries of a person and deliveries from one branch, division, or section of a single entity to another branch, division, or section under common ownership or control.

(c) This part and its schedules will not be construed to affect any administrative actions taken by USDA, or any outstanding contracts or orders placed based on any of the regulations, orders, schedules, or delegations of authority previously issued by USDA based on authority granted to the President in the Defense Production Act. Such actions, contracts, or orders will continue in full force and effect under this part unless modified or terminated by proper authority.

§ 789.73 Communications.

Except as otherwise provided, all communications concerning this part, including requests for copies of this part and explanatory information, requests for guidance or clarification, and submission of appeals as specified in § 789.61 will be addressed to the Administrator, Farm Service Agency, Room 4752, Mail Stop 0512, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20250-0512 or email: [email protected] This address is also to be used for requests for adjustments or exceptions to the Farm Service Agency Deputy Administrator for Management as specified in § 789.60.

SCHEDULE I TO PART 789—APPROVED PROGRAMS AND DELEGATE AGENCIES

The programs listed in this schedule have been approved for priorities and allocations support under this part by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, or Department of Homeland Security as required by section 202 of Executive Order 13603. They have equal preferential status. USDA has authorized the delegate agencies to use the authorities in this part in support of those programs assigned to them, as indicated below.

Program identification
  • symbol
  • Approved program Authorized delegate agency
    Agriculture programs: P1 Food and food resources (civilian) USDA, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency P2 Agriculture and food critical infrastructure protection and restoration USDA P3 Food resources (combat rations) Department of Defense 1 P4 Certain combined orders (see § 789.17) USDA 1 Department of Defense includes: The Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Defense Agencies, the Defense Field Activities, all other organizational entities in the Department of Defense, and for purpose of this part, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as Associated Agencies.
    Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26766 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-05-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 1220 [Doc. No. AMS-LPS-15-0016] Soybean Promotion and Research: Amend the Order To Adjust Representation on the United Soybean Board AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This final rule adjusts the number of members on the United Soybean Board (Board) to reflect changes in production levels that have occurred since the Board was last reapportioned in 2012. As required by the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act (Act), membership on the Board is reviewed every 3 years and adjustments are made accordingly. This change will result in an increase in Board membership for three States, resulting in an increase in the total number of Board members from 70 to 73. These changes will be reflected in the Soybean Promotion and Research Order (Order) and will be effective for the 2016 appointment process.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 23, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    James Brow; Research and Promotion Division, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA, Room 2096-S, STOP 0249, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0249, telephone 202-720-0633, fax 202-720-1125, or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Executive Order 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget has waived the review process required by Executive Order 12866 for this action.

    Executive Order 12988

    This final rule was reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have a retroactive effect. This action would not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule.

    The Act provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under section 1971 of the Act, a person subject to the Order may file a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stating that the Order, any provision of the Order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the Order, is not in accordance with the law and request a modification of the Order or an exemption from the Order. The petitioner is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After a hearing, USDA would rule on the petition. The Act provides that district courts of the United States in any district in which such person is an inhabitant, or has their principal place of business, has jurisdiction to review USDA's ruling on the petition, if a complaint for this purpose is filed within 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    AMS has determined that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), because it only adjusts representation on the Board to reflect changes in production levels that have occurred since the Board was last reapportioned in 2012. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions to the scale of businesses subject to such actions so that small businesses will not be disproportionately burdened. As such, these changes will not impose a significant impact on persons subject to the program.

    There are an estimated 569,998 soybean producers and an estimated 10,000 first purchasers who collect the assessment, most of whom would be considered small businesses under the criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA) [13 CFR 121.201]. SBA defines small agricultural producers as those having annual receipts of less than $750,000.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the reporting and recordkeeping requirements included in 7 CFR part 1220 were previously approved by OMB and were assigned control number 0581-0093.

    Background and Proposed Changes

    The Act (7 U.S.C. 6301-6311) provides for the establishment of a coordinated program of promotion and research designed to strengthen the soybean industry's position in the marketplace, and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for soybeans and soybean products. The program is financed by an assessment of 0.5 percent of the net market price of soybeans sold by producers. Pursuant to the Act, an Order was made effective July 9, 1991. The Order established an initial Board with 60 members. For purposes of establishing the Board, the United States was divided into 31 States and geographical units. Representation on the Board from each unit was determined by the level of production in each unit. The initial Board was appointed on July 11, 1991. The Board is comprised of soybean producers.

    Section 1220.201(c) of the Order provides that at the end of each 3-year period, the Board shall review soybean production levels in the geographic units throughout the United States. The Board may recommend to the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) modification in the levels of production necessary for Board membership for each unit.

    Section 1220.201(d) of the Order provides that at the end of each 3-year period, the Secretary must review the volume of production of each unit and adjust the boundaries of any unit and the number of Board members from each such unit as necessary to conform with the criteria set forth in § 1220.201(e): (1) To the extent practicable, States with annual average soybean production of less than 3,000,000 bushels shall be grouped into geographically contiguous units, each of which has a combined production level equal to or greater than 3,000,000 bushels, and each such group shall be entitled to at least one member on the Board; (2) units with at least 3,000,000 bushels, but fewer than 15,000,000 bushels shall be entitled to one board member; (3) units with 15,000,000 bushels or more but fewer than 70,000,000 bushels shall be entitled to two Board members; (4) units with 70,000,000 bushels or more but fewer than 200,000,000 bushels shall be entitled to three Board members; and (5) units with 200,000,000 bushels or more shall be entitled to four Board members.

    The Board was last reapportioned in 2012. The total Board membership increased from 69 to 70 members, with Mississippi gaining one additional member. The final rule was published in the Federal Register (74 FR 27467) on January 2, 2013. This change was effective with the 2013 appointments.

    Currently, the Board has 70 members representing 31 geographical units. This membership is based on average production levels for the years 2007-2011 (excluding crops in years that production was the highest and production was the lowest) as reported by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

    This final rule increases total membership on the Board from 70 to 73. Production data for the years 2010-2014 (excluding the crops in years in which production was the highest and in which production was the lowest) was gathered from NASS. This change will not affect the number of geographical units. The NASS information combines the production from the Western and Eastern Regions into one production data without distinguishing between the two regions. The NASS data does not support a change in membership for either region. As such, this final rule will leave the membership of both regions unchanged with one member each.

    This final rule adjusts representation on the Board as follows:

    State Current
  • representation
  • New
  • representation
  • Missouri 3 4 New Jersey 0 1 Wisconsin 2 3

    Board adjustments will become effective with the 2016 appointment process.

    Comments

    A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register (80 FR 34325) on June 16, 2015, with a 60-day comment period. USDA received no comments.

    During the drafting of this final rule, AMS found a typographical error in the table titled “§ 1220.201 Membership of board” as presented in the proposed rule. The table showed the State of Georgia with two representatives on the Board. Based on production, Georgia is currently entitled to one member. As a result, AMS has corrected the table in this final rule to reflect Georgia with one member rather than two. This correction does not impact the makeup of the Board or this reapportionment.

    List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1220

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural research, Marketing agreements, Soybeans and soybean products, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, Title 7, part 1220 is amended as follows:

    PART 1220—SOYBEAN PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1220 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 6301-6311 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

    2. In § 1220.201, the table immediately following paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
    § 1220.201 Membership of Board. Unit Number of
  • members
  • Illinois 4 Iowa 4 Minnesota 4 Indiana 4 Nebraska 4 Ohio 4 Missouri 4 Arkansas 3 South Dakota 3 Kansas 3 Michigan 3 North Dakota 3 Mississippi 3 Wisconsin 3 Louisiana 2 Tennessee 2 North Carolina 2 Kentucky 2 Pennsylvania 2 Virginia 2 Maryland 2 Georgia 1 South Carolina 1 Alabama 1 Delaware 1 Texas 1 Oklahoma 1 New York 1 New Jersey 1 Eastern Region (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, West Virginia, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico 1 Western Region (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Hawaii, and Alaska) 1
    Dated: October 19, 2015 Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26952 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 8 CFR Part 214 [CIS No. 2565-15; DHS Docket No. USCIS-2012-0010] RIN 1615-ZB43 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2016 AGENCY:

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notification of numerical limitation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Secretary of Homeland Security announces that the annual fiscal year numerical limitation for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) nonimmigrant classification for fiscal year (FY) 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015-Sept. 30, 2016) is set at 12,999. This document announces the mandated annual reduction of the CW-1 numerical limitation and provides the public with additional information regarding the new CW-1 numerical limit. This docuemnt ensures that CNMI employers and employees have sufficient information regarding the maximum number of foreign workers who may be granted CW-1 transitional worker status during FY 2016.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 22, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paola Rodriguez Hale, Adjudications Officer (Policy), Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2060. Contact telephone (202) 272-1470.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA) extended U.S. immigration law to the CNMI and provided CNMI-specific provisions affecting foreign workers. See Pub. L. 110-229, 122 Stat. 754, 853-854. The CNRA provided for a “transition period” to phase-out the CNMI's nonresident contract worker program and phase-in the U.S. federal immigration system in a manner that minimizes adverse economic and fiscal effects and maximizes the CNMI's potential for future economic and business growth. See sections 701(b) and 702(a) of the CNRA.

    The CNRA authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a nonimmigrant classification that would ensure adequate employment in the CNMI during the transition period. See section 702(a) of the CNRA; 48 U.S.C. 1806(d). DHS published a final rule on September 7, 2011, amending the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(w) to implement a temporary, CNMI-only transitional worker nonimmigrant classification (CW classification, which includes CW-1 for principal workers and CW-2 for spouses and minor children). See Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Transitional Worker Classification, 76 FR 55502 (Sept. 7, 2011).

    The CNRA mandates an annual reduction in the allocation of the number of permits issued per year and the total elimination of the CW nonimmigrant classification by December 31, 2019. See section 702(d)(2) of the CNRA, as amended by the Consolidated And Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Pub. L. 113-235, § 10, 128 Stat. 2130, 2134 (Dec. 16, 2014); 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(2). At the outset of the transitional worker program, DHS set the CW-1 numerical limitation for FY 2011 at 22,417 and for FY 2012 at 22,416. DHS announced these annual numerical limitations in DHS regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(A) and (B).

    DHS subsequently opted to publish any future annual numerical limitations by Federal Register notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C). Instead of developing a numerical limit reduction plan, DHS determined that it would instead assess the CNMI's workforce needs on a yearly basis during the transition period. Id. This approach to the allocation system ensured that CNMI employers had an adequate supply of workers to better facilitate a smooth transition into the federal immigration system. It also provided DHS with the flexibility to adjust to the future needs of the CNMI economy and to assess the total foreign workforce needs based on the number of requests for transitional worker nonimmigrant classification received following implementation of the CW-1 program.

    DHS followed this same rationale for the FY 2013 and FY 2014 fiscal year numerical limitations. After assessing all workforce needs, including the opportunity for economic growth, DHS set the CW-1 numerical limitation at 15,000 and 14,000 respectively for FY 2013 and FY 2014. See CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2013, 77 FR 71287 (Nov. 30, 2012) and CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2014, 78 FR 58867 (Sept. 25, 2013). The FY 2013 and FY 2014 numerical limitations were based on the actual demonstrated need for foreign workers within the CNMI during FY 2012. See 77 FR 71287, 78 FR 58867.

    The CNRA directed that the U.S. Secretary of Labor determine whether an extension of the CW program for an additional period of up to 5 years is necessary to ensure that an adequate number of workers will be available for legitimate businesses in the CNMI, and further provided the Secretary of Labor with the authority to provide for such an extension through notice in the Federal Register. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(5). On June 3, 2014, the Secretary of Labor extended the CW program for an additional 5 years, through December 31, 2019. See Secretary of Labor Extends the Transition Period of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-Only Transitional Worker Program, 79 FR 31988 (June 3, 2014).

    The FY 2015 numerical limitation was based on a number of factors, including:

    • The Department of Labor's extension of the CW program;

    • The CNMI's labor market needs; and

    • The CNRA's mandate to annually reduce the number of transitional workers until the end of the extended transitional worker program. See CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2015, 79 FR 58241 (Sept. 29, 2014).

    Since the Secretary of Labor significantly extended the CW program at least until December 31, 2019, DHS decided to preserve the status quo, or current conditions, rather than aggressively reduce CW-1 numbers for FY 2015. DHS therefore reduced the numerical limitation nominally by one, resulting in an FY 2015 limit of 13,999. See id.

    On December 16, 2014, Congress amended the CNRA to extend the transition period until December 31, 2019. See Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, Public Law 113-235, § 10, 128 Stat. 2130, 2134 (amending 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)). Congress also eliminated the Secretary of Labor's authority to provide for future extensions of the CW-1 program, requiring the CW-1 program to end (or sunset) on December 31, 2019. See id.

    II. Maximum Number of CW-1 Nonimmigrant Workers for Fiscal Year 2016

    The CNRA requires an annual reduction in the number of transitional workers but does not mandate a specific reduction. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(2). In addition, DHS regulations provide that the numerical limitation for any fiscal year will be less than the number established for the previous fiscal year, and that it will be reasonably calculated to reduce the number of CW-1 nonimmigrant workers to zero by the end of the program. 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C). DHS may adjust the numerical limitation at any time by publishing a notice in the Federal Register, but may only reduce the figure. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(D).

    To comply with these requirements, meet the CNMI's labor market's needs, provide opportunity for growth, and preserve access to foreign labor, DHS has set the numerical limitation for FY 2016 at 12,999. DHS arrived at this figure by taking the number of CW-1 nonimmigrant workers needed based on the FY 2015 limitation of 13,999, and then moderately reducing it by 1,000 or approximately 7.2 percent. The new number will accommodate continued economic growth within the CNMI that might result in a need for additional CW-1 nonimmigrant workers during FY 2016. Therefore, CNMI businesses can continue to hire CW-1 workers to meet their current and future need for foreign workers.

    In setting this new numerical limitation for FY 2016, DHS considered its effect in conjunction with the published media reports indicating that the CNMI economy continues to grow 1 and that any reduction in the number of CW-1 workers available will have to account for new investments and the expansion of existing businesses in order to support such economic growth.2

    1See Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa, CNMI Sustaining Economic Growth Momentum, Marianas Variety, June 30, 2015, available at http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2015/June/06-30-19.htm.

    2See Raquel C. Bagnol, Labor Chief Says CW Allocation Needs to be Revisited, Marianas Variety, June 17, 2015, available at http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/77978-labor-chief-says-cw-allocation-needs-to-be-revisited.

    For the aforementioned reasons, DHS recognizes that any numerical limitation must account for the fact that the CNMI economy continues to be based on a workforce composed primarily of foreign workers. Therefore, any new fiscal year numerical limit should allow for economic growth until the end of the transitional worker program, which is now December 31, 2019. DHS must reduce the annual numerical limitation as statutorily mandated, but also should ensure that there are enough CW-1 workers for future fiscal years until the end of the program.

    As noted previously, Congress has mandated that the transition period end on December 31, 2019, without the possibility of an administrative extension of the CW program. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(a), (d). Given this firm sunset date and the CNRA's requirement to reduce the number of transitional workers to zero by the end of the transition period, DHS believes that a prudent approach to the numerical limit for the next fiscal year is to institute a meaningful but moderate reduction in the numerical limitation. As such, DHS believes that a reduction of 1,000 is appropriate for FY 2016. This new baseline preserves access to foreign labor within the CNMI and provides a cushion for demand growth, yet provides a meaningful reduction that aids DHS in the implementation of the mandated cap reductions to zero over the transition period. Accordingly, DHS is reducing the number of transitional workers from the current fiscal year numerical limitation of 13,999, and establishing the maximum number of persons who may be granted CW-1 nonimmigrant status in FY 2016 at 12,999.

    The FY 2016 numerical limitation for CW-1 nonimmigrant workers will be in effect beginning on October 1, 2015. DHS still retains the ability to adjust the numerical limitation for a fiscal year or other period, in its discretion, at any time by notice in the Federal Register. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C) and (D). Consistent with the rules applicable to other nonimmigrant worker visa classifications, if the numerical limitation for the fiscal year is not reached, the unused numbers do not carry over to the next fiscal year. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(E).

    Generally, each CW-1 nonimmigrant worker with an approved employment start date that falls within FY 2016 3 will be counted against the new numerical limitation of 12,999. Counting each CW-1 nonimmigrant worker in this manner will help ensure that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not approve requests for more than 12,999 CW-1 nonimmigrant workers.

    3 FY 2016 refers to the period between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016.

    This document does not affect the current immigration status of foreign workers who have CW-1 nonimmigrant status. Foreign workers, however, will be affected by this document when their CNMI employers file:

    • For an extension of their CW-1 nonimmigrant classification, or

    • A change of status from another nonimmigrant status to that of CW-1 nonimmigrant status.

    This document does not affect the status of any individual currently holding CW-2 nonimmigrant status as the spouse or minor child of a CW-1 nonimmigrant worker. This document also does not directly affect the ability of any individual to extend or otherwise obtain CW-2 status, as the numerical limitation applies to CW-1 principals only. This document, however, may indirectly affect individuals seeking CW-2 status since their status depends on the CW-1 principal's ability to obtain or retain CW-1 status.

    Jeh Charles Johnson, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26963 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-97-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Office of the Secretary Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Chapter I [Docket No. FAA-2015-4378] Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS AGENCY:

    Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.

    ACTION:

    Clarification and request for information.

    SUMMARY:

    This document clarifies the applicability of the statutory requirements regarding aircraft registration to UAS, including those operating as model aircraft. In addition, the DOT announces the formation of a UAS registration task force to explore and develop recommendations to streamline the registration process for UAS to ease the burden associated with the existing aircraft registration process. This document requests information and recommendations regarding what information and registration platform would be appropriate for UAS registration and ways to minimize the burden to the regulated community. In addition, we request comment on which UAS, based on their weight or performance capabilities, warrant a continued exercise of discretion with respect to requiring registration because of the negligible risk they pose to the national airspace system (NAS).

    DATES:

    This clarification goes into effect October 22, 2015. To assist the task force in developing its recommendations, the Department requests that comments in response to the request for information be submitted to docket FAA-2015-4378 at www.regulations.gov, by November 6, 2015.

    The docket will remain open after this time and the Department will consider all comments received in developing a registration process.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    Mail: Dockets Management System; U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Operations, M-30, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

    Hand Delivery: To U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Operations, M-30, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Instructions: Include the agency name and docket number FAA-2015-4378 for this document at the beginning of your comment. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov including any personal information provided. If sent by mail, comments must be submitted in duplicate. Persons wishing to receive confirmation of receipt of their comments must include a self-addressed stamped postcard.

    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any written communications and comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the document (or signing the document, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement at http://www.dot.gov/privacy.

    Docket: You may view the public docket through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov or in person at the Docket Operations office at the above address (See ADDRESSES).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Questions regarding this document may be directed to Earl Lawrence, Director, FAA UAS Integration Office, 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington DC 20591; phone: (202) 267-6556; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95) (the Act), Congress mandated that the DOT, in consultation with other government partners and industry stakeholders, develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS in the NAS. Since 2012, the Department has made progress in enabling UAS operations, through issuing exemptions under section 333 of the Act to permit commercial operations; creating a UAS test site program to encourage further research and testing of UAS operations in real-world environments; issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (RIN 2120-AJ60) (small UAS NPRM), that sets forth a framework for integrating small UAS operations in the NAS; and developing a Pathfinder program to encourage research and innovation that will enable advanced UAS operations.

    A foundational statutory and regulatory requirement that the Department has employed for each of these integration programs is aircraft registration and marking. In order to operate in the NAS, the Department must ensure that operators are not only aware of the system in which they are operating, but that we also have a means to identify and track the UAS to its operator. One means to accomplish this is through aircraft registration and marking. To date, UAS operators that the Department has authorized have been required to register their UAS through the FAA's existing paper-based registration process under 14 CFR part 47. As an exercise of discretion, historically we have not required model aircraft to be registered under this system.

    UAS hold enormous promise for our economy and for the aviation industry. But for the industry to develop to its full potential, we have to ensure that it develops safely. Over the past several months, we have received increasing reports of unauthorized and unsafe use of small UAS. Pilot reports of UAS sightings in 2015 are double the rate of 2014. Pilots have reported seeing drones at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, or as close as half-a-mile from the approach end of a runway. In recent weeks, the presence of multiple UAS in the vicinity of wild fires in the western part of the country prompted firefighters to ground their aircraft on several occasions. These UAS operations are unsafe and illegal. However, only a small percentage of these incidents have resulted in enforcement actions against individuals for unsafe or unauthorized UAS operation because identifying an individual or entity responsible for the dangerous operation of UAS is very difficult. This situation is troubling to the unmanned aircraft industry, to responsible model aircraft users, and to users of the NAS, all of whom always put safety first.

    The risk of unsafe operations will only increase as more UAS enter the NAS. Some retailers have projected huge holiday sales. We are committed to ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in the development and implementation of aviation technology, and in doing so, that we create a space for the creativity, innovation and exploration that will drive this industry forward in the years and decades ahead. At the same time, we must create a culture of accountability and responsibility among all UAS operators. To maintain safety in the NAS, the Department has reconsidered its past practice of exercising discretion with respect to requiring UAS to be registered, consistent with statutory requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44101-44103, and has determined that registration of all UAS is necessary to enforce personal accountability while operating an aircraft in our skies.

    Federal law requires that a person may only operate an aircraft when it is registered with the FAA. 49 U.S.C. 44101(a).1 “Aircraft” is defined as “any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.” 2 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). In 2012, Congress confirmed that UAS, including those used for recreation or hobby purposes, are aircraft consistent with the statutory definition set forth in 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). See Public Law 112-95, sec. 331(8), 336 (defining an unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft that is that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft,” and model aircraft as “an unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere, flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft, and flown for hobby or recreational purposes”); see also Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order No. EA-5730, at 12 (Nov. 17, 2014) (affirming that the statutory definition of aircraft is clear and unambiguous and “includes any air aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small.”). Because UAS, including model aircraft, are aircraft, they are subject to FAA regulation, including the statutory requirements regarding registration set forth in 49 U.S.C. 44101(a), and further prescribed in regulation at 14 CFR part 47.

    1 The FAA is charged with registering and issuing a certificate of registration to the owner of an aircraft that meets the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44102. See 49 U.S.C. 44102-03. These statutory requirements are augmented by regulations in part 47 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations.

    2 Similarly, FAA regulations define “aircraft” as “a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.” 14 CFR 1.1.

    Historically, the FAA, through the exercise of its discretion, has not enforced the statutory requirements for aircraft registration in 49 U.S.C. 44101 for model aircraft. As evidenced by the recent reports of unsafe UAS operations, the lack of awareness of operators regarding what must be done to operate UAS safely in the NAS, and the lack of identification of UAS and their operators pose significant challenges in ensuring accountability for responsible use. Without increased awareness and knowledge of the statutory and regulatory requirements for safe operation, the risk of unsafe UAS operations will only rise. Aircraft identification and marking will assist the Department in identifying owners of UAS that are operated in an unsafe manner, so we may continue to educate these users, and when appropriate, take enforcement action.

    Requiring registration of all UAS, including those operated for hobby or recreation, embraces and applies the Academy of Model Aeronautics' (AMA)'s policy of identification to UAS operators who may not be modelers registered with the AMA. Additionally, it would ensure consistency with other UAS operations currently required to be registered, such as public aircraft, those operated under exemptions, and certificated aircraft, as well as those operations contemplated in the small UAS NPRM.

    Based on the Department's experience in registering small UAS authorized by exemptions granted under the authority of section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and the comments received on the proposed registration requirements in the small UAS NPRM, it is apparent that the current paper-based system for aircraft registration is too burdensome for small UAS, to include model aircraft. To facilitate compliance with the statutory obligation for registration, the DOT is currently evaluating options for a streamlined, electronic-based registration system for small UAS. The Department has convened a UAS registration task force, under the FAA's authority in 49 U.S.C. 106(p)(5) to designate aviation rulemaking committees. This task force will provide recommendations on the type of registration platform needed to accommodate small UAS, as well as the information that will need to be provided to register these aircraft. The UAS registration task force also will explore and provide recommendations on whether it is appropriate for the FAA to continue to exercise discretion with respect to requiring registration of certain UAS based on their weight and performance capabilities. The task force will meet and provide its recommendations to the Department by November 20, 2015. To facilitate the task force's work, we are requesting information and data from the public in the following areas:

    1. What methods are available for identifying individual products? Does every UAS sold have an individual serial number? Is there another method for identifying individual products sold without serial numbers or those built from kits?

    2. At what point should registration occur (e.g. point-of-sale or prior-to-operation)? How should transfers of ownership be addressed in registration?

    3. If registration occurs at point-of-sale, who should be responsible for submission of the data? What burdens would be placed on vendors of UAS if DOT required registration to occur at point-of-sale? What are the advantages of a point-of-sale approach relative to a prior-to-operation approach?

    4. Consistent with past practice of discretion, should certain UAS be excluded from registration based on performance capabilities or other characteristics that could be associated with safety risk, such as weight, speed, altitude operating limitations, duration of flight? If so, please submit information or data to help support the suggestions, and whether any other criteria should be considered.

    5. How should a registration process be designed to minimize burdens and best protect innovation and encourage growth in the UAS industry?

    6. Should the registration be electronic or web-based? Are there existing tools that could support an electronic registration process?

    7. What type of information should be collected during the registration process to positively identify the aircraft owner and aircraft?

    8. How should the registration data be stored? Who should have access to the registration data? How should the data be used?

    9. Should a registration fee be collected and if so, how will the registration fee be collected if registration occurs at point-of-sale? Are there payment services that can be leveraged to assist (e.g. PayPal)?

    10. Are there additional means beyond aircraft registration to encourage accountability and responsible use of UAS?

    Comments received by November 6, 2015 would be most helpful in assisting the UAS registration task force in developing its recommendations. The comment period will remain open after this period and the Department will consider the comments received, in addition to the UAS registration task force's recommendations, in developing a stream-lined registration process for small UAS, including model aircraft. Issued in Washington, DC, on October 19, 2015. Anthony R. Foxx, Secretary of Transportation. Michael P. Huerta, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26874 Filed 10-20-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 950 [Docket No: 150202106-5879-02] RIN 0648-BE86 Schedule of Fees for Access to NOAA Environmental Data, Information, and Related Products and Services AGENCY:

    National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this final rule, NESDIS establishes a new schedule of fees for the sale of its data, information, and related products and services to users. NESDIS is revising the fee schedule that has been in effect since 2013 to ensure that the fees accurately reflect the costs of providing access to the environmental data, information, and related products and services. NESDIS is authorized under 15 U.S.C. 1534 to assess fees, up to fair market value, for access to environmental data, information, and products derived from, collected, and/or archived by NOAA. Other than depreciation, costs to upgrade computer hardware and software systems will not be included in the fees charged to users. NESDIS is updating its schedule of fees for access to NOAA Environmental Data, Information, and Related Products and Services as costs of providing access have changed since 2013.

    DATES:

    Effective date: November 23, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    James Lewis (301) 713-7073.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    NESDIS operates NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI). Through NCEI, NESDIS provides and ensures timely access to global environmental data from satellites and other sources, provides information services, and develops science products.

    NESDIS maintains some 1,300 databases containing over 2,400 environmental variables at NCEI and seven World Data Centers. These centers respond to over 2,000,000 requests for these data and products annually from over 70 countries. This collection of environmental data and products is growing rapidly, both in size and sophistication, and as a result the associated costs have increased.

    Users have the ability to access the data offline, online and through the NESDIS e-Commerce System (NeS) online store. Our ability to provide data, information, products and services depends on user fees.

    New Fee Schedule

    In this final rule, NESDIS establishes a new schedule of fees for the sale of its data, information, and related products and services to users. NESDIS is revising the fee schedule that has been in effect since 2013 to ensure that the fees accurately reflect the costs of providing access to the environmental data, information, and related products and services. The new fee schedule lists both the current fee charged for each item and the new fee to be charged to users that will take effect beginning November 23, 2015. The schedule applies to the listed services provided by NESDIS on or after this date, except for products and services covered by a subscription agreement in effect as of this date that extends beyond this date. In those cases, the increased fees will apply upon renewal of the subscription agreement or at the earliest amendment date provided by the agreement.

    NESDIS will continue to review the user fees periodically, and will revise such fees as necessary. Any future changes in the user fees and their effective date will be announced through notice in the Federal Register.

    Classification

    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866. The provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) requiring notice of proposed rulemaking and the opportunity for public participation are inapplicable because this rule falls within the public property exception of subparagraph (a)(2) of section 553, as it is limited only to the assessment of fees, per 15 U.S.C. 1534, that accurately reflect the costs of providing access to publicly available environmental data, information, and related products. 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 under 5 U.S.C. 553 or by any other law, the 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.

    List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 950

    Organization and functions (Government agencies).

    Cherish Johnson, Chief, Financial Officer (CFO/CAO).

    For the reasons set forth above, 15 CFR part 950 is amended as follows:

    PART 950—ENVIRONMENTAL DATA AND INFORMATION 1. The authority citation for part 950 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    (5 U.S.C. 552, 553). Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970.

    2. Appendix A to Part 950 is revised to read as follows: Appendix A to Part 950—Schedule of User Fees for Access to NOAA Environmental Data Name of product/data/publication/information/service Current fee New fee NOAA National Center for Environmental Information: Department of Commerce Certification $86.00 $16.00 General Certification 72.00 92.00 Paper Copy 2.00 3.00 Data Poster 18.00 18.00 Shipping Service 4.00 8.00 Rush Order Fee 60.00 60.00 Super Rush Order Fee 100.00 100.00 Foreign Handling Fee 67.00 43.00 NEXRAD Doppler Radar Color Prints 14.00 21.00 Paper Copy from Electronic Media 6.00 8.00 Offline In-Situ Digital Data 124.00 175.00 Microfilm Copy (roll to paper) per frame from existing film 14.00 20.00 Satellite Image Product 73.00 92.00 Offline Satellite, Radar, and Model Digital Data (average unit size is 1 terabyte) 615.00 753.00 Conventional CD-ROM/DVD 60.00 110.00 Specialized CD-ROM/DVD 131.00 208.00 CD-ROM/DVD Copy, Offline 30.00 43.00 CD-ROM/DVD Copy, Online Store 15.00 16.00 Facsimile Service 78.00 89.00 Order Handling 8.00 11.00 Non-Digital Order Consultation 6.00 10.00 Digital Order Consultation 18.00 28.00 Non-Serial Publications 27.00 32.00 Non-Standard Data; Select/Copy to CD, DVD or Electronic Transfer, Specialized, Offline 59.00 77.00 Digital and Non-Digital Off-the-Shelf Products, Online 9.00 13.00 Digital and Non-Digital Off-the-Shelf Products, Offline 11.00 17.00 Order Consultation Fee 2.00 4.00 Handling and Packing Fee 8.00 12.00 World Ocean Database-World Ocean Atlas 2009 DVDs 15.00 * Mini Poster 1.00 2.00 Icosahedron Globe 1.00 1.00 Convert Data to Standard Image 6.00 8.00 Single Orbit OLS & Subset 18.00 19.00 Single Orbit OLS & Subset, Additional Orbits 5.00 6.00 Geolocated Data 47.00 50.00 Subset of Pre-existing Geolocated Data 28.00 32.00 Global Nighttime Lights Annual Composite from One Satellite 74,032.00 74,924.00 Most Recent DMSP-OLS Thermal Band/Cloud Cover Mosaics from Multiple Satellites 259.00 * Daily or Nightly Global Mosaics (visible & thermal band, single spectral band or environmental data) 241.00 332.00 Global Nighttime Lights Lunar Cycle 6,531.00 8,259.00 Radiance Calibrated Global DMSP-OLS Nighttime Lights Annual Composite from One Satellite 82,075.00 * Research Data Series CD-ROM/DVD 25.00 25.00 Custom Analog Plotter Prints 60.00 * NOS Bathymetric Maps and Miscellaneous Archived Publication Inventory 7.00 8.00 Global Annual Composite of Nighttime Lights in Monthly Increments From One Satellite 8,305.00 10,794.00 High Definition Geomagnetic Model 20,060.00 20,262.00 Provision of Global Nighttime VIIRS day/night band data in geotiff format 55,727.00 Provision of Global Nighttime VIIRS day/night band data in HDF5 Format 27,888.00 Provision of regional data from the VIIRS instrument on a daily basis 14,306.00 * Reflects a product no longer offered.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26850 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0820] RIN 1625-AA08 Special Local Regulation for Battle of Hampton; Hampton River, Hampton, VA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a special local regulation on the navigable waters of Hampton River, in the vicinity of the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina in Hampton, Virginia. This regulated area will restrict vessel movement in the specified area during the revolutionary sea battle re-enactment Battle of Hampton. This action is necessary to provide for the safety of life and property on the surrounding navigable waters during the re-enactment.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from 1 p.m. on October 24 through 1:30 p.m. on October 25, 2015. This rule will only be enforced from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. each day.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2015-0820 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email LCDR Barbara Wilk, Waterways Management Division Chief, Sector Hampton Roads, Coast Guard; 757-668-5580, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security E.O. Executive order FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking Pub. L. Public Law § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule due to the short time period between event planners notifying the Coast Guard of details concerning the event, on August 15, 2015, and publication of this special local regulation. As such, it is impracticable for the Coast Guard to provide a full comment period due to lack of time. Furthermore, delaying the effective date of this special local regulation would be contrary to the public interest as immediate action is needed to ensure the safety of the event participants, patrol vessels, spectator craft and other vessels transiting the event area. The Coast Guard will provide advance notifications to users of the affected waterway via marine information broadcasts, local notice to mariners. This same location is used for an annually occurring marine event, Blackbeard Festival, that is regulated under 33 CFR 100.501, Table to § 100.501, section (c) line 1, and includes sea battle re-enactments and fireworks. The organizers wanted to hold an additional revolutionary sea battle re-enactment closer to the anniversary date of the actual historical battle in Hampton, VA. This event will become an annual marine event and will be scheduled to occur on the second to last weekend in October.

    We are issuing this rule, and under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making it effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Due to the need for immediate action, the restriction on vessel traffic is necessary to protect life, property, and the environment; therefore, a 30-day notice is impracticable. Delaying the effective date would be contrary to the special local regulation intended objectives of protecting persons and vessels, and enhancing public and maritime safety.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    On October 24 and October 25, 2015, the Hampton History Museum and City of Hampton Parks and Recreation will sponsor the “Battle of Hampton” on the waters of the Hampton River in Hampton, VA. The event will consist of approximately four time-period vessels carrying out a revolutionary sea battle re-enactment on the waters of the Hampton River. As part of the sea battle re-enactment, participants onboard the vessels will be firing off 18th century cannons and weapons aimed towards the shoreline. To provide for the safety of participants, spectators, support and transiting vessels, the Coast Guard will temporarily restrict vessel traffic in the event area during the sea battle re-enactment. The regulation at 33 CFR 100.501 will be enforced for the duration of the event. Under the provisions of 33 CFR 100.501, from 1 p.m. through 1:30 p.m. on October 24 and October 25, 2015, vessels may not enter the regulated area unless they receive permission from the Coast Guard Patrol Commander.

    This special local regulation will restrict vessel movement in the navigable waters of the Hampton River from hazards associated with battle re-enactments. The potential hazards to mariners within the special local regulation include accidental shockwaves, flying debris and loud noises.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    The Captain of the Port of Hampton Roads will establish a special local regulation on the waters of the Hampton River, near the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina, bounded by the shoreline and a line drawn from 37°01′30.09″ N./076°20′25.44″ W., to 37°01′29.47″ N./076°20′24.24″ W., to 37° 01′22.93″ N./076°20′30.62″ W., to 37°01′24.47″ N./076°20′31.43″ W. (NAD 1983), in Hampton, Virginia. This regulation will be enforced on October 24 and October 25, 2015 between the hours of 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Access to the regulated area will be restricted during the specified date and time.

    Except for vessels authorized by the Captain of the Port or his Representative, no person or vessel may enter or remain in the regulated area during the time frame listed. The COTP will give notice of the enforcement of the regulated area by all appropriate means to provide the widest dissemination of notice among the affected segments of the public. This will include publication in the Local Notice to Mariners and Marine Information Broadcasts.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders (E.O.s) related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes and E.O.s, and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors.

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    E.O.s 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. E.O. 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 E.O. 12866. Accordingly, it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, duration, and time-of-year of the restricted area. Although this regulation restricts access to the regulated area, the effect of this rule will not be significant because: (i) This rule will only be enforced for the limited size and duration of the event; and (ii) the Coast Guard will make extensive notification to the maritime community via marine information broadcasts so mariners may adjust their plans accordingly.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires Federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    This rule affects the following entities, some of which might be small entities: the owners or operators of vessels intending to transit or anchor in waters of the Hampton River, during the enforcement period.

    This regulated area will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: (i) it will only be in effect for a limited duration, and (ii) before the enforcement period, Sector Hampton Roads will issue maritime advisories widely available to users of the Hampton River, allowing mariners to adjust their plans accordingly.

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

    A rule has implications for federalism under E.O. 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements described in E.O. 13132.

    Also, 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. If you believe this rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves implementation of regulations within 33 CFR part 100 that apply to organized marine events on the navigable waters of the United States that may have potential for negative impact on the safety or other interest of waterway users and shore side activities in the event area. The category of water activities includes but is not limited to sailboat regattas, boat parades, power boat racing, swimming events, crew racing, canoe and sailboard racing. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(h) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. An environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination and a Categorical Exclusion Determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 100

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

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 33 CFR part 100 as follows:

    PART 100—SAFETY OF LIFE ON NAVIGABLE WATERS 1. The authority citation for part 100 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1233.

    2. In § 100.501, in the Table to § 100.501, under “(c.) Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads—COTP Zone,” add entry 10, effective from 1 p.m. on October 24 through 1:30 p.m. on October 25, 2015, to read as follows:
    § 100.501 Special Local Regulations; Marine Events in the Fifth Coast Guard District. Table to § 100.501 No. Date Event Sponsor Location *         *         *         *         *         *         * (c.) Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads—COTP Zone *         *         *         *         *         *         * 10 October-second to last weekend Hampton Roads Hampton History Museum and City of Hampton Parks and Recreation Regulated area includes all waters of the Hampton River, near the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina, bounded by the shoreline and a line drawn from 37°01′30.09″ N./076°20′25.44″ W., to 37°01′29.47″ N./076°20′24.24″ W., to 37°01′22.93″ N./076°−20′−30.62″ W., to 37°01′24.47″ N./076°20′31.43″ W. (NAD 1983), in Hampton, Virginia. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Dated: October 13, 2015. Christopher S. Keane, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Hampton Roads.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26962 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2015-0952] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; English Kills, Brooklyn, NY AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Metropolitan Ave. Bridge across the English Kills, mile 3.4, at Brooklyn, New York. This deviation is necessary to perform operating machinery installation. This deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed position for approximately 3 days.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 6 a.m. on November 2, 2015 to 5 p.m. on November 5, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, [USCG-2015-0952] is available at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Ms. Judy K. Leung-Yee, Project Officer, First Coast Guard District, telephone (212) 514-4330, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Metropolitan Ave. Bridge, mile 3.4, across the English Kills has a vertical clearance in the closed position of 10 feet at mean high water and 15 feet at mean low water. The existing bridge operating regulations are found at 33 CFR 117.801(e).

    The waterway has one commercial facility located upstream of the bridge.

    New York City DOT requested this temporary deviation from the normal operating schedule to perform operating machinery installation.

    Under this temporary deviation, the Metropolitan Ave. Bridge may remain in the closed position from 6 a.m. on November 2, 2015 through 5 p.m. on November 5, 2015.

    Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed positions may do so at any time. The bridge will not be able to open for emergencies and there is no immediate alternate route for vessel to pass.

    The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notice to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessels can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

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

    Dated: October 8, 2015. C.J. Bisignano, Supervisory Bridge Management Specialist, First Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26957 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2015-0967] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Willamette River, Portland, OR AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of temporary deviation from regulations.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Hawthorne Bridge, mile 13.1, across the Willamette River at Portland, OR. The deviation is necessary for maintenance repairs to the bridge lifting mechanism. This deviation allows the bridges to remain in the closed-to-navigation position to allow safe and timely movement of workers.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, [USCG-2015-0967] is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH”. Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email the Bridge Administrator, Coast Guard Thirteenth District; telephone 206-220-7234 email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Multnomah County has requested that the Hawthorne Bridge, mile 13.1, across the Willamette River at Portland, Oregon remain in the closed-to-navigation position from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. on November 15, 2015 to allow for critical maintenance repairs to the bridge lifting mechanism.

    The Hawthorne Bridge is a vertical lift bridge providing 49 feet of vertical clearance in the closed-to-navigation position, and unlimited clearance in the open position referenced to the vertical clearance above Columbia River Datum 0.0. The Hawthorne Bridge operates in accordance with 33 CFR 117.897, which allows the bridge to remain closed between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. No advance notice for an opening is required.

    Moderate to heavy vessel traffic exists on this part of the Willamette River, including vessels ranging from commercial tug and barge to small pleasure craft. The average number of drawbridge openings for the time covered by this deviation is three lifts. This deviation allows the lift span of the Hawthorne Bridge across the Willamette River, mile 13.1, to remain in the closed-to-navigation position, and need not open for maritime traffic from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. on November 15, 2015. The bridge shall operate in accordance to 33 CFR 117.897 at all other times.

    Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed-to-navigation position may do so at anytime. The bridge will not be able to immediately open for emergencies, and there is no immediate alternate route for vessels to pass. However, with a two hour notification for an emergency opening request, the lift mechanism may be reassembled for the lift span to be opened. Major waterway users have been notified and coordinated with for this deviation period. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridges so that vessels can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

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

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Steven M. Fischer, Bridge Administrator, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26819 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0483] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Ironman 70.3 Miami; Miami, FL AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a safety zone on the waters of Biscayne Bay, east of Bayfront Park, in Miami, Florida during the 2015 Ironman 70.3 Miami, a triathlon. The Ironman 70.3 Miami is scheduled to take place on October 25, 2015. Approximately 2,500 participants are anticipated to participate in the swim portion of the event. No spectators are expected to be present during the event. The safety zone is necessary to ensure the safety of participants, vessels, and the general public during the event. Persons and vessels, except those participating in the event, are prohibited from entering, transiting through, anchoring in, or remaining within the regulated area unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective and will be enforced from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on October 25, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2015-0483 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Petty Officer Benjamin Colbert, Waterways Management Division, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 305-535-4317, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security E.O. Executive order FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking Pub. L. Public Law § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    On May 27, 2015, the Miami Tri Events, LLC notified the Coast Guard that from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., on October 25, 2015, it will organize a triathlon with a swim portion in Biscayne Bay east of Bayfront Park. In response, on August 14, 2015, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled Safety Zone; Mack Ironman 70.3, Biscayne Bay; Miami, FL (80 FR 48784). There, we stated why we issued the NPRM and invited comments on our proposed regulatory action related to this swim event. During the comment period that ended September 28, 2015, we received no comments.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. There was insufficient time between the close of the comment period and the event date to publish with 30 days or more before the effective date. In order to ensure the safety of the public during this event, the Coast Guard finds it necessary to establish this safety zone during the Ironman 70.3 swim event. Delay in publishing this rule would be impracticable, as the event will take place in less than 30 days. In addition to being impracticable, delay in publishing this rule would be contrary to public interest. This rule is required in order to ensure the safety of event participants as they swim across a busy waterway.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1. The Captain of the Port Miami (COTP) has determined that potential hazards associated with this swim event warrant a temporary safety zone. This zone will ensure necessary precautions are in place to mitigate dangers to human life.

    IV. Discussion of Comments and the Rule

    As noted above, we received no comments on the NPRM published on August 14, 2015. The regulatory text of this rule is unchanged from the rule proposed in the NPRM.

    This rule will establish a safety zone that will encompass certain waters of Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida. The safety zone will be enforced from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. on October 25, 2015. The safety zone will establish an area around the swim portion of the event where non-participant persons and vessels are prohibited from entering, transiting, anchoring, or remaining within. Non-participant persons and vessels may request authorization to enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the event area by contacting the Captain of the Port Miami by telephone at 305-535-4472, or a designated representative via VHF radio on channel 16. If authorization to enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the event area is granted by the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative, all persons and vessels receiving such authorization must comply with the instructions of the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative. The Coast Guard will provide notice of the safety zone by Local Notice to Mariners, Broadcast Notice to Mariners, and on-scene designated representatives.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders (E.O.s) related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes and E.O.s, and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors.

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    E.O.s 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. E.O. 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 E.O. 12866. Accordingly, it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    The economic impact of this rule is not significant for the following reasons: (1) The safety zone will be enforced for only five hours; (2) although non-participant persons and vessels will not be able to enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the event area without authorization from the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative, they may operate in the surrounding area during the enforcement period; (3) non-participant persons and vessels may still enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the event area during the enforcement period if authorized by the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative; and (4) the Coast Guard will provide advance notification of the safety zone to the local maritime community by Local Notice to Mariners and Broadcast Notice to Mariners.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

    While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the safety zone may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section V.A above, this rule will not have a significant economic impact on any vessel owner or operator.

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

    A rule has implications for federalism under E.O. 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements described in E.O. 13132.

    Also, 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. If you believe this rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969(42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves a safety zone lasting less than 5 hours. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. An environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination and a Categorical Exclusion Determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add a temporary § 165.T07-0483 to read as follows:
    § 165.T07-0483 Safety Zone; Ironman 70.3 Miami, Biscayne Bay; Miami, FL.

    (a) Regulated area. The following regulated area is a safety zone. All waters of Biscayne Bay located east of Bayfront Park and encompassed within the following points: Starting at Point 1 in position 25°46′44″ N., 080°10′59″ W.; thence southeast to Point 2 in position 25°46′24″ N., 080°10′44″ W.; thence southwest to Point 3 in position 25°46′18″ N., 080°11′05″ W.; thence north to Point 4 in position 25°46′33″ N., 080°11′05″ W.; thence northeast back to origin. All coordinates are North American Datum 1983.

    (b) Definition. The term “designated representative” means Coast Guard Patrol Commanders, including Coast Guard coxswains, petty officers, and other officers operating Coast Guard vessels, and Federal, state, and local officers designated by or assisting the Captain of the Port Miami in the enforcement of the regulated area.

    (c) Regulations. (1) Non-participant persons and vessels are prohibited from entering, transiting through, anchoring in, or remaining within the regulated area unless authorized by Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative.

    (2) Non-participant persons and vessels may request authorization to enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the regulated area by contacting the Captain of the Port Miami by telephone at 305-535-4472, or a designated representative via VHF radio on channel 16. If authorization is granted by the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative, all persons and vessels receiving such authorization must comply with the instructions of the Captain of the Port Miami or a designated representative.

    (3) The Coast Guard will provide notice of the safety zone by Local Notice to Mariners, Broadcast Notice to Mariners and on-scene designated representatives.

    (d) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced on October 25, 2015 from 6 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. M.C. Long, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Acting Captain of the Port Miami.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26832 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0906] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a safety zone during the 2015 Fautasi Ocean Challenge in Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa. This action is necessary to safeguard the participants and spectators, including all crews, vessels, and persons on the water in Pago Pago Harbor during the Fautasi Race. This regulation will functionally close the port to commercial vessel traffic during the start and finish of the race, but will not require the evacuation of any vessels from harbor. Entry into, transiting, or anchoring in the harbor is prohibited to all vessels not registered with the sponsor as participants or not part of the race patrol, unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Honolulu or a designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from 10:00 a.m. (SST) to 4:00 p.m. (SST) on November 11, 2015 and from 10:00 a.m. (SST) to 4:00 p.m. (SST) on November 27, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2015-0906 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Lieutenant Commander Nicolas Jarboe, Waterways Management Division, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu; telephone (808) 541-4359, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security E.O. Executive order FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking Pub. L. Public Law § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because the specific details of the event were received less than 90 days prior to event and needed to be worked through between the event coordinator and the Coast Guard over an extended period of time. The Coast Guard's discussions with the event sponsor to determine the requirements for this zone were finalized on 28 September 2015, which would not allow for a 30 day comment period. This safety zone is required to restrict vessel traffic to ensure the safety of the participants, spectators, the marine patrol and race officials. It is impracticable to publish an NPRM because we must establish this safety zone by November 11, 2015.

    We are issuing this rule, and under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making it effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effective date of this rule would be contrary to public interest because immediate action is needed to ensure the safety of the participants, spectators, the marine patrol and race officials.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The statutory basis for this rulemaking is 33 U.S.C. 1231, which gives the Coast Guard, under a delegation from the Secretary of Homeland Security, regulatory authority to enforce the Ports and Waterways Safety Act. A safety zone is a water area, shore area, or water and shore area, for safety or environmental purposes, of which access is limited to authorized persons, vehicles, or vessels.

    The purpose of this rule is to minimize vessel traffic in Pago Pago Harbor during the start and finish of the Fautasi canoe race. This is a major marine event in American Samoa. It is anticipated that a large number of spectator pleasure crafts will be drawn to the event. These vessels will pose a significant hazard to those operating in or near the area. The COTP Honolulu is establishing a temporary safety zone for Pago Pago Harbor. This rule is needed to safeguard persons and vessels during the canoe boat races.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule will create a safety zone in Pago Pago Harbor. The Coast Guard is closing the harbor to all vessels not authorized by the Captain of the Port to enter, depart, or transit within the port for the duration of the event. The Captain of the Port authorizes registered participants, support vessels, and enforcement vessels to enter and remain in the zone. The harbor will remain closed until the Coast Guard issues an “All Clear” for the harbor after the race has concluded and the harbor is deemed safe for normal operations. This rule does not require any vessel to evacuate the port if moored.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders (E.O.s) related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes and E.O.s, and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors.

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    E.O.s 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. E.O. 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 E.O. 12866. Accordingly, it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, duration, and time-of-day of the safety zone. Due to the number of participants and the size of the harbor, vessels cannot safely transit the harbor during the race. Moreover, the Coast Guard would issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners via VHF-FM marine channel 16 about the zone, and the rule would allow vessels to seek permission to enter the zone.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires Federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the safety zone may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section V.A above, this rule will not have a significant economic impact on any vessel owner or operator.

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

    A rule has implications for federalism under E.O. 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements described in E.O. 13132.

    Also, 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. If you believe this rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

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

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T15-0906 to read as follows:
    § 165.T15-0906 Safety Zone; Pago Pago Harbor, America Samoa.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: Breakers Point (eastern edge of Pago Pago Harbor entrance) thence southeast to 14°18′47″ S, 170°38′54.5″ W thence southwest to 14°19′03″ S, 170°39′14″ W, thence northwest to Tulutulu Point and then following the coastline encompassing Pago Pago Harbor. This regulated area extends from the surface of the water to the ocean floor.

    (b) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced from 10:00 a.m. (SST) to 4:00 p.m. (SST) on November 11, 2015 and from 10:00 a.m. (SST) to 4:00 p.m. (SST) on November 27, 2015.

    (c) Regulations. (1) All persons and vessels not registered with the sponsor as participants or support/enforcement vessels are considered spectators. The “support/enforcement vessels” consist of any territory, or local law enforcement and sponsor provided vessels assigned or approved by the Captain of the Port Honolulu to patrol the safety zone.

    (2) No spectator shall anchor, block, loiter or impede the through transit of participants or support/enforcement vessels in the safety zone during the effective date and times, unless cleared for entry by or through a support/enforcement vessel.

    (3) Spectator vessels may be moored to a waterfront facility within the safety zone in such a way that they shall not interfere with the progress of the event. Such mooring must be complete at least 30 minutes prior to the establishment of the safety zone and remain moored through the duration of the event.

    (d) Informational Broadcasts. The Captain of the Port or a designated representative will inform the public through broadcast notices to mariners of the enforcement period for the safety zone. The harbor will remain closed until the Coast Guard issues an “All Clear” for the harbor after the race has concluded the harbor is deemed safe for normal operations.

    (e) Penalties. Vessels or persons violating this rule would be subject to the penalties set forth in 33 U.S.C. 1232.

    Dated: September 29, 2015. S.N. Gilreath, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Honolulu.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26955 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0893] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Mississippi River Between Mile 467.0 and 472.0; Transylvania, LA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing an emergency temporary safety zone for all waters of the Lower Mississippi River between mile 467.0 and 472.0. Transit into and through this area is prohibited beginning at 11:32 p.m. on September 10, 2015 and will continue through October 31, 2015 or until the width and depth of the navigational channel improves. This safety zone is needed to protect persons, property and infrastructure from the safety hazards associated with the navigational channel being reduced in width and depth due to shallow water and shifting shoals. This has created an especially hazardous situation that does not allow for normal transit through this reach of the river. Deviation from the safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from October 22, 2015 until 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2015. For purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from 11:32 p.m. on September 10, 2015 until October 22, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents mentioned in this preamble are part of docket [USCG-2015-0893]. To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rulemaking. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email LT Tyrone L. Conner, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 901-521-4825, email [email protected] If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl F. Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Table of Acronyms APA Administrative Procedures Act BNM Broadcast Notice to Mariners COTP Captain of the Port DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register LNM Local Notice to Mariners MM Mile Marker NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking A. Regulatory History and Information

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary final rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule.

    On September 10, 2015 the Coast Guard was notified that shallow water and shifting shoals have reduced the width and depth of the navigational channel, creating an especially hazardous situation that does not to allow for normal transit through this reach of the river. This safety zone may include waterways closures, navigation restrictions, and/or other requirements that are vital to maintaining safe navigation. Accordingly, the Coast Guard has determined that immediate and emergency action is necessary to restrict navigation on this stretch of the river.

    Therefore, it is impracticable to publish an NPRM because we must establish this safety zone by September 10, 2015. Broadcast Notices to Mariners (BNM) and information sharing with the waterway users will update mariners of the restrictions, requirements, and enforcement times during this emergency situation.

    For the same reasons, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this emergency rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effect date of this rule would be contrary to public interest because immediate action is needed to protect life and property from the hazards associated with and resulting from the navigational channel being reduced in width and depth due to shallow water and shifting shoals. This situation has created an especially hazardous situation that does not to allow for normal transit through this reach of the river. Accordingly, the Coast Guard has determined that immediate and emergency action is necessary to restrict navigation on this stretch of the river.

    B. Basis and Purpose

    The legal basis and authorities for this rule are found in 33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1; 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1, which collectively authorize the Coast Guard to establish and define safety zones.

    The purpose of this emergency safety zone is to protect life and property from safety hazards associated with the navigational channel being reduced in width and depth due to shallow water and shifting shoals. This situation poses significant safety hazards to vessels and mariners operating in the area. Establishing a safety zone that may include waterways closures, navigation restrictions, and/or other requirements that extends from mile 467.0 to mile 472.0 on Mississippi River is necessary for the Coast Guard to maintain navigational safety.

    C. Discussion of the Temporary Final Rule

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary emergency safety zone for all vessel traffic on the Mississippi River between mile 467.0 and mile 472.0, extending the entire width of the Mississippi River. Transit into and through this area is prohibited beginning at 11:32 p.m. on September 10, 2015 and will continue through October 31, 2015 or until navigational channel width and depth is improved and response efforts are complete. Deviation from this emergency safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the COTP Lower Mississippi River, or a designated representative. Deviation requests will be considered and reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The COTP Lower Mississippi River may be contacted by telephone at 1-901-521-4822 or can be reached by VHF-FM channel 16.

    D. Regulatory Analyses

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

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review

    This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders. This rule establishes a temporary emergency safety zone for vessels on all waters of the Mississippi River from mile 467.0 to mile 472.0. Notifications of enforcement times will be communicated to the marine community via BNM and through Local Notice to Mariners (LNM). The impacts on navigation will be limited to ensuring the safety of mariners and vessels associated with hazards associated with the navigational channel being reduced in width, depth, shoaling, swift currents, and stream eddies.

    2. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    This rule will affect the following entities, some of which may be small entities: The owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the Mississippi River, from 11:32 p.m. on September 10, 2015 to 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2015. This emergency safety zone will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities due to its limited scope and short duration. Additionally, requests to deviate from the rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Notifications to the marine community will be made through BNM, LNM, and communications with local waterway users. Notices of changes to the safety zone and effective times will also be made.

    3. Assistance for Small Entities

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

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

    4. Collection of Information

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

    5. Federalism

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

    6. Protest Activities

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

    7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    8. Taking of Private Property

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

    9. Civil Justice Reform

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

    10. Protection of Children

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

    11. Indian Tribal Governments

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

    12. Energy Effects

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

    13. Technical Standards

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

    14. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)(42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. Because this safety zone is established in response to an emergency situation and is less than one week in duration, an environmental analysis checklist and a categorical exclusion determination are not required. Should this emergency situation require a safety zone lasting longer than one week, an environmental analysis checklist and a categorical exclusion determination will be made available as indicated under ADDRESSES.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. A new temporary § 165.T08-0893 is added to read as follows:
    § 165.T08-0893 Safety Zone; Mississippi River between mile 467.0 and 472.0, Transylvania, LA.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: All waters of the Mississippi River between mile 467.0 and mile 472.0, Transylvania, LA, extending the entire width of the Mississippi River.

    (b) Effective and Enforcement Period. This rule is effective from 11:32 p.m. on September 10, 2015 until 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2015, or unless the width and depth of the river improve earlier and response efforts are complete, whichever occurs earlier.

    (c) Regulations. (1) In accordance with the general regulations in § 165.23 of this part, entry into this zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative.

    (2) Persons or vessels desiring to enter into or passage through the zone must request permission from the COTP Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative. They may be contacted on VHF-FM channel 16 or by telephone at 901-521-4822.

    (3) If permission is granted, all persons and vessels shall comply with the instructions of the COTP Lower Mississippi River or designated representative.

    (d) Informational Broadcasts. The COTP Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative will inform the public through broadcast notices to mariners of the enforcement period for the emergency safety zone as well as any changes in the dates and times of enforcement.

    Dated: September 10,2015. T.J. Wendt, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Lower Mississippi River.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26958 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0894] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Mississippi River Between Mile 488.0 and 480.5; Lake Providence, LA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing an emergency temporary safety zone for all waters of the Lower Mississippi River between mile 488.0 and 480.5. Transit into and through this area is prohibited beginning at 5:43 p.m. on September 9, 2015 and will continue through October 31, 2015 or until the width and depth of the navigational channel improves. This safety zone is needed to protect persons, property and infrastructure from the safety hazards associated with the navigational channel being reduced in width and depth due to shallow water and shifting shoals. This has created an especially hazardous situation that does not allow for normal transit through this reach of the river. Deviation from the safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from October 22, 2015 until 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2015. For purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from 5:43 p.m. on September 9, 2015 until October 22, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents mentioned in this preamble are part of docket [USCG-2015-0894]. To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rulemaking. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email LT Tyrone L. Conner, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 901-521-4825, email [email protected]. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl F. Collins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Acronyms APA Administrative Procedures Act BNM Broadcast Notice to Mariners COTP Captain of the Port DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register LNM Local Notice to Mariners MM Mile Marker NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking A. Regulatory History and Information

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary final rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule. On September 9, 2015, the Coast Guard was notified that shallow water and shifting shoals have reduced the width and depth of the navigational channel, creating an especially hazardous situation that does not to allow for normal transit through this reach of the river. This safety zone may include waterways closures, navigation restrictions, and/or other requirements that are vital to maintaining safe navigation. Accordingly, the Coast Guard has determined that immediate and emergency action is necessary to restrict navigation on this stretch of the river.

    Therefore, delaying the effective date for this emergency safety zone to complete the NPRM process is impracticable because we must establish this safety zone by September 9, 2015. Broadcast Notices to Mariners (BNM) and information sharing with the waterway users will update mariners of the restrictions, requirements, and enforcement times during this emergency situation.

    For the same reasons, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this emergency rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effective date of this rule would be contrary to public interest because immediate action is needed to protect life and property from the hazards associated with and resulting from the navigational channel being reduced in width and depth due to shallow water and shifting shoals. This situation has created an especially hazardous situation that does not to allow for normal transit through this reach of the river. Accordingly, the Coast Guard has determined that immediate and emergency action is necessary to restrict navigation on this stretch of the river.

    B. Basis and Purpose

    The legal basis and authorities for this rule are found in 33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1; 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1, which collectively authorize the Coast Guard to establish and define safety zones.

    The purpose of this emergency safety zone is to protect life and property from safety hazards associated with the navigational channel being reduced in width and depth due to shallow water and shifting shoals. This situation poses significant safety hazards to vessels and mariners operating in the area. Establishing a safety zone that may include waterways closures, navigation restrictions, and/or other requirements that extends from mile 488.0 to mile 480.5 on Mississippi River is necessary for the Coast Guard to maintain navigational safety.

    C. Discussion of the Temporary Final Rule

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary emergency safety zone for all vessel traffic on the Mississippi River between mile 488.0 and mile 480.5, extending the entire width of the Mississippi River. Transit into and through this area is prohibited beginning at 5:43 p.m. on September 9, 2015 and will continue through October 31, 2015 or until navigational channel width and depth is improved and response efforts are complete. Deviation from this emergency safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the COTP Lower Mississippi River, or a designated representative. Deviation requests will be considered and reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The COTP Lower Mississippi River may be contacted by telephone at 1-901-521-4822 or can be reached by VHF-FM channel 16.

    D. Regulatory Analyses

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

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review

    This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders. This rule establishes a temporary emergency safety zone for vessels on all waters of the Mississippi River from mile 488.0 to mile 480.5. Notifications of enforcement times will be communicated to the marine community via BNM and through Local Notice to Mariners (LNM). The impacts on navigation will be limited to ensuring the safety of mariners and vessels associated with hazards associated with the navigational channel being reduced in width, depth and shoaling.

    2. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    This rule will affect the following entities, some of which may be small entities: the owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the Mississippi River, from 5:43 p.m. September 9, 2015 to 11:59 p.m. on September 16, 2015. This emergency safety zone will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities due to its limited scope and short duration. Additionally, requests to deviate from the rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Notifications to the marine community will be made through BNM, LNM, and communications with local waterway users. Notices of changes to the safety zone and effective times will also be made.

    3. Assistance for Small Entities

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

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

    4. Collection of Information

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

    5. Federalism

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

    6. Protest Activities

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

    7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    8. Taking of Private Property

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

    9. Civil Justice Reform

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

    10. Protection of Children

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

    11. Indian Tribal Governments

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

    12. Energy Effects

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

    13. Technical Standards

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

    14. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. Because this safety zone is established in response to an emergency situation and is less than one week in duration, an environmental analysis checklist and a categorical exclusion determination are not required. Should this emergency situation require a safety zone lasting longer than one week, an environmental analysis checklist and a categorical exclusion determination will be made available as indicated under ADDRESSES.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. A new temporary § 165.T08-0894 is added to read as follows:
    § 165.T08-0894 Safety Zone; Mississippi River between mile 488.0 and 480.5, Lake Providence, LA.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: all waters of the Mississippi River between mile 488.0 and mile 480.5, Lake Providence, LA, extending the entire width of the Mississippi River.

    (b) Enforcement Period. This rule will be enforced from 5:43 p.m. on September 9, 2015 through 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2015, or unless the width and depth of river increase earlier and response efforts are complete, whichever occurs earlier.

    (c) Regulations. (1) In accordance with the general regulations in § 165.23 of this part, entry into this zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative.

    (2) Persons or vessels desiring to enter into or passage through the zone must request permission from the COTP Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative. They may be contacted on VHF-FM channel 16 or by telephone at 901-521-4822.

    (3) If permission is granted, all persons and vessels shall comply with the instructions of the COTP Lower Mississippi River or designated representative.

    (d) Informational Broadcasts. The COTP Lower Mississippi River or a designated representative will inform the public through broadcast notices to mariners of the enforcement period for the emergency safety zone as well as any changes in the dates and times of enforcement.

    Dated: September 9, 2015. T. J. Wendt, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Lower Mississippi River.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26956 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Defense Acquisition Regulations System 48 CFR Parts 202, 204, 212, 239, and 252 [Docket No. DARS-2015-0039] RIN 0750-AI61 Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Network Penetration Reporting and Contracting for Cloud Services (DFARS Case 2013-D018) AGENCY:

    Defense Acquisition Regulations System, Department of Defense (DoD).

    ACTION:

    Interim rule; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    DoD issued an interim rule (DFARS Case 2013-D018) on August 26, 2015, amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to implement a section of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 and a section of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, both of which require contractor reporting on network penetrations. The comment period on the interim rule is being extended to November 20, 2015.

    DATES:

    For the interim rule published on August 26, 2015 (80 FR 51739), submit comments by November 20, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments identified by DFARS Case 2013-D018, using any of the following methods:

    Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking portal by entering “DFARS Case 2013-D018” under the heading “Enter keyword or ID” and selecting “Search.” Select the link “Submit a Comment” that corresponds with “DFARS Case 2013-D018.” Follow the instructions provided at the “Submit a Comment” screen. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “DFARS Case 2013-D018” on your attached document.

    Email: [email protected] Include DFARS Case 2013-D018 in the subject line of the message.

    Fax: 571-372-6094.

    Mail: Defense Acquisition Regulations System, Attn: Mr. Dustin Pitsch, OUSD(AT&L)DPAP/DARS, Room 3B855, 3060 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3060.

    Comments received generally will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. To confirm receipt of your comment(s), please check www.regulations.gov, approximately two to three days after submission to verify posting (except allow 30 days for posting of comments submitted by mail).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Dustin Pitsch, telephone 571-372-6090.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    On August 26, 2015, DoD published an interim rule (DFARS Case 2013-D018) in the Federal Register at 80 FR 51739 revising the DFARS to implement section 941 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 (Pub. L. 112-239) and section 1632 of the NDAA for FY 2015 (Pub. L. 113-291). Section 941 requires cleared defense contractors to report penetrations of networks and information systems and allows DoD personnel access to equipment and information to assess the impact of reported penetrations. Section 1632 requires that a contractor designated as operationally critical must report each time a cyber incident occurs on that contractor's network or information systems. This rule also implements DoD policies and procedures for use when contracting for cloud computing services.

    The due date for comments on the interim rule (DFARS Case 2013-D018) is being extended from October 26, 2015 to November 20, 2015, to provide additional time for interested parties to submit comments on the interim rule.

    List of Subjects in 48 CFR Parts 202, 204, 212, 239, and 252

    Government procurement.

    Jennifer L. Hawes, Editor, Defense Acquisition Regulations System.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26887 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-EP-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 130919816-4205-02] RIN 0648-XE266 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Georges Bank Haddock Catch Cap Harvested AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is closing the directed herring fishery in the Herring Georges Bank Haddock Accountability Measure Area based on a determination that the Georges Bank Haddock Catch Cap has been harvested. Federally permitted vessels may not fish for, possess, transfer, receive, land or sell more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of Atlantic herring in or from the Herring Georges Bank Haddock Accountability Measure Area for the remainder of the fishing year. Also, vessels issued Federal permits for Atlantic herring fishing with midwater trawl gear, or vessels issued an All Areas and/or Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access Atlantic herring permit on a declared Atlantic herring trip, regardless of gear used, may not possess haddock, unless also on a declared Northeast multispecies trip with a Northeast multispecies permit.

    DATES:

    Effective 0001 hr local time, October 22, 2015, through April 30, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannah Jaburek, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 282-8456.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations governing the Atlantic herring fishery and the Northeast (NE) multispecies fishery can be found at 50 CFR part 648. The NE multispecies regulations require specification of acceptable biological catches (ABC), annual catch limits, and overfishing limits for each of the NE multispecies stocks. The haddock catch allowance for vessels issued a Federal herring permit is one percent of each of the ABCs for Gulf of Maine haddock and Georges Bank (GB) haddock stocks. The 2015 haddock ABC is 53,717,835 million lb (24,366 mt), and one percent of the ABC has been allocated to the GB Haddock Catch Cap for the 2015 fishing year, which is further reduced by seven percent to 500,449 lb (227 mt) to account for management uncertainty (80 FR 25109).

    The regulations at § 648.201 require the Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), to determine when the GB Haddock Catch Cap has been fully harvested. Once the GB Haddock Catch Cap has been harvested, regulations require NMFS to prohibit herring vessel permit holders from fishing for, possessing, transferring, receiving, landing, or selling more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring per trip or calendar day in or from the Herring GB Haddock AM Area for the remainder of the fishing year. Additionally, federally permitted herring vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear can no longer possess haddock in the Herring GB Haddock Accountability Management (AM) Area for the reminder of the fishing year, unless vessels are also fishing on a declared NE multispecies trip with a NE multispecies permit. Vessels issued an All Areas or Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access herring permit on a declared herring trip cannot possess haddock in the Herring GB Haddock AM Area, regardless of the gear used.

    The Regional Administrator has determined, based on dealer reports and other available information, that the herring fleet has fully harvested the GB Haddock Catch Cap. Therefore, effective 0001 hr local time, October 22, 2015, federally permitted vessels may not fish for, possess, transfer, receive, land, or sell more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring per trip or calendar day, in or from the Herring GB Haddock AM Area through April 30, 2016, except vessels that have entered port before 0001 hr on October 22, 2015, may land and sell more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring from the Herring GB Haddock AM Area from that trip. A vessel may transit through the Herring GB Haddock AM Area with more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring on board, provided all herring onboard was caught outside the Herring GB Haddock AM Area and all fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined by § 648.2. Effective 0001 hr, October 22, 2015, herring vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear cannot possess haddock and vessels issued All Areas or Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access herring vessels on a declared herring trip cannot possess haddock regardless of gear used, unless on a declared NE multispecies trip with a NE multispecies permit. Effective 0001 hr, October 22, 2015, federally permitted dealers may not receive herring from federally permitted herring vessels that harvest more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring from the Herring GB Haddock AM Area through 2400 hr local time, April 30, 2016, unless it is from a vessel that entered port before 0001 hr on October 22, 2015.

    Classification

    This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    NMFS finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be contrary to the public interest and impracticable. This action severely restricts the catch of GB herring in the GB Haddock AM Area until May 1, 2016. The regulations at § 648.201(a) require such action to ensure that herring vessels do not exceed the haddock catch allocated to the herring fishery. Data indicating the herring fleet will have harvested GB Haddock Catch Cap have only recently become available. If implementation of this closure is delayed to solicit prior public comment, the catch of GB haddock allocated to the herring fishery for this fishing year may be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the FMP. NMFS further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated above.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26875 Filed 10-19-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 141021887-5172-02] RIN 0648-XE225 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; modification of a closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to fully use the 2015 total allowable catch of Pacific ocean perch specified for the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area.

    DATES:

    Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 20, 2015, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2015. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., November 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS Docket Number 2014-0134, 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-2014-0134, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

    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). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.

    NMFS closed directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch (POP) in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI under § 679.20(d)(1)(iii) (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015).

    NMFS has determined that approximately 5,000 metric tons of POP remain in the directed fishing allowance. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the 2015 total allowable catch of POP in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is opening directed fishing for POP in Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI, effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., October 20, 2015, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2015. This will enhance the socioeconomic well-being of harvesters dependent on POP in this area.

    The Administrator, Alaska Region considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) the current catch of POP in the BSAI and, (2) the harvest capacity and stated intent on future harvesting patterns of vessels participating in this fishery.

    Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the opening of POP directed fishing in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of October 16, 2015.

    The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

    Without this inseason adjustment, NMFS could not allow the fishery for POP in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI to be harvested in an expedient manner and in accordance with the regulatory schedule. Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until November 3, 2015.

    This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26871 Filed 10-19-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 204 Thursday, October 22, 2015 Proposed Rules NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION 12 CFR Part 703 RIN 3133-AE55 Investment and Deposit Activities—Bank Notes AGENCY:

    National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The NCUA Board (Board) proposes to amend the maturity requirement for bank notes to be permissible investments for federal credit unions (FCUs) by removing the word “original” from the current requirement that bank notes have “original weighted average maturities of less than 5 years.” This amendment will provide regulatory relief for FCUs.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by any of the following methods, but please send comments by one method only:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    NCUA Web site: http://www.ncua.gov/RegulationsOpinionsLaws/proposed_regs/proposed_regs.html. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Email: Address to [email protected] Include “[Your name] — Comments on Proposed Rule— Bank Notes” in the email subject line.

    Fax: (703) 518-6319. Use the subject line described above for email.

    Mail: Address to Gerard Poliquin, Secretary of the Board, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3428.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as mail address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Nilles, Senior Capital Markets Specialist, Office of Examination and Insurance, at the above address or telephone (703) 518-6360; or Justin M. Anderson, Senior Staff Attorney, Office of General Counsel, at the above address or telephone (703) 518-6540.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Background II. Proposed Amendments III. Regulatory Procedures I. Background

    By NCUA regulation, bank notes with original weighted average maturities of less than 5 years are permissible investments for FCUs.1 The authority for FCUs to invest in these bank notes is derived from the provision of the Federal Credit Union Act (the Act) that permits FCUs to make deposits in, among other things, national and state banks. The Act does not provide authority for FCUs to purchase bank notes that are not deposits. The Act, however, does not define “deposit.” NCUA's long-standing policy has been to use the definition of deposit in Regulation D. Regulation D provides, in relevant part, that a liability of a depository institution can be a “deposit” if, among other things: (1) It is insured; (2) it is not subordinated to the claims of depositors; and (3) it has a weighted average maturity of less than five years.2 The Board notes that the third prong of the above test does not include the word “original.”

    1 12 CFR 703.14(f)(5).

    2 12 CFR 204.2(a)(1)(vii)(C).

    When the Board first added “bank notes” as a permissible investment to its investment regulation, Part 703, the Board noted in the preamble to that proposed rule that it was codifying the position NCUA had taken in previously issued legal opinions on the topic.3 Those legal opinions articulated NCUA's policy of using the Regulation D definition of “deposit” and interpreting “weighted average maturity” as being the original weighted average maturity.4 While this interpretation made it easier for FCUs to calculate the weighted average maturity,5 the Board is aware that this may now be unintentionally burdensome to FCUs by limiting the offerings in which FCUs may invest. As such, the Board proposes to remove the word “original” from the maturity requirement and thereby more closely align NCUA's requirements regarding bank notes with Regulation D.

    3 62 FR 32989, 32998 (June 18, 1997).

    4See OGC Ops. 96-0625 (July 22, 1996) and 02-0830 (Dec. 4, 2002).

    5Id.

    II. Proposed Amendments

    This proposed rule will amend the maturity requirement for bank notes to be permissible investments for FCUs by removing the word “original” from the current requirement that bank notes have “original weighted average maturities of less than 5 years.” As noted, this will more closely align NCUA's investment restrictions with the definition of “deposit” in Regulation D. This proposed rule also will provide FCUs with some measure of regulatory relief. By removing the word “original,” which ties the bank note's maturity to its original date of issuance, FCUs will be permitted to select from a much larger pool of possible bank note offerings. Expanding the list of permissible offerings will result in: (1) Cheaper execution prices, as the “less than 5 years” element resulted in those bank notes often selling at a premium; (2) flexibility for FCUs to purchase bank notes that were originally issued 6 with maturities greater than 5 years; and (3) FCUs being able to spend less time and effort in finding suitable offerings.

    6 Under this proposal FCUs could purchase a bank note that was originally issued with a maturity longer than five years, provided that, at the time of purchase, the bank note has a remaining maturity of five years or less.

    Further, removing the word “original” will not pose any safety or soundness concerns. Safety and soundness concerns generally apply to an FCU's overall maturity risk on a portfolio-wide basis and not to any one investment. If this rule is finalized as proposed, FCUs would be permitted to purchase bank notes that had original maturities greater than 5 years but have remaining maturities of less than 5 years.

    The Board is issuing this proposal with a 30-day comment period rather than its traditional 60-day comment period. The shortened period reflects the simplicity of the proposed amendment and also enables the Board to provide expedited regulatory relief in this area.

    III. Regulatory Procedures 1. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires NCUA to prepare an analysis of any significant economic impact a regulation may have on a substantial number of small entities (primarily those under $50 million in assets).7 This proposed rule will have a minimal economic impact on credit unions as bank notes are just one small portion of a typical investment portfolio. Accordingly, NCUA certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small credit unions.

    7 5 U.S.C. 603(a); 12 U.S.C. 1787(c)(1).

    2. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) applies to rulemakings in which an agency by rule creates a new paperwork burden or increases an existing burden.8 For purposes of the PRA, a paperwork burden may take the form of a reporting or recordkeeping requirement, both referred to as information collections. This proposed rule creates new investment options for FCUs but will not create any new burdens or increase any existing burdens. Therefore, a PRA analysis is not required.

    8 44 U.S.C. 3507(d); 5 CFR part 1320.

    3. Executive Order 13132

    Executive Order 13132 encourages independent regulatory agencies to consider the impact of their actions on state and local interests. NCUA, an independent regulatory agency as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5), voluntarily complies with the executive order to adhere to fundamental federalism principles. The proposed rule does not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. NCUA has, therefore, determined that this proposal does not constitute a policy that has federalism implications for purposes of the executive order.

    4. Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families

    NCUA has determined that this proposed rule will not affect family well-being within the meaning of section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681 (1998).

    List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 703

    Credit unions, Investments.

    By the National Credit Union Administration Board on October 15, 2015. Gerard Poliquin, Secretary of the Board.

    For the reasons discussed above, the National Credit Union Administration proposes to amend 12 CFR part 703 as follows:

    PART 703—INVESTMENT AND DEPOSIT ACTIVITIES 1. The authority citation for part 703 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 1757(7), 1757(8), and 1757(15).

    § 703.14 [Amended]
    2. Amend § 703.14(f)(5) by removing the word “original”.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26788 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7535-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 30 CFR Part 946 [SATS No. VA-127-FOR; Docket ID: OSM-2015-0003; S1D1S SS08011000 SX064A000 167S180110; S2D2S SS08011000 SX064A000 16XS501520] Virginia Regulatory Program AGENCY:

    Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; public comment period and opportunity for public hearing on proposed amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), is announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the Virginia regulatory program (the Virginia program) under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). Through this proposed amendment, the State seeks to revise the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Regulations (the State regulations) in light of legislative changes made by the General Assembly of Virginia. If approved, the proposed amendment would incorporate these legislative changes into the approved State program. Additionally, the State regulations would be amended to revise the language of the public participation regulations to clarify proof of publication, remove the self-bonding instrument, and remove duplicate pool bond regulations already addressed under the Code of Virginia.

    This document gives the times and locations that the Virginia program and this proposed amendment to that program are available for your inspection, the comment period during which you may submit written comments on the amendment, and the procedures that we will follow for the public hearing, if one is requested.

    DATES:

    We will accept written comments on this amendment until 4:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (E.S.T.), November 23, 2015. If requested, we will hold a public hearing on the amendment on November 16, 2015. We will accept requests to speak at a hearing until 4:00 p.m., E.S.T. on November 6, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by SATS No. VA-127-FOR, by any of the following methods:

    • Mail/Hand Delivery: Mr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, Knoxville Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 710 Locust Street, 2nd Floor, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902.

    • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the “Public Comment Procedures” heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

    Docket: For access to the docket to review copies of the Virginia program, this amendment, a listing of any scheduled public hearings, and all written comments received in response to this document, you must go to the address listed below during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. You may receive one free copy of the amendment by contacting OSMRE's Knoxville Field Office or the full text of the program amendment is available for you to read at www.regulations.gov.

    Mr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, Knoxville Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 710 Locust Street, 2nd Floor, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902, Telephone: (865) 545-4103 ext 186, Email: [email protected]

    In addition, you may review a copy of the amendment during regular business hours at the following location:

    Mr. Harve A. Mooney, Legal Services Officer, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, 3405 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219, Telephone: (276) 523-8271, Email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, Knoxville Field Office. Telephone: (865) 545-4103 ext 186. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background on the Virginia Program II. Description of the Proposed Amendment III. Public Comment Procedures IV. Procedural Determinations I. Background on the Virginia Program

    Section 503(a) of the Act permits a State to assume primacy for the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations on non-Federal and non-Indian lands within its borders by demonstrating that its program includes, among other things, “. . . State law which provides for the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations in accordance with the requirements of this Act . . .; and rules and regulations consistent with regulations issued by the Secretary pursuant to this Act.” See 30 U.S.C. 1253(a)(1) and (7). On the basis of these criteria, the Secretary of the Interior conditionally approved the Virginia program on December 15, 1981. You can find background information on the Virginia program, including the Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and conditions of approval, in the December 15, 1981, Federal Register (46 FR 61088). You can also find later actions concerning the Virginia program and program amendments at 30 CFR 946.12, 946.13, and 946.15.

    II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

    By letter dated June 12, 2015 (Administrative Record No. VA 2024), the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (VADMME) sent us an amendment to its program under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.).

    At the VADMME's request, an actuarial group performed an audit of the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Fund (the Fund). In evaluation year 2013, the actuary group provided a final report (Administrative Record No. VA 2022) with recommendations to improve the financial soundness of the Fund. In an effort to improve the operation of the Fund, the General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation to amend certain provisions of the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1979 (VASMCRA). See 2014 Bill Text VA H.B. 710. In its submission, VADMME provided us with a copy of House Bill 710 (H.B. 710) enacted March 5, 2014 (Administrative Record No. VA 2021), amending the Code of Virginia at Va. Code Ann. §§ 45.1-241, 45.1-270.3, and 45.1-270.4. The enactment of H.B. 710 revised the coal tax structure to collect the tax for all time periods of operation, increased the Fund balance cap from $2 million to $20 million, and removed an applicant's ability to submit its own bond without separate surety, thereby removing the self-bonding option.

    Accordingly, VADMME now seeks to amend its State program to reflect the VASMCRA changes made through H.B. 710. VADMME's proposed changes to its State regulations are grouped into three categories for the purpose of this proposed rule notice and summarized below.

    1. Removal of Duplicative Pool Bond Requirements Under Part 801 of the State Regulations

    VADMME proposes to amend its State program by removing certain duplicate regulations for the pool bond because it states that these items are already addressed in the amended VASMCRA at Va. Code Ann. § 45.1-241.

    VADMME proposes to remove, in whole, the State regulations at 4 VAC 25-130-801.11, 801.14, and 801.16, which address participation in the pool bond fund, the reclamation tax, and reinstatement to the pool bond fund.

    The proposed amendment would amend 4 VAC 25-130-801.12 entitled “Entrance fee and bond” by removing a majority of the language in subsection (a), and would delete subsections (d) and (g) of this regulations. Additionally, VADMME's proposed amendment would remove subsection (c) of this regulation since it references self-bonding, which is no longer permitted by the State as addressed in a separate category below. Approval of these proposed modifications would result in the renumbering of the remaining subsections.

    As VADMME seeks to remove section 801.14 of the State regulations, the proposed revisions to 4 VAC 25-130-801.15, entitled “Collection of the reclamation tax and penalties for non-payment”, entail an amended reference to § 45.1-270.4 of the Code of Virginia within subsections (b) and (d). A minor revision is also proposed at subsection (a) to update the point of contact for the Fund tax reporting form.

    2. Revisions to the Public Participation and Proof of Publication Language Referenced in the State Regulations

    VADMME proposes to revise the public participation language referenced in 4 VAC 25-130-772.12, 778.21, and 800.40, to be consistent with the corresponding Federal regulations and to clarify proof of publication requirements.

    The proposed amendment would revise the public notice language in subsection (c)(1) of 4 VAC 25-130-772.12, entitled “Permit requirements for exploration removing more than 250 tons of coal, or occurring on lands designated as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations” and the language in 4 VAC 25-130-778.21, entitled “Proof of publication” to be more consistent with the language provided in the Federal regulations at 30 CFR 772.12 and 778.21. The revised language would clarify that the required proof of publication shall be made a part of a subsequent submittal after the last date of publication prior to approval.

    Additionally, the proposed amendment would revise the language in 4 VAC 25-130-800.40, entitled “Requirements to release performance bonds” referencing public notice and proof of publication required for bond release applications. VADMME also proposes to create a new subsection by moving language from 4 VAC 25-130-800.40(a)(2), discussing the permittee's duty to submit copies of notices sent to those within the locality as part of the bond release application, into a new subsection (a)(3). The existing subsection (a)(3) would be renumbered to (a)(4).

    3. Removal of the Self-Bonding and Escrow Bonding Options

    In response to changes made to the Code of Virginia through the enactment of H.B. 710, VADMME proposes to remove the self-bonding instrument in an effort to improve the financial soundness of the Fund. As definitions associated with self-bonding procedures, VADMME also seeks to remove the definitions of “Self-bonding”, “Cognovit note”, and “Indemnity agreement” currently provided under 4 VAC 25-130-700.5. The corresponding Federal regulation for this section is 30 CFR 800.5.

    Furthermore, VADMME proposes to remove the provision allowing for Escrow bonding, outlined at 4 VAC 25-130-800.23, to reflect changes in the bonding requirements in the Code of Virginia. This type of bonding, in addition to the self-bonding option, would no longer be allowed under the proposed amendment.

    The full text of the program amendment is available for you to read at the locations listed above under ADDRESSES or at www.regulations.gov.

    III. Public Comment Procedures

    Under the provisions of 30 CFR 732.17(h), we are seeking your comments on whether the amendment satisfies the applicable program approval criteria of 30 CFR 732.15. If we approve the amendment, it will become part of the State program.

    Electric or Written Comments

    If you submit written or electronic comments on the proposed rule during the 30-day comment period, they should be specific, confined to issues pertinent to the proposed regulations, and explain the reason for any recommended change(s). We appreciate any and all comments, but those most useful and likely to influence decisions on the final regulations will be those that either involve personal experience or include citations to and analyses of SMCRA, its legislative history, its implementing regulations, case law, other pertinent State or Federal laws or regulations, technical literature, or other relevant publications.

    We cannot ensure that comments received after the close of the comment period (see DATES) or sent to an address other than those listed (see ADDRESSES) will be included and considered in the docket for this rulemaking.

    Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Public Hearing

    If you wish to speak at the public hearing, contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 4:00 p.m., E.S.T. on November 6, 2015. If you are disabled and need reasonable accommodations to attend a public hearing, contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will arrange the location and time of the hearing with those persons requesting the hearing. If no one requests an opportunity to speak, we will not hold a hearing.

    To assist the transcriber and ensure an accurate record, we request, if possible, that each person who speaks at the public hearing provide us with a written copy of his or her comments. The public hearing will continue on the specified date until everyone scheduled to speak has been given an opportunity to be heard. If you are in the audience and have not been scheduled to speak and wish to do so, you will be allowed to speak after those who have been scheduled. We will end the hearing after everyone scheduled to speak and others present in the audience who wish to speak, have been heard.

    Public Meeting

    If only one person requests an opportunity to speak, we may hold a public meeting rather than a public hearing. If you wish to meet with us to discuss the amendment, please request a meeting by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All such meetings are open to the public and, if possible, we will post notices of meetings at the locations listed under ADDRESSES. We will make a written summary of each meeting a part of the administrative record.

    IV. Procedural Determinations Executive Order 12866—Regulatory Planning and Review

    This rule is exempted from review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866.

    Other Laws and Executive Orders Affecting Rulemaking

    When a State submits a program amendment to OSMRE for review, our regulations at 30 CFR 732.17(h) require us to publish a notice in the Federal Register indicating receipt of the proposed amendment, its text or a summary of its terms, and an opportunity for public comment. We conclude our review of the proposed amendment after the close of the public comment period and determine whether the amendment should be approved, approved in part, or not approved. At that time, we will also make the determinations and certifications required by the various laws and executive orders governing the rulemaking process and include them in the final rule.

    List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 946

    Intergovernmental relations, Surface mining, Underground mining.

    Dated: July 13, 2015. Thomas D. Shope, Regional Director, Appalachian Region.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26842 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-05-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 56 [EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0616; FRL-9936-11-OAR] RIN 2060-AS53 Amendments to Regional Consistency Regulations AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    On August 19, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed revisions to its Regional Consistency regulations. The EPA is reopening the comment period on the proposed rule that closed on October 19, 2015. The EPA received a single letter from 16 trade and business organizations requesting additional time to review and comment on the proposed rule revisions.

    DATES:

    The public comment period for the proposed rule published in the Federal Register on August 19, 2015 (80 FR 50250), is being reopened. Written comments must be received on or before November 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0616, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or withdrawn. The EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. If you need to include CBI as part of your comment, please visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets/comments.html for instructions. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets/comments.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information, contact Greg Nizich, Air Quality Policy Division, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (C504-03), Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711; telephone number (919) 541-3078; fax number (919) 541-5509; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    After considering the request received from 16 trade and business organizations to extend the public comment period, the EPA has decided to reopen the public comment period until November 3, 2015. This extension will help ensure that the public has additional time to review the proposed changes to the existing rule.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Mary E. Henigin, Acting Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26942 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 42 CFR Part 600 [CMS-2396-PN] RIN 0938-ZB21 Basic Health Program; Federal Funding Methodology for Program Years 2017 and 2018 AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.

    ACTION:

    Proposed methodology.

    SUMMARY:

    This document provides the methodology and data sources necessary to determine federal payment amounts made in program years 2017 and 2018 to states that elect to establish a Basic Health Program under the Affordable Care Act to offer health benefits coverage to low-income individuals otherwise eligible to purchase coverage through Affordable Insurance Marketplaces.

    DATES:

    To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below, no later than 5 p.m. on November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    In commenting, refer to file code CMS-2396-PN. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

    You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

    1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “Submit a comment” instructions.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS 2396-PN, P.O. Box 8016, Baltimore, MD 21244-8016.

    Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.

    3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address only: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-2396-PN, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written only to the following addresses:

    a. For delivery in Washington, DC—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.

    (Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without Federal government identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being filed.)

    b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, call telephone number (410) 786-7195 in advance to schedule your arrival with one of our staff members.

    Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received after the comment period.

    Submission of comments on paperwork requirements. You may submit comments on this document's paperwork requirements by following the instructions at the end of the “Collection of Information Requirements” section in this document.

    For information on viewing public comments, see the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher Truffer, (410) 786-1264; Stephanie Kaminsky (410) 786-4653.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Inspection of Public Comments: All comments received before the close of the comment period are available for viewing by the public, including any personally identifiable or confidential business information that is included in a comment. We post all comments received before the close of the comment period on the following Web site as soon as possible after they have been received: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the search instructions on that Web site to view public comments.

    Comments received timely will also be available for public inspection as they are received, generally beginning approximately 3 weeks after publication of a document, at the headquarters of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244, Monday through Friday of each week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment to view public comments, phone 1-800-743-3951.

    Table of Contents I. Background II. Provisions of the Proposed Methodology A. Overview of the Funding Methodology and Calculation of the Payment Amount B. Federal BHP Payment Rate Cells C. Sources and State Data Considerations D. Discussion of Specific Variables Used in Payment Equations E. Adjustments for American Indians and Alaska Natives F. State Option to Use 2016 or 2017 QHP Premiums for BHP Payments G. State Option to Include Retrospective State-Specific Health Risk Adjustment in Certified Methodology H. Example Application of the BHP Funding Methodology III. Collection of Information Requirements IV. Response to Comments V. Regulatory Impact Statement A. Overall Impact B. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act C. Regulatory Flexibility Act D. Federalism I. Background

    Section 1331 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Pub. L. 111-148, enacted on March 23, 2010), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-152, enacted on March 30, 2010) (collectively referred as the Affordable Care Act) provides states with an option to establish a Basic Health Program (BHP). In the states that elect to operate BHP, BHP will make affordable health benefits coverage available for individuals under age 65 with household incomes between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or affordable employer-sponsored coverage, or for individuals whose income is below these levels but are lawfully present non-citizens ineligible for Medicaid. (For those states that have expanded Medicaid coverage under section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Social Security Act (the Act), the lower income threshold for BHP eligibility is effectively 138 percent due to the application of a required 5 percent income disregard in determining the upper limits of Medicaid income eligibility (section 1902(e)(14)(I) of the Act).

    BHP provides another option for states in providing affordable health benefits to individuals with incomes in the ranges described above. States may find BHP a useful option for several reasons, including the ability to potentially coordinate standard health plans in BHP with their Medicaid managed care plans, or to potentially reduce the costs to individuals by lowering premiums or cost-sharing requirements.

    Federal funding will be available for BHP based on the amount of PTC and cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) that BHP enrollees would have received had they been enrolled in QHPs through Marketplaces. These funds are paid to the states through trust funds dedicated to BHP, and the states then administer the payments to standard health plans within BHP.

    In the March 12, 2014 Federal Register (79 FR 14112), we published a final rule entitled the “Basic Health Program: State Administration of Basic Health Programs; Eligibility and Enrollment in Standard Health Plans; Essential Health Benefits in Standard Health Plans; Performance Standards for Basic Health Programs; Premium and Cost Sharing for Basic Health Programs; Federal Funding Process; Trust Fund and Financial Integrity” (hereinafter referred to as the BHP final rule) implementing section 1331 of the Affordable Care Act), which directs the establishment of BHP. The BHP final rule establishes the standards for state and federal administration of BHP, including provisions regarding eligibility and enrollment, benefits, cost-sharing requirements and oversight activities. While the BHP final rule codifies the overall statutory requirements and basic procedural framework for the funding methodology, it does not contain the specific information necessary to determine federal payments. We anticipated that the methodology would be based on data and assumptions that would reflect ongoing operations and experience of BHP programs as well as the operation of the Marketplaces. For this reason, the BHP final rule indicated that the development and publication of the funding methodology, including any data sources, would be addressed in a separate annual BHP Payment Notice.

    In the BHP final rule, we specified that the BHP Payment Notice process would include the annual publication of both a proposed and final BHP Payment Notice. The proposed BHP Payment Notice would be published in the Federal Register each October, and would describe the proposed methodology for the upcoming BHP program year, including how the Secretary considered the factors specified in section 1331(d)(3) of the Affordable Care Act, along with the proposed data sources used to determine the federal BHP payment rates. The final BHP Payment Notice would be published in the Federal Register in February, and would include the final BHP funding methodology, as well as the federal BHP payment rates for the next BHP program year. For example, payment rates published in February 2016 would apply to BHP program year 2017, beginning in January 2017. As discussed in section II.C of this proposed methodology, and as referenced in 42 CFR 600.610(b)(2), state data needed to calculate the federal BHP payment rates for the final BHP Payment Notice must be submitted to CMS.

    As described in the BHP final rule, once the final methodology has been published, we will only make modifications to the BHP funding methodology on a prospective basis with limited exceptions. The BHP final rule provided that retrospective adjustments to the state's BHP payment amount may occur to the extent that the prevailing BHP funding methodology for a given program year permits adjustments to a state's federal BHP payment amount due to insufficient data for prospective determination of the relevant factors specified in the payment notice. Additional adjustments could be made to the payment rates to correct errors in applying the methodology (such as mathematical errors).

    Under section 1331(d)(3)(ii) of the Affordable Care Act, the funding methodology and payment rates are expressed as an amount per eligible individual enrolled in a BHP standard health plan (BHP enrollee) for each month of enrollment. These payment rates may vary based on categories or classes of enrollees. Actual payment to a state would depend on the actual enrollment of individuals found eligible in accordance with a state's certified blueprint eligibility and verification methodologies in coverage through the state BHP. A state that is approved to implement BHP must provide data showing quarterly enrollment of eligible individuals in the various federal BHP payment rate cells. Such data should include the following:

    1. Personal identifier;

    2. Date of birth;

    3. County of residence;

    4. Indian status;

    5. Family size;

    6. Household income;

    7. Number of person in household enrolled in BHP;

    8. Family identifier;

    9. Months of coverage;

    10. Plan information; and

    11. Any other data required by CMS to properly calculate the payment.

    In the February 24, 2015 Federal Register (80 FR 9636), we published the final payment methodology entitled “Basic Health Program; Federal Funding Methodology for Program Year 2016” (hereinafter referred to as the 2016 payment methodology) that sets forth the methodology that will be used to calculate the federal BHP payments for the 2016 program year.

    In this proposed payment notice, we are proposing that the methodology described within be for program years 2017 and 2018 for states that elect to establish a BHP under the Affordable Care Act to offer health benefits coverage to low-income individuals otherwise eligible to purchase coverage through Affordable Insurance Marketplaces. We are proposing that the payment methodology be for 2 years because after 2 years of publishing single year methodologies, few year-to-year changes are needed at this point. If we find, based on additional data that is generated from 2015 operations, that we would like to further analyze enrollment data for another year before finalizing the methodology for 2018, we will only finalize for 2017 and then either finalize later or repropose our payment methodology for 2018.

    II. Provisions of the Proposed Methodology A. Overview of the Funding Methodology and Calculation of the Payment Amount

    Section 1331(d)(3) of the Affordable Care Act directs the Secretary to consider several factors when determining the federal BHP payment amount, which, as specified in the statute, must equal 95 percent of the value of the PTC and CSRs that BHP enrollees would have been provided had they enrolled in a QHP through an Marketplace. Thus, the proposed BHP funding methodology is designed to calculate the PTC and CSRs as consistently as possible and in general alignment with the methodology used by Marketplaces to calculate the advance payments of the PTC and CSRs, and by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to calculate final PTCs. In general, we propose to rely on values for factors in the payment methodology specified in statute or other regulations as available, and we propose to develop values for other factors not otherwise specified in statute, or previously calculated in other regulations, to simulate the values of the PTC and CSRs that BHP enrollees would have received if they had enrolled in QHPs offered through an Marketplace. In accordance with section 1331(d)(3)(A)(iii) of the Affordable Care Act, the final funding methodology must be certified by the Chief Actuary of CMS, in consultation with the Office of Tax Analysis of the Department of the Treasury, as having met the requirements of section 1331(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the Affordable Care Act.

    Section 1331(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the Affordable Care Act specifies that the payment determination shall take into account all relevant factors necessary to determine the value of the premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions that would have been provided to eligible individuals, including the age and income of the enrollee, whether the enrollment is for self-only or family coverage, geographic differences in average spending for health care across rating areas, the health status of the enrollee for purposes of determining risk adjustment payments and reinsurance payments that would have been made if the enrollee had enrolled in a qualified health plan through an Marketplace, and whether any reconciliation of PTC and CSR would have occurred if the enrollee had been so enrolled. This proposed payment methodology takes each of these factors into account. We propose a methodology that is the same as the 2016 payment methodology, with minor changes to update the value of certain factors used to calculate the payments, but with no changes in methods. These updates are explained in later sections of this notice. Accordingly, while this notice uses the term “proposed methodology” throughout, the methodology proposed is essentially identical to that already in place for the BHP.

    In this proposed methodology, we are proposing to establish a payment methodology for the 2017 and 2018 BHP program years. The same methodology would apply for both years, but the values of a number of factors would be updated for 2018, as noted throughout this notice. We reserve the right to specify a different methodology for 2018.

    We propose that the total federal BHP payment amount would be based on multiple rate cells in each state. Each rate cell would represent a unique combination of age range, geographic area, coverage category (for example, self-only or two-adult coverage through BHP), household size, and income range as a percentage of FPL. Thus, there would be distinct rate cells for individuals in each coverage category within a particular age range who reside in a specific geographic area and are in households of the same size and income range. We would develop BHP payment rates that would be consistent with those states' rules on age rating. Thus, in the case of a state that does not use age as a rating factor on the Marketplace, the BHP payment rates would not vary by age.

    The proposed rate for each rate cell would be calculated in two parts. The first part (as described in Equation (1)) would equal 95 percent of the estimated PTC that would have been paid if a BHP enrollee in that rate cell had instead enrolled in a QHP in the Marketplace. The second part (as described in Equation (2)) would equal 95 percent of the estimated CSR payment that would have been made if a BHP enrollee in that rate cell had instead enrolled in a QHP in the Marketplace. These 2 parts would be added together and the total rate for that rate cell would be equal to the sum of the PTC and CSR rates.

    We propose that Equation (1) would be used to calculate the estimated PTC for eligible individuals enrolled in the BHP in each rate cell and Equation (2) would be used to calculate the estimated CSR payments for eligible individuals enrolled in the BHP in each rate cell. (Indeed, we note that throughout the payment notice, when we refer to enrollees and enrollment data, we mean data regarding individuals who are enrolled in the BHP who have been found eligible for the BHP using the eligibility and verification requirements that are applicable in the state's most recent certified Blueprint.) By applying the equations separately to rate cells based on age, income and other factors, we would effectively take those factors into account in the calculation. In addition, the equations would reflect the estimated experience of individuals in each rate cell if enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace, taking into account additional relevant variables. Each of the variables in the equations is defined in this section, and further detail is provided later in this section of the payment notice.

    In addition, we describe how we propose to calculate the adjusted reference premium (described later in this section of the payment notice) that is used in Equations (1) and (2). This is defined in Equation (3a) and Equation (3b).

    Equation 1: Estimated PTC by Rate Cell

    We propose that the estimated PTC, on a per enrollee basis, would continue to be calculated for each rate cell for each state based on age range, geographic area, coverage category, household size, and income range. The PTC portion of the rate would be calculated in a manner consistent with the methodology used to calculate the PTC for persons enrolled in a QHP, with 3 adjustments. First, the PTC portion of the rate for each rate cell would represent the mean, or average, expected PTC that all persons in the rate cell would receive, rather than being calculated for each individual enrollee. Second, the reference premium used to calculate the PTC (described in more detail later in the section) would be adjusted for BHP population health status, and in the case of a state that elects to use 2016 premiums for the basis of the BHP federal payment, for the projected change in the premium from the 2016 to 2017, to which the rates announced in the final payment methodology would apply. These adjustments are described in Equation (3a) and Equation (3b). Third, the PTC would be adjusted prospectively to reflect the mean, or average, net expected impact of income reconciliation on the combination of all persons enrolled in BHP; this adjustment, as described in section II.D.5. of this proposed methodology, would account for the impact on the PTC that would have occurred had such reconciliation been performed. Finally, the rate is multiplied by 95 percent, consistent with section 1331(d)(3)(A)(i) of the Affordable Care Act. We note that in the situation where the average income contribution of an enrollee would exceed the adjusted reference premium, we would calculate the PTC to be equal to 0 and would not allow the value of the PTC to be negative.

    We propose using Equation (1) to calculate the PTC rate, consistent with the methodology described above:

    EP22OC15.014 PTC a,g,c,h,i = Premium tax credit portion of BHP payment rate a = Age range g = Geographic area c = Coverage status (self-only or applicable category of family coverage) obtained through BHP h = Household size i = Income range (as percentage of FPL) ARP a,g,c = Adjusted reference premium I h,i,j = Income (in dollars per month) at each 1 percentage-point increment of FPL j = j th percentage-point increment FPL n = Number of income increments used to calculate the mean PTC PTCF h,i,j = Premium Tax Credit Formula percentage IRF = Income reconciliation factor Equation 2: Estimated CSR Payment by Rate Cell

    We propose that the CSR portion of the rate would continue to be calculated for each rate cell for each state based on age range, geographic area, coverage category, household size, and income range defined as a percentage of FPL. The CSR portion of the rate would be calculated in a manner consistent with the methodology used to calculate the CSR advance payments for persons enrolled in a QHP, as described in the “HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2016” final rule published in the February 27, 2015 Federal Register (80 FR 10749), with 3 principal adjustments. (We further propose a separate calculation that includes different adjustments for American Indian/Alaska Native BHP enrollees, as described in section II.D.1 of this proposed methodology.) For the first adjustment, the CSR rate, like the PTC rate, would represent the mean expected CSR subsidy that would be paid on behalf of all persons in the rate cell, rather than being calculated for each individual enrollee. Second, this calculation would be based on the adjusted reference premium, as described in section II.A.3. of this proposed methodology. Third, this equation uses an adjusted reference premium that reflects premiums charged to non-tobacco users, rather than the actual premium that is charged to tobacco users to calculate CSR advance payments for tobacco users enrolled in a QHP. Accordingly, we propose that the equation include a tobacco rating adjustment factor that would account for BHP enrollees' estimated tobacco-related health costs that are outside the premium charged to non-tobacco-users. Finally, the rate would be multiplied by 95 percent, as provided in section 1331(d)(3)(A)(i) of the Affordable Care Act.

    We propose using Equation (2) to calculate the CSR rate, consistent with the methodology described above:

    EP22OC15.015 CSR a,g,c,h,i = Cost-sharing reduction subsidy portion of BHP payment rate a = Age range g = Geographic area c = Coverage status (self-only or applicable category of family coverage) obtained through BHP h = Household size i = Income range (as percentage of FPL) ARP a,g,c = Adjusted reference premium TRAF = Tobacco rating adjustment factor FRAC = Factor removing administrative costs AV = Actuarial value of plan (as percentage of allowed benefits covered by the applicable QHP without a cost-sharing reduction subsidy) IUF h,i = Induced utilization factor ΔAV h,i = Change in actuarial value (as percentage of allowed benefits) Equation 3a and Equation 3b: Adjusted Reference Premium Variable (Used in Equations 1 and 2)

    As part of these calculations for both the PTC and CSR components, we propose to continue to calculate the value of the adjusted reference premium as described below. Consistent with the approach last year, we are proposing to allow states to choose between using the actual 2017 and 2018 QHP premiums or the 2016 and 2017 QHP premiums multiplied by the premium trend factor (for the 2017 and 2018 program years, respectively, and as described in section II.F). Therefore, we are proposing how we would calculate the adjusted reference premium under each option.

    In the case of a state that elected to use the reference premium based on the 2017 premiums for the 2017 program year, we propose to calculate the value of the adjusted reference premium as specified in Equation (3a). The adjusted reference premium would be equal to the reference premium, which would be based on the second lowest cost silver plan premium in 2017, multiplied by the BHP population health factor (described in section II.D of this proposed methodology), which would reflect the projected impact that enrolling BHP-eligible individuals in QHPs on an Marketplace would have had on the average QHP premium.

    ARP a,g,c = Adjusted reference premium a = Age range g = Geographic area c = Coverage status (self-only or applicable category of family coverage) obtained through BHP RP a,g,c = Reference premium PHF = Population health factor

    In the case of a state that elected to use the reference premium based on the 2016 premiums for the 2017 program year (as described in section II.F of this proposed methodology), we propose to calculate the value of the adjusted reference premium as specified in Equation (3b). The adjusted reference premium would be equal to the reference premium, which would be based on the second lowest cost silver plan premium in 2016, multiplied by the BHP population health factor (described in section II.D of this proposed methodology), which would reflect the projected impact that enrolling BHP-eligible individuals in QHPs on an Marketplace would have had on the average QHP premium, and by the premium trend factor, which would reflect the projected change in the premium level between 2016 and 2017 (including the estimated impact of changes resulting from the transitional reinsurance program established in section 1341 of the Affordable Care Act).

    EP22OC15.016 ARP a,g,c = Adjusted reference premium a = Age range g = Geographic area c = Coverage status (self-only or applicable category of family coverage) obtained through BHP RP a,g,c = Reference premium PHF = Population health factor PTF = Premium trend factor

    This methodology would also apply for the 2018 program year, using either actual 2018 QHP premiums or the 2017 QHP premiums multiplied by a premium trend factor.

    Equation 4: Determination of Total Monthly Payment for BHP Enrollees in Each Rate Cell

    In general, the rate for each rate cell would be multiplied by the number of BHP enrollees in that cell (that is, the number of enrollees that meet the criteria for each rate cell) to calculate the total monthly BHP payment. This calculation is shown in Equation 4.

    EP22OC15.017 PMT = Total monthly BHP payment PTC a,g,c,h,i = Premium tax credit portion of BHP payment rate CSR a,g,c,h,i = Cost-sharing reduction subsidy portion of BHP payment rate E a,g,c,h,i = Number of BHP enrollees a = Age range g = Geographic area c = Coverage status (self-only or applicable category of family coverage) obtained through BHP h = Household size i = Income range (as percentage of FPL) B. Federal BHP Payment Rate Cells

    Consistent with the 2015 and 2016 payment methodologies, we propose that a state implementing BHP provide us an estimate of the number of BHP enrollees it projects will enroll in the upcoming BHP program year, by applicable rate cell, prior to the first quarter and each subsequent quarter of program operations until actual enrollment data is available. Upon our approval of such estimates as reasonable, they would be used to calculate the prospective payment for the first and subsequent quarters of program operation until the state has provided us actual enrollment data. These data would be required to calculate the final BHP payment amount, and make any necessary reconciliation adjustments to the prior quarters' prospective payment amounts due to differences between projected and actual enrollment. Subsequent, quarterly deposits to the state's trust fund would be based on the most recent actual enrollment data submitted to us. Actual enrollment data must be based on individuals enrolled for the quarter submitted who the state found eligible and whose eligibility was verified using eligibility and verification requirements as agreed to by the state in its applicable BHP Blueprint for the quarter that enrollment data is submitted. Procedures will ensure that federal payments to a state reflect actual BHP enrollment during a year, within each applicable category, and prospectively determined federal payment rates for each category of BHP enrollment, with such categories defined in terms of age range, geographic area, coverage status, household size, and income range, as explained above.

    We propose requiring the use of certain rate cells as part of the proposed methodology. For each state, we propose using rate cells that separate the BHP population into separate cells based on the 5 factors described as follows:

    Factor 1—Age: We propose to continue separating enrollees into rate cells by age, using the following unchanged age ranges that capture the widest variations in premiums under HHS's Default Age Curve: 1

    1 This curve is used to implement the Affordable Care Act's 3:1 limit on age-rating in states that do not create an alternative rate structure to comply with that limit. The curve applies to all individual market plans, both within and outside the Marketplace. The age bands capture the principal allowed age-based variations in premiums as permitted by this curve. More information can be found at http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Files/Downloads/market-reforms-guidance-2-25-2013.pdf. Both children and adults under age 21 are charged the same premium. For adults age 21-64, the age bands in this notice divide the total age-based premium variation into the three most equally-sized ranges (defining size by the ratio between the highest and lowest premiums within the band) that are consistent with the age-bands used for risk-adjustment purposes in the HHS-Developed Risk Adjustment Model. For such age bands, see Table 5, “Age-Sex Variables,” in HHS-Developed Risk Adjustment Model Algorithm Software, June 2, 2014, http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/Downloads/ra-tables-03-27-2014.xlsx.

    • Ages 0-20.

    • Ages 21-34.

    • Ages 35-44.

    • Ages 45-54.

    • Ages 55-64.

    Factor 2—Geographic area: For each state, we propose separating enrollees into rate cells by geographic areas within which a single reference premium is charged by QHPs offered through the state's Marketplace. Multiple, non-contiguous geographic areas would be incorporated within a single cell, so long as those areas share a common reference premium.2 This provision would also be unchanged from the current method.

    2 For example, a cell within a particular state might refer to “County Group 1,” “County Group 2,” etc., and a table for the state would list all the counties included in each such group. These geographic areas are consistent with the geographic areas established under the 2014 Market Reform Rules. They also reflect the service area requirements applicable to qualified health plans, as described in 45 CFR 155.1055, except that service areas smaller than counties are addressed as explained below.

    Factor 3—Coverage status: We propose to continue separating enrollees into rate cells by coverage status, reflecting whether an individual is enrolled in self-only coverage or persons are enrolled in family coverage through BHP, as provided in section 1331(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the Affordable Care Act. Among recipients of family coverage through BHP, separate rate cells, as explained below, would apply based on whether such coverage involves two adults alone or whether it involves children.

    Factor 4—Household size: We propose to continue the current methods for separating enrollees into rate cells by household size that states use to determine BHP enrollees' income as a percentage of the FPL under § 600.320 (Administration, eligibility, essential health benefits, performance standards, service delivery requirements, premium and cost sharing, allotments, and reconciliation; Determination of eligibility for and enrollment in a standard health plan). We are proposing to require separate rate cells for several specific household sizes. For each additional member above the largest specified size, we propose to publish instructions for how we would develop additional rate cells and calculate an appropriate payment rate based on data for the rate cell with the closest specified household size. We propose to publish separate rate cells for household sizes of 1 through 10. In previous methodologies, we stated that we would publish rate cells for household sizes of 1 through 5. We believe that publishing rate cells for larger household sizes would be beneficial to states operating BHP. We have worked with states in 2015 to publish rate cells for household sizes 1 through 10.

    Factor 5—Income: For households of each applicable size, we propose to continue the current methods for creating separate rate cells by income range, as a percentage of FPL. The PTC that a person would receive if enrolled in a QHP varies by income, both in level and as a ratio to the FPL, and the CSR varies by income as a percentage of FPL. Thus, we propose that separate rate cells would be used to calculate federal BHP payment rates to reflect different bands of income measured as a percentage of FPL. We propose using the following income ranges, measured as a ratio to the FPL:

    • 0 to 50 percent of the FPL.

    • 51 to 100 percent of the FPL.

    • 101 to 138 percent of the FPL.3

    3 The three lowest income ranges would be limited to lawfully present immigrants who are ineligible for Medicaid because of immigration status.

    • 139 to 150 percent of the FPL.

    • 151 to 175 percent of the FPL.

    • 176 to 200 percent of the FPL.

    These rate cells would only be used to calculate the federal BHP payment amount. A state implementing BHP would not be required to use these rate cells or any of the factors in these rate cells as part of the state payment to the standard health plans participating in BHP or to help define BHP enrollees' covered benefits, premium costs, or out-of-pocket cost-sharing levels.

    We propose using averages to define federal payment rates, both for income ranges and age ranges, rather than varying such rates to correspond to each individual BHP enrollee's age and income level. We believe that the proposed approach will increase the administrative feasibility of making federal BHP payments and reduce the likelihood of inadvertently erroneous payments resulting from highly complex methodologies. We believe that this approach should not significantly change federal payment amounts, since within applicable ranges, the BHP-eligible population is distributed relatively evenly.

    The number of factors contributing to rate cells, when combined, can result in over 350,000 rate cells which can increase the complexity when generating quarterly payment amounts. In future years, we will consider whether to combine or eliminate certain rate cells, once we are certain that the effect on payment would be insignificant in the interest of administrative simplification.

    C. Sources and State Data Considerations

    To the extent possible, we intend to continue to use data submitted to the federal government by QHP issuers seeking to offer coverage through an Marketplace to perform the calculations that determine federal BHP payment cell rates. We propose that the current methodology would not change, but we also propose clarifications regarding the submission of state data in this section.

    States operating a State Based Marketplace in the individual market, however, must provide certain data, including premiums for second lowest cost silver plans, by geographic area, for CMS to calculate the federal BHP payment rates in those states. We propose that a State Based Marketplace interested in obtaining the applicable federal BHP payment rates for its state must submit such data accurately, completely, and as specified by CMS, by no later than October 15, 2016, for CMS to calculate the applicable rates for 2017 and by October 15, 2017 for 2018. If additional state data (that is, in addition to the second lowest cost silver plan premium data) are needed to determine the federal BHP payment rate, such data must be submitted in a timely manner, and in a format specified by CMS to support the development and timely release of annual BHP payment notices. The specifications for data collection to support the development of BHP payment rates will be published in CMS guidance and will be available at http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/Federal-Policy-Guidance.html.

    States must submit to CMS enrollment data on a quarterly basis and should be technologically prepared to begin submitting data at the start of their BHP. This requirement is necessary for us to implement the payment methodology that is tied to a quarterly reconciliation based on actual enrollment data.

    We newly propose 2 additional clarifications regarding state-submitted data. First, for states that have BHP enrollees who do not file federal tax returns (non-filers), the state must develop a methodology which they must submit to CMS as the time of their Blueprint submission to determine the enrollees' household income and household size consistently with Marketplace requirements. We reserve the right to approve or disapprove the state's methodology to determine income and household size for non-filers.

    Second, as the federal payments are determined quarterly and the enrollment data is required to be submitted by the states to CMS quarterly, we propose that the quarterly payment would be based on the characteristics of the enrollee at the beginning of the quarter (or their first month of enrollment in BHP in each quarter). Thus, if an enrollee were to experience a change in county of residence, income, household size, or other factors related to the BHP payment determination during the quarter, the payment for the quarter would be based on the data as of the beginning of the quarter. Payments would still be made only for months that the person is enrolled in and eligible for BHP. We do not anticipate that this would have a significant effect on the federal BHP payment. The states must maintain data that are consistent with CMS' verification requirements, including auditable records for each individual enrolled, indicating an eligibility determination and a determination of income and other criteria relevant to the payment methodology as of the beginning of each quarter.

    As described in § 600.610 (Secretarial determination of BHP payment amount), the state is required to submit certain data in accordance with this Notice. We require that this data be collected and validated by states operating BHP and that this data be submitted to CMS.

    D. Discussion of Specific Variables Used in Payment Equations 1. Reference Premium (RP)

    To calculate the estimated PTC that would be paid if individuals enrolled in QHPs through the Marketplace, we must calculate a reference premium (RP) because the PTC is based, in part, on the premiums for the applicable second lowest cost silver plan as explained in section II.C.4 of this proposed methodology, regarding the Premium Tax Credit Formula (PTCF). The proposal is unchanged from the current method except to update the reference years, and to provide additional methodological details to simplify calculations and to deal with potential ambiguities. Accordingly, for the purposes of calculating the BHP payment rates, the reference premium, in accordance with 26 U.S.C. 36B(b)(3)(C), is defined as the adjusted monthly premium for an applicable second lowest cost silver plan. The applicable second lowest cost silver plan is defined in 26 U.S.C. 36B(b)(3)(B) as the second lowest cost silver plan of the individual market in the rating area in which the taxpayer resides, which is offered through the same Marketplace. We propose to use the adjusted monthly premium for an applicable second lowest cost silver plan in 2017 and 2018 as the reference premium (except in the case of a state that elects to use the 2016 or 2017 premium, respectively, as the basis for the federal BHP payment, as described in section II.F of this final notice).

    The reference premium would be the premium applicable to non-tobacco users. This is consistent with the provision in 26 U.S.C. 36B(b)(3)(C) that bases the PTC on premiums that are adjusted for age alone, without regard to tobacco use, even for states that allow insurers to vary premiums based on tobacco use in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 300gg(a)(1)(A)(iv).

    Consistent with the policy set forth in 26 CFR 1.36B-3(f)(6) to calculate the PTC for those enrolled in a QHP through an Marketplace, we propose not to update the payment methodology, and subsequently the federal BHP payment rates, in the event that the second lowest cost silver plan used as the reference premium, or the lowest cost silver plan, changes (that is, terminates or closes enrollment during the year).

    The applicable second lowest cost silver plan premium will be included in the BHP payment methodology by age range, geographic area, and self-only or applicable category of family coverage obtained through BHP.

    American Indians and Alaska Natives with household incomes between 100 percent and 300 percent of the FPL are eligible for a full cost sharing subsidy regardless of the plan they select (as described in sections 1402(d) and 2901(a) of the Affordable Care Act). We assume that American Indians and Alaska Natives would be more likely to enroll in bronze plans as a result, as it would reduce the amount of the premium they would pay compared to the costs of enrolling in a silver plan; thus, for American Indian/Alaska Native BHP enrollees, we propose to use the lowest cost bronze plan as the basis for the reference premium for the purposes of calculating the CSR portion of the federal BHP payment as described further in section II.E of this proposed methodology.

    We note that the choice of the second lowest cost silver plan for calculating BHP payments would rely on several simplifying assumptions in its selection. For the purposes of determining the second lowest cost silver plan for calculating PTC for a person enrolled in a QHP through an Marketplace, the applicable plan may differ for various reasons. For example, a different second lowest cost silver plan may apply to a family consisting of 2 adults, their child, and their niece than to a family with 2 adults and their children, because 1 or more QHPs in the family's geographic area might not offer family coverage that includes the niece. We believe that it would not be possible to replicate such variations for calculating the BHP payment and believe that in aggregate they would not result in a significant difference in the payment. Thus, we propose to use the second lowest cost silver plan available to any enrollee for a given age, geographic area, and coverage category.

    This choice of reference premium relies on 2 assumptions about enrollment in the Marketplaces. First, we assume that all persons enrolled in BHP would have elected to enroll in a silver level plan if they had instead enrolled in a QHP through the Marketplaces. It is possible that some persons would have chosen not to enroll at all or would have chosen to enroll in a different metal-level plan (in particular, a bronze level plan with a premium that is less than the PTC for which the person was eligible). We do not believe it is appropriate to adjust the payment for an assumption that some BHP enrollees would not have enrolled in QHPs for purposes of calculating the BHP payment rates, since section 1331(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the Affordable Care Act requires the calculation of such rates as if the enrollee had enrolled in a qualified health plan through an Marketplace.

    Second, we assume that, among all available silver plans, all persons enrolled in BHP would have selected the second-lowest cost plan. Both this and the prior assumption allow an administratively feasible determination of federal payment levels. They also have some implications for the CSR portion of the rate. If persons were to enroll in a bronze level plan through the Marketplace, they would not be eligible for CSRs, unless they were an eligible American Indian or Alaska Native; thus, assuming that all persons enroll in a silver level plan, rather than a plan with a different metal level, would increase the BHP payment. Assuming that all persons enroll in the second lowest cost silver plan for the purposes of calculating the CSR portion of the rate may result in a different level of CSR payments than would have been paid if the persons were enrolled in different silver level plans on the Marketplaces (with either lower or higher premiums). We believe that it would be difficult to project how many BHP enrollees would have enrolled in different silver level QHPs, and thus propose to use the second lowest cost silver plan as the basis for the reference premium and calculating the CSR portion of the rate. While some data is available from the Marketplaces, developing projections of how persons in different income ranges choose plans and extrapolating that to other states, with different numbers of plans and different premiums, would not be an improvement upon the current methodology. For American Indian/Alaska Native BHP enrollees, we propose to use the lowest cost bronze plan as the basis for the reference premium as described further in section II.E. of this proposed methodology.

    The applicable age bracket will be one dimension of each rate cell. We propose to assume a uniform distribution of ages and estimate the average premium amount within each rate cell. We believe that assuming a uniform distribution of ages within these ranges is a reasonable approach and would produce a reliable determination of the PTC and CSR components.

    We also believe this approach would avoid potential inaccuracies that could otherwise occur in relatively small payment cells if age distribution were measured by the number of persons eligible or enrolled.

    We propose to use geographic areas based on the rating areas used in the Marketplaces. We propose to define each geographic area so that the reference premium is the same throughout the geographic area. When the reference premium varies within a rating area, we propose defining geographic areas as aggregations of counties with the same reference premium. Although plans are allowed to serve geographic areas smaller than counties after obtaining our approval, we propose that no geographic area, for purposes of defining BHP payment rate cells, will be smaller than a county. We do not believe that this assumption will have a significant impact on federal payment levels and it would likely simplify both the calculation of BHP payment rates and the operation of BHP.

    Finally, in terms of the coverage category, we propose that federal payment rates only recognize self-only and two-adult coverage, with exceptions that account for children who are potentially eligible for BHP. First, in states that set the upper income threshold for children's Medicaid and CHIP eligibility below 200 percent of FPL (based on modified adjusted gross income), children in households with incomes between that threshold and 200 percent of FPL would be potentially eligible for BHP. Currently, the only states in this category are Arizona, Idaho, and North Dakota.4 Second, BHP would include lawfully present immigrant children with incomes at or below 200 percent of FPL in states that have not exercised the option under the sections 1903(v)(4)(A)(ii) and 2107(e)(1)(E) of the Act to qualify all otherwise eligible, lawfully present immigrant children for Medicaid and CHIP. States that fall within these exceptions would be identified based on their Medicaid and CHIP State Plans, and the rate cells would include appropriate categories of BHP family coverage for children. For example, Idaho's Medicaid and CHIP eligibility is limited to families with MAGI at or below 185 percent FPL. If Idaho implemented BHP, Idaho children with incomes between 185 and 200 percent could qualify. In other states, BHP eligibility will generally be restricted to adults, since children who are citizens or lawfully present immigrants and who live in households with incomes at or below 200 percent of FPL will qualify for Medicaid or CHIP and thus be ineligible for BHP under section 1331 (e)(1)(C) of the Affordable Care Act, which limits BHP to individuals who are ineligible for minimum essential coverage (as defined in section 5000A(f) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986).

    4 CMCS. “State Medicaid and CHIP Income Eligibility Standards Effective January 1, 2014.”

    2. Population Health Factor (PHF)

    We propose that the population health factor be included in the methodology to account for the potential differences in the average health status between BHP enrollees and persons enrolled in the Marketplace. To the extent that BHP enrollees would have been enrolled in the Marketplace in the absence of BHP in a state, the exclusion of those BHP enrollees in the Marketplace may affect the average health status of the overall population and the expected QHP premiums. Our proposal continues the methodology currently in place, except to update reference years.

    We currently do not believe that there is evidence that the BHP population would have better or poorer health status than the Marketplace population. At this time, there is a lack of experience available in the Marketplace that limits the ability to analyze the health differences between these groups of enrollees. Marketplaces have been in operation since 2014, and 2 states have operated BHP in 2015, but we do not have the data available to do the analysis necessary to make this adjustment at this time. In addition, differences in population health may vary across states. Thus, at this time, we believe that it is not feasible to develop a methodology to make a prospective adjustment to the population health factor that is reliably accurate.

    Given these analytic challenges and the limited data about Marketplace coverage and the characteristics of BHP-eligible consumers that will be available by the time we establish federal payment rates for 2017 and 2018, we believe that the most appropriate adjustment for 2017 and 2018 would be 1.00.

    In the 2015 and 2016 payment methodologies, we included an option for states to include a retrospective population health status adjustment. Similarly, we propose for the 2017 and 2018 payment methodology to provide states with the same option, as described further in section II.G of this proposed methodology, to include a retrospective population health status adjustment in the certified methodology, which is subject to our review and approval. Regardless of whether a state elects to include a retrospective population health status adjustment, we anticipate that, in future years, when additional data become available about Marketplace coverage and the characteristics of BHP enrollees, we may estimate this factor differently.

    While the statute requires consideration of risk adjustment payments and reinsurance payments insofar as they would have affected the PTC and CSRs that would have been provided to BHP-eligible individuals had they enrolled in QHPs, we are not proposing to require that a BHP program's standard health plans receive such payments. As explained in the BHP final rule, BHP standard health plans are not included in the risk adjustment program operated by HHS on behalf of states. Further, standard health plans do not qualify for payments from the transitional reinsurance program established under section 1341 of the Affordable Care Act.5 To the extent that a state operating a BHP determines that, because of the distinctive risk profile of BHP-eligible consumers, BHP standard health plans should be included in mechanisms that share risk with other plans in the state's individual market, the state would need to use other methods for achieving this goal.

    5 See 45 CFR 153.400(a)(2)(iv) (BHP standard health plans are not required to submit reinsurance contributions), 153.20 (definition of “Reinsurance-eligible plan” as not including “health insurance coverage not required to submit reinsurance contributions”), § 153.230(a) (reinsurance payments under the national reinsurance parameters are available only for “Reinsurance-eligible plans”).

    3. Income (I)

    Household income is a significant determinant of the amount of the PTC and CSRs that are provided for persons enrolled in a QHP through the Marketplace. Accordingly, both the current and proposed BHP payment methodology incorporates income into the calculations of the payment rates through the use of income-based rate cells. We propose defining income in accordance with the definition of modified adjusted gross income in 26 U.S.C. 36B(d)(2)(B) and consistent with the definition in 45 CFR 155.300. Income would be measured relative to the FPL, which is updated periodically in the Federal Register by the Secretary under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 9902(2), based on annual changes in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U). In our proposed methodology, household size and income as a percentage of FPL would be used as factors in developing the rate cells. We propose using the following income ranges measured as a percentage of FPL: 6

    6 These income ranges and this analysis of income apply to the calculation of the PTC. Many fewer income ranges and a much simpler analysis apply in determining the value of CSRs, as specified below.

    • 0-50 percent.

    • 51-100 percent.

    • 101-138 percent.

    • 139-150 percent.

    • 151-175 percent.

    • 176-200 percent.

    We further propose to assume a uniform income distribution for each federal BHP payment cell. We believe that assuming a uniform income distribution for the income ranges proposed would be reasonably accurate for the purposes of calculating the PTC and CSR components of the BHP payment and would avoid potential errors that could result if other sources of data were used to estimate the specific income distribution of persons who are eligible for or enrolled in BHP within rate cells that may be relatively small.

    Thus, when calculating the mean, or average, PTC for a rate cell, we propose to calculate the value of the PTC at each one percentage point interval of the income range for each federal BHP payment cell and then calculate the average of the PTC across all intervals. This calculation would rely on the PTC formula described in section II.4 of this proposed methodology.

    As the PTC for persons enrolled in QHPs would be calculated based on their income during the open enrollment period, and that income would be measured against the FPL at that time, we propose to adjust the FPL by multiplying the FPL by a projected increase in the CPI-U between the time that the BHP payment rates are calculated and the QHP open enrollment period, if the FPL is expected to be updated during that time. We propose that the projected increase in the CPI-U would be based on the intermediate inflation forecasts from the most recent OASDI and Medicare Trustees Reports.7

    7 See Table IV A1 from the 2013 reports in http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/ReportsTrustFunds/Downloads/TR2014.pdf.

    4. Premium Tax Credit Formula (PTCF)

    In Equation 1 described in section II.A.1 of this proposed methodology, we propose to use the formula described in 26 U.S.C. 36B(b) to calculate the estimated PTC that would be paid on behalf of a person enrolled in a QHP on an Marketplace as part of the BHP payment methodology. This formula is used to determine the contribution amount (the amount of premium that an individual or household theoretically would be required to pay for coverage in a QHP on an Marketplace), which is based on (A) the household income; (B) the household income as a percentage of FPL for the family size; and (C) the schedule specified in 26 U.S.C. 36B(b)(3)(A) and shown below. The difference between the contribution amount and the adjusted monthly premium for the applicable second lowest cost silver plan is the estimated amount of the PTC that would be provided for the enrollee.

    The PTC amount provided for a person enrolled in a QHP through an Marketplace is calculated in accordance with the methodology described in 26 U.S.C. 36B(b)(2). The amount is equal to the lesser of the premium for the plan in which the person or household enrolls, or the adjusted premium for the applicable second lowest cost silver plan minus the contribution amount.

    The applicable percentage is defined in 26 U.S.C. 36B (b)(3)(A) and 26 CFR 1.36B-3(g) as the percentage that applies to a taxpayer's household income that is within an income tier specified in Table 1, increasing on a sliding scale in a linear manner from an initial premium percentage to a final premium percentage specified in the table (see Table 1). The methodology is unchanged, but we propose to update the percentages:

    EP22OC15.018

    8 Examination of returns and claims for refund, credit, or abatement; determination of correct tax liability. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-14-62.pdf.

    These are the applicable percentages for calendar year (CY) 2016 and would be used for the 2017 payment methodology. We plan to use the CY 2017 percentages when they become available for the 2018 payment methodology, as the percentages are indexed annually and published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The applicable percentages will be updated in future years in accordance with 26 U.S.C. 36B(b)(3)(A)(ii).

    5. Income Reconciliation Factor (IRF)

    For persons enrolled in a QHP through an Marketplace who receive an advance payment of the premium tax credit (APTC), there will be an annual reconciliation following the end of the year to compare the advance payments to the correct amount of PTC based on household circumstances shown on the federal income tax return. Any difference between the latter amounts and the advance payments made during the year would either be paid to the taxpayer (if too little APTC was paid) or charged to the taxpayer as additional tax (if too much APTC was made, subject to any limitations in statute or regulation), as provided in 26 U.S.C. 36B(f).

    Section 1331(e)(2) of the Affordable Care Act specifies that an individual eligible for BHP may not be treated as a qualified individual under section 1312 eligible for enrollment in a QHP offered through an Marketplace. We are defining “eligible” to mean anyone for whom the state agency or the Marketplace assesses or determines, based on the single streamlined application or renewal form, as eligible for enrollment in the BHP. Because enrollment in a QHP is a requirement for PTC for the enrolled individual's coverage, individuals determined or assessed as eligible for a BHP are not eligible to receive APTC assistance for coverage in the Marketplace. Because they do not receive APTC assistance, BHP enrollees, on whom the 2017 and 2018 payment methodology is based, are not subject to the same income reconciliation as Marketplace consumers. Nonetheless, there may still be differences between a BHP enrollee's household income reported at the beginning of the year and the actual income over the year. These may include small changes (reflecting changes in hourly wage rates, hours worked per week, and other fluctuations in income during the year) and large changes (reflecting significant changes in employment status, hourly wage rates, or substantial fluctuations in income). There may also be changes in household composition. Thus, we believe that using unadjusted income as reported prior to the BHP program year may result in calculations of estimated PTC that are inconsistent with the actual incomes of BHP enrollees during the year. Even if the BHP program adjusts household income determinations and corresponding claims of federal payment amounts based on household reports during the year or data from third-party sources, such adjustments may not fully capture the effects of tax reconciliation that BHP enrollees would have experienced had they been enrolled in a QHP through an Marketplace and received APTC assistance.

    Therefore, in accordance with current practice, we propose including in Equation 1 an income adjustment factor that would account for the difference between calculating estimated PTC using: (a) Income relative to FPL as determined at initial application and potentially revised mid-year, under proposed § 600.320, for purposes of determining BHP eligibility and claiming federal BHP payments; and (b) actual income relative to FPL received during the plan year, as it would be reflected on individual federal income tax returns. This adjustment would seek prospectively to capture the average effect of income reconciliation aggregated across the BHP population had those BHP enrollees been subject to tax reconciliation after receiving APTC assistance for coverage provided through QHPs. Consistent with the methodology used in 2015 (and that will be used in 2016), for 2017 and 2018, we propose estimating reconciliation effects based on tax data for 2 years, reflecting income and tax unit composition changes over time among BHP-eligible individuals.

    The Office of Tax Analysis in the U.S. Department of Treasury (OTA) maintains a model that combines detailed tax and other data, including Marketplace enrollment and PTC claimed, to project Marketplace premiums, enrollment, and tax credits. For each enrollee, this model compares the APTC based on household income and family size estimated at the point of enrollment with the PTC based on household income and family size reported at the end of the tax year. The former reflects the determination using enrollee information furnished by the applicant and tax data furnished by the IRS. The latter would reflect the PTC eligibility based on information on the tax return, which would have been determined if the individual had not enrolled in BHP. We propose that the ratio of the reconciled PTC to the initial estimation of PTC would be used as the income reconciliation factor in Equation (1) for estimating the PTC portion of the BHP payment rate.

    For 2016, OTA estimated that the income reconciliation factor for states that have implemented the Medicaid eligibility expansion to cover adults up to 133 percent of the FPL will be 100.25 percent, and for states that have not implemented the Medicaid eligibility expansion and do not cover adults up to 133 percent of the FPL will be 100.24 percent. In the 2016 payment methodology, the IRF was set equal to 100.25 percent. We propose updating this calculation and the IRF for 2017 and 2018.

    6. Tobacco Rating Adjustment Factor (TRAF)

    As described previously, the reference premium is estimated, for purposes of determining both the PTC and related federal BHP payments, based on premiums charged for non-tobacco users, including in states that allow premium variations based on tobacco use, as provided in 42 U.S.C. 300gg (a)(1)(A)(iv). In contrast, as described in 45 CFR 156.430, the CSR advance payments are based on the total premium for a policy, including any adjustment for tobacco use. Accordingly, we propose to continue our current methodology and to incorporate a tobacco rating adjustment factor into Equation 2 that reflects the average percentage increase in health care costs that results from tobacco use among the BHP-eligible population and that would not be reflected in the premium charged to non-users. This factor will also take into account the estimated proportion of tobacco users among BHP-eligible consumers.

    To estimate the average effect of tobacco use on health care costs (not reflected in the premium charged to non-users), we propose to calculate the ratio between premiums that silver level QHPs charge for tobacco users to the premiums they charge for non-tobacco users at selected ages. To calculate estimated proportions of tobacco users, we propose to use data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to estimate tobacco utilization rates by state and relevant population characteristic.9 For each state, we propose to calculate the tobacco usage rate based on the percentage of persons by age who use cigarettes and the percentage of persons by age that use smokeless tobacco, and calculate the utilization rate by adding the two rates together. The data is available for 3 age intervals: 18-24; 25-44; and 45-64. For the BHP payment rate cell for persons ages 21-34, we would calculate the factor as (4/14 * the utilization rate of 18-24 year olds) plus (10/14 * the utilization rate of 25-44 year olds), which would be the weighted average of tobacco usage for persons 21-34 assuming a uniform distribution of ages; for all other age ranges used for the rate cells, we would use the age range in the CDC data in which the BHP payment rate cell age range is contained.

    9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tobacco Control State Highlights 2012: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/state_data/state_highlights/2012/index.htm.

    We propose to provide tobacco rating factors that may vary by age and by geographic area within each state. To the extent that the second lowest cost silver plans have a different ratio of tobacco user rates to non-tobacco user rates in different geographic areas, the tobacco rating adjustment factor may differ across geographic areas within a state. In addition, to the extent that the second lowest cost silver plan has a different ratio of tobacco user rates to non-tobacco user rates by age, or that there is a different prevalence of tobacco use by age, the tobacco rating adjustment factor may differ by age.

    7. Factor for Removing Administrative Costs (FRAC)

    The Factor for Removing Administrative Costs represents the average proportion of the total premium that covers allowed health benefits, and we propose to continue including this factor in our calculation of estimated CSRs in Equation 2. The product of the reference premium and the Factor for Removing Administrative Costs would approximate the estimated amount of Essential Health Benefit (EHB) claims that would be expected to be paid by the plan. This step is needed because the premium also covers such costs as taxes, fees, and QHP administrative expenses. We are proposing to set this factor equal to 0.80, which is the same percentage for the factor to remove administrative costs for calculating CSR advance payments for established in the 2016 HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters.

    8. Actuarial Value (AV)

    The actuarial value is defined as the percentage paid by a health plan of the total allowed costs of benefits, as defined under 45 CFR 156.20. (For example, if the average health care costs for enrollees in a health insurance plan were $1,000 and that plan has an actuarial value of 70 percent, the plan would be expected to pay on average $700 ($1,000 × 0.70) for health care costs per enrollee.) By dividing such estimated costs by the actuarial value in the proposed methodology, we would calculate the estimated amount of total EHB-allowed claims, including both the portion of such claims paid by the plan and the portion paid by the consumer for in-network care. (To continue with that same example, we would divide the plan's expected $700 payment of the person's EHB-allowed claims by the plan's 70 percent actuarial value to ascertain that the total amount of EHB-allowed claims, including amounts paid by the consumer, is $1,000.)

    For the purposes of calculating the CSR rate in Equation 2, we propose to continue to use the standard actuarial value of the silver level plans in the individual market, which is equal to 70 percent.

    9. Induced Utilization Factor (IUF)

    The induced utilization factor is proposed to continue to be a factor in calculating estimated CSRs in Equation 2 to account for the increase in health care service utilization associated with a reduction in the level of cost sharing a QHP enrollee would have to pay, based on the cost-sharing reduction subsidies provided to enrollees.

    The 2016 HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters provided induced utilization factors for the purposes of calculating cost-sharing reduction advance payments for 2016. In that Notice, the induced utilization factors for silver plan variations ranged from 1.00 to 1.12, depending on income. Using those utilization factors, the induced utilization factor for all persons who would qualify for BHP based on their household income as a percentage of FPL is 1.12; this would include persons with household income between 100 percent and 200 percent of FPL, lawfully present non-citizens below 100 percent of FPL who are ineligible for Medicaid because of immigration status, and American Indians and Alaska Natives with household income between 100 and 300 percent of FPL, not subject to any cost-sharing. Thus, consistent with last year, we propose to set the induced utilization factor equal to 1.12 for the BHP payment methodology.

    We note that for CSRs for QHPs, there will be a final reconciliation at the end of the year and the actual level of induced utilization could differ from the factor proposed in the rule. Our proposed methodology for BHP funding would not include any reconciliation for utilization and thus may understate or overstate the impact of the effect of the subsidies on health care utilization.

    10. Change in Actuarial Value (ΔAV)

    The increase in actuarial value would account for the impact of the cost-sharing reduction subsidies on the relative amount of EHB claims that would be covered for or paid by eligible persons, and we propose including it as a factor in calculating estimated CSRs in Equation 2.

    The actuarial values of QHPs for persons eligible for cost-sharing reduction subsidies are defined in 45 CFR 156.420(a), and eligibility for such subsidies is defined in 45 CFR 155.305(g)(2)(i) through (iii). For QHP enrollees with household incomes between 100 percent and 150 percent of FPL, and those below 100 percent of FPL who are ineligible for Medicaid because of their immigration status, CSRs increase the actuarial value of a QHP silver plan from 70 percent to 94 percent. For QHP enrollees with household incomes between 150 percent and 200 percent of FPL, CSRs increase the actuarial value of a QHP silver plan from 70 percent to 87 percent.

    We propose to continue to apply this factor by subtracting the standard AV from the higher AV allowed by the applicable cost-sharing reduction. For BHP enrollees with household incomes at or below 150 percent of FPL, this factor would be 0.24 (94 percent minus 70 percent); for BHP enrollees with household incomes more than 150 percent but not more than 200 percent of FPL, this factor would be 0.17 (87 percent minus 70 percent).

    E. Adjustments for American Indians and Alaska Natives

    There are several exceptions made for American Indians and Alaska Natives enrolled in QHPs through an Marketplace to calculate the PTC and CSRs. Thus, we propose adjustments to the payment methodology described above to be consistent with the Marketplace rules.

    We propose the following adjustments, unchanged from the current methodology: 1. We propose that the adjusted reference premium for use in the CSR portion of the rate would use the lowest cost bronze plan instead of the second lowest cost silver plan, with the same adjustment for the population health factor (and in the case of a state that elects to use the 2016 or 2017 premiums as the basis of the federal BHP payment, the same adjustment for the premium trend factor). American Indians and Alaska Natives are eligible for CSRs with any metal level plan, and thus we believe that eligible persons would be more likely to select a bronze level plan instead of a silver level plan. (It is important to note that this would not change the PTC, as that is the maximum possible PTC payment, which is always based on the applicable second lowest cost silver plan.)

    2. We propose that the actuarial value for use in the CSR portion of the rate would be 0.60 instead of 0.70, which is consistent with the actuarial value of a bronze level plan.

    3. We propose that the induced utilization factor for use in the CSR portion of the rate would be 1.15 for 2017/2018, which is consistent with the 2016 HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters induced utilization factor for calculating advance CSR payments for persons enrolled in bronze level plans and eligible for CSRs up to 100 percent of actuarial value.

    4. We propose that the change in the actuarial value for use in the CSR portion of the rate would be 0.40. This reflects the increase from 60 percent actuarial value of the bronze plan to 100 percent actuarial value, as American Indians and Alaska Natives with household incomes between 100 and 300 percent FPL are eligible to receive CSRs up to 100 percent of actuarial value.

    F. State Option To Use 2016 or 2017 QHP Premiums for BHP Payments

    In the interest of allowing states greater certainty in the total BHP federal payments for 2017 or 2018, we propose providing states the option to have their final 2017 and 2018 federal BHP payment rates, respectively, calculated using the projected 2017 and 2018 adjusted reference premium (that is, using 2016 or 2017 premium data multiplied by the premium trend factor defined below), as described in Equation (3b).

    For a state that would elect to use the 2016 or 2017 premiums as the basis for the 2017 and 2018 BHP federal payments, respectively, we propose requiring that the state inform us no later than May 15, 2016 for the 2017 program year and May 15, 2017 for the 2018 program year. Our experience to date has been that states have elected to use the premium data that correlates to the year of payment. If this trend continues, we will consider in future payment notices whether to eliminate the choice of the premium from the prior year moving forward.

    For Equation (3b), we propose to continue to define the premium trend factor, with minor changes in calculation sources and methods, as follows:

    Premium Trend Factor (PTF): In Equation (3b), we propose to calculate an adjusted reference premium (ARP) based on the application of certain relevant variables to the reference premium (RP), including a premium trend factor (PTF). In the case of a state that would elect to use the 2016 or 2017 premiums as the basis for determining the BHP payment, it would be appropriate to apply a factor that would account for the change in health care costs between the year of the premium data and the BHP plan year. We are proposing to define this as the premium trend factor in the BHP payment methodology. This factor would approximate the change in health care costs per enrollee, which would include, but not be limited to, changes in the price of health care services and changes in the utilization of health care services. This would provide an estimate of the adjusted monthly premium for the applicable second lowest cost silver plan that would be more accurate and reflective of health care costs in the BHP program year, which would be the year following issuance of the final federal payment notice. In addition, we believe that it would be appropriate to adjust the trend factor for the estimated impact of changes to the transitional reinsurance program on the average QHP premium.

    For the trend factor we propose to use the annual growth rate in private health insurance expenditures per enrollee from the National Health Expenditure projections, developed by the Office of the Actuary in CMS (https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/Downloads/proj2014.pdf).

    We propose to also include an adjustment for changes in the transitional reinsurance program. We propose that this adjustment would be developed from analysis by CMS' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO).

    States may want to consider that the increase in premiums for QHPs from 2016 to 2017 or from 2017 to 2018 may differ from the premium trend factor developed for the BHP funding methodology for several reasons. In particular, states may want to consider that the second lowest cost silver plan for 2016 or 2017 may not be the same as the second lowest cost silver plan in 2017 or 2018, respectively. This may lead to the premium trend factor being greater than or less than the actual change in the premium of the second lowest cost silver plan in 2016 compared to the premium of the second lowest cost silver plan in 2017 (or from 2017 to 2018).

    G. State Option To Include Retrospective State-Specific Health Risk Adjustment in Certified Methodology

    To determine whether the potential difference in health status between BHP enrollees and consumers in the Marketplace would affect the PTC, CSRs, risk adjustment and reinsurance payments that would have otherwise been made had BHP enrollees been enrolled in coverage on the Marketplace, we propose to continue to provide states implementing the BHP the option to propose and to implement, as part of the certified methodology, a retrospective adjustment to the federal BHP payments to reflect the actual value that would be assigned to the population health factor (or risk adjustment) based on data accumulated during program years 2017 and 2018 for each rate cell.

    We acknowledge that there is uncertainty with respect to this factor due to the lack of experience of QHPs on the Marketplace and other payments related to the Marketplace, which is why, absent a state election, we propose to use a value for the population health factor to determine a prospective payment rate which assumes no difference in the health status of BHP enrollees and QHP enrollees. There is considerable uncertainty regarding whether the BHP enrollees will pose a greater risk or a lesser risk compared to the QHP enrollees, how to best measure such risk, and the potential effect such risk would have had on PTC, CSRs, risk adjustment and reinsurance payments that would have otherwise been made had BHP enrollees been enrolled in coverage on the Marketplace. To the extent, however, that a state would develop an approved protocol to collect data and effectively measure the relative risk and the effect on federal payments, we propose to permit a retrospective adjustment that would measure the actual difference in risk between the two populations to be incorporated into the certified BHP payment methodology and used to adjust payments in the previous year.

    For a state electing the option to implement a retrospective population health status adjustment, we propose requiring the state to submit a proposed protocol to CMS, which would be subject to approval by us and would be required to be certified by the Chief Actuary of CMS, in consultation with the Office of Tax Analysis, as part of the BHP payment methodology. We describe the protocol for the population health status adjustment in guidance in Considerations for Health Risk Adjustment in the Basic Health Program in Program Year 2015 (http://www.medicaid.gov/Basic-Health-Program/Downloads/Risk-Adjustment-and-BHP-White-Paper.pdf). We propose requiring a state to submit its proposed protocol by August 1, 2016 for our approval for the 2017 program year, and by August 1, 2017 for the 2018 program year. This submission would also include descriptions of how the state would collect the necessary data to determine the adjustment, including any contracting contingences that may be in place with participating standard health plan issuers. We would provide technical assistance to states as they develop their protocols. To implement the population health status, we propose that we must approve the state's protocol no later than December 31, 2016 for the 2017 program year, and by December 31, 2017 for the 2018 program year. Finally, we propose that the state be required to complete the population health status adjustment at the end of 2017 (or 2018) based on the approved protocol. After the end of the 2017 and 2018 program years, and once data is made available, we proposed to review the state's findings, consistent with the approved protocol, and make any necessary adjustments to the state's federal BHP payment amounts. If we determine that the federal BHP payments were less than they would have been using the final adjustment factor, we would apply the difference to the state's next quarterly BHP trust fund deposit. If we determine that the federal BHP payments were more than they would have been using the final reconciled factor, we would subtract the difference from the next quarterly BHP payment to the state.

    H. Example Application of the BHP Funding Methodology

    In the 2015 proposed payment methodology, we included an example of how the BHP funding methodology would be applied (Proposed Basic Health Program 2015 Funding Methodology, (78 FR 77399), published in the Federal Register on December 23, 2013). For those interested in this example, we would refer to the 2015 proposed payment methodology and note the following changes since that time.

    In the final BHP payment methodology, we provided the option for states to elect to use the 2015 premiums to calculate the BHP payment rates instead of the 2014 premiums multiplied by the premium trend factor. The example in the previous proposed payment methodology used the 2014 premiums multiplied by the premium trend factor only.

    In addition, we provided the option for the state to develop a risk adjustment protocol to revise the population health factor in the final payment methodology. The example in the previous proposed payment methodology did not assume any adjustment to the population health factor.

    Furthermore, we modified the age ranges used to develop the rate cells after the proposed payment methodology was published. The age range for persons ages 21-44 was divided into age ranges of 21-34 and 35-44.

    III. Collection of Information Requirements

    This 2017 and 2018 proposed methodology is mostly unchanged from the 2016 final methodology published on February 24, 2015 (80 FR 9636). For states that have BHP enrollees who do not file federal tax returns (“non-filers”), this methodology notice clarifies that the state must develop a methodology to determine the enrollee's household income and household size consistent with Marketplace requirements. Since the requirement applies to fewer than 10 states, the 2017 and 2018 methodology does not require additional OMB review under the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Otherwise, the methodology's information collection requirements and burden estimates are not affected by this action and are approved by OMB under control number 0938-1218 (CMS-10510). With regard to state elections, protocols, certifications, and status adjustments, this action would not revise or impose any additional reporting, recordkeeping, or third-party disclosure requirements or burden on qualified health plans or on states operating State Based Marketplaces.

    IV. Response to Comments

    Because of the large number of public comments we normally receive on Federal Register documents, we are not able to acknowledge or respond to them individually. We will consider all comments we receive by the date and time specified in the DATES section of this preamble, and, when we proceed with a subsequent document, we will respond to the comments in the preamble to that document.

    V. Regulatory Impact Statement A. Overall Impact

    We have examined the impacts of this proposed methodology as required by Executive Order 12866 on Regulatory Planning and Review (September 30, 1993), Executive Order 13563 on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review (January 18, 2011), the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (September 19, 1980, Pub. L. 96-354), section 1102(b) of the Act, section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4, March 22, 1995) (UMRA), Executive Order 13132 on Federalism (August 4, 1999) and the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 804(2)).

    Executive Orders 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). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a “significant regulatory action” as an action that is likely to result in a rule: (1) Having an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more in any 1 year, or adversely and materially affecting a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or state, local or tribal governments or communities (also referred to as “economically significant”); (2) creating a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfering with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) materially altering the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) raising novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive Order.

    A regulatory impact analysis (RIA) must be prepared for major rules with economically significant effects ($100 million or more in any 1 year). As noted in the BHP final rule, BHP provides states the flexibility to establish an alternative coverage program for low-income individuals who would otherwise be eligible to purchase coverage through the Marketplace. Because we propose no changes in methodology that would have a consequential effect on state participation incentives, or on the size of either the BHP program or offsetting PTC and CSR expenditures, the effects of the changes made in this methodology notice would not approach the $100 million threshold, and hence it is neither an economically significant rule under E.O. 12866 nor a major rule under the Congressional Review Act. The size of the BHP program depends on several factors, including the number of and which particular states choose to implement or continue BHP in 2017 or 2018, the level of QHP premiums in 2016 and 2017, the number of enrollees in BHP, and the other coverage options for persons who would be eligible for BHP. In particular, while we generally expect that many enrollees would have otherwise been enrolled in a QHP through the Marketplace, some persons may have been eligible for Medicaid under a waiver or a state health coverage program. For those who would have enrolled in a QHP and thus would have received PTCs or CSRs, the federal expenditures for BHP would be expected to be more than offset by a reduction in federal expenditures for PTCs and CSRs. For those who would have been enrolled in Medicaid, there would likely be a smaller offset in federal expenditures (to account for the federal share of Medicaid expenditures), and for those who would have been covered in non-federal programs or would have been uninsured, there likely would be an increase in federal expenditures. None of these factors or incentives would be materially affected by the updates we propose.

    In accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 12866, this notice was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    1. Need for the Proposed Methodology Notice

    Section 1331 of the Affordable Care Act (codified at 42 U.S.C. 18051) requires the Secretary to establish a BHP, and section (d)(1) specifically provides that if the Secretary finds that a state meets the requirements of the program established under section (a) [of section 1331 of the Affordable Care Act], the Secretary shall transfer to the State federal BHP payments described in section (d)(3). This proposed methodology provides for the funding methodology to determine the federal BHP payment amounts required to implement these provisions in program years 2017 and 2018.

    2. Alternative Approaches

    Many of the factors proposed in this notice are specified in statute; therefore, we are limited in the alternative approaches we could consider. One area in which we had a choice was in selecting the data sources used to determine the factors included in the proposed methodology. Except for state-specific reference premiums and enrollment data, we propose using national rather than state-specific data. This is due to the lack of currently available state-specific data needed to develop the majority of the factors included in the proposed methodology. We believe the national data will produce sufficiently accurate determinations of payment rates. In addition, we believe that this approach will be less burdensome on states. In many cases, using state-specific data would necessitate additional requirements on the states to collect, validate, and report data to CMS. By using national data, we are able to collect data from other sources and limit the burden placed on the states. To reference premiums and enrollment data, we propose using state-specific data rather than national data as we believe state-specific data will produce more accurate determinations than national averages.

    In addition, we considered whether or not to provide states the option to develop a protocol for a retrospective adjustment to the population health factor in 2017 and 2018 as we did in the 2015 and 2016 payment methodologies. We believe that providing this option again in 2017 and 2018 is appropriate and likely to improve the accuracy of the final payments.

    We also considered whether or not to require the use of 2017 and 2018 QHP premiums to develop the 2017 and 2018 federal BHP payment rates. We believe that the payment rates can still be developed accurately using either the 2016 and 2017 QHP premiums (for the 2017 and 2018 program years, respectively) or the 2017 and 2018 program year premiums and that it is appropriate to provide the states the option, given the interests and specific considerations each state may have in operating the BHP.

    3. Transfers

    The provisions of this notice are designed to determine the amount of funds that will be transferred to states offering coverage through a BHP rather than to individuals eligible for premium and cost-sharing reductions for coverage purchased on the Marketplace. We are uncertain what the total federal BHP payment amounts to states will be as these amounts will vary from state to state due to the varying nature of state composition. For example, total federal BHP payment amounts may be greater in more populous states simply by virtue of the fact that they have a larger BHP-eligible population and total payment amounts are based on actual enrollment. Alternatively, total federal BHP payment amounts may be lower in states with a younger BHP-eligible population as the reference premium used to calculate the federal BHP payment will be lower relative to older BHP enrollees. While state composition will cause total federal BHP payment amounts to vary from state to state, we believe that the proposed methodology, like the current methodology, accounts for these variations to ensure accurate BHP payment transfers are made to each state.

    B. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Section 202 of the UMRA requires that agencies assess anticipated costs and benefits before issuing any rule whose mandates require spending in any 1 year of $100 million in 1995 dollars, updated annually for inflation, by state, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector. In 2015, that threshold is approximately $144 million. States have the option, but are not required, to establish a BHP. Further, the proposed methodology would establish federal payment rates without requiring states to provide the Secretary with any data not already required by other provisions of the Affordable Care Act or its implementing regulations. Thus, neither the current nor the proposed payment methodologies mandate expenditures by state governments, local governments, or tribal governments.

    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) (RFA) requires agencies to prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis to describe the impact of the proposed rule on small entities, unless the head of the agency can certify that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Act generally defines a “small entity” as (1) a proprietary firm meeting the size standards of the Small Business Administration (SBA); (2) a not-for-profit organization that is not dominant in its field; or (3) a small government jurisdiction with a population of less than 50,000. Individuals and states are not included in the definition of a small entity. Few of the entities that meet the definition of a small entity as that term is used in the RFA would be impacted directly by this proposed methodology.

    Because this proposed methodology is focused solely on federal BHP payment rates to states, it does not contain provisions that would have a direct impact on hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers that are designated as small entities under the RFA. Accordingly, we have determined that the proposed methodology, like the current methodology and the final rule that established the BHP program, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Section 1102(b) of the Act requires us to prepare a regulatory impact analysis if a proposed methodology may have a significant economic impact on the operations of a substantial number of small rural hospitals. For purposes of section 1102(b) of the Act, we define a small rural hospital as a hospital that is located outside of a metropolitan statistical area and has fewer than 100 beds. For the preceding reasons, we have determined that the proposed methodology will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small rural hospitals.

    D. Federalism

    Executive Order 13132 establishes certain requirements that an agency must meet when it promulgates a proposed rule (and subsequent final rule) that imposes substantial direct effects on states, preempts state law, or otherwise has federalism implications. The BHP is entirely optional for states, and if implemented in a state, provides access to a pool of funding that would not otherwise be available to the state. Accordingly, the requirements of the Executive Order do not apply to this proposed methodology notice.

    Dated: August 27, 2015. Andrew M. Slavitt, Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dated: October 9, 2015. Sylvia Burwell, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26907 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 680 [Docket No. 150313268-5268-01] RIN 0648-BE98 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS issues a proposed rule to implement Amendment 44 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (FMP) and a regulatory amendment that would modify regulations governing the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program. The proposed rule would modify regulations to reflect that a Right of First Refusal (ROFR) may continue with the current ROFR holder or a new ROFR holder when processor quota share (PQS) is transferred and would require PQS holders to make specific certifications regarding ROFR contracts when annually applying for individual processor quota (IPQ) and when transferring PQS that are subject to a ROFR. In addition, this proposed rule would amend CR Program regulations to separate the annual individual fishing quota (IFQ)/IPQ application into two separate applications, and would require that crab harvesting cooperatives list the name of each member of the cooperative in its application for IFQ rather than provide NMFS with copies of each member's IFQ application. These actions are necessary to improve available information concerning transfer and use of PQS and IPQ subject to a ROFR, thereby enhancing the ability of eligible crab communities to retain their historical processing interests in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab fisheries, and to improve the administration of the CR Program. These actions are intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0057, by any one 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-2013-0057, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

    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), 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).

    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this rule may be submitted to NMFS at the above address; emailed to [email protected] or faxed to 202-395-7285.

    Electronic copies of Amendment 44 to the FMP, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and the Categorical Exclusion prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), RIR, and Social Impact Assessment prepared for the CR Program are available from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rachel Baker, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NMFS manages the king and Tanner crab fisheries in the exclusive economic zone of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) under the FMP. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the FMP under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S. C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR part 680.

    NMFS published the final rule to implement the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program on March 2, 2005 (70 FR 10174). Fishing under the CR Program started with the 2005/2006 crab fishing year.

    The Council submitted Amendment 44 for review by the Secretary of Commerce. A notice of availability of Amendment 44 was published in the Federal Register on October 9, 2015 (80 FR 61150), with comments invited through December 8, 2015. All relevant written comments received by that time, whether specifically directed to Amendment 44, or to the proposed rule, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision on Amendment 44.

    The CR Program is a catch share program for nine BSAI crab fisheries that allocates those resources among harvesters, processors, and coastal communities. Under the CR Program, NMFS issued quota share (QS) to eligible harvesters based on their historical participation during a set of qualifying years in one or more of the nine CR Program fisheries. QS is an exclusive, revocable privilege allowing the holder to harvest a specific percentage of the annual total allowable catch (TAC) in a CR Program fishery.

    A QS holder's annual allocation, called individual fishing quota (IFQ), is expressed in pounds and is based on the amount of QS held in relation to the total QS pool for that fishery. NMFS issues IFQ in three classes: Class A IFQ, Class B IFQ, and Class C IFQ. Three percent of IFQ is issued as Class C IFQ for captains and crew. Of the remaining IFQ, 90 percent is issued as Class A IFQ and 10 percent is issued as Class B IFQ.

    NMFS issued processor quota share (PQS) to qualified individuals and entities based on processing activities in CR Program fisheries during a period of qualifying years. PQS is an exclusive, revocable privilege to receive deliveries of a fixed percentage of the annual TAC from a CR Program fishery. A PQS holder's annual allocation is known as individual processing quota (IPQ). NMFS issues IPQ at a one-to-one correlation with the amount of Class A IFQ issued for each CR Program fishery. Class A IFQ must be delivered to a processor holding a matching amount of IPQ; Class C IFQ and Class B IFQ may be delivered to any registered crab receiver.

    Right of First Refusal

    The CR Program includes several provisions intended to protect specific communities that had historically been active in the processing of king and Tanner crab from adverse impacts that could result from the CR Program. The CR Program established eligibility criteria and regulations at 50 CFR 680.2 identified the nine communities that satisfy the eligibility criteria: Adak, Akutan, Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, King Cove, False Pass, St. George, St. Paul, and Port Moller. These communities are referred to as “eligible crab communities” for purposes of the CR Program's community protection measures. Additional detail on the rationale and criteria used to establish the eligible crab communities can be found in the final rule implementing the CR Program (March 2, 2005, 70 FR 10174). Additional information on the eligible crab communities is provided in Section 3.1.4 of the RIR/IRFA prepared for this action.

    With the exception of Adak, the CR Program provides eligible crab communities, or ECCs, with a right of first refusal (ROFR) on certain PQS and IPQ transfers. A ROFR provides an eligible crab community with the right to intervene in the sale (i.e., transfer) of PQS, IPQ, and “other goods” (i.e., assets) associated with that community under specific conditions. The regulations at § 680.41(l) require an eligible crab community to identify an entity to represent it for purposes of ROFR. The eight eligible crab communities that have a ROFR, and their representative entities are listed in Table 9 of the RIR/IRFA. The eligible crab community of Adak is not provided a ROFR for PQS or IPQ associated with that community because the CR Program incorporates other provisions to protect Adak. These provisions are described in the final rule implementing the CR Program (March 2, 2005, 70 FR 10174).

    Of the eight eligible crab communities, four are community development quota (CDQ) communities, and four are non-CDQ communities. In the case of eligible crab communities that are also CDQ communities, the local CDQ group is the entity that can exercise the ROFR on behalf of the community (see § 680.41(l)(2)(i)). For the other four non-CDQ eligible crab communities, regulations authorize the governing bodies of these eligible crab communities to identify the entity that can exercise the ROFR on behalf of the community (see § 680.41(l)(2)(ii)).

    PQS and IPQ from the Bristol Bay red king crab, Bering Sea snow crab, Eastern Aleutian Islands golden king crab, St. Matthew Island blue king crab, and Pribilof red and blue king crab fisheries are subject to a ROFR. Section 3.1.3 of the RIR/IRFA describes the specific amounts of PQS and IPQ that were, and are, subject to ROFR.

    Under the ROFR, an eligible crab community entity is provided an opportunity to meet the same terms and conditions being offered to a proposed buyer of a proposed sale of PQS or IPQ. If an eligible crab community entity can meet the terms and conditions of a proposed sale, then the eligible crab community entity receives by transfer the PQS, IPQ, and any other goods instead of the proposed buyer. For a more detailed summary of ROFR, see section 3.1.3 of the RIR/IRFA.

    The CR Program included a ROFR to provide eligible crab communities an opportunity to retain crab PQS, IPQ, and other goods before they are transferred to another buyer who could then choose to use that PQS, IPQ, and other goods outside of the community. Such a transfer could adversely affect the economic stability of the community. The ROFR is intended to strike a balance between the interest of communities historically reliant on crab processing to retain that processing capacity within their communities, and the interest of PQS or IPQ holders to be able to engage in open market transfers of PQS, IPQ, and other goods.

    ROFR Contract Terms

    The ROFR is administered under the CR Program through contractual arrangements between eligible crab community entities and PQS/IPQ holders. Persons who hold PQS/IPQ that is subject to a ROFR must enter into a contract with the eligible crab community entity eligible to exercise a ROFR for those PQS/IPQ shares. The terms required in a ROFR contract between an eligible crab community entity and PQS/IPQ holder were established with implementation of the CR Program and are set forth in Chapter 11 of the FMP. ROFR applies to any proposed sale of PQS, and sales of IPQ, if more than 20 percent of the PQS holders' community based IPQ in the fishery were processed outside of the community by another company (intra-company transfers within a region are excluded) in three of the preceding five years. Intra-company transfers within a region and transfers of PQS for continued use in the community are exempt from (i.e., do not trigger) the ROFR. The ROFR contract terms require that in order to complete a transfer under a ROFR, an eligible crab community entity must meet “the same terms and conditions of the underlying [proposed sale] agreement and will include all processing shares and other goods included in that agreement.”

    The ROFR contract terms also state that all terms of any ROFR and contract entered into related to ROFR will be enforced through civil law. Additional details on the rationale for the civil enforcement of the terms in a ROFR contract are provided in the EIS, RIR, and Social Impact Assessment prepared for the CR Program, and the final rule implementing the CR Program (March 2, 2005, 70 FR 10174).

    An eligible crab community entity must meet two important requirements to complete a ROFR and receive PQS, IPQ, or other goods associated with a proposed sale. The eligible crab community entity must: (1) Exercise its ROFR, that is, provide a clear commitment to complete a purchase agreement within a specific time frame; and (2) perform under the ROFR, that is, meet all of the terms and conditions of the underlying agreement for the proposed sale within a specific time frame.

    To exercise the ROFR, an eligible crab community entity must provide the seller of PQS or IPQ subject to a ROFR with notice of its intent to exercise the ROFR and earnest money in the amount of 10 percent of the contract amount or $500,000, whichever is less, within 60 days of notice of a sale and receipt of the contract defining the sale's terms. To perform the ROFR, the eligible crab community entity must meet the terms and conditions of the proposed sale (i.e., complete the sale) within 120 days, or within the time specified in the proposed sales contract, whichever is longer. If an eligible crab community entity does not exercise its ROFR, or it cannot perform under the ROFR contract, then the open market sale may proceed.

    Revising ROFR Contract Terms

    The CR Program, including the ROFR contract terms, was implemented under authority provided at section 313(j)(1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Section 313(j)(3) states that after initial implementation of the CR Program, the Council may submit and the Secretary may implement changes to conservation and management measures for crab fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to achieve on a continuing basis the purposes identified by the Council. This provision allows the Council to recommend, and NMFS to adopt, revisions to the required terms of a ROFR contract. Proposed Amendment 44 to the FMP would modify several of the existing ROFR contract terms and add two additional contract terms. For reasons provided in the notice of availability for Amendment 44 (80 FR 61150, October 9, 2015) and this proposed rule, the Council and NMFS have determined that the modifications to the ROFR contract terms and regulations governing ROFR that would be made by proposed Amendment 44 and this proposed rule improve the achievement of the purposes of ROFR that were identified by the Council when it adopted the CR Program.

    As noted earlier, the terms in a ROFR contract are enforced through civil contract law rather than through regulations implemented by NMFS. Amendment 44 to the FMP and this proposed rule would not change the civil enforcement of the terms in a ROFR contract. The proposed rule would revise regulations to implement Amendment 44 and to amend the CR Program. Regulations implemented by NMFS are enforced by NMFS. Therefore, the regulatory changes in this proposed rule (i.e., measures that are more than solely amendments to the FMP modifying the terms in a ROFR contract) would be subject to enforcement by NMFS.

    Need for Action

    In developing the CR Program, the Council and NMFS recognized the unique historical relationship between eligible crab communities and processors associated with those communities, and established ROFR provisions to provide opportunities for eligible crab communities to be notified and intervene in sales of crab processing assets important to those communities. However, with experience gained from implementation, the Council has determined that some of the ROFR contract terms and the lack of regulatory requirements to ensure adequate notification and tracking of PQS and IPQ transfers are limiting the effectiveness of the ROFR provisions.

    Stakeholders, including representatives from the eight eligible crab community entities that can exercise a ROFR, noted several concerns with ROFR contract terms that could hinder an eligible crab community entity from effectively exercising and performing under a ROFR. Eligible crab community entities also supported additional regulatory provisions to ensure proper notification of proposed sales. Holders of PQS/IPQ subject to a ROFR concurred that several changes to the ROFR contract terms and notification requirements could improve the ability of eligible crab community entities to exercise and perform under a ROFR without unduly limiting open market transfers of PQS, IPQ, and other goods. The Council reviewed and analyzed these concerns in a series of documents that have been consolidated under the RIR/IRFA prepared for Amendment 44 and this proposed rule (see ADDRESSES). The Council recommended the provisions comprising Amendment 44 and this proposed rule at its February 2013 and its October 2014 meetings.

    Proposed Amendment 44 and this proposed rule are intended to address four categories of concern that stakeholders have for the existing ROFR contract terms and regulations implementing ROFR. These are: (1) Inadequate time for an eligible crab community entity to exercise and perform under a ROFR; (2) ROFR contract terms that allow a ROFR to lapse; (3) ROFR contract terms that do not allow an eligible crab community entity and a PQS/IPQ holder to mutually agree to the specific assets subject to a ROFR and to exclude “other goods” if desired; and (4) the lack of verification that proper notification and reporting of proposed sales between PQS/IPQ holders and eligible crab community entities has occurred.

    Summary of Proposed Amendment 44

    The specific provisions of proposed Amendment 44 are described in detail in the Notice of Availability published by NMFS on October 9, 2015 (80 FR 61150). The following briefly summarizes the provisions of proposed Amendment 44.

    If approved by NMFS, Amendment 44 would modify the ROFR contract term specifying the amount of time to exercise and perform under a ROFR. Amendment 44 would increase the time allowed for an eligible crab community entity to exercise a ROFR from 60 days to 90 days from receipt of the sales contract. This modification would also increase the time allowed for an eligible crab community entity to perform under the ROFR from 120 days to 150 days. The time period to exercise and the time period to perform under a ROFR begin on the date of receipt of the sales contract by the eligible crab community entity and run concurrently. The extension of both time periods is intended to help accommodate eligible crab community entities when deciding whether to exercise their ROFR, but also continue to recognize that time may be of the essence for a PQS holder or buyer under a contract.

    Amendment 44 would remove the ROFR contract term that allows a ROFR to lapse if the IPQ derived from the PQS subject to ROFR was processed outside the community of origin for a period of three consecutive years. This amendment would allow a ROFR to remain in effect for PQS subject to a ROFR regardless of the location in which the IPQ associated with that PQS was processed. However, if approved, Amendment 44 would not reinstate a ROFR that lapsed prior to implementation of Amendment 44. The Council determined, and NMFS agrees, that this amendment would strengthen the connection between PQS and the community from which it originated, by maintaining the right regardless of whether the yielded IPQ is used outside the community for extended periods. By maintaining the right despite use of IPQ outside of the community, the eligible crab community entity and the community of origin that it represents would maintain an interest in the PQS into the future.

    Amendment 44 also would remove the ROFR contract term stating that a ROFR will lapse if an eligible crab community entity fails to exercise its ROFR after it is triggered by a transfer of PQS and replace it with a ROFR contract term that would require the recipient of a PQS transfer to enter into a new ROFR contract with an eligible crab community entity of its choosing in the designated region of the PQS. This amendment would ensure that eligible crab community entities within the designated region of the PQS retain a ROFR on that PQS even if the original eligible crab community entity chooses not to exercise a ROFR.

    ROFR contract terms currently require that the ROFR apply to all terms and conditions of the underlying sale agreement, including all processing shares and other goods included in the agreement. Amendment 44 would revise this ROFR contract term to specify that, “Any right of first refusal must be on the same terms and conditions of the underlying agreement and will include all processing shares and other goods included in this agreement, or to any subset of those assets, as otherwise agreed to by the PQS holder and the community entity.” The proposed addition of the last clause in this ROFR contract term would allow a PQS holder and an eligible crab community entity to negotiate what assets may be subject to a ROFR. This would provide PQS holders and eligible crab community entities with more flexibility compared to the status quo. For example, it would allow an eligible crab community entity to reach an agreement with the PQS holder that the ROFR would only apply to the PQS, and not to any other goods associated with a proposed sale.

    Amendment 44 also would establish two new ROFR contract terms. First, Amendment 44 would add a ROFR contract term that requires a PQS holder to notify the eligible crab community entity of any proposed transfer of IPQ or PQS subject to ROFR, regardless of whether the PQS holder believes the proposed transfer triggers the right. Second, Amendment 44 would add a ROFR contract term that requires a PQS holder to annually notify the eligible crab community entity of the location at which IPQ derived from PQS subject to a ROFR was processed and whether that IPQ was processed by the PQS holder. Both of these proposed notifications would provide the eligible crab community entities with more information on what is occurring with the PQS for which they hold a ROFR.

    If Amendment 44 is approved, all ROFR contracts would be required to contain the newly revised ROFR contract terms. Because Amendment 44 would modify the terms required to be included in a ROFR contract, a PQS/IPQ holder and an eligible crab community entity would need to establish a new or revised ROFR contract to contain all of these terms.

    The Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule contains three actions. The first action would implement those aspects of Amendment 44 that require implementing regulations. The second action would implement the regulatory amendment adopted by the Council. The third action would implement minor administrative changes to the CR Program regulations to improve the application and reporting practices for participants in the CR Program. The following paragraphs provide additional detail on these proposed actions.

    Action 1: Regulatory Revisions Needed To Implement Amendment 44

    Most of the provisions of Amendment 44 only modify the ROFR contract terms contained in the FMP and do not require adjustments or additions to regulations implementing ROFR at 50 CFR part 680. However, one provision of proposed Amendment 44 requires modification to regulations at § 680.41(i)(8) governing transfers of PQS subject to ROFR.

    As explained above, a ROFR would no longer lapse if an eligible crab community entity fails to exercise its ROFR after the ROFR is triggered by a transfer of PQS under proposed Amendment 44. Instead, proposed Amendment 44 would require the recipient of a PQS transfer, or buyer, to enter into a new ROFR contract with an eligible crab community entity of its choosing in the designated region of the PQS. The buyer could enter into a new ROFR contract with the eligible crab community entity that held the ROFR with the seller, or the buyer could enter into a new ROFR contract with an eligible crab community entity that represents an eligible crab community within the region for which the PQS is designated. This provision of Amendment 44 would ensure that one eligible crab community entity within the designated region of the PQS retains a ROFR on that PQS even if the original eligible crab community entity does not exercise its ROFR. This provision is intended to strengthen the ROFR program by maintaining a link between PQS and eligible crab communities in perpetuity. In addition, the proposed provision may provide the original eligible crab community entity that is not able to exercise a ROFR with another opportunity to use ROFR at some point in the future, should it be triggered again through a proposed sale of the PQS.

    Because the buyer's choice of an eligible crab community entity would occur at the time of transfer of the PQS, regulations at § 680.41(i)(8) governing transfer of PQS would need to be modified to require the seller to certify that the eligible crab community entity did not exercise its ROFR within the time provided and to require the buyer to certify that the buyer has entered into a ROFR contract with an eligible crab community entity in the designated region of the PQS. These proposed changes to § 680.41(i)(8) would not alter the current requirement that NMFS wait 10 days before approving a transfer of PQS subject to ROFR when such transfer triggers the ROFR.

    Action 2: Regulatory Revisions Needed To Implement the Regulatory Amendment

    At the time it took action on Amendment 44, the Council also recommended that holders of PQS/IPQ subject to ROFR provide NMFS with specific certifications regarding notice to ROFR holders and the existence of ROFR contracts when submitting an application to transfer PQS or when annually applying for IPQ. The Council's recommendations for certifications to NMFS do not require modifications to the FMP but require modifications to the regulations implementing ROFR in 50 CFR part 680.

    First, this proposed rule would modify regulations at § 680.4(f)(2) to require an applicant, as part of the Application for Annual Crab IPQ Permit, to certify to NMFS that a ROFR contract that includes the required ROFR contract terms specified in Chapter 11 of the FMP exists between the applicant and the eligible crab community entity that holds the ROFR for that PQS/IPQ. If Amendment 44 is approved, all ROFR contracts would be required to contain the newly revised ROFR contract terms. Because Amendment 44 would modify the terms required to be included in a ROFR contract, a PQS/IPQ holder and an eligible crab community entity would need to establish a new or revised ROFR contract to contain all of these terms and the PQS/IPQ holder would need to certify annually that a ROFR contract was in place. By including this certification as part of the annual application for IPQ, NMFS realizes that if an applicant for IPQ is unable to establish a revised ROFR contract with an eligible crab community entity and provide that confirmation to NMFS in the annual application for crab IPQ permit prior to the date that application is due, then NMFS would consider the application to be incomplete. In that case, NMFS would withhold issuance of IPQ until this requirement is met.

    Second, this proposed rule would modify regulations at § 680.41(i)(8) and (9) to require specific certifications by the seller or the buyer when transferring PQS subject to ROFR. If a transfer of PQS triggers a ROFR, regulations at § 680.41(i)(8) would require the seller to certify, as part of the application to transfer PQS, that the PQS holder notified the eligible crab community entity holding the ROFR for that PQS of the proposed transfer at least 90 days prior to the date of the transfer application, and that the eligible crab community entity did not exercise its ROFR during that period. If a transfer of PQS does not trigger a ROFR, regulations at § 680.41(i)(9) would be modified to require the buyer and the eligible crab community entity to certify, as part of the application to transfer PQS, either that the eligible crab community entity wishes to permanently waive ROFR for the PQS or that the buyer and the eligible crab community entity completed a ROFR contract that includes the ROFR contract terms specified in Chapter 11 of the FMP. NMFS would not complete a transfer of PQS until these requirements are met.

    The Council determined and NMFS agrees that these additional notice requirements would directly address the concerns of eligible crab community entities and PQS/IPQ holders that there may not be adequate information sharing between the parties subject to a ROFR contract. These notices would ensure that all parties have accurate and up-to-date information concerning the use of PQS and IPQ, as well as any sales of PQS. For additional detail on these proposed notice requirements, see section 3.2.5 of the RIR/IRFA.

    Action 3: Administrative Changes

    NMFS proposes two minor administrative changes to CR Program regulations. First, NMFS proposes revising regulations at § 680.4(d) to separate the current combined application for IFQ/IPQ into two separate applications, an application for IFQ and an application for IPQ. This proposed revision is intended to reduce confusion among applicants who sometimes misunderstand the requirements for the combined IFQ/IPQ application and would improve the ability of applicants to correctly provide the necessary information. This revision would allow applicants for IFQ to use an application form specific to IFQ, and applicants for IPQ to use an application form specific to IPQ. Except for the proposed modification to the annual IPQ application described above in the “Action 2: Regulatory Revisions Needed To Implement the Regulatory Amendment” section, the proposed changes would not modify the specific information currently required of IFQ or IPQ applicants, but would change the application form required to be submitted and the format of the application form.

    Second, NMFS proposes revisions to reporting requirements for crab harvesting cooperatives at § 680.21(b)(1). Currently, regulations at § 680.4(f) require each member of a crab harvesting cooperative to submit to NMFS an Application for Annual Crab IFQ Permit, and regulations at § 680.21(b) require a crab harvesting cooperative to submit to NMFS a copy of each member's Application for Annual Crab IFQ Permit along with the cooperative's Application for Annual Crab Harvesting Cooperative IFQ Permit. NMFS has determined that while the identification of cooperative members is critical to the cooperative application process, NMFS can obtain this information through less burdensome means. Therefore, NMFS proposes revising the regulations at § 680.21(b)(1) so that a crab harvesting cooperative would be responsible only for submitting a list of the names of each cooperative member with the cooperative's annual IFQ application. Under the proposed rule, crab harvesting cooperatives would no longer be required to submit copies of each member's annual IFQ application. NMFS notes that the proposed rule does not modify the requirements at § 680.4(f) and each cooperative member would continue to be responsible for submitting to NMFS a complete annual IFQ permit application by the deadline of June 15. This proposed change would provide NMFS with necessary information while reducing duplicative reporting requirements for crab harvesting cooperatives.

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration of comments received during the public comment period.

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

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA)

    An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. Copies of the RIR/IRFA prepared for this proposed rule are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

    The IRFA for this proposed action describes the action, why this action is being proposed, the objectives and legal basis for the proposed rule, the type and number of small entities to which the proposed rule would apply, and the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the proposed rule. It also identifies any overlapping, duplicative, or conflicting Federal rules and describes any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable statues and that would minimize any significant adverse economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. The description of the proposed action, its purpose, and its legal basis are described in the preamble and are not repeated here. The IRFA prepared for this proposed rule incorporates by reference an extensive RIR/FRFA prepared for Amendments 18 and 19 to the FMP that detail the impacts of the CR Program on small entities.

    The proposed rule includes three separate actions. Action 1 includes regulatory revisions to implement Amendment 44. The proposed revisions would require the buyer of PQS to certify to NMFS that the buyer has entered into a ROFR contract with an eligible crab community entity in the designated region of the PQS.

    Action 2 would require PQS holders to provide two notifications to NMFS regarding the status of their ROFR. The first certification would require PQS holders applying to receive IPQ to attest that a ROFR contract that includes the required ROFR contract terms exists between the applicant and the eligible crab community entity that holds the ROFR for that PQS/IPQ. The second certification would require the seller of PQS to certify to NMFS that the seller provided the eligible crab community entity with notice of the proposed sale at least 90 days prior to the date of the transfer application and that the entity did not exercise ROFR during that time period. These notifications would be incorporated into the Application for Annual Crab IPQ and the Application for Transfer of Crab QS or PQS, respectively.

    The small entities that would be directly regulated by Action 1 and Action 2 are persons that hold PQS or IPQ under the CR Program. Currently, 21 entities hold PQS or IPQ subject (now or previously) to ROFR. Estimates of the number of large entities were made, based on available records of revenue, employment information, and known affiliations among these entities. Of these 21 entities, 10 are estimated to be large entities and 11 are deemed to be small entities. It is possible that additional entities could be directly regulated under the proposed rule if an entity that does not already hold PQS receives PQS by transfer. The new PQS holder would be directly regulated because the entity would be required to certify to NMFS that they have entered into a ROFR contract. It is not possible to estimate whether these new PQS holders would be small entities for purposes of this proposed rule.

    Action 3 would make minor administrative changes to clarify permit application procedures for IFQ holders and IPQ holders, and reduce reporting requirements for crab cooperatives that are directly regulated under the CR Program. Currently, there are 10 crab harvesting cooperative entities. Based on available records of revenue, and known affiliations among these entities, 4 of the entities are estimated to be large entities and 6 are deemed to be small entities. Because these changes would reduce the reporting burden for all crab harvesting cooperatives, Action 3 would not have an adverse impact on directly regulated small entities.

    The certifications in the proposed rule are straightforward, simple and are provided annually or at the time of a transfer of shares as part of applications. While the new notification requirements would add administrative reporting requirements for 11 PQS/IPQ holders that are small entities, the Council determined that the administrative burden associated with the notification requirements would be minimal and would not negatively impact these entities.

    Duplicate, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules

    NMFS has not identified any duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed action and existing Federal rules.

    Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

    The recordkeeping and reporting requirements would be increased slightly under this proposed rule. This proposed rule would include new reporting requirements for PQS/IPQ holders. The PQS/IPQ holders would be required to certify to NMFS that a current ROFR contract is in place when applying for IPQ and notify NMFS of the status of the ROFR when transferring PQS or IPQ. These additional reporting requirements would be relatively straightforward and simple, and NMFS proposes including these certifications requirements into the Application for Annual Crab IPQ and the Application for Transfer of Crab PQS that are already required for directly regulated entities to receive IPQ or to transfer PQS or IPQ. Therefore, the additional recordkeeping and reporting requirements associated with the proposed rule would be minimal.

    Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This proposed rule contains collection-of-information requirements subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). These requirements have been submitted to OMB for approval under OMB Control Number 0648-0514. Public reporting burden is estimated to average per response: 1.5 hours for the Annual Application for Crab IFQ Permit; 1.5 hours for the Annual Application for Crab IPQ Permit; 1 hour for the Application for an Annual Crab Harvesting Cooperative IFQ permit; and 2 hours for Application to Transfer Crab QS or PQS. 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.

    Public comment is sought regarding whether this proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden statement; ways to enhance quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; 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 on these or any other aspects of the collection of information, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to [email protected] or fax to 202-395-7285.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirement of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 680

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: October 15, 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 680 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 680—SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 680 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    2. In § 680.4, a. Revise paragraphs (d)(3), (e)(1), (e)(3), (f) heading, and (f)(2)(ii); b. Redesignate paragraphs (f)(2)(iv) and (f)(2)(v) as (f)(2)(v) and (f)(2)(vi), respectively; c. Add paragraph (f)(2)(iv);

    The revisions and additions to read as follows:

    § 680.4 Permits.

    (d) * * *

    (3) On an annual basis, the Regional Administrator will issue a crab IFQ permit to a person who submits a complete Application for Annual Crab Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Permit, described at paragraph (f) of this section, that is subsequently approved by the Regional Administrator.

    (e) * * *

    (1) A crab IPQ permit authorizes the person identified on the permit to receive/process the IPQ crab identified on the permit during the crab fishing year for which the permit is issued, subject to conditions of the permit. A crab IPQ permit is valid under the following circumstances:

    (3) On an annual basis, the Regional Administrator will issue a crab IPQ permit to a person who submits a complete Application for Annual Crab Individual Processing Quota (IPQ) Permit, described at paragraph (f) of this section, that is subsequently approved by the Regional Administrator.

    (f) Contents of annual applications for crab IFQ and IPQ permits.

    (2) * * *

    (ii) Crab IFQ or IPQ permit identification. Indicate the type of crab IFQ or IPQ permit for which applicant is applying by QS fishery(ies) and indicate (YES or NO) whether applicant has joined a crab harvesting cooperative. If YES, enter the name of the crab harvesting cooperative(s) the applicant has joined for each crab fishery.

    (iv) Certification of ROFR contract for crab IPQ permit. Indicate (YES or NO) whether any of the IPQ for which the applicant is applying to receive is subject to right of first refusal (ROFR). If YES certify (YES or NO) whether there is a ROFR contract currently in place between the applicant and the ECC entity holding the ROFR for the IPQ that includes the required ROFR contract terms specified in Chapter 11 section 3.4.4.1.2 of the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs.

    3. In § 680.21, revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:
    § 680.21 Crab harvesting cooperatives.

    (b) * * *

    (1) June 15 application deadline. A completed Application for Annual Crab Harvesting Cooperative Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Permit listing the name of each member of the crab harvesting cooperative must be submitted annually by each crab harvesting cooperative and received by NMFS no later than June 15 (or postmarked by this date, if sent via U.S. mail or a commercial carrier) for the upcoming crab fishing year for which the crab harvesting cooperative is applying to receive IFQ. If a complete application is not received by NMFS by this date, or postmarked by this date, the crab harvesting cooperative will not receive IFQ for the upcoming crab fishing year. In the event that NMFS has not received a complete and timely application by June 15, NMFS will presume that the application was timely filed if the applicant can provide NMFS with proof of timely filing. Each crab harvesting cooperative member is responsible for submitting a completed Application for Annual Crab Individual Fishing Quota Permit to NMFS by June 15 pursuant to § 680.4.

    4. In § 680.41, revise paragraphs (i)(8) and (9) to read as follows:
    § 680.41 Transfers of QS, PQS, IFQ or IPQ.

    (i) * * *

    (8) In the case of an application for transfer of PQS or IPQ for use outside an ECC that has designated an entity to represent it in exercise of ROFR under paragraph (l) of this section:

    (i) The Regional Administrator will not act upon the application for a period of 10 days. At the end of that time period, the application will be approved pending meeting the criteria set forth in paragraph (i) of this section.

    (ii) The person applying to transfer PQS subject to ROFR must include an affidavit certifying that the ECC entity was provided with notice of the proposed transfer at least 90 days prior to the date of the transfer application and that the ECC entity did not exercise its ROFR during that period.

    (iii) The person applying to receive the PQS must include an affidavit certifying that a ROFR contract that includes the ROFR contract terms specified in Chapter 11 section 3.4.4.1.2 of the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs has been completed with an ECC entity eligible to hold a ROFR under paragraph (l) of this section and that represents an EEC within the region for which the PQS is designated.

    (9) In the case of an application for transfer of PQS for use within an ECC that has designated an entity to represent it in exercise of ROFR under paragraph (l) of this section, the Regional Administrator will not approve the application unless the proposed recipient of the PQS and the ECC entity provide an affidavit to the Regional Administrator certifying that either the ECC wishes to permanently waive ROFR for the PQS or that a ROFR contract that includes the ROFR contract terms specified in Chapter 11 section 3.4.4.1.2 of the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs has been completed by the proposed recipient of the PQS and the ECC entity.

    [FR Doc. 2015-26844 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 204 Thursday, October 22, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Subsidy Programs Provided by Countries Exporting Softwood Lumber and Softwood Lumber Products to the United States; Request for Comment AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Department) seeks public comment on any subsidies, including stumpage subsidies, provided by certain countries exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the United States during the period January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted within 30 days after publication of this notice.

    ADDRESSES:

    See the Submission of Comments section below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    James Terpstra, Office III, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-3965.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On June 18, 2008, section 805 of Title VIII of the Tariff Act of 1930 (the Softwood Lumber Act of 2008) was enacted into law. Under this provision, the Secretary of Commerce is mandated to submit to the appropriate Congressional committees a report every 180 days on any subsidy provided by countries exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the United States, including stumpage subsidies.

    The Department submitted its last subsidy report on June 16, 2015. As part of its newest report, the Department intends to include a list of subsidy programs identified with sufficient clarity by the public in response to this notice.

    Request for Comments

    Given the large number of countries that export softwood lumber and softwood lumber products to the United States, we are soliciting public comment only on subsidies provided by countries whose exports accounted for at least one percent of total U.S. imports of softwood lumber by quantity, as classified under Harmonized Tariff Schedule code 4407.1001 (which accounts for the vast majority of imports), during the period January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015. Official U.S. import data published by the United States International Trade Commission Tariff and Trade DataWeb indicate that only two countries, Canada and Chile, exported softwood lumber to the United States during that time period in amounts sufficient to account for at least one percent of U.S. imports of softwood lumber products. We intend to rely on similar previous six-month periods to identify the countries subject to future reports on softwood lumber subsidies. For example, we will rely on U.S. imports of softwood lumber and softwood lumber products during the period July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, to select the countries subject to the next report.

    Under U.S. trade law, a subsidy exists where an authority: (i) Provides a financial contribution; (ii) provides any form of income or price support within the meaning of Article XVI of the GATT 1994; or (iii) makes a payment to a funding mechanism to provide a financial contribution to a person, or entrusts or directs a private entity to make a financial contribution, if providing the contribution would normally be vested in the government and the practice does not differ in substance from practices normally followed by governments, and a benefit is thereby conferred.1

    1See section 771(5)(B) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended.

    Parties should include in their comments: (1) The country which provided the subsidy; (2) the name of the subsidy program; (3) a brief description (at least 3-4 sentences) of the subsidy program; and (4) the government body or authority that provided the subsidy.

    Submission of Comments

    Persons wishing to comment should file comments by the date specified above. Comments should only include publicly available information. The Department will not accept comments accompanied by a request that a part or all of the material be treated confidentially due to business proprietary concerns or for any other reason. The Department will return such comments or materials to the persons submitting the comments and will not include them in its report on softwood lumber subsidies. The Department requests submission of comments filed in electronic Portable Document Format (PDF) submitted on CD-ROM or by email to the email address of the EC Webmaster, below.

    The comments received will be made available to the public in PDF on the Enforcement and Compliance Web site at the following address: http://enforcement.trade.gov/sla2008/sla-index.html. Any questions concerning file formatting, access on the Internet, or other electronic filing issues should be addressed to Laura Merchant, Enforcement and Compliance Webmaster, at (202) 482-0367, email address: [email protected]

    All comments and submissions in response to this Request for Comment should be received by the Department no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the above-referenced deadline date.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26964 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Amendment to the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Availability of program change submission in Spanish; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management is announcing the availability of a Spanish language version of analysis documents submitted by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico supporting a request for approval of changes to the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program (PRCZMP), and an extension of the public review and comment period on the program changes.

    ADDRESSES:

    Please send written comments to Joelle Gore, Stewardship Division Chief (Acting), NOAA Office for Coastal Management, NOS/OCM/SD, 1305 East-West Highway, 10th Floor, Room 10622, N/OCM6, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, or [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jackie Rolleri, at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On July 17, 2015, the Office for Coastal Management published a Federal Register Notice soliciting comments on a request by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for approval of changes to the PRCZMP (80 FR 42479 (July 17, 2015)). The Federal Register notice included a notice of a September 2, 2015, public hearing on the program changes.

    At the September 2, 2015, public hearing, requests were made by members of the public to have a Spanish language version of the program change analysis documents submitted by the Commonwealth in support of the requested approval, along with an extension of the comment period on the program changes. The Commonwealth has translated the analysis documents and made it available for public review and comment on its Web site under the heading “Solicitud de aprobación de cambios al Programa.” The documents may be found at: http://www.drna.gobierno.pr/oficinas/arn/recursosvivientes/costasreservasrefugios/pmzc/Cambios-rutinarios-PMZC.

    Written comments from the public on the Commonwealth's request for approval of changes to the PRCZMP will continue to be accepted through 30 days from the date of publication of this Federal Register notice.

    Comments should address the question of whether the PRCZMP, as changed, continues to meet the requirements for approval to participate in the federal Coastal Zone Management Program as described in section 306 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, and its implementing regulations at 15 CFR part 923. NOAA is particularly interested in comments addressing the requirements for the authorities and organization of coastal management programs found at 15 CFR part 923, subpart E, and opportunities for meaningful public participation in the decision-making process for the program under 15 CFR part 923, subpart F. Comments regarding implementation issues should be specific to how the changes to the program have affected implementation.

    Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog 11.419 Coastal Zone Management Program Administration Dated: October 14, 2015. John King, Deputy Director, Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26840 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-08-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE131 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Civilian Port Defense Activities at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, California 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 regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to the U.S. Navy (Navy) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to Civilian Port Defense training activities within and near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

    DATES:

    Effective October 25, 2015, through December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Fiorentino, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8477.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Availability

    An electronic copy of the Navy's application, which contains a list of the references used in this document, may be obtained by visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm. The Navy's final Environmental Assessment (EA), 2015 West Coast Civilian Port Defense, which also contains a list of the references used in this document, may also be viewed on our Web site. 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.

    An 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.”

    The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA) (Public Law 108-136) removed the “small numbers” and “specified geographical region” limitations indicated above and amended the definition of “harassment” as it applies to a “military readiness activity” to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].

    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 April 16, 2015, NMFS received a final application from the Navy requesting an IHA for the taking of marine mammals incidental to 2015 Civilian Port Defense activities at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

    The Study Area includes the waters within and near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. Since the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are adjacent and are both encompassed within the larger proposed action area (Study Area) they will be described collectively as Los Angeles/Long Beach (see Figure 2-1 of the application for a map of the Study Area). These activities are classified as military readiness activities. Marine mammals present in the Study Area may be exposed to sound from active acoustic sources (sonar). The Navy is requesting authorization to take 7 marine mammal species by Level B harassment (behavioral). No injurious takes (Level A harassment) of marine mammals are predicted and, therefore, none are being authorized.

    Description of the Specified Activity

    Additional detail regarding the specified activity was provided in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53658-53659); please see that document or the Navy's application for more information.

    Overview of Training Activities

    Civilian Port Defense activities are naval mine warfare exercises conducted in support of maritime homeland defense, per the Maritime Operational Threat Response Plan. These activities are conducted in conjunction with other federal agencies, principally the Department of Homeland Security. The three pillars of Mine Warfare include airborne (helicopter), surface (ship and unmanned vehicles), and undersea (divers, marine mammal systems, and unmanned vehicles), all of which are used in order to ensure that strategic U.S. ports are cleared of mine threats. Civilian Port Defense events are conducted in ports or major surrounding waterways, within the shipping lanes, and seaward to the 300 feet (ft, 91 meters [m]) depth contour. The events employ the use of various mine detection sensors, some of which utilize active acoustics for detection of mines and mine-like objects in and around various ports. Assets used during Civilian Port Defense training include up to four unmanned underwater vehicles, marine mammal systems, up to two helicopters operating (two to four hours) at altitudes as low as 75 to 100 ft (23 to 31 m), explosive ordnance disposal platoons, a Littoral Combat Ship or Landing Dock Platform and AVENGER class ships. The AVENGER is a surface mine countermeasure vessel specifically outfitted for mine countermeasure capability. The proposed Civilian Port Defense activities for Los Angeles/Long Beach include the use of up to 20 bottom placed non explosive mine training shapes. Mine shapes may be retrieved by Navy divers, typically explosive ordnance disposal personnel, and may be brought to beach side locations to ensure that the neutralization measures are effective and the shapes are secured. The final step to the beach side activity is the intelligence gathering and identifying how the mine works, disassembling it or neutralizing it. The entire training event takes place over multiple weeks utilizing a variety of assets and scenarios. The following descriptions detail the possible range of activities which could take place during a Civilian Port Defense training event. This is all inclusive and many of these activities are not included within the analysis of this specific event. Mine detection including towed or hull mounted sources would be the only portion of this event which we are proposing authorization.

    Mine Detection Systems

    Mine detection systems are used to locate, classify, and map suspected mines. Once located, the mines can either be neutralized or avoided. These systems are specialized to either locate mines on the surface, in the water column, or on the sea floor.

    • Towed or Hull-Mounted Mine Detection Systems. These detection systems use acoustic and laser or video sensors to locate and classify suspect mines. Helicopters, ships, and unmanned vehicles are used with towed systems, which can rapidly assess large areas.

    • Unmanned/Remotely Operated Vehicles. These vehicles use acoustic and video or lasers systems to locate and classify mines. Unmanned/remotely operated vehicles provide mine warfare capabilities in nearshore littoral areas, surf zones, ports, and channels.

    • Airborne Laser Mine Detection Systems. Airborne laser detection systems work in concert with neutralization systems. The detection system initially locates mines and a neutralization system is then used to relocate and neutralize the mine.

    • Marine Mammal Systems. Navy personnel and Navy marine mammals work together to detect specified underwater objects. The Navy deploys trained bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions as part of the marine mammal mine-hunting and object-recovery system.

    Sonar systems to be used during Civilian Port Defense Mine Detection training would include AN/SQQ-32, AN/SLQ-48, AN/AQS-24, and handheld sonars (e.g., AN/PQS-2A). Of these sonar sources, only the AN/SQQ-32 would require quantitative acoustic effects analysis, given its source parameters. The AN/SQQ-32 is a high frequency (between 10 and 200 kilohertz [kHz]) sonar system; the specific source parameters of the AN/SQQ-32 are classified. The AN/AQS-24, AN/SLQ-48 and handheld sonars are considered de minimis sources, which are defined as sources with low source levels, narrow beams, downward directed transmission, short pulse lengths, frequencies above known hearing ranges, or some combination of these factors (U.S. Department of the Navy 2013). De minimis sources have been determined to not have potential impact to marine mammals.

    Mine Neutralization

    Mine neutralization systems disrupt, disable, or detonate mines to clear ports and shipping lanes. Mine neutralization systems can clear individual mines or a large number of mines quickly. Two types of mine neutralization could be conducted, mechanical minesweeping and influence system minesweeping. Mechanical minesweeping consists of cutting the tether of mines moored in the water column or other means of physically releasing the mine. Moored mines cut loose by mechanical sweeping must then be neutralized or rendered safe for subsequent analysis. Influence minesweeping consists of simulating the magnetic, electric, acoustic, seismic, or pressure signature of a ship so that the mine detonates (no detonations would occur as part of the proposed training activities). Mine neutralization is included here to present the full spectrum of Civilian Port Defense Mine Warfare activities. The mine neutralization component of the proposed Civilian Port Defense training activities will not result in the incidental taking of marine mammals.

    Dates, Duration, and Geographic Region

    The description of the Dates, Duration, and Geographical Region of authorized activities has not changed from what was provided in the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; page 53659). Civilian Port Defense training activities are scheduled every year, typically alternating between the east and west coasts of the United States. Civilian Port Defense activities in 2015 are proposed to occur on the U.S. west coast near Los Angeles/Long Beach, California. Civilian Port Defense events are typically conducted in areas of ports or major surrounding waterways and within the shipping lanes and seaward to the 300 ft (91 m) depth contour.

    Civilian Port Defense activities would occur at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach from October through December 2015. The training exercise would occur for a period of two weeks in which active sonar would be utilized for two separate periods of four-day events. The AN/SQQ-32 sonar could be active for up to 24 hours a day during these training events; however, the use of the AN/SQQ-32 would not be continuously active during the four-day period. Additional activities would occur during this time and are analyzed within the Navy's Environmental Assessment for 2015 Civilian Port Defense training activities. The Navy has determined there is potential for take as defined under MMPA for military readiness activities. Specifically, take has potential to occur from utilization of active sonar sources. This stressor is the only aspect of the proposed training activities for which this IHA is being requested.

    The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach combined represent the busiest port along the U.S. West Coast and second busiest in the United States. In 2012 and 2013, approximately 4,550 and 4,500 vessel calls, respectively, for ships over 10,000 deadweight tons arrived at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (Louttit and Chavez, 2014; U.S. Department of Transportation). This level of shipping would mean approximately 9,000 large ship transits to and from these ports and through the Study Area. By comparison, the next nearest large regional port, Port of San Diego, only had 318 vessel calls in 2012.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Nineteen marine mammal species are known to occur in the study area, including five mysticetes (baleen whales), nine odontocetes (dolphins and toothed whales), and five pinnipeds (seals and sea lions). The Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activities section has not changed from what was in the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; page 53660). All species were quantitatively analyzed in the Navy Acoustic Effects Model (NAEMO; see Chapter 6.4 of the application for additional information on the modeling process). After completing the modeling simulations, seven species (each with a single stock) are estimated to potentially be taken by harassment as defined by the MMPA, as it applies to military readiness, during the proposed Civilian Port Defense activities due to use of active sonar sources. Based on a variety of factors, including source characterization, species presence, species hearing range, duration of exposure, and impact thresholds for species that may be present, the remainder of the species were not quantitatively predicted to be exposed to or affected by active acoustic transmissions related to the proposed activities that would result in harassment under the MMPA and, therefore, are not discussed further. Other potential stressors related to the proposed Civilian Port Defense activities (e.g., vessel movement/noise, in water device use) would not result in disruption or alteration of breeding, feeding, or nursing patterns that that would rise to a level of significance under the MMPA. The seven species with the potential to be taken by harassment during the proposed training activities were presented in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; page 53660).

    The proposed IHA and the Navy's application include a complete description of information on the status, distribution, abundance, vocalizations, density estimates, and general biology of marine mammal species in the Study Area. In addition, NMFS publishes annual stock assessment reports for marine mammals, including some stocks that occur within the Study Area (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals).

    Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    We provided a detailed discussion of the potential effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat in the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53663-53674). Please see that document for more information.

    Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(A) and (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 adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.” NMFS' duty under this “least practicable adverse impact” standard is to prescribe mitigation reasonably designed to minimize, to the extent practicable, any adverse population-level impacts, as well as habitat impacts. While population-level impacts can be minimized by reducing impacts on individual marine mammals, not all takes translate to population-level impacts. NMFS' primary objective under the “least practicable adverse impact” standard is to design mitigation targeting those impacts on individual marine mammals that are most likely to lead to adverse population-level effects.

    The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-readiness activities and the ITA process such that “least practicable adverse impact” shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the “military readiness activity.” The training activities described in the Navy's application are considered military readiness activities.

    NMFS reviewed the proposed activities and the suite of mitigation measures as described in the application to determine if they would result in the least practicable adverse effect on marine mammals, which includes a careful balancing of the likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the “military-readiness activity.” NMFS described the Navy's proposed mitigation measures in detail in the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53674-53675), and they have not changed. NMFS worked with the Navy to develop these proposed measures, and they are informed by years of experience and monitoring.

    The Navy's proposed mitigation measures are modifications to the proposed activities that are implemented for the sole purpose of reducing a specific potential environmental impact on a particular resource. These do not include standard operating procedures, which are established for reasons other than environmental benefit. Most of the following mitigation measures are currently, or were previously, implemented as a result of past environmental compliance documents. The Navy's overall approach to assessing potential mitigation measures is based on two principles: (1) Mitigation measures will be effective at reducing potential impacts on the resource, and (2) from a military perspective, the mitigation measures are practicable, executable, and safety and readiness will not be impacted.

    The mitigation measures applicable to the proposed Civilian Port Defense training activities are the same as those identified in the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (MITT EIS/OEIS), Chapter 5. All mitigation measures which could be applicable to the proposed activities are provided below. For the mitigation measures described below, the Lookout Procedures and Mitigation Zone Procedure sections from the MITT EIS/OEIS have been combined. For details regarding the methodology for analyzing each measure, see the MITT EIS/OEIS, Chapter 5.

    Lookout Procedure Measures

    The Navy will have two types of lookouts for the purposes of conducting visual observations: (1) Those positioned on surface ships, and (2) those positioned in aircraft or on boats. Lookouts positioned on surface ships will be dedicated solely to diligent observation of the air and surface of the water. They will have multiple observation objectives, which include but are not limited to detecting the presence of biological resources and recreational or fishing boats, observing mitigation zones, and monitoring for vessel and personnel safety concerns. Lookouts positioned on surface ships will typically be personnel already standing watch or existing members of the bridge watch team who become temporarily relieved of job responsibilities that would divert their attention from observing the air or surface of the water (such as navigation of a vessel).

    Due to aircraft and boat manning and space restrictions, Lookouts positioned in aircraft or on boats will consist of the aircraft crew, pilot, or boat crew. Lookouts positioned in aircraft and boats may necessarily be responsible for tasks in addition to observing the air or surface of the water (for example, navigation of a helicopter or rigid hull inflatable boat). However, aircraft and boat lookouts will, to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with aircraft and boat safety and training requirements, comply with the observation objectives described above for Lookouts positioned on surface ships.

    Mitigation Measures High-Frequency Active Sonar

    The Navy will have one Lookout on ships or aircraft conducting high-frequency active sonar (HFAS) activities associated with mine warfare activities at sea.

    Mitigation will include visual observation from a vessel or aircraft (with the exception of platforms operating at high altitudes) immediately before and during active transmission within a mitigation zone of 200 yards (yds. [183 m]) from the active sonar source. Active transmission will cease if a marine mammal is sighted within the mitigation zone. Active transmission will recommence if any one of the following conditions is met: (1) The animal is observed exiting the mitigation zone, (2) the animal is thought to have exited the mitigation zone based on a determination of its course and speed and the relative motion between the animal and the source, (3) the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 10 minutes for an aircraft-deployed source, (4) the mitigation zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 30 minutes for a vessel-deployed source, (5) the vessel or aircraft has repositioned itself more than 400 yds (366 m) away from the location of the last sighting, or (6) the vessel concludes that dolphins are deliberately closing in to ride the vessel's bow wave (and there are no other marine mammal sightings within the mitigation zone).

    Physical Disturbance and Strike

    Although the Navy does not anticipate that any marine mammals would be struck during the conduct of Civilian Port Defense training activities, the mitigation measures below will be implemented and adhered to.

    Vessels—While underway, vessels will have a minimum of one Lookout. Vessels will avoid approaching marine mammals head on and will maneuver to maintain a mitigation zone of 500 yds (457 m) around observed whales, and 200 yds (183 m) around all other marine mammals (except bow riding dolphins), providing it is safe to do so.

    Towed In-Water Devices—The Navy will have one Lookout during activities using towed in-water devices when towed from a manned platform.

    The Navy will ensure that towed in-water devices being towed from manned platforms avoid coming within a mitigation zone of 250 yds (229 m) around any observed marine mammal, providing it is safe to do so.

    Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated the Navy's proposed mitigation measures—many of which were developed with NMFS' input during previous Navy Training and Testing authorizations—and considered a range of other measures in the context of ensuring that NMFS prescribes the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another: The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the mitigation measures is expected to reduce the likelihood and/or magnitude of adverse impacts to marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat; the proven or likely efficacy of the measures; and the practicability of the suite of measures for applicant implementation, including consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to accomplishing one or more of the general goals listed below:

    a. Avoid or minimize injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals b, c, and d may contribute to this goal).

    b. Reduce the number of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to received levels of mid-frequency active sonar/high-frequency active sonar (MFAS/HFAS), underwater detonations, or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    c. Reduce the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to received levels of MFAS/HFAS, underwater detonations, or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    d. Reduce the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to received levels of MFAS/HFAS, underwater detonations, or other activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

    e. Avoid or minimize adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time.

    f. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—increase the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation (shut-down zone, etc.).

    Based on our evaluation of the Navy's proposed measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, NMFS has determined that the Navy's proposed mitigation measures are adequate means of effecting the least practicable adverse impacts on marine mammals species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, while also considering personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

    The proposed IHA comment period provided the public an opportunity to submit recommendations, views, and/or concerns regarding this action and the proposed mitigation measures. NMFS did not receive any public comments on the proposed mitigation measures.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    Section 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA states that in order to issue an ITA for an activity, NMFS must set forth “requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.” The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for ITAs must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present. NMFS described the Navy's proposed Monitoring and Reporting in the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53675-53677), and they have not changed.

    Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program

    The U.S. Navy has coordinated with NMFS to develop an overarching program plan in which specific monitoring would occur. This plan is called the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program (ICMP) (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2011). The ICMP has been developed in direct response to Navy permitting requirements established in various MMPA Final Rules, Endangered Species Act consultations, Biological Opinions, and applicable regulations. As a framework document, the ICMP applies by regulation to those activities on ranges and operating areas for which the Navy is seeking or has sought incidental take authorizations. The ICMP is intended to coordinate monitoring efforts across all regions and to allocate the most appropriate level and type of effort based on set of standardized research goals, and in acknowledgement of regional scientific value and resource availability.

    The ICMP is designed to be a flexible, scalable, and adjustable plan. The ICMP is evaluated annually through the adaptive management process to assess progress, provide a matrix of goals for the following year, and make recommendations for refinement. Future monitoring will address the following ICMP top-level goals through a series of regional and ocean basin study questions with a priority study and funding focus on species of interest as identified for each range complex.

    • An increase in our understanding of the likely occurrence of marine mammals and/or ESA-listed marine species in the vicinity of the action (i.e., presence, abundance, distribution, and/or density of species);

    • An increase in our understanding of the nature, scope, or context of the likely exposure of marine mammals and/or ESA-listed species to any of the potential stressor(s) associated with the action (e.g., tonal and impulsive sound), through better understanding of one or more of the following: (1) The action and the environment in which it occurs (e.g., sound source characterization, propagation, and ambient noise levels); (2) the affected species (e.g., life history or dive patterns); (3) the likely co-occurrence of marine mammals and/or ESA-listed marine species with the action (in whole or part) associated with specific adverse effects, and/or; (4) the likely biological or behavioral context of exposure to the stressor for the marine mammal and/or ESA-listed marine species (e.g., age class of exposed animals or known pupping, calving or feeding areas);

    • An increase in our understanding of how individual marine mammals or ESA-listed marine species respond (behaviorally or physiologically) to the specific stressors associated with the action (in specific contexts, where possible, e.g., at what distance or received level);

    • An increase in our understanding of how anticipated individual responses, to individual stressors or anticipated combinations of stressors, may impact either: (1) The long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) the population, species, or stock (e.g., through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival);

    • An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of mitigation and monitoring measures;

    • A better understanding and record of the manner in which the authorized entity complies with the ITA and Incidental Take Statement;

    • An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals (through improved technology or methods), both specifically within the safety zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and in general, to better achieve the above goals; and

    • A reduction in the adverse impact of activities to the least practicable level, as defined in the MMPA.

    The ICMP will also address relative investments to different range complexes based on goals across all range complexes, and monitoring will leverage multiple techniques for data acquisition and analysis whenever possible. Because the ICMP does not specify actual monitoring field work or projects in a given area, it allows the Navy to coordinate its monitoring to gather the best scientific data possible across all areas in which the Navy operates. The Navy continually improves the level of marine mammal scientific information in support of ongoing environmental documentation or permit compliance. Numerous Navy monitoring projects associated with the Southern California Range Complex are ongoing (details are available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/permits/hstt_monitoring.pdf and http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/), and data from those region-specific-species-specific monitoring efforts will continue to inform our knowledge of marine mammals resources in Southern California. Details of the ICMP are available online (http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/).

    Strategic Planning Process for Marine Species Monitoring

    The Navy also developed the Strategic Planning Process for Marine Species Monitoring, which establishes the guidelines and processes necessary to develop, evaluate, and fund individual projects based on objective scientific study questions. The process uses an underlying framework designed around top-level goals, a conceptual framework incorporating a progression of knowledge, and in consultation with a Scientific Advisory Group and other regional experts. The Strategic Planning Process for Marine Species Monitoring would be used to set intermediate scientific objectives, identify potential species of interest at a regional scale, and evaluate and select specific monitoring projects to fund or continue supporting for a given fiscal year. This process would also address relative investments to different range complexes based on goals across all range complexes, and monitoring would leverage multiple techniques for data acquisition and analysis whenever possible. The Strategic PlanningProcess for Marine Species Monitoringis also available online (http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us/).

    Reporting

    Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring. Reports from individual monitoring events, results of analyses, publications, and periodic progress reports for specific monitoring projects would be posted to the Navy's Marine Species Monitoring Web portal: http://www.navymarinespeciesmonitoring.us.

    General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals—If any injury or death of a marine mammal is observed during the Civilian Port Defense training activities, the Navy will immediately halt the activity and report the incident to NMFS following the standard monitoring and reporting measures consistent with the MITT EIS/OEIS and Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS. The reporting measures include the following procedures:

    Navy personnel shall ensure that NMFS (regional stranding coordinator) is notified immediately (or as soon as clearance procedures allow) if an injured or dead marine mammal is found during or shortly after, and in the vicinity of, any Navy training activity utilizing high-frequency active sonar. The Navy shall provide NMFS with species or description of the animal(s), the condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead), location, time of first discovery, observed behaviors (if alive), and photo or video (if available). The Navy shall consult the Stranding Response and Communication Plan to obtain more specific reporting requirements for specific circumstances.

    Vessel Strike—Vessel strike during Navy Civilian Port Defense activities in the Study Area is not anticipated; however, in the event that a Navy vessel strikes a whale, the Navy shall do the following:

    Immediately report to NMFS (pursuant to the established Communication Protocol) the:

    • Species identification (if known);

    • Location (latitude/longitude) of the animal (or location of the strike if the animal has disappeared);

    • Whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown); and

    • The time of the strike.

    As soon as feasible, the Navy shall report to or provide to NMFS, the:

    • Size, length, and description (critical if species is not known) of animal;

    • An estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, injured but alive, injured and moving, blood or tissue observed in the water, status unknown, disappeared, etc.);

    • Description of the behavior of the whale during event, immediately after the strike, and following the strike (until the report is made or the animal is no longer sighted);

    • Vessel class/type and operational status;

    • Vessel length;

    • Vessel speed and heading; and

    • To the best extent possible, obtain a photo or video of the struck animal, if the animal is still in view.

    Within 2 weeks of the strike, provide NMFS:

    • A detailed description of the specific actions of the vessel in the 30-minute timeframe immediately preceding the strike, during the event, and immediately after the strike (e.g., the speed and changes in speed, the direction and changes in direction, other maneuvers, sonar use, etc., if not classified);

    • A narrative description of marine mammal sightings during the event and immediately after, and any information as to sightings prior to the strike, if available; and use established Navy shipboard procedures to make a camera available to attempt to capture photographs following a ship strike.

    NMFS and the Navy will coordinate to determine the services the Navy may provide to assist NMFS with the investigation of the strike. The response and support activities to be provided by the Navy are dependent on resource availability, must be consistent with military security, and must be logistically feasible without compromising Navy personnel safety. Assistance requested and provided may vary based on distance of strike from shore, the nature of the vessel that hit the whale, available nearby Navy resources, operational and installation commitments, or other factors.

    Comments

    A notice of the proposed IHA and request for public comments was published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2015 (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS only received one comment from the Marine Mammal Commission, who concurred with our preliminary determination and recommended that NMFS issue the IHA, subject to inclusion of the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures.

    Estimated Take

    In the Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals section of the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53663-53672), NMFS' analysis identified the lethal responses, physical trauma, sensory impairment (PTS, TTS, and acoustic masking), physiological responses (particular stress responses), and behavioral responses that could potentially result from exposure to active sonar. In the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section of the notice of the proposed IHA, NMFS described the potential effects to marine mammals from active sonar in relation to the MMPA regulatory definitions of Level A and Level B harassment (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53677-53678). That information has not changed and is not repeated here.

    As mentioned previously, behavioral responses are context-dependent, complex, and influenced to varying degrees by a number of factors other than just received level. For example, an animal may respond differently to a sound emanating from a ship that is moving towards the animal than it would to an identical received level coming from a vessel that is moving away, or to a ship traveling at a different speed or at a different distance from the animal. At greater distances, though, the nature of vessel movements could also potentially not have any effect on the animal's response to the sound. In any case, a full description of the suite of factors that elicited a behavioral response would require a mention of the vicinity, speed and movement of the vessel, or other factors. So, while sound sources and the received levels are the primary focus of the analysis, it is with the understanding that other factors related to the training are sometimes contributing to the behavioral responses of marine mammals, although they cannot be quantified.

    Criteria and thresholds used for determining the potential effects from the Civilian Port Defense activities are consistent with those used in the Navy's Phase II Training and Testing EISs (e.g., HSTT, MITT). The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section of the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; page 53678, see Table 3 for Injury [PTS] and disturbance [TTS, Behavioral] thresholds and weighting criteria) provides the criteria and thresholds used in the analysis for estimating quantitative acoustic exposures of marine mammals from the proposed training activities. Southall et al. (2007) proposed frequency-weighting to account for the frequency bandwidth of hearing in marine mammals. Frequency-weighting functions are used to adjust the received sound level based on the sensitivity of the animal to the frequency of the sound. Details regarding these criteria and thresholds can be found in Finneran and Jenkins (2012).

    As discussed earlier, factors other than received level (such as distance from or bearing to the sound source, context of animal at time of exposure) can affect the way that marine mammals respond; however, data to support a quantitative analysis of those (and other factors) do not currently exist. It is also worth specifically noting that while context is very important in marine mammal response, given otherwise equivalent context, the severity of a marine mammal behavioral response is also expected to increase with received level (Houser and Moore, 2014). NMFS will continue to modify these criteria as new data become available and can be appropriately and effectively incorporated.

    Incidental Take Request

    The Navy's Final EA for 2015 West Coast Civilian Port Defense training activities analyzed the following stressors for potential impacts to marine mammals:

    • Acoustic (sonar sources, vessel noise, aircraft noise) • Energy (electromagnetic devices and lasers) • Physical disturbance and strikes (vessels, in-water devices, seafloor objects)

    NMFS and the Navy determined the only stressor that could potentially result in the incidental taking of marine mammals per the definition of MMPA harassment from the Civilian Port Defense activities within the Study Area is from acoustic transmissions related to high-frequency sonar.

    The methods of incidental take associated with the acoustic transmissions from the proposed Civilian Port Defense are described within Chapter 2 of the application. Acoustic transmissions have the potential to temporarily disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, only underwater active transmissions may result in the “take” in the form of Level B harassment.

    Level A harassment and mortality are not anticipated to result from any of the proposed Civilian Port Defense activities. Furthermore, Navy mitigation and monitoring measures will be implemented to further minimize the potential for Level B takes of marine mammals.

    A detailed analysis of effects due to marine mammal exposures to non-impulsive sources (i.e., active sonar) in the Study Area is presented in Chapter 6 of the application and in the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section of the notice of the proposed IHA (80 FR 53658; September 4, 2015; pages 53677-53680). Based on the quantitative acoustic modeling and analysis described in Chapter 6 of the application and in the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section of the notice of the proposed IHA, Table 1 summarizes the Navy's final take request for the 2015 Civilian Port Defense training activities.

    Table 1—Total Number of Exposures Modeled and Requested per Species for Civilian Port Defense Training Activities Common name Level B takes
  • requested
  • Percentage of stock
  • taken (%)
  • Long-beaked common dolphin 8 0.007 Short-beaked common dolphin 727 0.177 Risso's dolphin 21 0.330 Pacific white-sided dolphin 40 0.149 Bottlenose dolphin coastal 48 14.985 Harbor seal 8 0.026 California sea lion 46 0.015 Total 898
    Analysis and Negligible Impact Determination

    Negligible impact is “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” (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination, as the severity of harassment may vary greatly depending on the context and duration of the behavioral response, many of which would not be expected to have deleterious impacts on the fitness of any individuals. In determining whether the expected takes will have a negligible impact, in addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken”, NMFS must consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature (e.g., severity) of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and the status of the species.

    To avoid repetition, we provide some general analysis immediately below that applies to all the species listed in Table 1, given that some of the anticipated effects (or lack thereof) of the Navy's training activities on marine mammals are expected to be relatively similar in nature. However, below that, we break our analysis into species or groups to provide more specific information related to the anticipated effects on individuals or where there is information about the status or structure of any species that would lead to a differing assessment of the effects on the population.

    Behavioral Harassment

    As discussed previously in the notice of the proposed IHA, marine mammals can respond to MFAS/HFAS in many different ways, a subset of which qualifies as harassment (see Behavioral Harassment). One thing that the Level B harassment take estimates do not take into account is the fact that most marine mammals will likely avoid strong sound sources to one extent or another. Although an animal that avoids the sound source will likely still be taken in some instances (such as if the avoidance results in a missed opportunity to feed, interruption of reproductive behaviors, etc.), in other cases avoidance may result in fewer instances of take than were estimated or in the takes resulting from exposure to a lower received level than was estimated, which could result in a less severe response. An animal's exposure to a higher received level is more likely to result in a behavioral response that is more likely to adversely affect the health of the animal.

    Specifically, given a range of behavioral responses that may be classified as Level B harassment, to the degree that higher received levels are expected to result in more severe behavioral responses, only a small percentage of the anticipated Level B harassment from Navy activities might necessarily be expected to potentially result in more severe responses, especially when the distance from the source at which the levels below are received is considered. Marine mammals are able to discern the distance of a given sound source, and given other equal factors (including received level), they have been reported to respond more to sounds that are closer (DeRuiter et al., 2013). Further, the estimated number of responses do not reflect either the duration or context of those anticipated responses, some of which will be of very short duration, and other factors should be considered when predicting how the estimated takes may affect individual fitness.

    Although the Navy has been monitoring the effects of MFAS/HFAS on marine mammals since 2006, and research on the effects of active sonar is advancing, our understanding of exactly how marine mammals in the Study Area will respond to active sonar is still growing. The Navy has submitted reports from more than 60 major exercises across Navy range complexes that indicate no behavioral disturbance was observed. One cannot conclude from these results that marine mammals were not harassed from MFAS/HFAS, as a portion of animals within the area of concern were not seen, the full series of behaviors that would more accurately show an important change is not typically seen (i.e., only the surface behaviors are observed), and some of the non-biologist watchstanders might not be well-qualified to characterize behaviors. However, one can say that the animals that were observed did not respond in any of the obviously more severe ways, such as panic, aggression, or anti-predator response.

    Diel Cycle

    As noted previously, many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing on a diel cycle (24-hour cycle). Behavioral reactions to noise exposure (when taking place in a biologically important context, such as disruption of critical life functions, displacement, or avoidance of important habitat) are more likely to be significant if they last more than one diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). Consequently, a behavioral response lasting less than one day and not recurring on subsequent days is not considered severe unless it could directly affect reproduction or survival (Southall et al., 2007). Note that there is a difference between multiple-day substantive behavioral reactions and multiple-day anthropogenic activities. For example, just because at-sea exercises last for multiple days does not necessarily mean that individual animals are either exposed to those exercises for multiple days or, further, exposed in a manner resulting in a sustained multiple day substantive behavioral response. Additionally, the Navy does not necessarily operate active sonar the entire time during an exercise. While it is certainly possible that these sorts of exercises could overlap with individual marine mammals multiple days in a row at levels above those anticipated to result in a take, because of the factors mentioned above, it is considered not to be likely for the majority of takes, does not mean that a behavioral response is necessarily sustained for multiple days, and still necessitates the consideration of likely duration and context to assess any effects on the individual's fitness.

    TTS

    As mentioned previously, TTS can last from a few minutes to days, be of varying degree, and occur across various frequency bandwidths, all of which determine the severity of the impacts on the affected individual, which can range from minor to more severe. The TTS sustained by an animal is primarily classified by three characteristics:

    1. Frequency—Available data (of mid-frequency hearing specialists exposed to mid- or high-frequency sounds; Southall et al., 2007) suggest that most TTS occurs in the frequency range of the source up to one octave higher than the source (with the maximum TTS at 1/2 octave above). The more powerful MF sources used have center frequencies between 3.5 and 8 kHz and the other unidentified MF sources are, by definition, less than 10 kHz, which suggests that TTS induced by any of these MF sources would be in a frequency band somewhere between approximately 2 and 20 kHz. There are fewer hours of HF source use and the sounds would attenuate more quickly, plus they have lower source levels, but if an animal were to incur TTS from these sources, it would cover a higher frequency range (sources are between 20 and 100 kHz, which means that TTS could range up to 200 kHz; however, HF systems are typically used less frequently and for shorter time periods than surface ship and aircraft MF systems, so TTS from these sources is even less likely).

    2. Degree of the shift (i.e., by how many dB the sensitivity of the hearing is reduced)—Generally, both the degree of TTS and the duration of TTS will be greater if the marine mammal is exposed to a higher level of energy (which would occur when the peak dB level is higher or the duration is longer). The threshold for the onset of TTS was discussed previously in this document. An animal would have to approach closer to the source or remain in the vicinity of the sound source appreciably longer to increase the received SEL, which would be difficult considering the Lookouts and the nominal speed of an active sonar vessel (10-15 knots). In the TTS studies, some using exposures of almost an hour in duration or up to 217 SEL, most of the TTS induced was 15 dB or less, though Finneran et al. (2007) induced 43 dB of TTS with a 64-second exposure to a 20 kHz source. However, MFAS/HFAS emits a nominal ping every 50 seconds, and incurring those levels of TTS is highly unlikely.

    3. Duration of TTS (recovery time)—In the TTS laboratory studies, some using exposures of almost an hour in duration or up to 217 SEL, almost all individuals recovered within 1 day (or less, often in minutes), although in one study (Finneran et al., 2007), recovery took 4 days.

    Based on the range of degree and duration of TTS reportedly induced by exposures to non-pulse sounds of energy higher than that to which free-swimming marine mammals in the field are likely to be exposed during MFAS/HFAS training exercises in the Study Area, it is unlikely that marine mammals would ever sustain a TTS from active sonar that alters their sensitivity by more than 20 dB for more than a few days (and any incident of TTS would likely be far less severe due to the short duration of the majority of the exercises and the speed of a typical vessel). Also, for the same reasons discussed in the Diel Cycle section, and because of the short distance within which animals would need to approach the sound source, it is unlikely that animals would be exposed to the levels necessary to induce TTS in subsequent time periods such that their recovery is impeded. Additionally, though the frequency range of TTS that marine mammals might sustain would overlap with some of the frequency ranges of their vocalization types, the frequency range of TTS from MFAS/HFAS (the source from which TTS would most likely be sustained because the higher source level and slower attenuation make it more likely that an animal would be exposed to a higher received level) would not usually span the entire frequency range of one vocalization type, much less span all types of vocalizations or other critical auditory cues. If impaired, marine mammals would typically be aware of their impairment and are sometimes able to implement behaviors to compensate (see Acoustic Masking or Communication Impairment section), though these compensations may incur energetic costs.

    Acoustic Masking or Communication Impairment

    Masking only occurs during the time of the signal (and potential secondary arrivals of indirect rays), versus TTS, which continues beyond the duration of the signal. Standard MFAS/HFAS nominally pings every 50 seconds for hull-mounted sources. For the sources for which we know the pulse length, most are significantly shorter than hull-mounted active sonar, on the order of several microseconds to tens of microseconds. For hull-mounted active sonar, though some of the vocalizations that marine mammals make are less than one second long, there is only a 1 in 50 chance that they would occur exactly when the ping was received, and when vocalizations are longer than one second, only parts of them are masked. Alternately, when the pulses are only several microseconds long, the majority of most animals' vocalizations would not be masked. Masking effects from MFAS/HFAS are expected to be minimal. If masking or communication impairment were to occur briefly, it would be in the frequency range of MFAS/HFAS, which overlaps with some marine mammal vocalizations; however, it would likely not mask the entirety of any particular vocalization, communication series, or other critical auditory cue, because the signal length, frequency, and duty cycle of the MFAS/HFAS signal does not perfectly mimic the characteristics of any marine mammal's vocalizations.

    Species and Group-Specific Analysis

    Long-Beaked Common Dolphin—Long-beaked common dolphins that may be found in the Study Area belong to the California stock (Carretta et al., 2014). The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 8 instances of Level B harassment of long-beaked common dolphin may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of behavioral reactions (3) and TTS (5) and no injurious takes of long-beaked common dolphin are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, less than 0.01 percent of the California stock of long-beaked common dolphin would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Behavioral reactions of marine mammals to sound are known to occur but are difficult to predict. Recent behavioral studies indicate that reactions to sounds, if any, are highly contextual and vary between species and individuals within a species (Moretti et al., 2010; Southall et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2010; Tyack, 2009; Tyack et al., 2011). Behavioral responses can range from alerting, to changing their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound source by swimming away or diving (Richardson, 1995; Nowacek, 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Finneran and Jenkins, 2012). Long-beaked common dolphins generally travel in large pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement mitigation measures and reduce potential impacts. Many of the recorded long-beaked common dolphin vocalizations overlap with the MFAS/HFAS TTS frequency range (2-20 kHz) (Moore and Ridgway, 1995; Ketten, 1998); however, NMFS does not anticipate TTS of a serious degree or extended duration to occur as a result of exposure to MFAS/HFAS. Recovery from a threshold shift (TTS) can take a few minutes to a few days, depending on the exposure duration, sound exposure level, and the magnitude of the initial shift, with larger threshold shifts and longer exposure durations requiring longer recovery times (Finneran et al., 2005; Mooney et al., 2009a; Mooney et al., 2009b; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010). Large threshold shifts are not anticipated for these activities because of the unlikelihood that animals will remain within the ensonified area at high levels for the duration necessary to induce larger threshold shifts. Threshold shifts do not necessarily affect all hearing frequencies equally, so some threshold shifts may not interfere with an animal's hearing of biologically relevant sounds.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in long-beaked common dolphins are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for long-beaked common dolphin. No evidence suggests any major reproductive differences in comparison to short-beaked common dolphins (Reeves et al., 2002). Short-beaked common dolphin gestation is approximately 11 to 11.5 months in duration (Danil, 2004; Murphy and Rogan, 2006) with most calves born from May to September (Murphy and Rogan, 2006). Therefore, calving would not occur during the Civilian Port Defense training timeframe. The California stock of long-beaked common dolphin is not depleted under the MMPA. Although there is no formal statistical trend analysis, over the last 30 years sighting and stranding data shows an increasing trend of long-beaked common dolphins in California waters (Carretta et al., 2014). Consequently, the activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of long-beaked common dolphin.

    Short-Beaked Common Dolphin—Short-beaked common dolphins that may be found in the Study Area belong to the California/Washington/Oregon stock (Carretta et al., 2014). The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 727 instances of Level B harassment of short-beaked common dolphin may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of behavioral reactions (422) and TTS (305) and no injurious takes of short-beaked common dolphin are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, less than 0.18 percent of the California/Washington/Oregon stock of short-beaked common dolphin would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Behavioral reactions of marine mammals to sound are known to occur but are difficult to predict. Recent behavioral studies indicate that reactions to sounds, if any, are highly contextual and vary between species and individuals within a species (Moretti et al., 2010; Southall et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2010; Tyack, 2009; Tyack et al., 2011). Behavioral responses can range from alerting, to changing their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound source by swimming away or diving (Richardson, 1995; Nowacek, 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Finneran and Jenkins, 2012). Short-beaked common dolphins generally travel in large pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement mitigation measures and reduce potential impacts. Many of the recorded short-beaked common dolphin vocalizations overlap with the MFAS/HFAS TTS frequency range (2-20 kHz) (Moore and Ridgway, 1995; Ketten, 1998); however, NMFS does not anticipate TTS of a serious degree or extended duration to occur as a result of exposure to MFAS/HFAS. Recovery from a threshold shift (TTS) can take a few minutes to a few days, depending on the exposure duration, sound exposure level, and the magnitude of the initial shift, with larger threshold shifts and longer exposure durations requiring longer recovery times (Finneran et al., 2005; Mooney et al., 2009a; Mooney et al., 2009b; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010). Large threshold shifts are not anticipated for these activities because of the unlikelihood that animals will remain within the ensonified area at high levels for the duration necessary to induce larger threshold shifts. Threshold shifts do not necessarily affect all hearing frequencies equally, so some threshold shifts may not interfere with an animal's hearing of biologically relevant sounds.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in short-beaked common dolphins are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for long-beaked common dolphin. Short-beaked common dolphin gestation is approximately 11 to 11.5 months in duration (Danil, 2004; Murphy and Rogan, 2006) with most calves born from May to September (Murphy and Rogan, 2006). Therefore, calving would not occur during the Civilian Port Defense training timeframe. The California/Washington/Oregon stock of short-beaked common dolphin is not depleted under the MMPA. Abundance off California has increased dramatically since the late 1970s, along with a smaller decrease in abundance in the eastern tropical Pacific, suggesting a large-scale northward shift in the distribution of this species in the eastern north Pacific (Forney and Barlow, 1998; Forney et al., 1995). Consequently, the activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of short-beaked common dolphin.

    Risso's Dolphin—Risso's dolphins that may be found in the Study Area belong to the California/Washington/Oregon stock (Carretta et al., 2014). The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 21 instances of Level B harassment of Risso's dolphin may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of behavioral reactions (16) and TTS (5) and no injurious takes of Risso's dolphin are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, approximately 0.33 percent of the California/Washington/Oregon stock of Risso's dolphin would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Behavioral reactions of marine mammals to sound are known to occur but are difficult to predict. Recent behavioral studies indicate that reactions to sounds, if any, are highly contextual and vary between species and individuals within a species (Moretti et al., 2010; Southall et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2010; Tyack, 2009; Tyack et al., 2011). Behavioral responses can range from alerting, to changing their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound source by swimming away or diving (Richardson, 1995; Nowacek, 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Finneran and Jenkins, 2012). Risso's dolphins generally travel in large pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement mitigation measures and reduce potential impacts. Many of the recorded Risso's dolphin vocalizations overlap with the MFAS/HFAS TTS frequency range (2-20 kHz) (Corkeron and Van Parijs 2001); however, NMFS does not anticipate TTS of a serious degree or extended duration to occur as a result of exposure to MFAS/HFAS. Recovery from a threshold shift (TTS) can take a few minutes to a few days, depending on the exposure duration, sound exposure level, and the magnitude of the initial shift, with larger threshold shifts and longer exposure durations requiring longer recovery times (Finneran et al., 2005; Mooney et al., 2009a; Mooney et al., 2009b; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010). Large threshold shifts are not anticipated for these activities because of the unlikelihood that animals will remain within the ensonified area at high levels for the duration necessary to induce larger threshold shifts. Threshold shifts do not necessarily affect all hearing frequencies equally, so some threshold shifts may not interfere with an animal's hearing of biologically relevant sounds.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in Risso's dolphins are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for Risso's dolphin. The California/Washington/Oregon stock of Risso's dolphin is not depleted under the MMPA. The distribution of Risso's dolphins throughout the region is highly variable, apparently in response to oceanographic changes (Forney and Barlow, 1998). The status of Risso's dolphins off California, Oregon and Washington relative to optimum sustainable population is not known, and there are insufficient data to evaluate potential trends in abundance. However, Civilian Port Defense training activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of Risso's dolphin for the reasons stated above.

    Pacific White-Sided Dolphin—Pacific white-sided dolphins that may be found in the Study Area belong to the California/Washington/Oregon stock (Carretta et al., 2014). The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 40 instances of Level B harassment of Pacific white-sided dolphin may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of behavioral reactions (21) and TTS (19) and no injurious takes of Pacific white-sided dolphin are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, less than 0.15 percent of the California/Washington/Oregon stock of Pacific white-sided dolphin would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Behavioral reactions of marine mammals to sound are known to occur but are difficult to predict. Recent behavioral studies indicate that reactions to sounds, if any, are highly contextual and vary between species and individuals within a species (Moretti et al., 2010; Southall et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2010; Tyack, 2009; Tyack et al., 2011). Behavioral responses can range from alerting, to changing their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound source by swimming away or diving (Richardson, 1995; Nowacek, 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Finneran and Jenkins, 2012). Pacific white-sided dolphins generally travel in large pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement mitigation measures and reduce potential impacts. Many of the recorded Pacific white-sided dolphin vocalizations overlap with the MFAS/HFAS TTS frequency range (2-20 kHz); however, NMFS does not anticipate TTS of a serious degree or extended duration to occur as a result of exposure to MFAS/HFAS. Recovery from a threshold shift (TTS) can take a few minutes to a few days, depending on the exposure duration, sound exposure level, and the magnitude of the initial shift, with larger threshold shifts and longer exposure durations requiring longer recovery times (Finneran et al., 2005; Mooney et al., 2009a; Mooney et al., 2009b; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010). Large threshold shifts are not anticipated for these activities because of the unlikelihood that animals will remain within the ensonified area at high levels for the duration necessary to induce larger threshold shifts. Threshold shifts do not necessarily affect all hearing frequencies equally, so some threshold shifts may not interfere with an animal's hearing of biologically relevant sounds.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in Pacific white-sided dolphins are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for long-beaked common dolphin. Pacific white-sided dolphin calves are typically born in the summer months between April and early September (Black, 1994; NOAA, 2012; Reidenberg and Laitman, 2002). This species is predominantly located around the proposed Study Area in the colder winter months when neither mating nor calving is expected, as both occur off the coast of Oregon and Washington outside of the timeframe for the proposed activities. The California/Washington/Oregon stock of Pacific white-sided dolphin is not depleted under the MMPA. The stock is considered stable, with no indications of any positive or negative trends in abundance (NOAA, 2014). Consequently, the activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of Pacific white-sided dolphin.

    Bottlenose Dolphin—Bottlenose dolphins that may be found in the Study Area belong to the California Coastal stock (Carretta et al., 2014). The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 48 instances of Level B harassment of bottlenose dolphin may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of behavioral reactions (29) and TTS (19) and no injurious takes of bottlenose dolphin are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, less than 15 percent of the Coastal stock of bottlenose dolphin would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Behavioral reactions of marine mammals to sound are known to occur but are difficult to predict. Recent behavioral studies indicate that reactions to sounds, if any, are highly contextual and vary between species and individuals within a species (Moretti et al., 2010; Southall et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2010; Tyack, 2009; Tyack et al., 2011). Behavioral responses can range from alerting, to changing their behavior or vocalizations, to avoiding the sound source by swimming away or diving (Richardson, 1995; Nowacek, 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Finneran and Jenkins, 2012). Bottlenose dolphins generally travel in large pods and should be visible from a distance in order to implement mitigation measures and reduce potential impacts. Many of the recorded bottlenose dolphin vocalizations overlap with the MFAS/HFAS TTS frequency range (2-20 kHz); however, NMFS does not anticipate TTS of a serious degree or extended duration to occur as a result of exposure to MFAS/HFAS. Recovery from a threshold shift (TTS) can take a few minutes to a few days, depending on the exposure duration, sound exposure level, and the magnitude of the initial shift, with larger threshold shifts and longer exposure durations requiring longer recovery times (Finneran et al., 2005; Mooney et al., 2009a; Mooney et al., 2009b; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010). Large threshold shifts are not anticipated for these activities because of the unlikelihood that animals will remain within the ensonified area at high levels for the duration necessary to induce larger threshold shifts. Threshold shifts do not necessarily affect all hearing frequencies equally, so some threshold shifts may not interfere with an animal's hearing of biologically relevant sounds.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in bottlenose dolphins are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for bottlenose dolphin. The California/Washington/Oregon stock of bottlenose dolphin is not depleted under the MMPA. In a comparison of abundance estimates from 1987-89 (n = 354), 1996-98 (n = 356), and 2004-05 (n = 323), Dudzik et al. (2006) found that the population size has remained stable over this period of approximately 20 years. Consequently, the activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of bottlenose dolphin.

    Harbor Seal—Harbor seals that may be found in the Study Area belong to the California stock (Carretta et al., 2014). Harbor seals have not been observed on the mainland coast of Los Angeles, Orange, and northern San Diego Counties (Henkel and Harvey, 2008; Lowry et al., 2008). Thus, no harbor seal haul-outs are located within the proposed Study Area. The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 8 instances of Level B harassment of harbor seal may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of non-TTS behavioral reactions only and no injurious takes of harbor seal are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, less than 0.03 percent of the California stock of harbor seal would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Research and observations show that pinnipeds in the water may be tolerant of anthropogenic noise and activity (a review of behavioral reactions by pinnipeds to impulsive and non-impulsive noise can be found in Richardson et al., 1995 and Southall et al., 2007). Available data, though limited, suggest that exposures between approximately 90 and 140 dB SPL do not appear to induce strong behavioral responses in pinnipeds exposed to nonpulse sounds in water (Jacobs and Terhune, 2002; Costa et al., 2003; Kastelein et al., 2006c). Based on the limited data on pinnipeds in the water exposed to multiple pulses (small explosives, impact pile driving, and seismic sources), exposures in the approximately 150 to 180 dB SPL range generally have limited potential to induce avoidance behavior in pinnipeds (Harris et al., 2001; Blackwell et al., 2004; Miller et al., 2004). If pinnipeds are exposed to sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of ways depending on their experience with the sound source and what activity they are engaged in at the time of the acoustic exposure. Pinnipeds may not react at all until the sound source is approaching within a few hundred meters and then may alert, ignore the stimulus, change their behaviors, or avoid the immediate area by swimming away or diving. Effects on pinnipeds in the Study Area that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as Navy monitoring from past activities, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from those areas, or not respond at all. In areas of repeated and frequent acoustic disturbance, some animals may habituate or learn to tolerate the new baseline or fluctuations in noise level. Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). While some animals may not return to an area, or may begin using an area differently due to training activities, most animals are expected to return to their usual locations and behavior. Given their documented tolerance of anthropogenic sound (Richardson et al., 1995 and Southall et al., 2007), repeated exposures of harbor seals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt foraging behavior.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in harbor seals are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for harbor seal. In California, harbor seals breed from March to May and pupping occurs between April and May (Alden et al., 2002; Reeves et al., 2002), neither of which occur within the timeframe of the proposed activities. The California stock of harbor seal is not depleted under the MMPA. Counts of harbor seals in California increased from 1981 to 2004, although a review of harbor seal dynamics through 1991 concluded that their status could not be determined with certainty (Hanan, 1996). The population appears to be stabilizing at what may be its carrying capacity. Consequently, the activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of harbor seal.

    California Sea Lion—California sea lions that may be found in the Study Area belong to the U.S. stock (Carretta et al., 2014). The Navy's acoustic analysis (quantitative modeling) predicts that 46 instances of Level B harassment of California sea lion may occur from active sonar in the Study Area during Civilian Port Defense training activities. These Level B takes are anticipated to be in the form of non-TTS behavioral reactions only and no injurious takes of California sea lions are requested or proposed for authorization. Relative to population size, these activities are anticipated to result only in a limited number of level B harassment takes. When the numbers of behavioral takes are compared to the estimated stock abundance (stock abundance estimates are shown in Table 1 of the notice of the proposed IHA) and if one assumes that each take happens to a separate animal, less than 0.02 percent of the U.S. stock of California sea lions would be behaviorally harassed during proposed training activities.

    Research and observations show that pinnipeds in the water may be tolerant of anthropogenic noise and activity (a review of behavioral reactions by pinnipeds to impulsive and non-impulsive noise can be found in Richardson et al., 1995 and Southall et al., 2007). Available data, though limited, suggest that exposures between approximately 90 and 140 dB SPL do not appear to induce strong behavioral responses in pinnipeds exposed to nonpulse sounds in water (Jacobs and Terhune, 2002; Costa et al., 2003; Kastelein et al., 2006c). Based on the limited data on pinnipeds in the water exposed to multiple pulses (small explosives, impact pile driving, and seismic sources), exposures in the approximately 150 to 180 dB SPL range generally have limited potential to induce avoidance behavior in pinnipeds (Harris et al., 2001; Blackwell et al., 2004; Miller et al., 2004). If pinnipeds are exposed to sonar or other active acoustic sources they may react in a number of ways depending on their experience with the sound source and what activity they are engaged in at the time of the acoustic exposure. Pinnipeds may not react at all until the sound source is approaching within a few hundred meters and then may alert, ignore the stimulus, change their behaviors, or avoid the immediate area by swimming away or diving. Effects on pinnipeds in the Study Area that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as Navy monitoring from past activities will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from those areas, or not respond at all. In areas of repeated and frequent acoustic disturbance, some animals may habituate or learn to tolerate the new baseline or fluctuations in noise level. Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). While some animals may not return to an area, or may begin using an area differently due to training activities, most animals are expected to return to their usual locations and behavior. Given their documented tolerance of anthropogenic sound (Richardson et al., 1995 and Southall et al., 2007), repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt foraging behavior.

    Overall, the number of predicted behavioral reactions is low and temporary behavioral reactions in California sea lions are unlikely to cause long-term consequences for individual animals or the population. The Civilian Port Defense activities are not expected to occur in an area/time of specific importance for reproductive, feeding, or other known critical behaviors for California sea lions. It is likely that male California sea lions will be primarily outside of the Study Area during the timeframe of the proposed activities, but females may be present. Typically during the summer, California sea lions congregate near rookery islands and specific open-water areas. The primary rookeries off the coast of California are on San Nicolas, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, and San Clemente Islands (Boeuf and Bonnell, 1980; Carretta et al., 2000; Lowry et al., 1992; Lowry and Forney, 2005). In May or June, female sea lions give birth, either on land or in water. Adult males establish breeding territories, both on land and in water, from May to July. In addition to the rookery sites, Santa Catalina Island is a major haul-out site within the Southern California Bight (Boeuf, 2002). Thus, breeding and pupping take place outside of the timeframe and location of the proposed training activities. The U.S. stock of California sea lions is not depleted under the MMPA. A regression of the natural logarithm of the pup counts against year indicates that the counts of pups increased at an annual rate of 5.4 percent between 1975 and 2008 (when pup counts for El Niño years were removed from the 1975-2005 time series). These records of pup counts from 1975 to 2008 were compiled from Lowry and Maravilla-Chavez (2005) and unpublished NMFS data. Consequently, the activities are not expected to adversely impact annual rates of recruitment or survival of California sea lion.

    Final Determination

    Overall, the conclusions and predicted exposures in this analysis find that overall impacts on marine mammal species and stocks would be negligible for the following reasons:

    • All estimated acoustic harassments for the proposed Civilian Port Defense training activities are within the non-injurious temporary threshold shift (TTS) or behavioral effects zones (Level B harassment), and these harassments (take numbers) represent only a small percentage (less than 15 percent of bottlenose dolphin coastal stock; less than 0.5 percent for all other species) of the respective stock abundance for each species taken.

    • Marine mammal densities inputted into the acoustic effects model are overly conservative, particularly when considering species where data is limited in portions of the proposed Study Area and seasonal migrations extend throughout the Study Area.

    • The protective measures described in Mitigation are designed to reduce sound exposure on marine mammals to levels below those that may cause physiological effects (injury).

    • Animals exposed to acoustics from this two-week event are habituated to a bustling industrial port environment.

    This final IHA assumes that short-term non-injurious SELs predicted to cause onset-TTS or predicted SPLs predicted to cause temporary behavioral disruptions (non-TTS) qualify as Level B harassment. This approach predominately overestimates disturbances from acoustic transmissions as qualifying as harassment under MMPA's definition for military readiness activities because there is no established scientific correlation between short term sonar use and long term abandonment or significant alteration of behavioral patterns in marine mammals.

    Consideration of negligible impact is required for NMFS to authorize incidental take of marine mammals. By definition, an activity has a “negligible impact” on a species or stock when it is determined that the total taking is not likely to reduce annual rates of adult survival or recruitment (i.e., offspring survival, birth rates).

    Behavioral reactions of marine mammals to sound are known to occur but are difficult to predict. Recent behavioral studies indicate that reactions to sounds, if any, are highly contextual and vary between species and individuals within a species (Moretti et al., 2010; Southall et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2010; Tyack, 2009; Tyack et al., 2011). Depending on the context, marine mammals often change their activity when exposed to disruptive levels of sound. When sound becomes potentially disruptive, cetaceans at rest become active, feeding or socializing cetaceans or pinnipeds often interrupt these events by diving or swimming away. If the sound disturbance occurs around a haul out site, pinnipeds may move back and forth between water and land or eventually abandon the haul out. When attempting to understand behavioral disruption by anthropogenic sound, a key question to ask is whether the exposures have biologically significant consequences for the individual or population (National Research Council of the National Academies, 2005).

    If a marine mammal does react to an underwater sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts of the change may not be detrimental to the individual. For example, researchers have found during a study focusing on dolphins response to whale watching vessels in New Zealand, that when animals can cope with constraint and easily feed or move elsewhere, there's little effect on survival (Lusseau and Bejder, 2007). On the other hand, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period and they do not have an alternate equally desirable area, impacts on the marine mammal could be negative because the disruption has biological consequences. Biological parameters or key elements having greatest importance to a marine mammal relate to its ability to mature, reproduce, and survive. For example, some elements that should be considered include the following:

    • Growth: adverse effects on ability to feed;

    • Reproduction: the range at which reproductive displays can be heard and the quality of mating/calving grounds; and

    • Survival: sound exposure may directly affect survival, for example where sources of a certain type are deployed in a manner that could lead to a stranding response.

    The importance of the disruption and degree of consequence for individual marine mammals often has much to do with the frequency, intensity, and duration of the disturbance. Isolated acoustic disturbances such as acoustic transmissions usually have minimal consequences or no lasting effects for marine mammals. Marine mammals regularly cope with occasional disruption of their activities by predators, adverse weather, and other natural phenomena. It is also reasonable to assume that they can tolerate occasional or brief disturbances by anthropogenic sound without significant consequences.

    The exposure estimates calculated by predictive models currently available reliably predict propagation of sound and received levels and measure a short-term, immediate response of an individual using applicable criteria. Consequences to populations are much more difficult to predict and empirical measurement of population effects from anthropogenic stressors is limited (National Research Council of the National Academies, 2005). To predict indirect, long-term, and cumulative effects, the processes must be well understood and the underlying data available for models. Based on each species' life history information, expected behavioral patterns in the Study Area, all of the modeled exposures resulting in temporary behavioral disturbance (Table 1), and the application of mitigation procedures proposed above, the proposed Civilian Port Defense activities are anticipated to have a negligible impact on marine mammal stocks within the Study Area.

    NMFS concludes that Civilian Port Defense training activities within the Study Area would result in Level B takes only, as summarized in Table 1. The effects of these military readiness activities will be limited to short-term, localized changes in behavior and possible temporary threshold shift in the hearing of marine mammal species. These effects are not likely to have a significant or long-term impact on feeding, breeding, or other important biological functions. No take by injury or mortality is anticipated, and the potential for permanent hearing impairment is unlikely. Based on best available science NMFS concludes that exposures to marine mammal species and stocks due to the proposed training activities would result in only short-term effects from those Level B takes to most individuals exposed and would likely not affect annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat and dependent upon the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS finds that the total taking from Civilian Port Defense training activities in the Study Area will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks.

    Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

    NEPA

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 United States Code 4321 et seq.), as implemented by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the Navy prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the direct, indirect and cumulative effects to the human environment resulting from all components of the proposed 2015 Civilian Port Defense training activities. Also in compliance with NEPA and the CEQ regulations, as well as NOAA Administrative Order 216-6, NMFS has reviewed the Navy's EA, determined it to be sufficient, and adopted that EA and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The Navy's EA and NMFS' FONSI for this action may be found on the internet at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/militay.htm.

    ESA

    No species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are expected to be affected by the proposed Civilian Port Defense training activities and no takes of any ESA-listed species are authorized under the MMPA. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a formal section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Perry F. Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26856 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB Review AGENCY:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (“PRA”), this notice announces that the Information Collection Request (“ICR”) abstracted below has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for review and comment. The ICR describes the nature of the information collection and its expected costs and burden.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments regarding the burden estimated or any other aspect of the information collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, may be submitted directly to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”) in OMB, within 30 days of the notice's publication, by email at [email protected] Please identify the comments by OMB Control No. 3038-0096. Please provide the Commission with a copy of all submitted comments at the address listed below. Please refer to OMB Reference No. 3038-0096, found on http://reginfo.gov. Comments may also be mailed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, and to the Commission through the Agency's Web site at http://comments.cftc.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments through the Web site.

    Comments may also be mailed to: Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581 or by Hand Delivery/Courier at the same address.

    A copy of the supporting statements for the collection of information discussed above may be obtained by visiting http://regInfo.gov. All comments must be submitted in English, or if not, accompanied by an English translation. Comments will be posted as received to http://www.cftc.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas Guerin, Division of Market Oversight, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, (202) 734-4194; email: [email protected] and refer to OMB Control No. 3038-0096.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The Federal Register notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on this collection of information was published on August 7, 2015 (80 FR 47477).

    Title: Swap Data Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements (OMB Control No. 3038-0096). This is a request for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: Section 727 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) specifically required that each swap subject to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's jurisdiction be reported to a newly-created registered entity, the swap data repository. Section 728 of the Dodd-Frank Act specifically required the Commission to establish standards for swap data recordkeeping and reporting, including the data elements to be collected and maintained by swap data repositories for each swap. Section 729 of the Dodd-Frank Act required that at least one counterparty to each swap have an obligation to report data concerning the swap and provided for data reporting to the Commission for swaps not accepted by a swap data repository. Pursuant to this mandate, the Commission adopted 17 CFR part 45 on December 20, 2011, to establish swap data recordkeeping and reporting requirements. This ICR concerns the collections of information required by 17 CFR part 45.

    The Commission estimated that approximately 30,210 entities would be affected by this ICR. That number was based on the current estimate of the total number of swap data repositories, swap execution facilities, designated contract markets, derivatives clearing organizations, swap dealers, major swap participants and other swap counterparties. The Commission did not receive any comments regarding the burden estimated or any other aspect of this ICR.

    Burden Statement: The total annual time burden for this ICR is estimated to be 445,910 hours. This estimate includes the time to comply with swap data recordkeeping and reporting requirements codified in 17 CFR part 45. Provisions of Commission Regulations §§ 45.2, 45.3, 45.4, 45.5, 45.6, 45.7, and 45.14 result in information collection requirements within the meaning of the PRA. To the extent that the recordkeeping and reporting requirements codified in 17 CFR part 45 overlap with the requirements of other rulemakings for which the Commission prepared and submitted an information collection burden estimate to OMB, the burden associated with the requirements are not being accounted for in this ICR to avoid unnecessary duplication of information collection burdens.

    Respondents/Affected Entities: Swap data repositories, swap execution facilities, designated contract markets, derivatives clearing organizations, swap dealers, major swap participants and other swap counterparties (i.e., non-swap dealer/non-major swap participant counterparties).

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 30,210.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 445,910 hours.

    Frequency of Collection: Ongoing.

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Dated: October 19, 2015 Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26833 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Proposed Changes in Levels of Service at Locks and Dams on the Ouachita and Black Rivers AGENCY:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    It is proposed that the hours of availability at Jonesville and Columbia Locks on the Ouachita and Black Rivers will be increased from the current schedule of 20 hours per day, separated into two 10 hour periods, 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., 7 days per week, 365 days per year to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. It is also proposed that the hours of availability at Felsenthal and H.K. Thatcher Locks on the Ouachita and Black Rivers will be reduced from the current schedule of 16 hours per day, separated into two 8 hour periods, 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., 7 days per week, 365 days per year to a 10 hour period, 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The reduced levels of service are in response to the Inland Marine Transportation System Guidelines for Establishing and Implementing Levels of Operating Service which sets forth criteria for determining hours of availability, based on lock usage data. The intended effect is to provide lock availability that matches existing lock usage by commercial industry. The Vicksburg District will continue to work with industry to optimize the hours of availability and make adjustments as needed.

    DATES:

    Proposed implementation date is November 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit written comments, in duplicate, to Mr. James V. Ross, Chief, Operations Division, Vicksburg District, US Army Corps of Engineers, 4155 Clay Street, Vicksburg, MS 39183, or deliver them to Mr Ross between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at the address above. Comments received and other materials relevant to the proposed reduction in hours of lock availability can be inspected at Mr. Ross' office during the same hours. An appointment will be required for inspection, so please call ahead to make an appointment and to avoid conflicts with inspections by other interested parties. Phone: 601-631-5315

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Thomas Hengst at the Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, River Operations Branch, by phone at 601-631-5600.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The legal authority for the regulation governing the use, administration, and navigation of the Ouachita and Black Rivers and Locks is Section 4 of the River and Harbor Act of August 18, 1894 (28 Stat. 362), as amended, which is codified at 33 U.S.C. Section 1. This statute requires the Secretary of the Army to “prescribe such regulations for the use, administration, and navigation of the navigable waters of the United States” as the Secretary determines may be required by public necessity. Reference 33 CFR part 207.249, Ouachita and Black Rivers, Ark. and La., Mile 0.0 to Mile 338.0 (Camden, Ark.) above the mouth of the Black River; the Red River, La., Mile 6.7 (Junction of Red, Atchafalaya and Old Rivers) to Mile 276.0 (Shreveport, La.); use, administration, and navigation.

    John W. Cross, Colonel, Corps of Engineers, Commanding.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26888 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 a.m.] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers Availability of a Final Integrated Feasibility Report (Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report), Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The comment period for the Final Integrated Feasibility Report (Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report), Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA published in the Federal Register on Friday, September 25, 2015 (80 FR 57795) and required comments be submitted by October 24, 2015. The comment period has been extended to November 1, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Eileen Takata, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, [email protected] OR Ms. Erin Jones, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    None.

    Kirk E. Gibbs, Colonel, U.S. Army, Commander and District Engineer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26886 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DELAWARE RIVER BASIN COMMISSION Notice of Proposed Methodology for the 2016 Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment Report AGENCY:

    Delaware River Basin Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the methodology proposed to be used in the 2016 Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment Report is available for review and comment.

    DATES:

    Comments on the assessment methodology or recommendations for the consideration of data sets should be submitted in writing by 5 p.m. Eastern on December 31, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments will be accepted via email to [email protected], with “Water Quality Assessment 2016” as the subject line; via fax to 609-883-9522; via U.S. Mail to DRBC, Attn: Water Quality Assessment 2016, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360; via private carrier to DRBC, Attn: Water Quality Assessment 2016, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360; or by hand to the latter address. All submissions should have the phrase “Water Quality Assessment 2016” in the subject line and should include the name, address (street address optional) and affiliation, if any, of the commenter.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. John Yagecic, Supervisor, Standards and Assessment Section, DRBC Modeling, Monitoring and Assessment Branch, [email protected], 609-883-9500, ext. 271.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC” or “Commission”) is an interstate and federal compact agency that was created in 1961 by concurrent legislation of the States of Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States Government for purpose of jointly managing the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.

    DRBC currently is compiling data for the 2016 Delaware River and Bay Water Quality Assessment Report (“2016 Assessment”) required by the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”). The 2016 Assessment will present the extent to which waters of the Delaware River and Bay are attaining designated uses in accordance with Section 305(b) of the CWA and the Commission's Water Quality Regulations, 18 CFR part 410, and will identify impaired waters, which consist of waters in which surface water quality standards are not being met.

    The proposed assessment methodology to be used in the 2016 Assessment is available for review at the following URL: http://www.nj.gov/drbc/library/documents/Methodology-2016WQAssess-draft_sept2015.pdf.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Pamela M. Bush, Commission Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26838 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6360-01-P
    DELAWARE RIVER BASIN COMMISSION Notice of Public Hearing and Business Meeting November 10 and December 9, 2015

    Notice is hereby given that the Delaware River Basin Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. A business meeting will be held the following month, on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. The hearing and business meeting are open to the public and will be held at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.

    Public Hearing. The public hearing on November 10, 2015 will begin at 1:30 p.m. Hearing items will include: draft dockets for the withdrawals, discharges and other water-related projects subject to the Commission's review; and a resolution authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an agreement with the University of Delaware for an analysis of water quality data collected by the University on the Cape May—Lewes Ferry, which will be used by the Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to refine water quality models of the Delaware Estuary and Delaware Bay.

    The list of projects scheduled for hearing, including project descriptions, will be posted on the Commission's Web site, www.drbc.net, in a long form of this notice at least ten days before the hearing date. Draft resolutions scheduled for hearing also will be posted at www.drbc.net ten or more days prior to the hearing.

    Written comments on matters scheduled for hearing on November 10 will be accepted through the close of business (5 p.m.) on November 12, the day following the Veterans' Day Holiday. After the hearing on all scheduled matters has been completed, and as time allows, an opportunity for Open Public Comment (formerly known as “public dialogue”) will also be provided.

    The public is advised to check the Commission's Web site periodically prior to the hearing date, as items scheduled for hearing may be postponed if additional time is deemed necessary to complete the Commission's review, and items may be added up to ten days prior to the hearing date. In reviewing docket descriptions, the public is also asked to be aware that project details commonly change in the course of the Commission's review, which is ongoing.

    Public Meeting. The public business meeting on December 9, 2015 will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will include: adoption of the Minutes of the Commission's September 16, 2015 business meeting, announcements of upcoming meetings and events, a report on hydrologic conditions, reports by the Executive Director and the Commission's General Counsel, and consideration of any items for which a hearing has been completed or is not required. After all scheduled business has been completed and as time allows, the meeting will also include up to one hour of Open Public Comment.

    There will be no opportunity for additional public comment for the record at the December 9 business meeting on items for which a hearing was completed on November 10 or a previous date. Commission consideration on December 9 of items for which the comment period is closed may result in approval of the item (by docket or resolution) as proposed, approval with changes, denial, or deferral. When the Commissioners defer an action, they may announce an additional period for written comment on the item, with or without an additional hearing date, or they may take additional time to consider the input they have already received without requesting further public input. Any deferred items will be considered for action at a public meeting of the Commission on a future date. Items for which a public hearing has been completed and on which the Commission has not yet acted include a proposed rule amending DRBC's Administrative Manual Part III—Rules of Practice and Procedure to provide for the One Process/One Permit Program.

    Advance Sign-Up for Oral Comment. Individuals who wish to comment for the record at the public hearing on November 10 or to address the Commissioners informally during the Open Public Comment portion of the meeting on either November 10 or December 9 as time allows, are asked to sign up in advance by contacting Ms. Paula Schmitt of the Commission staff, at [email protected] or by phoning Ms. Schmitt at 609-883-9500 ext. 224.

    Addresses for Written Comment. Written comment on items scheduled for hearing may be delivered by hand at the public hearing or in advance of the hearing, either: by hand, U.S. Mail or private carrier to: Commission Secretary, P.O. Box 7360, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton, NJ 08628; by fax to Commission Secretary, DRBC at 609-883-9522; or by email (preferred) to [email protected] If submitted by email in advance of the hearing date, written comments on a docket should also be sent to Mr. William Muszynski, Manager, Water Resources Management, at [email protected]

    Accommodations for Special Needs. Individuals in need of an accommodation as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act who wish to attend the informational meeting, conference session or hearings should contact the Commission Secretary directly at 609-883-9500 ext. 203 or through the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) at 711, to discuss how we can accommodate your needs.

    Updates. Items scheduled for hearing are occasionally postponed to allow more time for the Commission to consider them. Other meeting items also are subject to change. Please check the Commission's Web site, www.drbc.net, closer to the meeting date for changes that may be made after the deadline for filing this notice.

    Additional Information, Contacts. The list of projects scheduled for hearing, with descriptions, will be posted on the Commission's Web site, www.drbc.net, in a long form of this notice at least ten days before the hearing date. Draft dockets and resolutions for hearing items will be available as hyperlinks from the posted notice. Additional public records relating to hearing items may be examined at the Commission's offices by appointment by contacting Carol Adamovic, 609-883-9500, ext. 249. For other questions concerning hearing items, please contact Project Review Section assistant Victoria Lawson at 609-883-9500, ext. 216.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Pamela M. Bush, Commission Secretary and Assistant General Counsel.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26837 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6360-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION National Board for Education Sciences AGENCY:

    Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of an open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed agenda of an upcoming meeting of the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES). The notice also describes the functions of the Committee. Notice of this meeting is required by Section 10(a) (2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and is intended to notify the public of their opportunity to attend the meeting.

    DATES:

    The NBES meeting will be held on November 16, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    80 F Street NW., Large Board Room, Washington, DC 20001.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ellie Pelaez, Designated Federal Official, NBES, U.S. Department of Education, 555 New Jersey Avenue NW., Room 600 E, Washington, DC 20208; phone: (202) 219-0644; fax: (202) 219-1402; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NBES's Statutory Authority and Function: The National Board for Education Sciences is authorized by Section 116 of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA), 20 U.S.C. 9516. The Board advises the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on, among other things, the establishment of activities to be supported by the Institute and the funding for applications for grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for research after the completion of peer review. The Board also reviews and evaluates the work of the Institute.

    Meeting Agenda: On November 16, 2015, starting at 9:00 a.m., the Board meeting will commence and members will approve the agenda. From 9:05 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., the Board will hear presentations from the Commissioners of the IES Centers for Education Research, Special Education Research, Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and Education Statistics. This session will be followed by a question and answer period for board members, regarding the Commissioners' reports. A break will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

    The Board meeting will resume from 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. when the Board will discuss the IES Standards and Review Office. Anne Ricciuti, Deputy Director for Science, will provide opening remarks followed by a roundtable discussion with board members. The meeting will break for lunch from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    From 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., the board will participate in a discussion on the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics, will provide opening remarks, followed by a panel discussion with the Associate Commissioners of the National Center for Education Statistics. Roundtable discussion by board members will take place after the panel discussion. A break will take place from 2:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

    The meeting will resume at 2:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. when the Board will hold a panel discussion with National Center for Education Statistics stakeholders. Peggy Carr will provide opening remarks, followed by a panel discussion.

    Closing remarks will take place from 4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., with adjournment scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

    Submission of comments regarding the Board's policy recommendations: There will not be an opportunity for public comment. However, members of the public are encouraged to submit written comments related to NBES to Ellie Pelaez (see contact information above) no later than November 2, 2015. A final agenda is available from Ellie Pelaez (see contact information above) and is posted on the Board Web site http://ies.ed.gov/director/board/agendas/index.asp.

    Access to Records of the Meeting: The Department will post the official report of the meeting on the NBES Web site no later than 90 days after the meeting. Pursuant to the FACA, the public may also inspect the materials at 555 New Jersey Avenue NW., 6th Floor, Washington, DC, by emailing [email protected] or by calling (202) 219-0644 to schedule an appointment.

    Reasonable Accommodations: The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. If you will need an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting (e.g., interpreting service, assistive listening device, or materials in an alternate format), notify the contact person listed in this notice by or before November 2, 2015. Although we will attempt to meet a request received after November 2, 2015, we may not be able to make available the requested auxiliary aid or service because of insufficient time to arrange it.

    Electronic Access to this Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site. You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Authority:

    Section 116 of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA), 20 U.S.C. 9516

    Ruth Neild, Deputy Director for Policy and Research, Delegated Duties of the Director, Institute of Education Sciences.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26954 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [CFDA Number: 84.420A.;Docket ID ED-2015-OCTAE-0095] Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria—Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth AGENCY:

    Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria.

    SUMMARY:

    The Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education (Assistant Secretary) proposes priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria under the Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) for Disconnected Youth competition. The Assistant Secretary may use the priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and later years. We take this action in order to support the identification of strong and effective pilots that are likely to achieve significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth.

    DATES:

    We must receive your comments on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov by selecting Docket No. ED-2015-OCTAE-0095 or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

    If you are submitting comments electronically, we strongly encourage you to submit any comments or attachments in Microsoft Word format. If you must submit a comment in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), we strongly encourage you to convert the PDF to print-to-PDF format or to use some other commonly used searchable text format. Please do not submit the PDF in a scanned format. Using a print-to-PDF format allows the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) to electronically search and copy certain portions of your submissions.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using www.regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under “Are you new to the site?”

    Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: The Department strongly encourages commenters to submit their comments electronically. However, if you mail or deliver your comments about the proposed regulations, address them to Braden Goetz, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 11141, PCP, Washington, DC 20202.

    Privacy Note: The Department's policy is to make all comments received from members of the public available for public viewing in their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to include in their comments only information that they wish to make publicly available.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Braden Goetz. Telephone: (202) 245-7405 or by email: [email protected]

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria (NPP), we urge you to identify clearly the specific proposed priority, requirement, definition, or selection criterion your comment addresses.

    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from the proposed priority, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. Please let us know of any further ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.

    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about the proposed priority, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria at www.regulations.gov. You may also inspect the comments in person in Room 11141, PCP, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. If you want to schedule time to inspect comments, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Purpose of Program: P3, first authorized by Congress for FY 2014 by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (2014 Appropriations Act) and reauthorized for FY 2015 by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (2015 Appropriations Act) (together, the Acts), enables pilot sites to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies to achieve significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth using new flexibility to blend existing Federal funds and to seek waivers of associated program requirements.

    Program Authority:

    Section 524 of Division H and section 219 of Division B of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235).

    Background

    The Acts authorize the Departments of Education (ED), Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Justice (DOJ), the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) (collectively, the Agencies) to enter into Performance Partnership Agreements (performance agreements) with State, local, or tribal governments to provide additional flexibility in using certain of the Agencies' discretionary funds,1 including competitive and formula grant funds, across multiple Federal programs. Entities that seek to participate in these pilots will be required to commit to achieving significant improvements in outcomes for disconnected youth in exchange for this new flexibility. The 2014 Appropriations Act states that “`[t]o improve outcomes for disconnected youth' means to increase the rate at which individuals between the ages of 14 and 24 (who are low-income and either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, unemployed, or not enrolled in or at risk of dropping out of an educational institution) achieve success in meeting educational, employment, or other key goals.” Section 526(a)(2), Division H, 2014 Appropriations Act. The statute thus defines “disconnected youth” as “individuals between the ages of 14 and 24 who are low-income and either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, unemployed, or not enrolled in or at risk of dropping out of an education institution.”

    1 Discretionary funds are funds that Congress appropriates on an annual basis, rather than through a standing authorization. They exclude “entitlement” (or mandatory) programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, most Foster Care IV-E programs, Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Discretionary programs administered by the Agencies support a broad set of public services, including education, job training, health and mental health, and other low-income assistance programs.

    Government and community partners have invested considerable attention and resources to meet the needs of disconnected youth. However, practitioners, youth advocates, and others on the front lines of service delivery have observed that there are significant programmatic and administrative obstacles to achieving meaningful improvements in education, employment, health, and well-being for these young people. These challenges include: limited evidence and knowledge of what works to improve outcomes for disconnected youth; poor coordination and alignment across the multiple systems that serve youth; policies that make it hard to target the neediest youth and help them overcome gaps in services; fragmented data systems that inhibit the flow of information to improve results; and administrative requirements that impede holistic approaches to serving this population. Many of these challenges can be addressed by improving coordination among programs and targeting resources to those approaches that achieve the best results for youth.

    Performance Partnership Pilots test the hypothesis that additional flexibility for States, localities, and tribes, in the form of blending funds and waivers of certain programmatic requirements, can help overcome some of the significant hurdles that States, localities, and tribes face in providing intensive, comprehensive, and sustained service pathways and improving outcomes for disconnected youth. For example, P3 may help address the “wrong pockets” problem, where government entities that observe improved outcomes or other benefits due to an intervention are unable to use Federal funds to support that intervention due to program restrictions or other factors. P3 funds may also help to build additional evidence about the effectiveness of an intervention or strengthen a foundation of data capacity and performance management that would otherwise be lacking. If this hypothesis proves true, providing necessary and targeted flexibility to remove or minimize these hurdles will help to achieve significant benefits for disconnected youth, the communities that serve them, and the involved agencies and partners.

    Congress first established the P3 authority in FY 2014, and the Agencies announced a competition to select up to 10 P3 pilots in the Federal Register on November 24, 2014 (79 FR 70033) (the November 2014 notice). The Agencies will make selections based on the November 2014 notice during fiscal year 2015.

    The priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria proposed in this notice are based largely on those used in the November 2014 notice. However, they differ in several important respects:

    • As in the November 2014 notice, we are proposing priorities for projects that serve disconnected youth in rural and tribal communities. We also are proposing additional priorities that focus on high-need subpopulations of disconnected youth, including priorities for: disconnected youth who are unemployed and not enrolled in education; English learners; individuals with disabilities; homeless; in foster care; involved with the justice system; or immigrants or refugees. The Agencies may choose to use one or more of these additional priorities in future competitions if they decide to encourage or require pilots that are designed to serve a particular high-need subpopulation.

    • In addition, we are proposing a priority for projects that provide paid work-based learning opportunities, including opportunities that are offered during the summer months and are integrated with academic and technical instruction.

    • The November 2014 notice included two priorities related to evaluation, one for evaluations that employed a randomized controlled trial design and another for evaluations with a quasi-experimental design. In this notice, we are proposing to establish a single priority for projects that will support evaluations that use either a randomized controlled trial or a quasi-experimental design.

    • To reduce burden on applicants, several of the application requirements have been eliminated or streamlined.

    Additionally, we are proposing to collect some of the required information in table form for two reasons: to make clearer to applicants all of the data they must provide in their applications and to simplify how applicants provide these data.

    • The selection criteria we are proposing in this notice have also been streamlined and simplified to reduce burden on applicants, as well as focus on the factors that we consider to be the most critical in the successful implementation of pilots.

    In addition to commenting on the priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria proposed in this notice, we invite public comment on the following questions:

    • How else can the administration of P3 competitions be improved?

    • Should other programs, including those from other agencies, be included in the P3 initiative? What programs and why?

    • What interest, if any, do prospective applicants and their potential partners have in using a P3 pilot to support or inform a Pay for Success 2 project?

    2 For more information about Pay for Success, see the U.S. Treasury Department's notice in the October 2, 2013, Federal Register (78 FR 60998), Strategies to Accelerate the Testing and Adoption of Pay for Success (PFS) Financing Models.

    • What technical assistance do prospective applicants need in order to prepare their applications, particularly with respect to identifying appropriate program requirements that might be modified or waived and programs that may be eligible for use in a P3 pilot?

    • What, if any, State or local barriers inhibit successful implementation of P3 pilots?

    • What, if any, mandatory program requirements create barriers to the successful implementation of P3 pilots?

    Proposed Priorities

    This notice contains 12 proposed priorities. We may apply one or more of these priorities in any year in which this program is in effect. Please note that these priorities are not listed in any particular order of importance or preference.

    Proposed Priority 1—Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth Background

    P3 is intended, through demonstration, to identify effective strategies for serving disconnected youth. The Agencies are aware such strategies may differ across environments and wish to test the authority in a variety of settings. Projects that serve disconnected youth in any community would meet Proposed Priority 1.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth.

    Proposed Priority 2—Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth in Rural Communities Background

    In recognition of the special needs of disconnected youth who reside in rural communities, we are proposing to establish a priority for projects that serve rural communities only. We note, for example, that 85 percent of the U.S. counties that have been persistently poor (i.e., counties in which 20 percent or more of the population live in poverty) over the last 30 years are rural, accounting for 15 percent of rural counties.3 Moreover, rural areas have a higher proportion of youth ages 18 through 24 who are neither employed nor enrolled in school than do urban areas.4

    3 United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, “The Geography of Poverty,” available at www.ers.usda.gov/topics/rural-economy-population/rural-poverty-well-being/geography-of-poverty.aspx.3

    4 Snyder, A. and McLaughlin, D. (2008). Rural Youth are More Likely to be Idle. Durham, NH: Carsey Institute.

    In the Definitions section of this notice, we have proposed a definition of rural community that is based on whether a community is served only by one or more local educational agencies (LEAs) that are currently eligible under the Department of Education's Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized under Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. Alternatively, a community also could be considered rural if it includes only schools designated by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with a locale code of 42 or 43. This definition was used in the 2014 notice, as well in notices inviting applications for the Department of Education's Promise Neighborhoods program. We welcome comments on whether this definition is appropriate for use in connection with a P3 competition utilizing this priority.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth in one or more rural communities (as defined in this notice) only.

    Proposed Priority 3—Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth in Tribal Communities Background

    We propose a priority for projects that will serve youth in tribal communities because American Indian and Alaska Native youth are among the most disadvantaged subpopulations of youth in our country. During school year 2012-13, American Indian and Alaska Native youth had the lowest average cohort graduation rate among all ethnic groups, with an average of only 70 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native youth completing high school within four years.5 The average cohort graduation rate among White students, in contrast, was 87 percent. We note as well that the poverty rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2013 was nearly twice the rate for the Nation as a whole (29 percent vs. 16 percent).6

    5 EDFacts/Consolidated State Performance Report, SY 2012-13. See https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/ACGR_RE_and_characteristics_2012-13.asp.

    6 2011-2013 American Community Survey.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must (1) propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are members of one or more State- or federally-recognized Indian tribal communities; and (2) represent a partnership that includes one or more State- or federally-recognized Indian tribes.

    Proposed Priority 4--Improving Outcomes for Youth Who Are Unemployed and Out of School Background

    In 2013, about 14 percent of youth ages 16 to 24 were neither enrolled in school nor working.7 We propose a priority for pilots that serve these youth because the dearth of opportunities for these youth is costly for them and for taxpayers. The longer these youth remain disconnected from school and work, the more likely it becomes that they will remain unemployed and live in poverty as adults.8 The lack of opportunities for these youth also imposes a significant economic burden on taxpayers; by one estimate, the per person cost of these disconnected youth is $13,900 per year in lost tax revenue, additional health care spending, expenditures for the criminal justice system and corrections, and welfare and social service payments.9

    7 Kena, G., Musu-Gillette, L., Robinson, J., Wang, X., Rathbun, A., Zhang, J., Wilkinson-Flicker, S., Barmer, A., and Dunlop Velez, E. (2015). The Condition of Education 2015 (NCES 2015-144). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved June 7, 2015 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.

    8 Besharov, D.J., & Gardiner, K.N. (1998). Preventing Youthful Disconnectedness. Children and Youth Services Review, 20 (9/10), 797-818.

    9 Belfield, C.R., Levin, H.M., and Rosen, R. (2012). The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are neither employed nor enrolled in education.

    Proposed Priority 5—Improving Outcomes for Youth Who are English Learners Background

    We are proposing to establish a priority for projects that serve disconnected youth who are English learners (ELs) because of the significant opportunity and achievement gaps these young people face. While the national average cohort graduation rate for all youth was 81 percent for the 2012-13 school year, the average cohort graduation rate for ELs was only 61 percent. In some States, the average cohort graduation rate for ELs was as low as 22 percent.10

    10 EDFacts/Consolidated State Performance Report, SY 2012-13. See https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/ACGR_RE_and_characteristics_2012-13.asp.

    In the Definitions section of this notice, we have proposed a definition of English learner that is based on the definition of “English language learner” in section 203 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (29 U.S.C. 3272(7)). We welcome comments on whether this definition is appropriate for use in connection with a P3 competition utilizing this priority.

    Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are English learners (as defined in this notice).

    Proposed Priority 6—Improving Outcomes for Youth with a Disability Background

    We are proposing to establish a priority for projects that serve disconnected youth with a disability because youth with a disability graduate at significantly lower rates than their peers who do not have a disability. For example, during the 2012-13 school year, the average cohort graduation rate for children with a disability receiving special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was 62 percent, while the average cohort graduation rate for all youth was 81 percent.11 Dropout rates within this population are highest among youth with learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, and traumatic brain injuries.12

    11Ibid.

    12 Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., Garza, N., and Levine, P. (2005). After High School: A First Look at the Postschool Experiences of Youth with Disabilities. A Report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. Available at www.nlts2.org/reports/2005_04/nlts2_report_2005_04_complete.pdf.

    As noted in the Definitions section of this notice, to define the term “individual with a disability,” we propose to use the definition found in section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102). We welcome comments on whether this proposed definition is appropriate for use in connection with a P3 competition utilizing this priority.

    Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are individuals with a disability (as defined in this notice).

    Proposed Priority 7—Improving Outcomes for Homeless Youth Background

    According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, on a given night in January 2014, there were approximately 194,302 homeless children and youth ages 24 and younger, representing one-third of the individuals who were homeless that night. Of these children and youth, 45,205 were unaccompanied children and youth who experienced homelessness alone.13 Between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 school years, the number of homeless students reported by LEAs under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act increased 28 percent, from 1,065,794 to 1,360,747 students. The number of unaccompanied homeless youth reported by LEAs increased from 55,066 to 91,351 between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 school years.14 The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that, over the course of a year, approximately 550,000 unaccompanied children and youth ages 24 and younger experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week.15 We propose to establish a priority for projects that will serve disconnected youth who are homeless in recognition of their significant needs. These young people experience higher rates of acute and chronic physical illness and have higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse than their peers who have stable housing. The high mobility associated with homelessness also disrupts the education of these youth, placing them at greater risk of falling behind and dropping out of school.16

    13 Henry, M., Cortes, A., Shivji, A. and Buck, K. (2014). The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved on June 8, 2015 from www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2014-AHAR-Part1.pdf

    14 Education for Homeless Children and Youth Consolidated State Performance Report Data: School Years 2010-11 and 2013-14. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved on September 29, 2015 from: http://eddataexpress.ed.gov/.

    15 An Emerging Framework for Ending Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness (2012). Washington, DC: National Alliance to End Homelessness. Retrieved on June 7, 2015 from: www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/an-emerging-framework-for-ending-unaccompanied-youth-homelessness.

    16 Moore, J. (Undated). Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth: Review of Literature (1995-2005). Washington, DC: National Center for Homeless Education. Retrieved on June 7, 2015 from:http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/uy_lit_review.pdf.

    As noted in the Definitions section of this notice, to define the term “homeless youth,” we propose to use the definition in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431, et seq.). We welcome comments on whether this definition is appropriate for use in connection with a P3 competition utilizing this priority.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are homeless youth (as defined in this notice).

    Proposed Priority 8—Improving Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care Background

    We are proposing a priority for projects that are designed to improve outcomes for youth who are or have ever been in foster care because these youth are at high risk for negative educational and employment outcomes. For example, youth who age out of the child welfare system are at particularly high risk for homelessness, with an estimated 11 to 37 percent experiencing homelessness, and 20 to 50 percent living in precarious housing situations.17 Youth in foster care are less likely to graduate from high school than their peers, and those who do complete high school are less likely to enroll in postsecondary education than their peers.18 As these youth transition out of foster care and enter adulthood, they often face long odds in the labor market. They tend to have greater difficulty finding employment and, when they are employed, tend to have lower earnings than youth in the general population. For example, one study that followed former foster youth as they aged from 18 to 24 years old in California, Minnesota, and North Carolina found that these youth were less likely to be employed and earned less than youth of similar ages nationwide, as well as in comparison with low-income youth in their respective states.19

    17 Dion, R., Dworsky, A., Kauff, J., & Kleinman, R. (2014). Housing for youth aging out of foster care. Prepared for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. Washington, DC. Retrieved August 30, 2015 from http://www.huduser.org/portal/publications/pdf/youth_hsg_main_report.pdf.

    18 See, for example, Frerer, K., Sosenko, L.D., and Henke, R.R. (2013). At Greater Risk: California Foster Youth and the Path from High School to College. San Francisco, CA: Stuart Foundation.

    19 Macomber, J., et al. (2008). Coming of Age: Employment Outcomes for Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care Through Their Middle Twenties. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are or have ever been in foster care.

    Proposed Priority 9—Improving Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Justice System Background

    In 2013, the Nation's juvenile courts processed more than one million cases of delinquency.20 On any given day, more than 50,000 youth are incarcerated in residential facilities, including juvenile detention institutions and local and State correctional facilities.21 Thousands more youth are incarcerated in local jails 22 and adult correctional facilities.23 We propose establishing a priority for pilots that will serve disconnected youth involved in the justice system because these youth need sustained and comprehensive services and supports to facilitate their reentry into the community, to reduce their rate of recidivism, and to improve their educational and employment outcomes.24

    20 Sickmund, M., Sladky, A., and Kang, W. (2015). “Easy Access to Juvenile Court Statistics: 1985-2013.” Retrieved on June 7, 2015 from www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/ezajcs/.

    21 Sickmund, M., Sladky, T.J., Kang, W., & Puzzanchera, C. (2015). “Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement.” Retrieved on June 7, 2015 from www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/ezacjrp/.

    22 Minton, T.D. and Zeng, Z. (2015). Jail Inmates at Midyear 2014. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

    23 West, H.C. (2010). Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009: Statistical Tables. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

    24 Seigle, E., Walsh, N. and Weber, J. (2014). Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are involved in the justice system.

    Proposed Priority 10—Improving Outcomes for Youth Who are Immigrants or Refugees Background

    We are proposing to establish a priority for projects that serve disconnected youth who are immigrants or refugees because of the great challenges these young people face in achieving civic, economic, and linguistic integration in the United States. More than one-third of immigrant youth ages 16 to 22 who are not enrolled in school lack a high school diploma. In contrast, 20 percent of nonimmigrant youth in this age group who are not enrolled in school do not have a high school diploma 25 Refugee youth often face significant educational challenges because they did not have the opportunity to enroll in school in their country of origin or because their formal schooling was interrupted by war, unrest, or migration.26

    25 Enchautegui, M.E. (2014) Immigrant Youth Outcomes: Patterns by Generation and Race and Ethnicity. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

    26 Refugee Children and Youth Backgrounders (2006). New York, New York: International Rescue Committee.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that is designed to improve outcomes for disconnected youth who are immigrants or refugees.

    Proposed Priority 11—Work-Based Learning Opportunities Background

    We are proposing a priority for projects that provide disconnected youth with paid work-based learning opportunities because the employment rate among youth has declined precipitously over the last decade,27 and addressing the employment needs of disconnected youth is critical to improving their well-being and preparation for lives as productive adults. We note as well that new evidence indicates that the benefits of work-based learning opportunities extend beyond improving the employment outcomes of youth. A recent evaluation of the summer work and learning opportunity program offered by New York City for youth ages 14 through 21, which selected participants using a randomized lottery, found that, within 5 to 8 years after participation, the incarceration and mortality rates of participants were significantly lower than those of their peers who were not selected to participate in the program.28 Our proposed priority also includes academic and technical instruction because research suggests that work experience must be combined with academic and technical training, as well as job search and placement assistance and other supports, in order to have a positive impact on the employment and earnings outcomes of youth.29

    27 Sum, A. et al. (2014) The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.

    28 Gelber, A., Isen, A. and Kessler, J.B. (2014). The Effects of Youth Employment: Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment. Program Lotteries. NBER Working Paper No. 20810. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

    29 Sattar, S. (2010). Evidence Scan of Work Experience Programs. Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research. See also Roder, A. and Elliott, M. (2014). Sustained Gains: Year-Up's Continued Impact on Young Adults' Earnings. New York, NY: Economic Mobility Corporation, Inc.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose a pilot that will provide disconnected youth with paid work-based learning opportunities, such as opportunities during the summer, which are integrated with academic and technical instruction.

    Proposed Priority 12—Site-Specific Evaluation Background

    Though the Agencies are supporting a national evaluation of the implementation of P3, a great deal also can be learned through rigorous and independent evaluations of the interventions and system reforms carried out by individual pilots. Consequently, we are proposing to establish a priority for applications that propose to conduct rigorous, independent evaluations of their programs or specific components of their programs. The November 2014 notice included two priorities, one for evaluations that employed a randomized controlled trial design and another for evaluations with a quasi-experimental design. In this notice, we are proposing to establish a single priority for projects that will support evaluations that use either a randomized controlled trial or a quasi-experimental design. Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and appropriateness of the proposed evaluation's design, the scale of the contribution the evaluation will make to the evidence base, and the applicant's expertise in planning and conducting comparable studies. As we did in the November 2014 notice, we propose to require that the evaluator be independent of the entities involved in implementing the pilot. This independence will help ensure the objectivity of the evaluation and will help to prevent even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

    Proposed Priority

    To meet this priority, an applicant must propose to conduct an independent evaluation of the impacts on disconnected youth of its overall program or specific components of its program that is a randomized controlled trial or a quasi-experimental design study. The extent to which an applicant meets this priority will be based on the clarity and feasibility of the applicant's proposed evaluation design, the appropriateness of the design to best capture key pilot outcomes, the prospective contribution of the evaluation to the knowledge base about serving disconnected youth (including the rigor of the design and the validity and generalizability of the findings), and the applicant's demonstrated expertise in planning and conducting a randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental evaluation study.

    In order to meet this priority, an applicant also must include the following two documents as separate attachments to its application:

    1. A Summary Evaluation Plan that describes how the pilot or a component of the pilot (such as a discrete service-delivery strategy) will be rigorously evaluated. The evaluation plan may not exceed eight pages. The plan must include the following:

    • A brief description of the research question(s) proposed for study and an explanation of its/their relevance, including how the proposed evaluation will build on the research evidence base for the project as described in the application and how the evaluation findings will be used to improve program implementation;

    • A description of the randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental design study methodology, including the key outcome measures, the process for forming a comparison or control group, a justification for the target sample size and strategy for achieving it, and the approach to data collection (and sources) that minimizes both cost and potential attrition;

    • A proposed evaluation timeline, including dates for submission of required interim and final reports;

    • A description of how, to the extent feasible and consistent with applicable Federal, State, local, and tribal privacy requirements, evaluation data will be made available to other, third‐party researchers after the project ends; and

    • A plan for selecting and procuring the services of a qualified independent evaluator (as defined in this notice) prior to enrolling participants (or a description of how one was selected if agreements have already been reached). The applicant must describe how it will ensure that the qualified independent evaluator has the capacity and expertise to conduct the evaluation, including estimating the effort for the qualified independent evaluator. This estimate must include the time, expertise, and analysis needed to successfully complete the proposed evaluation.

    2. A supplementary Evaluation Budget Narrative, which is separate from the overall application budget narrative and provides a description of the costs associated with funding the proposed program evaluation component, and an explanation of its funding source—i.e., blended funding, start-up funding, State, local, or tribal government funding, or other funding (such as philanthropic). The budget must include a breakout of costs by evaluation activity (such as data collection and participant follow-up), and the applicant must describe a strategy for refining the budget after the services of an evaluator have been procured. The applicant must include travel costs for the qualified independent evaluator to attend at least one in-person conference in Washington, DC during the period of evaluation. All costs included in this supplementary budget narrative must be reasonable and appropriate to the project timeline and deliverables.

    The Agencies will review the Summary Evaluation Plans and Evaluation Budget Narratives and provide feedback to applicants that are determined to have met the priority and that are selected as pilot finalists or alternates. After award, these pilots must submit to the lead Federal agency a detailed evaluation plan of no more than 30 pages that relies heavily on the expertise of a qualified independent evaluator. The detailed evaluation plan must address the Agencies' feedback and expand on the Summary Evaluation Plan.

    Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).

    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).

    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority we are particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    PROPOSED REQUIREMENTS A. Application Requirements Background

    The purpose of these proposed requirements is to provide reviewers with sufficient information to evaluate applications based on the selection criteria, as well as to provide the Agencies with sufficient information to understand and assess the merits of the flexibilities sought by applicants.

    Proposed Application Requirements

    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following application requirements for this program. We may apply one or more of these requirements in any year in which this program is in effect.

    a. Executive Summary. The applicant must provide an executive summary that briefly describes the proposed pilot, the flexibilities being sought, and the interventions or systems changes that would be implemented by the applicant and its partners to improve outcomes for disconnected youth.

    b. Statement of Need for a Defined Target Population. The applicant must define the target population to be served, consistent with section 524 of the 2015 Appropriations Act and based on a needs assessment that was conducted or updated within the past three years using representative data on youth from the jurisdiction(s) proposing the pilot. The applicant must complete Table 1, specifying the target population(s) for the pilot, including the range of ages of youth who will be served and the number of youth who will be served annually.

    Table 1—Target Population Target population Age range Estimated number of youth served

    Note: Applicants do not need to include a copy of the needs assessment with the application, but must identify when the needs assessment was conducted.

    c. Flexibility, including waivers:

    1. Federal requests for flexibility, including waivers. The applicant must identify two or more discretionary Federal programs that will be included in the pilot, at least one of which must be administered (in whole or in part) by a State, local, or tribal government.30 The applicant must identify one or more program requirements that would inhibit implementation of the pilot and request that the requirement(s) be modified or waived. Examples of potential waiver requests and other requests for flexibility include, but are not limited to: blending of funds and changes to align eligibility requirements, allowable uses of funds, and performance reporting. For each program to be included in a pilot, the applicant also must complete Table 2, Requested Waivers.

    30 Local governments that are requesting waivers of requirements in State-administered programs are strongly encouraged to consult with the State agencies that administer the programs in preparing their applications.

    Table 2—Requested Waivers Program name Federal agency Program requirements to be waived or modified Statutory or regulatory citation Name of program grantee Blending funds?
  • (Yes/No)
  • Note: Please note in “Name of Program Grantee” if the grantee is a State, local, or tribal government.

    2. Non-Federal flexibility, including waivers. The applicant must provide written assurance that:

    A. The State, local, or tribal government(s) with authority to grant any needed non-Federal flexibility, including waivers, has approved or will approve such flexibility within 60 days of an applicant's designation as a pilot finalist; 31 or

    31 This includes, for example, for local governments, instances in which a waiver or modification must be agreed upon by a State. It also includes instances in which waivers or modifications may only be requested by the State on the local government's behalf, such as waivers of the performance accountability requirements for local areas established in Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

    B. Non-Federal flexibility, including waivers, is not needed in order to successfully implement the pilot.

    d. Project Design.

    1. The applicant must submit a narrative that describes the project and includes an explanation of—

    A. The needs of the target population;

    B. The activities or changes in practice that will be implemented to improve outcomes for the target population and how these activities differ from the status quo;

    C. Why the requested flexibility is necessary to implement the pilot and improve the outcomes of participants;

    D. How the requested flexibility will enable the applicant to implement changes in practice to improve outcomes for the target population; and

    E. The proposed length of the pilot.

    2. The applicant must provide a graphic depiction (not longer than one page) of the pilot's logic model that illustrates the underlying theory of how the pilot's strategy will produce intended outcomes.

    e. Work Plan and Project Management. The applicant must provide a detailed work plan that describes how the proposed work will be accomplished. The applicant must submit a detailed timeline and implementation milestones that include, at a minimum—

    1. The number of days after award that pilot activities will start, which must be within 180 days of the award, such as participant intake and services or changes to administrative systems, practices, and policy; and

    2. The number of participants expected to be served under the pilot for each period (such as quarterly or annually).

    f. Partnership Capacity and Management. The applicant must—

    1. Identify the proposed partners, including any and all State, local, and tribal entities and non-governmental organizations that would be involved in implementation of the pilot, and describe their roles in the pilot's implementation using Table 3. Partnerships that cross programs and funding sources but are under the jurisdiction of a single agency or entity must identify the different sub-organizational units involved.

    2. Provide a memorandum of understanding or letter of commitment signed by the executive leader or other accountable senior representative of each partner that describes each proposed partner's commitment, including its contribution of financial or in-kind resources (if any).

    Table 3—Pilot Partners Partner Type of organization
  • (state agency, local agency, community-based organization, business)
  • Description of partner's role in the pilot
    Note:

    Any grantees mentioned in Table 2 that are not the lead applicant must be included in Table 3.

    g. Data and Performance Management Capacity. The applicant must propose outcome measures and interim indicators to gauge pilot performance using Table 4. At least one outcome measure must be in the domain of education, and at least one outcome measure must be in the domain of employment. Applicants may specify additional employment and education outcome measures, as well as outcome measures in other domains of well-being, such as criminal justice, physical and mental health, and housing. Regardless of the outcome domain, applicants must identify at least one interim indicator for each proposed outcome measure. Applicants may apply one interim indicator to multiple outcome measures, if appropriate.

    Examples of education- and employment-related outcome measures and interim indicators include:

    • For the outcome measure High School Diploma Attainment, interim indicators could include high school enrollment, attendance, and grade promotion;

    • For the outcome measure Community College Completion, interim indicators could include class attendance and credit accumulation; and

    • For the outcome measure Sustained Employment in Career Field, interim indicators could include unsubsidized employment during the second quarter after exit from the program, unsubsidized employment during the fourth quarter after exit from the program, and median earnings during the second quarter after exit from the program.

    The specific outcome measures and interim indicators the applicant uses should be grounded in its logic model, and informed by applicable program results or research, as appropriate. Applicants must also indicate the source of the data, the proposed frequency of collection, and the methodology used to collect the data.

    Table 4—Outcome Measures and Interim Indicators Domain Outcome measure Interim indicator(s) Education Data Source: Data Source: Frequency of Collection: Frequency of Collection: Methodology: Methodology: Employment Data Source: Data Source: Frequency of Collection: Frequency of Collection: Methodology: Methodology: Other Data Source: Data Source: Frequency of Collection: Frequency of Collection: Methodology: Methodology:

    h. Budget and Budget Narrative.

    1. The applicant must complete Table 5 to provide the following budget information:

    A. For each Federal program, the amount of funds to be blended or braided (as defined in this notice), and the percentage of total program funding received by the applicant or its partners that the amount to be blended or braided represents; and

    B. The total amount of funds from all Federal programs that would be blended or braided under the pilot.

    Table 5—Federal Funds Year Program name Amount of funds to be blended Blended funds as a percentage of grantee's total award Federal fiscal year of award Grant already awarded?
  • (Y/N)
  • Funds to be Blended Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Funds to be Braided Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
    Note:

    Applicants may propose to expand the number of Federal programs supporting pilot activities using FY 2016 or other future funding, which may be included in pilots if Congress extends the P3 authority. If an applicant intends to blend or braid multiple years of a program's funds, it must complete a separate row of the table for each fiscal year. If an applicant will use a program's funding over multiple years of the pilot, it must indicate the amounts to be used in each separate year using the Year 1, 2, and 3 rows.

    2. The applicant must provide the following information about the proposed uses of funds to implement the pilot—

    A. The amount and proposed uses of the start-up grant funds it is requesting (which must be within the estimated award range provided in the notice inviting applications);

    B. The proposed uses of the blended and braided funds identified in Table 5; and

    C. The amount and sources of any non-Federal resources, including funds and in-kind contributions from State, local, tribal, philanthropic, and other sources, that will be used for the pilot.

    B. Program Requirements

    Background

    We are proposing program requirements for each partnership selected as a pilot in order to ensure that each pilot participates in the national P3 evaluation and a technical assistance community of practice (as defined in this notice), as well as secures necessary consent for any data-sharing it carries out. We also specify the proposed contents of the performance agreement that will be established with each pilot. These proposed program requirements are the same requirements we established in the November 2014 notice.

    Proposed Program Requirements

    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following program requirements for this program. We may apply one or more of these requirements in any year in which this program is in effect.

    a. National evaluation. In addition to any site-specific evaluations that pilots may undertake, the Agencies have initiated a national P3 evaluation. Each P3 pilot must participate fully in any federally sponsored P3 evaluation activity, including the national evaluation of P3, which will consist of the analysis of participant characteristics and outcomes, an implementation analysis at all sites, and rigorous impact evaluations of promising interventions in selected sites. The applicant must acknowledge in writing its understanding of these requirements by submitting the form provided in Appendix A, “Evaluation Commitment Form,” as an attachment to its application.

    b. Community of practice. All P3 pilots must participate in a community of practice (as defined in this notice) that includes an annual in-person meeting of pilot sites (paid with grant funding that must be reflected in the pilot budget submitted) and virtual peer-to-peer learning activities. This commitment involves each pilot site working with the lead Federal agency on a plan for supporting its technical assistance needs, which can include learning activities supported by foundations or other non-Federal organizations as well as activities financed with Federal funds for the pilot.

    c. Consent. P3 pilots must secure necessary consent from parents, guardians, students, or youth program participants to access data for their pilots and any evaluations, in accordance with applicable Federal, State, local, and tribal laws. Applicants must explain how they propose to ensure compliance with Federal, State, local, and tribal privacy laws and regulations as pilot partners share data to support effective coordination of services and link data to track outcome measures and interim indicators at the individual level to perform, where applicable, a low-cost, high-quality evaluation.32

    32 To the extent feasible and consistent with applicable privacy requirements, grantees must also ensure the data from their evaluations are made available to third‐party researchers.

    d. Performance agreement. Each P3 pilot, along with other non-Federal government entities involved in the partnership, must enter into a performance agreement that will include, at a minimum, the following (as required by section 526(c)(2) of the 2014 Appropriations Act):

    1. The length of the agreement;

    2. The Federal programs and federally-funded services that are involved in the pilot;

    3. The Federal discretionary funds that are being used in the pilot;

    4. The non‐Federal funds that are involved in the pilot, by source (which may include private funds as well as governmental funds) and by amount;

    5. The State, local, or tribal programs that are involved in the pilot and their respective roles;

    6. The populations to be served by the pilot;

    7. The cost‐effective Federal oversight procedures that will be used for the purpose of maintaining the necessary level of accountability for the use of the Federal discretionary funds;

    8. The cost‐effective State, local, or tribal oversight procedures that will be used for the purpose of maintaining the necessary level of accountability for the use of the Federal discretionary funds;

    9. The outcome (or outcomes) that the pilot is designed to achieve;

    10. The appropriate, reliable, and objective outcome‐measurement methodology that will be used to determine whether the pilot is achieving, and has achieved, specified outcomes;

    11. The statutory, regulatory, or administrative requirements related to Federal mandatory programs that are barriers to achieving improved outcomes of the pilot; and

    12. Criteria for determining when a pilot is not achieving the specified outcomes that it is designed to achieve and subsequent steps, including:

    i. The consequences that will result; and

    ii. The corrective actions that will be taken in order to increase the likelihood that the pilot will achieve such specified outcomes.

    PROPOSED DEFINITIONS Background

    We propose definitions for several important terms that are associated with this program and the proposed priorities, requirements, and selection criteria in this notice.

    Proposed Definitions

    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following definitions for this program. We may apply one or more of these definitions in any year in which this program is in effect.

    Blended funding is a funding and resource allocation strategy that uses multiple existing funding streams to support a single initiative or strategy. Blended funding merges two or more funding streams, or portions of multiple funding streams, to produce greater efficiency and/or effectiveness. Funds from each individual stream lose their award-specific identity, and the blended funds together become subject to a single set of reporting and other requirements, consistent with the underlying purposes of the programs for which the funds were appropriated.

    Braided funding is a funding and resource allocation strategy in which entities use existing funding streams to support unified initiatives in as flexible and integrated a manner as possible while still tracking and maintaining separate accountability for each funding stream. One or more entities may coordinate several funding sources, but each individual funding stream maintains its award-specific identity. Blending funds typically requires one or more waivers of associated program requirements, whereas braiding funding does not.

    Community of practice means a group of pilots that agrees to interact regularly to solve persistent problems or improve practice in an area that is important to them and the success of their projects.

    English learner means an individual who has limited ability in reading, writing, speaking, or comprehending the English language, and—

    (A) Whose native language is a language other than English; or

    (B) Who lives in a family or community environment where a language other than English is the dominant language.

    Evidence-based interventions are approaches to prevention or treatment that are validated by documented scientific evidence from randomized controlled trials, or quasi-experimental or correlational studies, and that show positive effects (for randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies) or favorable associations (for correlational studies) on the primary targeted outcomes for populations or settings similar to those of the proposed pilot. The best evidence to support an applicant's proposed reform(s) and target population will be based on one or more randomized controlled trials. The next best evidence will be studies using a quasi-experimental design. Correlational analysis may also be used as evidence to support an applicant's proposed reforms.

    Evidence-informed interventions bring together the best available research, professional expertise, and input from youth and families to identify and deliver services that have promise to achieve positive outcomes for youth, families, and communities.

    Homeless youth has the same meaning as “homeless children and youths” in section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2001 (42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)).

    Individual with a disability means an individual with any disability as defined in section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102).

    An interim indicator is a marker of achievement that demonstrates progress toward an outcome and is measured at least annually.

    Outcomes are the intended results of a program, or intervention. They are what applicants expect their projects to achieve. An outcome can be measured at the participant level (for example, changes in employment retention or earnings of disconnected youth) or at the system level (for example, improved efficiency in program operations or administration).

    A qualified independent evaluator is an individual who coordinates with the grantee and the lead Federal agency for the pilot, but works independently on the evaluation and has the capacity to carry out the evaluation, including, but not limited to: Prior experience conducting evaluations of similar design (for example, for randomized controlled trials, the evaluator will have successfully conducted a randomized controlled trial in the past); positive past performance on evaluations of a similar design, as evidenced by past performance reviews submitted from past clients directly to the awardee; lead staff with prior experience carrying out a similar evaluation; lead staff with minimum credential (such as a Ph.D. plus three years of experience conducting evaluations of a similar nature, or a Master's degree plus seven years of experience conducting evaluations of a similar nature); and adequate staff time to work on the evaluation.

    A rural community is a community that is served only by one or more local educational agencies (LEAs) that are currently eligible under the Department of Education's Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized under Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, or includes only schools designated by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with a locale code of 42 or 43.

    A waiver provides flexibility in the form of relief from specific statutory, regulatory, or administrative requirements that have hindered the ability of a State, locality, or tribe to organize its programs and systems or provide services in ways that best meet the needs of its target populations. Under P3, waivers provide flexibility in exchange for a pilot's commitment to improve programmatic outcomes for disconnected youth consistent with underlying statutory authorities and purposes.

    PROPOSED SELECTION CRITERIA Background

    We propose to establish program-specific selection criteria for P3 because we believe the use of the more general selection criteria in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations would not result in the identification of projects that address the most compelling needs and are most likely to be successful in improving significantly the outcomes of disconnected youth. The selection criteria we are proposing are based largely on the selection criteria that appeared in the November 2014 notice. However, based on our experience in using these criteria, as well as feedback from prospective applicants and reviewers, we are proposing to simplify and streamline many of the criteria from the November 2014 notice. For example, the selection criteria for Work Plan and Project Management included nine elements in the November 2014 notice; the comparable proposed selection criteria in this notice include only three elements.

    Proposed Selection Criteria

    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following selection criteria for evaluating an application under this program. We may apply one or more of these criteria in any year in which this program is in effect. In the notice inviting applications, the application package, or both we will announce the maximum possible points assigned to each criterion.

    a. Need for Project. In determining the need for the proposed project, we will consider the magnitude of the need of the target population, as evidenced by the applicant's analysis of data, including data from the comprehensive needs assessment, that demonstrates how the target population lags behind other groups in achieving positive outcomes and the specific risk factors for this population.

    Note:

    Applicants are encouraged to disaggregate these data according to relevant demographic factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability status, involvement in systems such as foster care or juvenile justice, status as pregnant or parenting, and other key factors selected by the applicant.

    b. Need for Requested Flexibility, Including Blending of Funds and Other Waivers. In determining the need for the requested flexibility, including blending of funds and other waivers, we will consider:

    1. The strength and clarity of the applicant's justification that each of the specified Federal requirements for which the applicant is seeking a waiver hinders implementation of the proposed pilot; and

    2. The strength and quality of the applicant's justification of how each request for flexibility (i.e., blending funds and waivers) will increase efficiency or access to services and produce significantly better outcomes for the target population(s).

    c. Project Design. In determining the strength of the project design, we will consider:

    1. The strength and logic of the proposed project design in addressing the gaps and the disparities identified in the statement of need section and the barriers identified in the flexibility section. This includes the clarity of the applicant's plan and how the plan differs from current practices. Scoring will account for the strength of both the applicant's narrative and the logic model;

    Note:

    The applicant's narrative should describe how the proposed project will use and coordinate resources, including building on participation in any complementary Federal initiatives or efforts.

    2. The strength of the evidence base supporting the pilot design, based on the use of evidence-based and evidence-informed interventions (as defined in this notice) as documented by citations to the relevant evidence;

    Note:

    Applicants should cite the studies on interventions and system reforms that informed their pilot design and explain the relevance of the cited evidence to the proposed project in terms of subject matter and evaluation evidence. Applicants proposing reforms on which there are not yet evaluations (such as innovations that have not been formally tested or tested only on a small scale) should document how evidence or practice knowledge informed the proposed pilot design.

    3. The strength of the applicant's evidence that the project design, including any protections and safeguards that will be established, ensures that the consequences or impacts of the changes from current practices in serving youth through the proposed funding streams:

    A. Will not result in denying or restricting the eligibility of individuals for services that (in whole or in part) are otherwise funded by these programs; and

    B. Based on the best available information, will not otherwise adversely affect vulnerable populations that are the recipients of those services.

    d. Work Plan and Project Management. In determining the strength of the work plan and project management, we will consider the strength and completeness of the work plan and project management approach and their likelihood of achieving the objectives of the proposed project on time and within budget, based on—

    1. Clearly defined and appropriate responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project tasks;

    2. The qualifications of project personnel to ensure proper management of all project activities;

    3. How any existing or anticipated barriers to implementation will be overcome.

    Note:

    If the program manager or other key personnel are already on staff, the applicant should provide this person's resume or curriculum vitae.

    Note:

    Evaluation activities may be included in the timelines provided as part of the work plan.

    e. Partnership Capacity. In determining the strength and capacity of the proposed pilot partnership, we will consider the following factors—

    1. How well the applicant demonstrates that it has an effective governance structure in which partners that are necessary to implement the pilot successfully are represented and have the necessary authority, resources, expertise, and incentives to achieve the pilot's goals and resolve unforeseen issues, including by demonstrating the extent to which, and how, participating partners have successfully collaborated to improve outcomes for disconnected youth in the past;

    2. How well the applicant demonstrates that its proposal was designed with substantive input from all relevant stakeholders, including disconnected youth and other community partners.

    Note:

    Where the project design includes job training strategies, the extent of employer input and engagement in the identification of skills and competencies needed by employers, the development of the curriculum, and the offering of work-based learning opportunities, including pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship, will be considered.

    f. Data and Performance Management Capacity. In determining the strength of the applicant's data and performance management capacity, we will consider the following factors—

    1. The applicant's capacity to collect, analyze, and use data for decision-making, learning, continuous improvement, and accountability, and the strength of the applicant's plan to bridge any gaps in its ability to do so. This capacity includes the extent to which the applicant and partner organizations have tracked and shared data about program participants, services, and outcomes, including the execution of data-sharing agreements that comport with Federal, State, and other privacy laws and requirements, and will continue to do so;

    2. How well the proposed outcome measures, interim indicators, and measurement methodologies specified in the application appropriately and sufficiently gauge results achieved for the target population under the pilot; and

    3. How well the data sources specified in the application can be appropriately accessed and used to reliably measure the proposed outcome measures and interim indicators.

    g. Budget and Budget Narrative. In determining the adequacy of the resources that will be committed to support the project, we will consider the appropriateness of expenses within the budget with regards to cost and to implementing the pilot successfully.

    Final Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria

    We will announce the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria after considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:

    This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use one or more of these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether this regulatory action is “significant” and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a “significant regulatory action” as an action likely to result in a rule that may—

    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to as an “economically significant” rule);

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

    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement 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 stated in the Executive order.

    This proposed regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.

    We have also reviewed this proposed regulatory action under Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency—

    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify);

    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account—among other things and to the extent practicable—the costs of cumulative regulations;

    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);

    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must adopt; and

    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including economic incentives—such as user fees or marketable permits—to encourage the desired behavior, or provide information that enables the public to make choices.

    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency “to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.” The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these techniques may include “identifying changing future compliance costs that might result from technological innovation or anticipated behavioral changes.”

    We are issuing these proposed priorities requirements, definitions, and selection criteria only on a reasoned determination that their benefits would justify their costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that would maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.

    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions.

    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities. The potential benefits of the proposed priorities requirements, definitions, and selection criteria are that they would promote the efficient and effective use of the P3 authority. Implementation of these priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria will help the Agencies identify pilots that will: (1) Serve disconnected youth with significant needs; (2) carry out effective reforms and interventions; and (3) be managed by strong partnerships with the capacity to collect, analyze, and use data for decision-making, learning, continuous improvement, and accountability.

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, the Department provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed and continuing collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This helps ensure that: The public understands the Department's collection instructions, respondents can provide the requested data in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the Department can properly assess the impact of collection requirements on respondents.

    We estimate that each applicant would spend approximately 80 hours of staff time to address the proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, prepare the application, and obtain necessary clearances. The total number of hours for all applicants will vary based on the number of applications. Based on the number of applications the Department received in response to the November 2014 notice inviting applications, we expect to receive approximately 55 applications. The total number of hours for all expected applicants is an estimated 4,400 hours. We estimate the total cost per hour of the staff who carry out this work to be $44.25 per hour, the mean hourly compensation cost for State and local government workers in March 2015.33 The total estimated cost for all applicants would be $194,700.

    33 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, March 2015 (2015). Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved on August 30, 2015 from: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecec.pdf.

    We have prepared an Information Collection Request (ICR) for this collection (1830-0575). If you want to review and comment on the ICR, please follow the instructions listed under the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

    Note:

    The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in OMB and the Department of Education review all comments posted at www.regulations.gov.

    In preparing your comments you may want to review the ICR, including the supporting materials, in www.regulations.gov by using the Docket ID number specified in this notice. This proposed collection is identified as proposed collection 1830-0575.

    We consider your comments on this proposed collection of information in—

    • Deciding whether the proposed collection is necessary for the proper performance of our functions, including whether the information will have practical use;

    • Evaluating the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the proposed collection, including the validity of our methodology and assumptions;

    • Enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information we collect; and

    • Minimizing the burden on those who must respond. This includes exploring the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques.

    Between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register, OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information contained in these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. Therefore, to ensure that OMB gives your comments full consideration, it is important that OMB receives your comments on this ICR by November 23, 2015. This does not affect the deadline for your comments to us on the proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria.

    If your comments relate to the ICR for these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, please specify the Docket ID number and indicate “Information Collection Comments” on the top of your comments.

    Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery related to the information collection requirements should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Mailstop L-OM-2E319LBJ, Room 2E115, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.

    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and actions for this program.

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site. You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Johan E. Uvin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Delegated the Authority of Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education. Appendix A: Proposed Evaluation Commitment Form

    An authorized executive of the lead applicant and all other partners, including State, local, tribal, and non-governmental organizations that would be involved in the pilot's implementation, must sign this form and submit it as an attachment to the grant application. The form is not considered in the recommended application page limit.

    Commitment To Participate in Required Evaluation Activities

    As the lead applicant or a partner proposing to implement a Performance Partnership Pilot through a Federal grant, I/we agree to carry out the following activities, which are considered evaluation requirements applicable to all pilots:

    Facilitate Data Collection: I/we understand that the award of this grant requires me/us to facilitate the collection and/or transmission of data for evaluation and performance monitoring purposes to the lead Federal agency and/or its national evaluator in accordance with applicable Federal, State, and local, and tribal laws, including privacy laws.

    The type of data that will be collected includes, but is not limited to, the following:

    • Demographic information, including participants' gender, race, age, school status, and employment status;

    • Information on the services that participants receive; and

    • Outcome measures and interim outcome indicators, linked at the individual level, which will be used to measure the effects of the pilots.

    The lead Federal agency will provide more details to grantees on the data items required for performance and evaluation after grants have been awarded.

    Participate in Evaluation: I/we understand that participation and full cooperation in the national evaluation of the Performance Partnership Pilot is a condition of this grant award. I/we understand that the national evaluation will include an implementation systems analysis and, for certain sites as appropriate, may also include an impact evaluation. My/our participation will include facilitating site visits and interviews; collaborating in study procedures, including random assignment, if necessary; and transmitting data that are needed for the evaluation of participants in the study sample, including those who may be in a control group.

    Participate in Random Assignment: I/we agree that if our Performance Partnership Pilot or certain activities in the Pilot is selected for an impact evaluation as part of the national evaluation, it may be necessary to select participants for admission to Performance Partnership Pilot by a random lottery, using procedures established by the qualified independent evaluator.

    Secure Consent: I/we agree to include a consent form for, as appropriate, parents/guardians and students/participants in the application or enrollment packet for all youth in organizations implementing the Performance Partnership Pilot consistent with any Federal, State, local, and tribal laws that apply. The parental/participant consent forms will be collected prior to the acceptance of participants into Performance Partnership Pilot and before sharing data with the qualified independent evaluator for the purpose of evaluating the Performance Partnership Pilot.

    SIGNATURES Lead Applicant Print Name Signature Organization Date Partner Print Name Signature Organization Date Partner Print Name Signature Organization Date Partner Print Name Signature Organization Date Partner Print Name Signature Organization Date Partner Print Name Signature Organization Date
    [FR Doc. 2015-26965 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2015-ICCD-0121] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Application for Grants Under the Educational Opportunity Centers Program (1894-0001) AGENCY:

    Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a reinstatement of a previously approved information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2015-ICCD-0121. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E103, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Rachel Couch, (202) 502-7655.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: Application for Grants under the Educational Opportunity Centers Program (1894-0001).

    OMB Control Number: 1840-0820.

    Type of Review: A reinstatement of a previously approved information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Private Sector, State, Local and Tribal Governments.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 400.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 10,020.

    Abstract: The Department of Education is requesting a reinstatement with change of the application for grants under the Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) Program. The Department is requesting a reinstatement with change because the previous EOC application expired in March 2014 and the application will be needed for a Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 competition for new awards. The FY 2016 application incorporates new competitive preference priorities and removes the previously-used invitational priorities.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26831 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah Meeting AGENCY:

    Department of Energy (DOE).

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Paducah. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770) requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Thursday, November 19, 2015, 6:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Barkley Centre, 111 Memorial Drive, Paducah, Kentucky 42001.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer Woodard, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Department of Energy Paducah Site Office, Post Office Box 1410, MS-103, Paducah, Kentucky 42001, (270) 441-6825.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    • Call to Order, Introductions, Review of Agenda • Administrative Issues • Public Comments (15 minutes) • Adjourn Breaks Taken as Appropriate

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Paducah, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Jennifer Woodard as soon as possible in advance of the meeting at the telephone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Jennifer Woodard at the telephone number listed above. Requests must be received as soon as possible prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments. The EM SSAB, Paducah, will hear public comments pertaining to its scope (clean-up standards and environmental restoration; waste management and disposition; stabilization and disposition of non-stockpile nuclear materials; excess facilities; future land use and long-term stewardship; risk assessment and management; and clean-up science and technology activities). Comments outside of the scope may be submitted via written statement as directed above.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Jennifer Woodard at the address and phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://www.pgdpcab.energy.gov/2015Meetings.html.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2015. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26852 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Nevada Meeting AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Nevada. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770) requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 5:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    National Atomic Testing Museum, 755 East Flamingo, Las Vegas, Nevada 89159.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Barbara Ulmer, Board Administrator, 232 Energy Way, M/S 505, North Las Vegas, Nevada 89030. Phone: (702) 630-0522; Fax (702) 295-5300 or Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    • Open Meeting and Announcements • Chair's Opening Remarks • Public Comment • DOE Presentations on Board Work Plan Items • Liaison Updates • Other Board Business and Recommendation(s) Development • Meeting Wrap-up, Assessment and Adjournment

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Nevada, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Barbara Ulmer at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral presentations pertaining to agenda items should contact Barbara Ulmer at the telephone number listed above. The request must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments can do so during the 15 minutes allotted for public comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing to Barbara Ulmer at the address listed above or at the following Web site: http://nv.energy.gov/nssab/MeetingMinutes.aspx

    Issued at Washington, DC on October 16, 2015. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26855 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Savannah River Site Meeting AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Savannah River Site. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770) requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Monday, November 16, 2015, 1:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. ADDRESSES:

    New Ellenton Community Center, 212 Pine Hill Avenue, New Ellenton, SC 29809.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    de'Lisa Carrico, Office of External Affairs, Department of Energy, Savannah River Operations Office, P.O. Box A, Aiken, SC 29802; Phone: (803) 952-8607.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    Monday, November 16, 2015 1:00 p.m. Opening and Agenda Review 1:20 p.m. Work Plan Update 1:30 p.m. Combined Committees Session Order of committees: • Facilities Disposition & Site Remediation • Administrative & Outreach • Nuclear Materials • Waste Management • Strategic & Legacy Management 5:15 p.m. Public Comments 5:30 p.m. Adjourn Tuesday, November 17, 2015 8:30 a.m. Opening, Chair Update, and Agenda Review 8:55 a.m. Agency Updates 10:00 a.m. Public Comments 10:15 a.m. Break 10:30 a.m. Facilities Disposition & Site Remediation Committee Report 11:30 a.m. Public Comments 11:45 a.m. Lunch Break 1:15 p.m. Waste Management Committee Report 2:15 p.m. Administrative & Outreach Committee Report 2:30 p.m. Break 2:45 p.m. Nuclear Materials Committee Report 3:30 p.m. Strategic & Legacy Management Committee Report 4:15 p.m. Public Comments 4:30 p.m. Adjourn

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Savannah River Site, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact de'Lisa Carrico at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact de'Lisa Carrico's office at the address or telephone listed above. Requests must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling de'Lisa Carrico at the address or phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://cab.srs.gov/srs-cab.html.

    Issued at Washington, DC on October 16, 2015. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26853 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Oak Ridge Reservation Meeting AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Oak Ridge Reservation. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770) requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 6:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Chuy's Meeting Room, 9235 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Melyssa P. Noe, Federal Coordinator, Department of Energy Oak Ridge Operations Office, P.O. Box 2001, EM-90, Oak Ridge, TN 37831. Phone (865) 241-3315; Fax (865) 576-0956 or email: [email protected] or check the Web site at http://energy.gov/orem/services/community-engagement/oak-ridge-site-specific-advisory-board.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda

    • Welcome and Announcements • Comments from the Deputy Designated Federal Officer • Comments from the DOE, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Environmental Protection Agency Liaisons • Public Comment Period • DOE Presentation • Additions/Approval of Agenda • Motions/Approval of October 14, 2015 Meeting Minutes • Status of Recommendations with DOE • Committee Reports • Federal Coordinator Report • Adjourn

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Oak Ridge, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Melyssa P. Noe at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to the agenda item should contact Melyssa P. Noe at the address or telephone number listed above. Requests must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Melyssa P. Noe at the address and phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://energy.gov/orem/services/community-engagement/oak-ridge-site-specific-advisory-board.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 16, 2015. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26854 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1 October 9, 2015.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC16-8-000.

    Applicants: RPEP MTA Neptune, LLC, RPEP SMRS Neptune, LLC, Rahr Neptune, LLC, PowerBridge, LLC.

    Description: Joint Application for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act and Request for Expedited Action.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5234.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: EC16-9-000.

    Applicants: PowerBridge, LLC, Boundless Energy, LLC, Anbaric Neptune, LLC, Standard Energy Development Inc., Cianbro Development Corporation, Charles J. Micoleau Trust, CTSBM Investments LLC, James Broder, Charles E. Hewett, Ullico Infrastructure Neptune Holdco, LL.

    Description: Application for Authorization for Disposition of Jurisdictional Facilities, Requests for Confidential Treatment, Waivers, and Expedited Consideration of Ullico Infrastructure Neptune Holdco, LLC, et al. under EC16-9.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5237.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1437-001.

    Applicants: Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: EGSL-ETI Acquisition Adjustment to be effective 12/31/998.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5214.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-2409-001.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 2015-10-08_SA 2825 Amendment to MidAmerican-Highland Wind GIA (J285) to be effective 8/4/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5209.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-40-000.

    Applicants: Nevada Power Company.

    Description: Compliance filing: OATT Revisions to Attachment O Update from NVE Database and Current to be effective 5/15/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5211.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-41-000.

    Applicants: Electric Energy, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Revised and Restated Cost-Based Power Contract to be effective 11/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5213.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-42-000.

    Applicants: Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Balancing Account Update 2016 (TRBAA, RSBA, ECRBAA) to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/8/15.

    Accession Number: 20151008-5216.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/29/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-43-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Edison Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Service Agreement with Ecos Energy, LLC Painted Hill Solar Project to be effective 12/9/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151009-5003.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-44-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Edison Company.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Large Generator Interconnection Agreement for Pastoria Energy Facility TOT645 to be effective 10/17/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151009-5004.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/30/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26797 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC16-14-000.

    Applicants: Eden Solar, LLC.

    Description: Application for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act, Request for Expedited Consideration and Confidential Treatment of Eden Solar, LLC.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5305.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER16-89-000.

    Applicants: Jether Energy Research, LTD.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Application for MBR Authority to be effective 12/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/15/15.

    Accession Number: 20151015-5284.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/5/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-90-000.

    Applicants: Golden Hills Interconnection, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Golden Hills Interconnection, LLC MBR Application to be effective 11/18/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/15/15.

    Accession Number: 20151015-5312.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/5/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-91-000.

    Applicants: Blythe Solar 110, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Blythe Solar 110, LLC Application for MBR Authority to be effective 12/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/15/15.

    Accession Number: 20151015-5314.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/5/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-92-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2016 Capital Budget and Revised Tariff Sheets for Recovery of 2016 Admin. Costs to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5158.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-93-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Revised Tariff Sheets for Recovery of Costs for 2016 Operation of NESCOE to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5173.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-94-000.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. submits Third Quarter 2015 Capital Budget Report under ER16-94.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5183.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-95-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-10-16_SA 2834 ATC-NSPW Design and Construction Agreement to be effective 12/15/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5289.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-96-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-10-16_SA 2835 ATC-NPS Pole Removal and Replacement Agreement to be effective 12/15/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5291.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-97-000.

    Applicants: Entergy Arkansas, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: EAI-SWPA Amendatory Agreement to be effective 1/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5297.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-98-000.

    Applicants: Windom Transmission, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Windom Transmission and ALP Wind Transmission and Interconnection Agreement to be effective 12/15/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5328.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric securities filings:

    Docket Numbers: ES16-1-000.

    Applicants: Allegheny Generating Company.

    Description: Application of Allegheny Generating Company for Authorization under Section 204(a) of the Federal Power Act to Issue Short-Term Debt Securities.

    Filed Date: 10/15/15.

    Accession Number: 20151015-5348.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/5/15.

    Docket Numbers: ES16-2-000.

    Applicants: Mississippi Power Company.

    Description: Application of Mississippi Power Company for Authorization to Issue Securities Under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act and Request tor Exemption from Competitive Bidding Requirements.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5304.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    Docket Numbers: ES16-3-000.

    Applicants: PacifiCorp.

    Description: Application for Authorization to issue and sell up to $1.5 billion of promissory notes or other evidences of unsecured short-term indebtedness of PacifiCorp.

    Filed Date: 10/16/15.

    Accession Number: 20151016-5346.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/6/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26835 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 1962-203] Pacific Gas and Electric Company; Notice of Application Accepted for Filing, Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Protests

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection:

    a. Type of Application: Application for Temporary Variance of Minimum Flow Requirement.

    b. Project No.: 1962-203.

    c. Date Filed: October 15, 2015.

    d. Applicant: Pacific Gas and Electric Company (licensee).

    e. Name of Project: Rock Creek-Cresta Project.

    f. Location: North Fork Feather River in Plumas, Butte, Yuba, and Sutter counties, California.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791(a)-825(r).

    h. Applicant Contact: Mr. Steve Bauman, License Coordinator, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Mail Code: N13E, P.O. Box 770000, San Francisco, CA 94177, (415) 973-7410.

    i. FERC Contact: Mr. John Aedo, (415) 369-3335, or [email protected]

    j. Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, protests, and recommendations is October 30, 2015. The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file motions to intervene, protests, comments, or recommendations using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20426. Please include the project number (P-1962-203) on any comments, motions to intervene, protests, or recommendations filed.

    k. Description of Request: The licensee requests a temporary variance of the minimum flow requirement in the Rock Creek and Cresta reaches of the North Fork Feather River. The licensee states that it is planning to conduct inspections of the low-level outlet conduit and gates of the Rock Creek and Cresta dams. In addition, the licensee plans to conduct dive inspections of the plunge pools of both dams. In order to facilitate the inspections and allow the field crew to work safely in the channel and plunge pools, the licensee requests a temporary reduction in the minimum flows below both dams. Specifically, the licensee requests Commission approval to reduce flows from the required 110 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 100 below Rock Creek and Crests Dams, respectively, to between 60 and 80 cfs at both dams. The licensee requests that the flow variance occur between November 1 and December 31, 2015.

    l. Locations of the Application: A copy of the application is available for inspection and reproduction at the Commission's Public Reference Room, located at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426, or by calling (202) 502-8371. This filing may also be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. You may also register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filings and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, call 1-866-208-3676 or email [email protected], for TTY, call (202) 502-8659. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item (h) above.

    m. Individuals desiring to be included on the Commission's mailing list should so indicate by writing to the Secretary of the Commission.

    n. Comments, Protests, or Motions to Intervene: Anyone may submit comments, a protest, or a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.210, .211, .214. In determining the appropriate action to take, the Commission will consider all protests or other comments filed, but only those who file a motion to intervene in accordance with the Commission's Rules may become a party to the proceeding. Any comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be received on or before the specified comment date for the particular application.

    o. Filing and Service of Responsive Documents: Any filing must (1) bear in all capital letters the title “COMMENTS”, “PROTEST”, or “MOTION TO INTERVENE” as applicable; (2) set forth in the heading the name of the applicant and the project number of the application to which the filing responds; (3) furnish the name, address, and telephone number of the person protesting or intervening; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, motions to intervene, or protests must set forth their evidentiary basis and otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 4.34(b). All comments, motions to intervene, or protests should relate to project works which are the subject of the license surrender. Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant. A copy of any protest or motion to intervene must be served upon each representative of the applicant specified in the particular application. If an intervener files comments or documents with the Commission relating to the merits of an issue that may affect the responsibilities of a particular resource agency, they must also serve a copy of the document on that resource agency. A copy of all other filings in reference to this application must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed in the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26836 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #2 (October 9, 2015)

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER12-309-007.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing: 2015-10-09_Compliance Net Zero Attachment X Filing to be effective 1/1/2012.

    Filed Date: 10/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151009-5237.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-45-000.

    Applicants: NorthWestern Corporation.

    Description: Initial rate filing: SA 759—Agreement with Tessenderlo Kerley Services re Jupiter Sulphur Project to be effective 10/10/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151009-5231

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/30/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-46-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: First Revised Interconnection Service Agreement No. 3837, Queue No. X4-048 to be effective 9/14/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151009-5260.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/30/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following land acquisition reports:

    Docket Numbers: LA15-3-000.

    Applicants: MidAmerican Energy Company.

    Description: Quarterly Land Acquisition Report of MidAmerican Energy Company, et al.

    Filed Date: 10/9/15.

    Accession Number: 20151009-5111.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 10/30/15.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26798 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OGC-2015-0678; FRL 9936-07-OGC] Proposed Settlement Agreement AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed settlement agreement; request for public comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with section 113(g) of the Clean Air Act (the “Act”), 42 U.S.C. 7413(g), notice is hereby given of a proposed settlement agreement to resolve two cases filed by the WildEarth Guardians (“Guardians”) and Sierra Club involving EPA actions under the CAA Title V operating permit program. On January 7, 2015, Guardians and Sierra Club filed petitions with the Environmental Appeal Board (“EAB”) challenging a Part 71 Operating Permit issued by EPA Region 8 on December 5, 2014, to Deseret Power Cooperative (“Deseret”) to operate the Bonanza Power Plant (“Bonanza Plant”) (In re Deseret Power Cooperative Bonanza Power Plant, CAA Appeal Nos. 15-1, 15-2). Under the proposed settlement agreement, Deseret would submit an application for a minor New Source Review (NSR) permit to implement the specific terms of the agreement; and EPA would draft and provide for public notice of the proposed permit.

    DATES:

    Written comments on the proposed settlement agreement must be received by November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OGC-2015-0678 online at www.regulations.gov (EPA's preferred method); by email to [email protected]; by mail to EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; or by hand delivery or courier to EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Comments on a disk or CD-ROM should be formatted in Word or ASCII file, avoiding the use of special characters and any form of encryption, and may be mailed to the mailing address above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sara L. Laumann, Office of Regional Counsel, EPA Region 8, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver CO 80202-2466; telephone: (303) 312-6443; fax number: (303) 312-6859; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Additional Information About the Proposed Settlement Agreement

    The proposed settlement agreement would resolve two cases filed by the WildEarth Guardians (“Guardians”) and Sierra Club involving EPA actions under the CAA Title V operating permit program. On January 7, 2015, Guardians and Sierra Club filed petitions with the Environmental Appeal Board (“EAB”) challenging a Part 71 Operating Permit issued by EPA Region 8 on December 5, 2014, to Deseret Power Cooperative (“Deseret”) to operate the Bonanza Power Plant (“Bonanza Plant”), a 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant located within the exterior boundaries of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Utah. Under the proposed settlement agreement, Deseret would submit an application for a minor New Source Review (NSR) permit which would provide for installation of low NOX burners with over-fire air controls, along with other operator-requested permit terms and conditions. The agreement also provides that if EPA Region 8 issues a final permit with provisions that are consistent with the settlement agreement: (1) Petitioners would file motions to dismiss the EAB appeals; (2) EPA would withdraw a proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit for the facility; (3) Deseret would withdraw an outstanding permit application; and (4) Deseret and Sierra Club would withdraw their respective and related FOIA requests. Under the agreement EPA would also state its plan to withdraw a proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit for the Plant. The proposed settlement agreement also provides that nothing in the agreement shall be construed to limit or modify any discretion afforded EPA by the Act or by general principles of administrative law in taking those actions. See the proposed settlement agreement for specific details.

    For a period of thirty (30) days following the date of publication of this notice, the Agency will accept written comments relating to the proposed settlement agreement from persons who were not named as parties or interveners to the litigation in question. EPA may withdraw or withhold consent to the proposed settlement agreement if the comments disclose facts or considerations that indicate that such consent is inappropriate, improper, inadequate, or inconsistent with the requirements of the Act. Unless EPA determines that consent to this settlement agreement should be withdrawn, the terms of the agreement will be affirmed.

    II. Additional Information About Commenting on the Proposed Settlement Agreement A. How can I get a copy of the settlement agreement?

    The official public docket for this action (identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OGC-2015-0678) contains a copy of the proposed settlement agreement. The official public docket is available for public viewing at the Office of Environmental Information (OEI) Docket in the EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center 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 OEI Docket is (202) 566-1752.

    An electronic version of the public docket is available through www.regulations.gov. You may use the www.regulations.gov to submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, key in the appropriate docket identification number then select “search.”

    It is important to note that EPA's policy is that public comments, whether submitted electronically or in paper, will be made available for public viewing online at www.regulations.gov without change, unless the comment contains copyrighted material, CBI, or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Information claimed as CBI and other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute is not included in the official public docket or in the electronic public docket. EPA's policy is that copyrighted material, including copyrighted material contained in a public comment, will not be placed in EPA's electronic public docket but will be available only in printed, paper form in the official public docket. Although not all docket materials may be available electronically, you may still access any of the publicly available docket materials through the EPA Docket Center.

    B. How and to whom do I submit comments?

    You may submit comments as provided in the ADDRESSES section. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the specified comment period. Comments received after the close of the comment period will be marked “late.” EPA is not required to consider these late comments.

    If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name, mailing address, and an email address or other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. This ensures that you can be identified as the submitter of the comment and allows EPA to contact you in case EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties or needs further information on the substance of your comment. Any identifying or contact information provided in the body of a comment will be included as part of the comment that is placed in the official public docket, and made available in EPA's electronic public docket. 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.

    Use of the www.regulations.gov Web site to submit comments to EPA electronically is EPA's preferred method for receiving comments. The electronic public docket system is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity, email address, or other contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. In contrast to EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's electronic mail (email) system is not an “anonymous access” system. If you send an email comment directly to the Docket without going through www.regulations.gov, your email address is automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the official public docket, and made available in EPA's electronic public docket.

    Dated: October 13, 2015. Lorie J. Schmidt, Associate General Counsel.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26919 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635; FRL-9936-06-ORD] Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Chemical Safety for Sustainability Subcommittee; Public Teleconference Meeting—November 2015 AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of public teleconference meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development (ORD), gives notice of a public teleconference meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Chemical Safety for Sustainability Subcommittee.

    DATES:

    The teleconference meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time. The teleconference may adjourn early if all business is finished or may adjourn late if additional time is needed. Any member of the public interested in receiving a draft agenda, attending the teleconference, or making a presentation during the teleconference may contact Megan Fleming, the Designated Federal Officer, via any of the contact methods listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section below. Requests will be accepted up to one business day before the meeting.

    ADDRESSES:

    Participation in the meeting will be by teleconference only; meeting rooms will not be used. Members of the public may obtain the call-in number and access code for the call from Megan Fleming, the Designated Federal Officer, via any of the contact methods listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section below.

    Submitting Comments: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635, by one of the following methods:

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

    Email: Send comments by electronic mail (email) to: [email protected], Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635.

    Fax: Fax comments to: (202) 566-0224, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635.

    Mail: Send comments by mail to: Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Chemical Safety for Sustainability Subcommittee Docket, Mail Code: 2822T, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC, 20004, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635.

    Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver comments to: EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Room 3334, William Jefferson Clinton West Building, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635. Note: This is not a mailing address. Deliveries are only accepted during the docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0635. The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or email. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, the EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If the EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about the EPA's public docket visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Chemical Safety for Sustainability Subcommittee Docket, EPA/DC, William Jefferson Clinton West Building, Room 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 ORD Docket is (202) 566-1752.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The Designated Federal Officer via mail at: Megan Fleming, Mail Code 8104R, Office of Science Policy, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; via phone/voice mail at: (202) 564-6604; or via email at: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    General Information: The teleconference is open to the public. Any member of the public interested in receiving a draft agenda, attending the teleconference, or making a presentation during the teleconference may contact Megan Fleming, the Designated Federal Officer, via any of the contact methods listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above. In general, each individual making an oral presentation will be limited to a total of three minutes. Teleconference deliberations will focus on draft report findings and recommendations from an October 2015 meeting. Documents from the October meeting are available for viewing and downloading at: http://www2.epa.gov/bosc/chemical-safety-sustainability-bosc-subcommittee-meeting-documents. Proposed agenda items for the teleconference include, but are not limited to, the following: Presentation and discussion of the subcommittee's draft responses to the charge questions and approval of the final draft letter report prior to its submission to the BOSC Executive Committee.

    Information on Services for Individuals with Disabilities: For information on access or services for individuals with disabilities, please contact Megan Fleming at (202) 564-6604 or [email protected] To request accommodation of a disability, please contact Megan Fleming, preferably at least ten days prior to the teleconference, to give the EPA as much time as possible to process your request.

    Dated October 15, 2015. Fred S. Hauchman, Director, Office of Science Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26937 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL-9935-71-Region 8] Administrative Agreement and Order on Consent for Post Removal Site Control Activities by Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser: Rocky Flats Industrial Park Superfund Site, Jefferson County, Colorado AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed agreement; request for public comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the requirements of sections 104, 106(a), 107, and 122 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. 9604, 9606(a), 9607 and 9622, notice is hereby given of the proposed administrative settlement under section 107 and 122 of CERCLA, between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and bona fide prospective purchaser Columbine Strategies LLC (“Settling Party”). The proposed Settlement Agreement requires the Settling Party to conduct work under EPA oversight in exchange for a covenant not to sue pursuant to sections 106 and 107(a) of CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. 9606 and 9607(a) for existing contamination at the Site. The Settling Party consents to and will not contest the authority of the United States to enter into this Agreement or to implement or enforce its terms.

    The Settling Parties recognize that this Agreement has been negotiated in good faith and that this Agreement is entered into without the admission or adjudication of any issue of fact or law.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before November 23, 2015. For thirty (30) days following the date of publication of this notice, the Agency will receive written comments relating to the agreement. The Agency will consider all comments received and may modify or withdraw its consent to the agreement if comments received disclose facts or considerations that indicate that the agreement is inappropriate, improper, or inadequate.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Agency's response to any comments, the proposed agreement and additional background information relating to the agreement are available for public inspection at the EPA Superfund Record Center, 1595 Wynkoop Denver, Colorado, by appointment.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steven Moores, Enforcement Attorney, Legal Enforcement Program, Environmental Protection Agency-Region 8, Mail Code 8ENF-L, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202, (303) 312-6857. Comments and requests for a copy of the proposed agreement should be addressed to Sharon Abendschan, Enforcement Specialist, Environmental Protection Agency—Region 8, Mail Code 8ENF-RC, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202 and should reference the Rocky Flats Industrial Park Superfund Site, Jefferson County, Colorado.

    Suzanne Bohan, Assistant Regional Administrator, Office of Enforcement, Compliance and Environmental Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region VIII.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26938 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION Sunshine Act Meeting AGENCY:

    Federal Election Commission.

    TIME AND DATE:

    Tuesday, October 27, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. and Thursday, October 29, 2015, at the conclusion of the open meeting.

    PLACE:

    999 E Street NW., Washington, DC.

    STATUS:

    This meeting will be closed to the public.

    MATTERS TO BE DISCUSSED:

    Compliance matters pursuant to 52 U.S.C. 30109. Matters concerning participation in civil actions or proceeding, or arbitration.

    CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Judith Ingram, Press Officer, Telephone: (202) 694-1220.

    Shelley E. Garr, Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27087 Filed 10-20-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 6715-01-P
    FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY [No. 2015-N-10] Notice of Establishment of Housing Price Index AGENCY:

    Federal Housing Finance Agency.

    ACTION:

    Final notice.

    SUMMARY:

    On May 27, 2015, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a Notice and Request for Input (Notice) describing a method for assessing the national average single-family house price for use in adjusting the maximum conforming loan limits of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “Enterprises”). The Notice responded to section 1322 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 (12 U.S.C. 4501 et seq.) (“Safety and Soundness Act”) which required FHFA to “establish and maintain a method of assessing the national average 1-family house price for use in adjusting the conforming loan limitations.” The Notice indicated that FHFA intends to use its existing “expanded-data” house price index (HPI) for such purpose and invited public feedback.

    In line with the proposal in the original Notice, after reviewing the public feedback, FHFA has decided to use the expanded-data HPI for annual loan-limit adjustment. Specifically, FHFA will use the seasonally adjusted, expanded-data HPI for the United States.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 22, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Questions about the expanded-data HPI and the implementation of the conforming loan limit rules can be addressed to Andrew Leventis, Principal Economist, 202-649-3199, [email protected], or Jamie Schwing, Associate General Counsel, 202-649-3085, [email protected], (not toll-free numbers), Federal Housing Finance Agency, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20024.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A. Background

    The “Notice of the Establishment of Housing Price Index” that FHFA issued in May 1 announced that the agency intended to use its expanded-data HPI for the purpose of satisfying section 1322 (12 U.S.C. 4542) of the Safety and Soundness Act.2 Section 1322 requires FHFA to “establish and maintain” a house price index that tracks the average U.S. home price. May's Notice detailed FHFA's rationale for the choice of the expanded-data index over other measures. The Notice discussed the advantages and disadvantages of several metrics and outlined the various considerations FHFA found most compelling in choosing the index. Identifying the seasonally adjusted, expanded-data HPI for the U.S. as the selected index, the Notice invited public input and provided for an input period that extended through July 27, 2015. This Final Notice summarizes the input submissions received and responds to questions and concerns that were raised in the submissions.

    1See 80 FR 30237 (May 27, 2015).

    2 Section 1124(d) of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), 122 Stat. 2693, amended the Safety and Soundness Act to include this section.

    B. Overview of Input Submissions Received

    FHFA received a total of 20 submissions in response to the Notice. Submissions were received from private citizens, trade associations, a think tank, and one private company. Twelve of the submissions did not address the issue on which input had been requested: the appropriateness of the chosen home price measure. In most cases, these submissions opined on the desirability of having higher conforming loan limits, rather than FHFA's choice of index.

    In general, the eight responsive submissions were favorable to FHFA's proposed use of its expanded-data index for loan limit adjustment. Most submissions supported the basic underlying methodology used in the index construction and appreciated the breadth of the data sample used in forming the index. More generally, submitters agreed that reliance on an agency-produced measure (as opposed to a privately produced index) would be beneficial in that it would ensure continued publication of the reference index. They also concurred with FHFA's belief that its control over the reference index would ensure that undesirable modifications to methodology would not be made (as might happen if the agency relied on an external measure of home prices).

    Five of the eight responsive submissions were generally supportive of the use of the expanded-data index as-is. The remaining three did not object to the use of the expanded-data index, but suggested modifications to the process or augmentations. In particular, the proposed adjustments recommended the use of multiple price indexes and, in one case, the consideration of other mortgage market factors.

    For the purpose of summarizing and addressing the responsive submissions received, this Final Notice divides them into two groups: “Supportive” and “Other.” This classification is for convenience; as will be clear in the discussion, responses in both categories were not uniform. For instance, in some cases, the “Supportive” submissions included questions or expressed modest concerns. Meanwhile, the “Other” submissions often included strong praise for certain characteristics of FHFA's proposal.

    C. Discussion of the Five Responsive “Supportive” Submissions 1. Summary

    Three of the five “supportive” submissions were wholly in agreement with the proposed use of the expanded-data index for tracking the average U.S. home price. None of the three, which were all submitted by trade associations, provided any material criticism. They expressed strong support for FHFA's choice and, to varying degrees, the principles FHFA used in evaluating measures.

    The remaining two “supportive” submissions—one from a trade association and one from a private company—provided supplementary recommendations. The submissions addressed the following issues.

    a. Data Inputs

    Submissions urged FHFA to incorporate as much transaction data as possible in the formation of the expanded-data index.

    b. Distressed Sales and Gaps between House Price Indexes

    Submissions asked that FHFA track the impact of distressed sales 3 on index estimates over time, while also monitoring divergences between the FHFA index and other home price measures.

    3 “Distressed sales” include short sales and sales of properties that have gone through foreclosure.

    c. Transparency and Data Releases

    The submitter recommendation was that FHFA publish additional details about the underlying data used for index construction.

    d. Constraints on Historical Index Values

    One submission asked FHFA to consider constraining the historical index series. That is—the request was that FHFA consider not permitting revisions in prior index estimates. Like all of FHFA indexes, the expanded-data HPI has historical values that are regularly updated to account for new data.

    e. Geometric vs. Arithmetic Index

    Without veering from its support of the expanded-data index, one submission also noted a theoretical bias in the expanded-data index's measurement of trends in average home prices. In particular, the submitter stated that the underlying methodology used in forming the expanded-data index will create indexes that track the geometric average home price as opposed to the arithmetic average home price.4 In doing so, as a theoretical matter, the index reportedly would grow somewhat more slowly over time than would an arithmetic index. The letter conceded that the differences will be small over the short term (e.g., on an annual bias), but worried about long-term compounding effects. The letter noted that the CoreLogic-produced indexes track arithmetic average home prices and thus are not susceptible to this bias.

    4 The geometric average of a set of numbers is computed by multiplying the numbers together and then raising the product to the power of one divided by the number of observations. Although not necessarily the case, the geometric average can be close to the median value. The arithmetic average is formed by adding numbers together and dividing by the number of observations.

    Although the “arithmetic” average is probably the most common interpretation of the term “average,” it is not the only recognized meaning of the term, and the statutory text does not make explicit which type of “average” the index is supposed to track. Which type of average to use is thus left to the judgment of FHFA, as the agency charged with administering and interpreting the statute.

    2. FHFA Response a. Data Inputs

    With respect to the submitter interest in having FHFA increase the amount of data used in calibrating the expanded-data index: FHFA agrees that this is a desirable goal. In the context of tracking overall home values across the country, more data will tend to provide more precise estimates of price changes. While the database currently used is extensive and incorporates a wide array of transaction data, FHFA will continue exploring opportunities for increasing the sample size.5 As stated in the Notice, to the extent that new data become available and are incorporated, FHFA will communicate the effects of those changes to the public.

    5 For instance, opportunities may exist for supplementing the existing data sample with sales data from Multiple Listing Services and electronic appraisal data.

    b. Distressed Sales and Gaps between House Price Indexes

    With respect to monitoring of distressed sales and divergences between the FHFA index and other metrics: FHFA concurs that these are reasonable activities. FHFA, in fact, has been doing this type of monitoring for many years and has published a number of papers showing the results of its work.6 Also, FHFA publishes “distress-free” house price indexes for twelve large cities so that it and the general public can review the localized impact of distressed sales on price measurement. FHFA plans to continue such releases and, more generally, will continue evaluating price movements across multiple measurements.

    6See, for instance, Andrew Leventis, “Revisiting the Differences between the OFHEO and S&P/Case-Shiller Housing Price Indexes: New Explanations” OFHEO Research Paper, January 2008, available at http://www.fhfa.gov/PolicyProgramsResearch/Research/PaperDocuments/20080115_RP_RevisitingDifferencesOFHEOSPCaseShillerHPI_N508.pdf; Andrew Leventis, “The Impact of Distressed Sales on Repeat-Transactions House Price Indexes,” FHFA Research Paper, May 27, 2009, available at http://www.fhfa.gov/PolicyProgramsResearch/Research/PaperDocuments/20090527_RP_ImpactDistressedSalesHPI_RP_508.pdf; and Will Doerner and Andrew Leventis, “Working Paper 13-1: Distressed Sales and the FHFA House Price Index,” FHFA Working Paper, August 2013, available at http://www.fhfa.gov/PolicyProgramsResearch/Research/PaperDocuments/2013-08_WorkingPaper_13-1_508.pdf.

    c. Transparency and Data Releases

    A longstanding tradition in HPI production has been to communicate relevant summary data about the data sample to the public. Accordingly, FHFA appreciates the submitter interest in maximizing the transparency of the data used in index calibration. FHFA regularly publishes information about the share of the overall data sample comprising refinance loans and, for the expanded-data index, identifies index estimates that have been calibrated with limited county recorder data.7 For the purchase-only indexes, flags identify states having small sample sizes. Highlights articles and Technical Notes in the past have provided information about the data samples as well. Aside from the FHFA-provided data, relevant information is also available from the Enterprises. Because few data filters are applied to the data sample before the indexes are estimated, index users seeking information about the Enterprise portion of the expanded-data transactions can benefit from reviewing loan-level summary statistics regularly published by the Enterprises.8

    7See the downloadable expanded-data HPI estimates and the “loan type” table at http://www.fhfa.gov/DataTools/Downloads/Pages/House-Price-Index-Datasets.aspx.

    8See, for instance, Fannie Mae's quarterly “Credit Supplement” and Freddie Mac's quarterly “Financial Results Supplement.”

    Although a great deal of information is already available, FHFA will continue evaluating opportunities for enhancing its release of summary data. In reviewing those opportunities, FHFA will weigh the likely value of the additional detail against the required resource demands. It must also consider whether the release of more data would violate the terms of any applicable data licenses or would inappropriately release confidential data.

    d. Constraints on Historical Index Values

    The suggestion that FHFA should contemplate constraining historical values of the expanded-data HPI is motivated by a concern that historical index revisions might cause confusion among some index users. The submitter recognizes that the entire historical index series is revised with each new index release, but it expresses concern that such revisions will make it difficult for the public to evaluate price changes.

    Although FHFA understands the argument, it does not believe that artificial constraints on historical values are warranted. The suggestion, which was not a matter of particular stress in the submitter's letter, would entail a significant departure from the basic repeat-transactions indexing model and would require a significant re-tooling of the programming code. Furthermore, historical index revisions tend to be relatively small, particularly over short periods of time. The index constraints would also necessarily reduce the accuracy of the index estimates. Finally, many—if not most—users of FHFA's suite of public indexes are already accustomed to the fact that historical index values are always subject to revision.

    e. Geometric vs. Arithmetic Index

    Regarding the theoretical biases associated with FHFA's use of an index that tracks the geometric average home value: FHFA appreciates the feedback and understands the issue. As a geometric index, FHFA's expanded-data measure will tend to correlate somewhat more closely with changes in median home values as opposed to arithmetic-average home values and, in theory, will grow slightly more slowly than an arithmetic-based price index would. Recognizing the theoretical issue, FHFA notes that growth rate differences will likely be small and increases in a geometric index in practice can actually exceed increases for an arithmetic measure.9 A conversion to an arithmetic-average index would also inconvenience those index users who find the existing FHFA methodology superior for their applications. Coupled with the fact that a conversion to an arithmetic-average index would require a significant expenditure of internal resources (to change programming code and perform model validation), these considerations lead FHFA to believe that continuing with the existing methodology is appropriate.

    9See page 118 of Robert Shiller, “Arithmetic Repeat Sales Price Estimators” Journal of Housing Economics 1, 1991, pages 110-126.

    D. Discussion of the Three Responsive “Other” Submissions 1. Summary

    As mentioned above, the three “other” responsive submissions suggested various modifications to the proposal described in the initial Notice. None of them expressed outright disapproval of the use of the expanded-data HPI and, indeed, incorporated it into their proposals. Submitters felt that adjustments were necessary to address perceived shortfalls, however.

    The first of the “other” submissions expressed support for the use of the expanded-data index, but worried that the index does not adequately reflect price trends for new homes. It noted that the underlying repeat-transactions approach used in forming the index is calibrated using homes that have had two or more historical sales. The upshot of reliance on homes with multiple transactions is that price trends for brand new homes will not be incorporated into the index.

    To mitigate the perceived problem, the submitter suggested that FHFA form a weighted index that incorporates the expanded-data measure as well as the price index for new homes published by the Census Bureau—the Constant Quality House Price Index (CQHPI). The change in the new combined index would be calculated as the weighted average of the changes in the FHFA expanded-data HPI and the change in the CQHPI, where the weights would be the relative shares of existing-vs-new home sales. So, for instance, if 15 percent of all property sales in a year were sales of new homes, then the growth in the combined index would be 85 percent times the change in the expanded-data index plus 15 percent times the change in the CQHPI.

    The second of the “other” submissions expressed no concerns about the absence of new homes in the data sample, but rather was troubled by the potential effects of distressed sales on index estimates. The submitter was concerned that variations in the volumes of distressed sales across geographic areas could inappropriately bias index estimates. To mitigate this problem, the letter recommended that FHFA use both the expanded-data index and its traditional “purchase-only” index, which is calibrated using only Enterprise data. Specifically, it suggests that FHFA use the higher of the two appreciation rates—the rates reflected in expanded-data and purchase-only indexes—when adjusting the conforming loan limit. No indication is provided as to why a “higher-of” rule is better than some other type of rule (e.g., a simple averaging of the two numbers).

    The same submitter asked that FHFA “explain and justify” its use of indexes that reflect changes in the geometric average home price. While endorsing the use of the expanded-data and purchase-only indexes, both of which rely on the geometric approach, the letter broadly worries about the same bias as was addressed earlier.

    The third of the “other” submissions did not address the issue of the geometric index bias, but was otherwise similar in that it suggested the same “higher-of” rule for estimating price changes. It contends that a “superior alternative” to the use of the expanded-data index would be for FHFA to adjust the loan limits by the higher of the annual appreciation rates observed in the expanded-data and purchase-only index. FHFA has had difficulty following the justification set forth in the letter, but the rationale appears to rest on the assumption that, because of tightened credit availability, homes outside of the conforming market (e.g., expensive homes) will evidence relatively anemic price growth in the early stages of economic recoveries. By including homes financed with non-Enterprise loans, the expanded-data HPI reportedly will tend to exhibit lackluster price growth during recoveries.10 The “higher-of” rule would ensure that the conforming loan limit grows by a reasonable rate during recoveries.

    10 The submitter showed that the expanded-data HPI grew more slowly than the purchase-only series in the latest recovery.

    The same submitter presented the idea that a “more sophisticated” approach to loan limit adjustment might be taken. The alternative approach would take into account market factors beyond home prices when adjusting loan limits. Measures of loan “access,” for instance, might be incorporated. The letter also suggests that in lieu of this “more sophisticated” measure, FHFA might simply use its purchase-only index—either in its existing form or in a value-weighted form.11 As justification for the use of the purchase-only index, the letter simply indicates that “it grows faster during market's expansion through the housing cycle.”

    11 The value-weighted index would track the arithmetic average home price.

    2. FHFA Response

    None of the three “other” submissions expressed particularly strong sentiment against the use expanded-data HPI and, in evaluating the rationale for the proposed modifications, FHFA does not find the arguments to be particularly persuasive. In general, the suggested adjustments have limited support from both a statutory and statistical perspective.

    a. Price Trends for New Homes

    In assessing the criticism that FHFA's index—like other repeat-transactions indexes—does not specifically incorporate information about price trends for brand new homes, FHFA agrees that this may be a theoretical shortfall. However, FHFA does not believe that this will be a particularly significant problem in practice. First, while not capturing price trends for brand new home sales, the repeat-transaction model will reflect price changes for relatively new homes. This is because the underlying calibration dataset includes cases in which new homes were sold and then sold again within a relatively short period of time. The price change for these “young” homes will presumably be quite similar to price trends for brand new homes.

    In weighting by the share of sales for new homes, the submitter's proposal assumes that the index of interest should reflect price trends for homes that have recently sold. FHFA does not agree that this is appropriate in this context. FHFA's expanded-data index, like its other indexes, aims to track average home prices for all U.S. properties—the overall housing stock—and not just values for homes that were sold. To implement the right weighting, FHFA forms the national index by taking a housing-stock-weighted average of outcomes in the respective states.

    To be sure, price changes in the individual states necessarily must be calculated using recent transaction prices. However, as evidenced by the fact that FHFA uses housing stock estimates when forming the national index, FHFA's goal is to reflect price trends for the overall housing stock.

    Given this goal, the relevant statistic for evaluating the importance of new homes is the share of the housing stock that such homes comprise. New homes represent a very small proportion of the overall housing stock and thus the submitter's concern about the exclusion of new homes is not particularly problematic. Although new home sales constitute a reasonable share of transactions in a given year (according to the submitted letter, they have averaged about 17 percent of sales over the past 15 years), new homes are a very small proportion of the housing stock. In 2014, for instance, about 620,000 one-unit new homes were built.12 For comparison purposes, estimates from the Census Bureau indicate that there were more than 89 million one-unit properties in the country in the preceding year.13 New homes thus were substantially less than one percent of the housing stock in 2014. A stock-weighted combined index thus would place more than 99 percent of its weight on the price change reported by the expanded-data index.

    12See new private new home “completions” in Table 5 of the New Residential Construction report (available at http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst.pdf).

    13See http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_13_1YR_B25024&prodType=table.

    b. Distressed Sales and Housing Cycles

    With respect to the argument that distressed sales can distort home price measurements: As detailed in the Notice and noted by another submitter, there are advantages and disadvantages associated with the inclusion of such sales in the data sample. Such transactions can provide valuable information about price trends in cases where non-distressed sales volumes are modest, for instance. Also, even if removing distressed sales was deemed to be desirable after balancing the various considerations, given current available data sources, it is difficult to clearly identify such sales and remove them from the data sample.14

    14 FHFA currently publishes distress-free measures for 12 metropolitan areas, but such measures make use of a special, third-party-sourced dataset to identify distressed transactions.

    The submission that raises concerns about the expanded-data index showing relatively limited price growth during market recoveries provides no evidence that the (anticipated) slow growth would misrepresent actual appreciation in the market. Tracking of home prices is the key statutory requirement and, accordingly, the relevant issue for FHFA is not whether certain market factors may influence lending and home prices during market cycles; rather, the key issue for FHFA is the reliability and accuracy of price measurement. The plain language of the statute does not ask FHFA to evaluate market conditions (as the submitter would have done using a “more sophisticated measure”) or to somehow account for likely market factors when selecting the appropriate index. It also does not ask FHFA to select an index that maximizes measured price appreciation during certain parts of the housing cycle.

    Given the basic goal of tracking the average home value over time, the “higher-of ” rule suggested by submitters is not well aligned with the statutory language. By construction, the higher-of rule will clearly inflate estimates of home price appreciation (and minimize measured price declines) and thus would tend to lead to artificial growth in conforming loan limits.

    One of the two submitters that advances the “higher-of ” rule does so to mitigate the effect of distressed sales on index estimates. Even assuming that the inclusion of distressed sales is problematic—an issue addressed above—it is not clear why the maximum of the two price change estimates would be superior over the long term to use of the midpoint (or some other function of the two). Also, although there may be some differences, the two indexes generally will be affected similarly by changes in the volumes of distressed sales.

    E. Conclusion

    While not unanimous, the submissions received in response to the Notice were, on balance, quite positive. All submitters seemed to agree that an FHFA-produced measure was appropriate. The only matter of some (limited) debate seemed to be whether small adjustments were necessary. In some cases, the contemplated adjustments would have a limited influence on index estimates. In other cases, FHFA believes that the adjustments are not supported by the statutory language.

    FHFA will begin using the seasonally adjusted, expanded-data HPI for the U.S. for the purpose of adjusting the baseline conforming loan limit.15 Consistent with the usual timing of loan-limit releases, the first use of the index will be in late November of this year when FHFA announces the 2016 Enterprise loan limits. As in prior years, FHFA will publish actual loan limits as well as detailed information about the relevant calculations. Given that the expanded-data index is now the reference index, the relevant discussion will include an evaluation of changes in the expanded-data index.

    15 As discussed in the prior Notice, because index values will be compared for the same quarter over time, only the most trivial difference will exist between the selected seasonally adjusted index and an unadjusted index.

    As detailed at length in the Notice, certain loan-limit provisions in the Enterprise Charters require that, after a period of home price declines, the baseline loan limit cannot rise again until home prices exceed their pre-decline levels.16 In accordance with this requirement and as discussed in the prior Notice, when determining the 2016 baseline conforming loan limit this November, the third quarter 2015 price level will be compared to the price level in the third-quarter of 2007—the base period for the recent price decline. As the expanded-data HPI has now been selected as the reference index, market participants can expect that the net price change (positive or negative) will be computed over that interval using the expanded-data HPI.

    16See Section 302(b)(2) (12 U.S.C. 17179b)(2)) of the Fannie Mae Charter and Section 305(a)(2) (12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2)) of the Freddie Charter. These sections were amended by HERA sections 1124(a) and (b), 122 Stat. 2691-2692.

    Dated: October 15, 2015. Melvin L. Watt, Director, Federal Housing Finance Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26778 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8070-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies

    The companies listed in this notice have applied to the Board for approval, pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1841 et seq.) (BHC Act), Regulation Y (12 CFR part 225), and all other applicable statutes and regulations to become a bank holding company and/or to acquire the assets or the ownership of, control of, or the power to vote shares of a bank or bank holding company and all of the banks and nonbanking companies owned by the bank holding company, including the companies listed below.

    The applications listed below, as well as other related filings required by the Board, are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The applications will also be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the standards enumerated in the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1842(c)). If the proposal also involves the acquisition of a nonbanking company, the review also includes whether the acquisition of the nonbanking company complies with the standards in section 4 of the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1843). Unless otherwise noted, nonbanking activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding each of these applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than November 16, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Adam M. Drimer, Assistant Vice President) 701 East Byrd Street, Richmond, Virginia 23261-4528:

    1. Premier Financial Bancorp, Inc., Huntington, West Virginia; to merge with First National Bankshares Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire First National Bank, both in Ronceverte, West Virginia.

    B. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Robert L. Triplett III, Senior Vice President) 2200 North Pearl Street, Dallas, Texas 75201-2272:

    1. WSB Bancshares, Inc., Wellington, Texas; to acquire 100 percent of the voting share of XIT Bancshares, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire voting shares of Security State Bank, both in Littlefield, Texas.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 19, 2015. Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26847 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company

    The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire shares of a bank or bank holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)).

    The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than November 5, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (William Lang, Senior Vice President) 100 North 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19105-1521:

    1. George K. Miller, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, individually and as part as a group acting in concert with OceanFirst Bank as the voting trustee of the George K. Miller Voting Trust, Toms River, New Jersey; to acquire voting shares of Cornerstone Financial Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire voting shares of Cornerstone Bank, both in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.

    B. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Chapelle Davis, Assistant Vice President) 1000 Peachtree Street NE., Atlanta, Georgia 30309:

    1. Michael William Mathis of Rome, Georgia; to acquire voting shares of RCB Financial Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire voting shares of River City Bank, both of Rome, Georgia.

    C. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Robert L. Triplett III, Senior Vice President) 2200 North Pearl Street, Dallas, Texas 75201-2272:

    1. Mary Ann Blaylock, Midland, Texas, individually and Martha Sue Oliver, San Angelo, Texas, individually and as trustee of the Maxine Page 2015 Bank Stock Trust and the James Page Trust; to acquire voting shares of First Eldorado Bancshares, Inc., Eldorado, Texas, and thereby indirectly acquire The First National Bank of Eldorado, Eldorado, Texas.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 16, 2015. Margaret McCloskey Shanks, Deputy Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26792 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    SUMMARY:

    On June 15, 1984, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) delegated to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) its approval authority under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), to approve of and assign OMB numbers to collection of information requests and requirements conducted or sponsored by the Board. Board-approved collections of information are incorporated into the official OMB inventory of currently approved collections of information. Copies of the PRA Submission, supporting statements and approved collection of information instruments are placed into OMB's public docket files. The Federal Reserve may not conduct or sponsor, and the respondent is not required to respond to, an information collection that has been extended, revised, or implemented on or after October 1, 1995, unless it displays a currently valid OMB number.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before December 21, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by FR Y-12/12A, FR 2230, FR 4001, or Reg H-7 by any of the following methods:

    Agency Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments at http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx .

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Email: [email protected] Include OMB number in the subject line of the message.

    FAX: (202) 452-3819 or (202) 452-3102.

    Mail: Robert deV. Frierson, Secretary, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20551.

    All public comments are available from the Board's Web site at http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx as submitted, unless modified for technical reasons. Accordingly, your comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information. Public comments may also be viewed electronically or in paper form in Room 3515, 1801 K Street (between 18th and 19th Streets NW.) Washington, DC 20006 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

    Additionally, commenters may send a copy of their comments to the OMB Desk Officer—Shagufta Ahmed—Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10235 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503 or by fax to (202) 395-6974.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    A copy of the PRA OMB submission, including the proposed reporting form and instructions, supporting statement, and other documentation will be placed into OMB's public docket files, once approved. These documents will also be made available on the Federal Reserve Board's public Web site at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/reportforms/review.aspx or may be requested from the agency clearance officer, whose name appears below.

    Federal Reserve Board Clearance Officer—Nuha Elmaghrabi—Office of the Chief Data Officer, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, DC 20551 (202) 452-3829. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) users may contact (202) 263-4869, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, DC 20551.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Request for Comment on Information Collection Proposals

    The following information collections, which are being handled under this delegated authority, have received initial Board approval and are hereby published for comment. At the end of the comment period, the proposed information collections, along with an analysis of comments and recommendations received, will be submitted to the Board for final approval under OMB delegated authority. Comments are invited on the following:

    a. Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the Federal Reserve's functions; including whether the information has practical utility;

    b. The accuracy of the Federal Reserve's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection, 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 information collection on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and

    e. Estimates of capital or start up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information.

    Proposal To Approve Under OMB Delegated Authority the Extension for Three Years, Without Revision, of the Following Reports

    1. Report title: Consolidated Bank Holding Company Report of Equity Investments in Nonfinancial Companies and the Annual Report of Merchant Banking Investments Held for an Extended Period.

    Agency form number: FR Y-12, FR Y12A, respectively.

    OMB control number: 7100-0300.

    Frequency: FR Y-12: quarterly or semi-annually, FR Y-12A: annually.

    Reporters: Bank holding companies (BHCs), financial holding companies (FHCs) and savings and loan holding companies (SLHCs).

    Estimated annual reporting hours: FR Y-12: 1,650 hours, FR Y-12A: 133 hours.

    Estimated average hours per response: FR Y-12: 16.5 hours, FR Y-12A: 7 hours.

    Number of respondents: FR Y-12: 28, FR Y-12A: 19.

    General description of report: This collection of information is mandatory and authorized to be collected from BHCs and FHCs pursuant to Section 5(c) of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 U.S.C. 1844(c)(1)(A)) and from SLHCs pursuant to section 10 of the Home Owners Loan Act (12 U.S.C. 1467a(b)). Overall, the Federal Reserve does not consider the data collected on the FR Y-12 to be confidential. However, a holding company may request confidential treatment pursuant to sections (b)(4) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4)). The Board considers the data collected on the FR Y-12A to be confidential pursuant to sections (b)(4) and (b)(8) of FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4) and (b)(8)).

    Abstract: The FR Y-12 collects information from certain domestic BHCs and SLHCs on their equity investments in nonfinancial companies. The FR Y-12 data serve as an important risk-monitoring device for institutions active in this business line by allowing supervisory staff to monitor an institution's activity between review dates. They also serve as an early warning mechanism to identify institutions whose activities in this area are growing rapidly and therefore warrant special supervisory attention. The FR Y-12A is filed annually by institutions that hold merchant banking investments that are approaching the end of the holding period permissible under Regulation Y. The FR Y-12A data continue to be a useful tool for examiners to monitor institutions that have merchant banking investments that are approaching holding period limitations.

    2. Report title: Bank Secrecy Act Suspicious Activity Report (BSA-SAR).

    Agency form number: FR 2230.

    OMB control number: 7100-0212.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Reporters: State member banks (SMBs), BHCs and their nonbank subsidiaries, Edge and agreement corporations, and the U.S. branches and agencies, representative offices, and nonbank subsidiaries of foreign banks supervised by the Federal Reserve.

    Estimated annual reporting hours: 159,071 hours.

    Estimated average hours per response: 1.5 hours.

    Number of respondents: 5,489.

    General description of report: The BSA-SAR is required by law, pursuant to authority contained in the following statutes: 12 U.S.C. 248(a)(1), 3105(c)(2), 3106(a), and 625 of the International Banking Act, 12 U.S.C. 1844(c) of the Bank Holding Company Act, and 12 U.S.C. 1818(s) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. The obligation to file a SAR is set forth in the Board's rules, and is mandatory for SMBs (12 CFR 208.62(c)); entities subject to the Bank Holding Company Act and their nonbank subsidiaries (12 CFR 225.4(f)); Edge and agreement corporations (12 CFR 211.5(k)); and U.S. branches, agencies, and representative offices of foreign banks (12 CFR 211.24(f)). BSA-SARs are exempt from FOIA disclosure by 31 U.S.C. 5319, which specifically provides that SARS “are exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5”, and FOIA exemption 3, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3) (matters “specifically exempted from disclosure by statute”).

    Abstract: Since 1996, the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network have required certain types of financial institutions to report known or suspected violations of law and suspicious transactions. To fulfill these requirements, supervised banking organizations file SARs. Law enforcement agencies use the information submitted on the reporting form to initiate investigations and the Federal Reserve uses the information in the examination and oversight of supervised institutions.

    3. Report title: Domestic Branch Notification.

    Agency form number: FR 4001.

    OMB control number: 7100-0097.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Reporters: SMBs.

    Estimated annual reporting hours: 131 hours.

    Estimated average hours per response: 30 minutes for expedited notifications and 1 hour for nonexpedited notifications.

    Number of respondents: 60 expedited and 101 nonexpedited.

    General description of report: Section 9(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, (12 U.S.C. 321), requires that SMBs obtain prior Federal Reserve approval before establishing a domestic branch. This requirement is implemented by the provisions of Section 208.6 of the Board's Regulation H, (12 CFR 208.6). The obligation of SMBs to request prior approval of the appropriate supervising Reserve Bank in order to establish a domestic branch is mandatory. The individual respondent information in the notification is not considered confidential.

    Abstract: The Federal Reserve Act and Regulation H require an SMB to seek prior approval of the Federal Reserve System before establishing or acquiring a domestic branch. Such requests for approval must be filed as notifications at the appropriate Reserve Bank for the SMB. Due to the limited information that an SMB generally has to provide for branch proposals, there is no formal reporting form for a domestic branch notification. An SMB is required to notify the Federal Reserve by letter of its intent to establish one or more new branches and provide with the letter evidence that public notice of the proposed branch(es) has been published by the SMB in the appropriate newspaper(s). The Federal Reserve uses the information provided to fulfill its statutory obligation to review any public comment on proposed branches before acting on the proposals and otherwise to supervise SMBs.

    4. Report title: Disclosure Requirements in Connection With Subpart H of Regulation H (Consumer Protections in Sales of Insurance).

    Agency form number: Reg H-7.

    OMB control number: 7100-0298.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Reporters: State member banks.

    Estimated annual reporting hours: 13,372 hours.

    Estimated average hours per response: 1.5 minutes

    Number of respondents: 849.

    General description of report: Section 305 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 requires that the Federal Reserve and the other federal banking agencies issue joint regulations applicable to retail sales practices, solicitations, advertising, or offers of insurance by depository institutions. (12 U.S.C. 1831x) Subpart H of the Federal Reserve's Regulation H, Consumer Protection in Sales of Insurance, implements section 305 on behalf of the Federal Reserve, and provides for the disclosures outlined above. (12 CFR part 208, subpart H) The obligation of SMBs to make these disclosures is mandatory. Since the Federal Reserve does not collect any information, no issue of confidentiality normally arises.

    Abstract: Subpart H of Regulation H was adopted pursuant to section 305 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which required the federal banking agencies to issue joint regulations governing retail sales practices, solicitations, advertising, and offers of insurance by, on behalf of, or at the offices of insured depository institutions. The insurance consumer protection rules in Regulation H require depository institutions to prepare and provide certain disclosures to consumers. Covered persons are required to make certain disclosures before the completion of the initial sale of an insurance product or annuity to a consumer and at the time a consumer applies for an extension of credit in connection with which and insurance product or annuity is solicited, offered, or sold.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 19, 2015. Robert deV. Frierson Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26817 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL RETIREMENT THRIFT INVESTMENT BOARD Sunshine Act; Notice of ETAC Meeting MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED

    AGENDA Employee Thrift Advisory Council

    October 29, 2015, 1:00 p.m., 10th Floor Board Meeting Room, 77 K Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    1. Approval of the minutes of the August 6, 2015 ETAC meeting 2. Thrift Savings Fund Statistics 3. Auto Escalation 4. Choosing a Financial Vendor 5. Investment Policy 6. New Business CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Kimberly Weaver, Director, Office of External Affairs, (202) 942-1640.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Megan Grumbine, Deputy General Counsel, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26941 Filed 10-20-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 6760-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Docket No. CDC-2015-0089] Proposed Vaccine Information Materials for HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Gardasil®-9 Vaccine AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) (42 U.S.C. 300aa-26), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develops vaccine information materials that all health care providers are required to give to patients/parents prior to administration of specific vaccines. HHS/CDC seeks written comment on the proposed vaccine information statement for HPV (human papillomavirus) Gardasil®-9 vaccine.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before December 21, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2015-0089, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Written comments should be addressed to Suzanne Johnson-DeLeon ([email protected]), National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop A-19, 1600 Clifton Road NE., Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number. All relevant comments received will be posted without change to http://regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Skip Wolfe ([email protected]), National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop A-19, 1600 Clifton Road NE., Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-660), as amended by section 708 of Public Law 103-183, added section 2126 to the Public Health Service Act. Section 2126, codified at 42 U.S.C. 300aa-26, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and disseminate vaccine information materials for distribution by all health care providers in the United States to any patient (or to the parent or legal representative in the case of a child) receiving vaccines covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

    Development and revision of the vaccine information materials, also known as Vaccine Information Statements (VIS), have been delegated by the Secretary to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Section 2126 requires that the materials be developed, or revised, after notice to the public, with a 60-day comment period, and in consultation with the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, appropriate health care provider and parent organizations, and the Food and Drug Administration. The law also requires that the information contained in the materials be based on available data and information, be presented in understandable terms, and include:

    (1) A concise description of the benefits of the vaccine,

    (2) A concise description of the risks associated with the vaccine,

    (3) A statement of the availability of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and

    (4) Such other relevant information as may be determined by the Secretary.

    The vaccines initially covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program were diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and poliomyelitis vaccines. Since April 15, 1992, any health care provider in the United States who intends to administer one of these covered vaccines is required to provide copies of the relevant vaccine information materials prior to administration of any of these vaccines. Since then, the following vaccines have been added to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, requiring use of vaccine information materials for them as well: Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), varicella (chickenpox), pneumococcal conjugate, rotavirus, hepatitis A, meningococcal, human papillomavirus (HPV), and seasonal influenza vaccines. Instructions for use of the vaccine information materials are found on the CDC Web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/index.html.

    HHS/CDC is proposing to finalize the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Gardasil®-9 vaccine information statement.

    The vaccine information materials referenced in this notice are being developed in consultation with the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, the Food and Drug Administration, and parent and health care provider groups.

    We invite written comment on the proposed vaccine information materials entitled “Proposed Vaccine Information Materials for HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Gardasil®-9 Vaccine.” Copies of the proposed vaccine information materials are available at http://www.regulations.gov (see Docket Number CDC-2015-0089). Comments submitted will be considered in finalizing these materials. When the final materials are published in the Federal Register, the notice will include an effective date for their mandatory use.

    Dated: October 19, 2015. Sandra Cashman, Acting Director, Division of the Executive Secretariat, Office of the Chief of Staff, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26868 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment Request

    Proposed Projects:

    Title: Federal Tax Refund Offset, Administrative Offset, and Passport Denial.

    OMB No.: 0970-0161.

    Description: The Federal Offset programs (Federal Tax Refund Offset and Administrative Offset) collect past-due child and spousal support by intercepting certain Federal payments, including Federal tax refunds, of parents who have been ordered to pay support and are delinquent. The Federal Offset programs consist of a cooperative effort among the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), and State child support agencies.

    The Passport Denial program reports noncustodial parents who owe child and spousal support above a threshold to the Department of State, which will then deny passports.

    On an ongoing basis, State child support agencies submit names, Social Security numbers, and the amount(s) of past-due child and spousal support of noncustodial parents who are delinquent in making payments to OCSE.

    Federal laws authorize information collection activities pertaining to the Federal Offset and Passport Denial programs and require State child support agencies to submit information pertaining to past-due support that meets specific criteria and to comply with Annual Certification Letter requirements:

    (1) 42 U.S.C. 652(b), 42 U.S.C. 664, and 26 U.S.C. 6402(c), for the offset of the Federal tax refund of the noncustodial parent;

    (2) 31 U.S.C. 3701 et seq. and 31 U.S.C. 3716(h), for the offset of the Federal payments other than Federal tax refunds of the noncustodial parent; and

    (3) 42 U.S.C. 654(31) and 42 U.S.C. 652(k), to Department of State for the denial, revocation, restriction, or limitation of the passport of the noncustodial parent.

    Respondents: State Child Support Agencies.

    Annual Burden Estimates Instrument Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average burden hours per
  • response
  • Total burden hours
    Input Record 54 52 .3 842.4 Output Record 54 52 .46 1291.7 Payment File 54 52 .135 379.1 Certification Letter 54 1 .4 21.6 Portal Processing screens 173 280.65 .01 485.52 Total 3,020

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 3,020 hours

    In compliance with the requirements of Section 506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Administration for Children and Families is soliciting public comment on the specific aspects of the information collection described above. Copies of the proposed collection of information can be obtained and comments may be forwarded by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, 370 L'Enfant Promenade SW., Washington, DC 20447, Attn: ACF Reports Clearance Officer. Email address: [email protected] All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection.

    The Department specifically requests comments 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; (c) 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. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted within 60 days of this publication.

    Robert Sargis, Reports Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26845 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment Request Proposed Projects

    Title: National Directory of New Hires.

    OMB No.: 0970-0166.

    Description: The National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) is a centralized directory maintained by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. The information maintained in the NDNH is collected electronically and used to help child support agencies in locating parents and enforcing child support orders. Also, Congress authorized specific State and Federal agencies to receive NDNH information for authorized purposes to assist in administering certain programs. The NDNH is authorized under 42 U.S.C. 653(i)(1).

    The information collection activities pertaining to the NDNH are authorized by:

    (1) 42 U.S.C. 653A(b)(1)(A) and (B), requiring employers to report all newly-hired employees to the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH);

    (2) 42 U.S.C. 653A(g)(2)(A), requiring every SDNH to transmit the new hire information to the NDNH within three business days of the data being entered in the SDNH;

    (3) 26 U.S.C. 3304(a)(16)(B), requiring the reporting of wage and unemployment compensation information contained in the records of agencies administering the State program under part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act; and

    (4) Requiring the quarterly reporting of wages and other compensation under—

    • 42 U.S.C. 653A(g)(2)(B), by every SDNH; and

    • 42 U.S.C. 503(h)(1)(A), by State agencies administering the State's unemployment laws.

    Respondents: Employers, State IV-A Agencies, State Child Support Agencies, and State Workforce Agencies.

    Annual Burden Estimates Instrument Number of
  • respondents
  • Rounded
  • number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average burden hours per response Total
    New Hire: Employers Reporting Manually 5,130,348 1.40 .025 hours (1.5 minute) 179,562.18 New Hire: Employers Reporting Electronically 595,812 88.62 .00028 hours (1 second) 14,784.24 New Hire: States 54 133,333.33 .016667 hours (1 minute) 120,002.40 QW & UI: States 53 27.00 .00028 hours (1 second) 0.40 Multistate Employer Form 4,632 1.00 .050 hours (3 minutes) 231.60 Estimate Total Annual Burden Hours 314,581

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 314,581 hours.

    In compliance with the requirements of Section 506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Administration for Children and Families is soliciting public comment on the specific aspects of the information collection described above. Copies of the proposed collection of information can be obtained and comments may be forwarded by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, 370 L'Enfant Promenade SW., Washington, DC 20447, Attn: ACF Reports Clearance Officer. Email address: [email protected] All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection.

    The Department specifically requests comments 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; (c) 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. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted within 60 days of this publication.

    Robert Sargis, Reports Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26843 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    Title: Uniform Project Description (UPD) Program Narrative Format for Discretionary Grant Application Forms.

    OMB No.: 0970-0139.

    Description: The proposed information collection would renew the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Uniform Project Description (UPD). The UPD provides a uniform grant application format for applicants to submit project information in response to ACF discretionary funding opportunity announcements. ACF uses this information, along with other OMB-approved information collections (Standard Forms), to evaluate and rank applications. Use of the UPD helps to protect the integrity of ACF's award selection process. All ACF discretionary grant programs are required to use this application format. The application consists of general information and instructions; the Standard Form 424 series, which requests basic information, budget information, and assurances; the Project Description that requests the applicant to describe how program objectives will be achieved; and other assurances and certifications. Guidance for the content of information requested in the Uniform Project Description is based in 45 CFR 75.203, 75.204, and 45 CFR part 75, Appendix I.

    Respondents: Applicants to ACF Discretionary Funding Opportunity Announcements.

    Annual Burden Estimates Instrument Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses
  • per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden hours
  • per response
  • Total burden hours
    ACF Uniform Project Description (UPD) 4,562 1 60 273,720

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 273,720.

    Additional Information: Copies of the proposed collection may be obtained by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW., Washington, DC 20447, Attn: ACF Reports Clearance Officer. All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection. Email address: [email protected]

    OMB Comment: OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent directly to the following: Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project, Email: [email protected], Attn: Desk Officer for the Administration for Children and Families.

    Robert Sargis, Reports Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26841 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-3438] Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use; Draft Guidance for Industry; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use.” This guidance has been developed to provide industry with FDA's recommendations on the selection of appropriate package type terms and selection of appropriate discard statements for injectable medical products for human use, packaged in multiple-dose, single-dose, and single-patient-use containers. This guidance provides FDA's revised definitions for single-dose and multiple-dose containers, and introduces the definition of a new package type term, “single-patient-use” container. Marketing applications for such products include: New Drug Applications (NDAs), Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs), Biologics License Applications (BLAs), Premarket Approval Applications (PMAs), and Premarket Notifications under section 510(k) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

    DATES:

    Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that the Agency considers your comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by December 21, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to http://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    • Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2015-D-3438 for “Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION”. The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on http://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Division of Dockets Management. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/dockets/default.htm.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Submit written requests for single copies of the draft guidance to the Division of Drug Information, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10001 New Hampshire Ave., Hillandale Building, 4th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your requests. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft guidance document. The draft guidance may also be obtained from the Office of Communication, Outreach and Development, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist the office in processing your requests. The draft guidance may also be obtained by mail by calling CBER at 1-800-835-4709 or 240-402-8010. The draft guidance may also be obtained from the Office of the Center Director, Guidance and Policy Development, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5431, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Samia Nasr, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993, 301-796-3409; or Stephen Ripley, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993, 240-402-8154.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry entitled “Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use.” Unsafe injection practices, including the improper use of needles, syringes, and medication vials for more than one patient, threaten patient safety and have resulted in multiple blood borne bacterial and viral infection outbreaks. Bacterial infections have been transmitted to patients when single-dose containers were used improperly, the contents became contaminated and these contents were then administered to multiple patients. Failure to follow standard precautions and aseptic techniques has also been associated with several outbreaks of infections involving multiple-dose vials.

    As part of its review of medical products, FDA clears or approves package type terms and discard statements as part of the labeling of injectable medical products. FDA believes that consistent use of correct package type terms and discard statements for injectable medical products for human use will promote their proper use and provide a foundation for educational efforts to reduce the transmission of blood borne pathogens.

    This draft guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of FDA on “Selection of the Appropriate Package Type Terms and Recommendations for Labeling Injectable Medical Products Packaged in Multiple-Dose, Single-Dose, and Single-Patient-Use Containers for Human Use.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

    II. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the Internet may obtain the draft guidance at either http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/default.htm or http://www.regulations.gov.

    III. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This guidance refers to previously approved collections of information that are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information discussed in this draft guidance have been approved under OMB under the following control numbers: OMB control number 0910-0001 for NDAs, ANDAs, supplements to NDAs and ANDAs, and annual reports; OMB control number 0910-0572 for prescription drug product labeling; OMB control number 0910-0338 for BLA, BLA supplements and annual reports; OMB control number 0910-0120 for premarket notifications (510(k)s); OMB control number 0910-0231 for premarket approval applications (PMAs); OMB control number 0910-0485 for medical device labeling; and OMB control number 0910-0577 for prominent and conspicuous mark of manufacturers on single-use devices. Relevant to this collection of information, FDA published its proposed rule on the electronic distribution of prescribing information for human prescription drugs, including biological products in the Federal Register of December 18, 2014 (79 FR 75506). In Section VII, “Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995,” FDA estimated the burden to design, test, and produce the label for a drug product's immediate container and outer container or package, as set forth in 21 CFR part 201, including § 201.100(b) and other sections in subpart A and subpart B.

    Dated: October 16, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26849 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Project: Molecular structure, dynamics, and mechanism of key membrane transporters and enzymes in cellular metabolism.

    Date: November 17-18, 2015.

    Time: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Kathryn M. Koeller, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4166, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-2681, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR13-189: Imaging and Biomarkers for Early Cancer Detection.

    Date: November 17, 2015.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Chiayeng Wang, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer. Center for Scientific Review. 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5213, MSC 7852, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-2397, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR-14-092: Bioengineering Research Partnerships (BRP).

    Date: November 17, 2015.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Mehrdad Mohseni, MD, Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5211, MSC 7854, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-0484, [email protected]ov.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; AREA grant applications: Toxicology and Digestive, Kidney and Urological Systems.

    Date: November 17, 2015.

    Time: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Patricia Greenwel, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 2178, MSC 7818, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1169, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Small Business: Skeletal Muscle.

    Date: November 17, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Richard Ingraham, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4116, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8551, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Projects: New Modalities for the Treatment of Pain and Drug Abuse.

    Date: November 17, 2015.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Geoffrey G. Schofield, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4040-A, MSC 7850, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1235, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS).
    Dated: October 16, 2015. Anna Snouffer, Deputy Director, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26774 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Docket ID FEMA-2015-0006] Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice serves to inform the public that the Department of the Interior held a meeting of the interagency Water Resources Council on Thursday, October 8, 2015, in the John Muir Conference Room, 1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240 at 10 a.m. EDT to consider the recommendations of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group and vote on the issuance of revised “Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input.”

    The Water Resources Council voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group and issued Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input, effective October 8, 2015.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: October 8, 2015. Please consult the individual agency responsible for a program with questions regarding their time frames and processes for updating their implementing procedures for Executive Order 11988.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-2781.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On January 30, 2015, the President signed Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input, which amended Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, issued in 1977. Consistent with the President's direction, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as Chair of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, published for public comment in the Federal Register Draft Guidelines to provide guidance to agencies on the implementation of Executive Orders 13690 and 11988 (80 FR 6530, February 5, 2015). After an extension, the public comment period lasted 90 days, during which Federal Emergency Management Agency and other members of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group held eight in-person public listening sessions across the country and one public webinar, to ensure input from stakeholders and the public.

    This notice serves to inform the public that the Department of the Interior held a meeting of the interagency Water Resources Council on Thursday, October 8, 2015, in the John Muir Conference Room, 1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240 at 10 a.m. EDT to consider the recommendations of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group and vote on the issuance of revised “Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input.”

    The Water Resources Council voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group and issued Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input, effective October 8, 2015.

    The Implementing Guidelines are in the docket for this Notice on www.regulations.gov, under Docket ID FEMA-2015-0006.

    Authority:

    Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, as amended.

    Dated: October 15, 2015. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26839 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0157; FXIA16710900000-156-FF09A300000] Draft Environmental Assessment; Dallas Zoo Management; Dallas, Texas AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for public comments.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, make available the draft environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act regarding a permit application submitted by Dallas Zoo Management, on behalf of the Dallas Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo, and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. The three zoos are requesting authorization under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to import 18 live African elephants from Swaziland.

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or postmarked on or before November 23, 2015. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. Any comments that we receive after the closing date may not be considered.

    ADDRESSES:

    Availability of Documents

    Internet: You may obtain copies of the draft environmental assessment and related documents by going to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0157, which is the docket number for this notice. Click the “Open Docket Folder” link.

    In-Person: Copies of the draft environmental assessment are also available for public inspection and review at the following location, by appointment and written request only, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.

    Comment submission: You may submit written comments on the draft environmental assessment by one of the following methods:

    Internet: Go to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0157, which is the docket number for this notice. Click the “Open Docket Folder” link. Click the “Open Docket Folder” link. Click “Comment Now!” to comment.

    U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0157; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. We request that you send comments by only one of the methods described above. All information received will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Availability of Comments section for more information).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Timothy Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS-IA, Falls Church, VA 22041; or by phone at (703) 358-2350.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    We make available the draft environmental assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) for an application submitted by Dallas Zoo Management for a permit to import 18 live African elephants from Swaziland. If the importation is authorized, and the elephants are imported, the elephants will be housed at the Dallas Zoo, Dallas, Texas; Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas; and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska. The requested permit, if granted, would authorize the importation, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (27 U.S.T. 1087) of 3 adult females, 3 subadult males, and 12 subadult females. CITES is an international treaty designed to regulate international trade in certain animal and plant species that are affected by trade and are now, or potentially may become, threatened with extinction. These species are listed in the Appendices to CITES, which are available on the CITES Secretariat's Web site at http://www.cites.org. African elephants in Swaziland are listed in CITES Appendix I. The Service's regulations implementing CITES are found at 50 CFR part 23.

    The African elephant is also classified as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), with a rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA 50 CFR 17.40(e). To import African elephants into the United States, ESA and CITES requirements must be met. Pursuant to the ESA 4(d) rule for the African elephant (50 CFR 17.40(e)(3)(i)), live elephants may be imported if all requirements under Service regulations at 50 CFR part 13 (general permitting) and 50 CFR part 23 (CITES) are met.

    Issuance of a CITES import permit is categorically excluded under Department of the Interior internal agency policy and procedures from requiring completion of an EA under NEPA (Departmental Manual Part 516, Chapter 8.5(C)(1)). However, we have decided to prepare a draft EA in this case to help ensure that we have conducted a thorough review of all relevant factors and potential impacts on the quality of the human environment as envisioned under NEPA.

    The draft EA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the importation of 18 live elephants from Swaziland, including the measures that would be implemented to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the importation and housing of these animals.

    Proposed Action

    The proposed action is the issuance of a CITES permit by the Service for the importation of 18 African elephants from Swaziland. The elephants are currently housed in an enclosure at the Mkhaya Game Reserve, Swaziland. The elephants were removed from Mkhaya Game Reserve and Hlane National Park, Swaziland, due to overpopulation of elephants within the two protected areas and the negative impact the elephants were having on the vegetation and other wildlife species. Big Game Parks (BPG), the delegated authority responsible for implementation of Swaziland's Game Act of 1953, has determined that the number of elephants in the two protected areas must be reduced. Further, the reduction in the number of elephants within each of the protected areas will facilitate BGP's efforts to increase the population of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), a critically endangered species, within the two protected areas.

    Alternatives

    We are also considering two alternatives to the proposed action:

    1. No Action—No CITES import permit would be issued. According to the applicant and BGP, the 18 elephants will not be returned to the two protected areas. Instead, if importation is not authorized, BGP has stated that they have no option but to cull the animals.

    2. Issue a CITES import permit for a reduced number of elephants—This alternative is similar to the Proposed Action, in that the Service would issue an import permit, but the number of elephants authorized for import would be reduced. This could result in some elephants being imported into the United States and housed at one or more of the three zoos. However, according to the applicant and BGP, the elephants that are not imported into the United States would be culled.

    Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments that we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you may request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will not consider anonymous comments. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety.

    Authority

    We provide this notice under NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Brenda Tapia, Program Analyst/Data Administrator, Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26834 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLES962000 L14200000.B0000 15X] Eastern States: Filing of Plats of Survey AGENCY:

    Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Filing of Plats of Survey; Maryland.

    SUMMARY:

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will officially file the plats of survey of the lands described below in the BLM-Eastern States Office, Washington DC at least 30 calendar days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States Office, 20 M Street SE., Washington DC, 20003. Attn: Cadastral Survey. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This survey was requested by the Bureau of Land Management.

    The lands surveyed are:

    Charles County, Maryland

    The plat of survey represents the dependent resurvey of the northerly boundary of the Douglas Point Property, described as parcel “A” in the Special Warranty Deed recorded in Liber 3414, Folio 315 of the land records of Charles County, in the State of Maryland.

    We will place a copy of the plats we described in the open files. They will be available to the public as a matter of information.

    If BLM receives a protest against these surveys, as shown on the plats, prior to the date of the official filing, we will stay the filing pending our consideration of the protest.

    We will not officially file the plats until the day after we have accepted or dismissed all protests and they have become final, including decisions on appeals.

    Dated: October 15, 2015. Dominica VanKoten, Chief Cadastral Surveyor.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26851 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLOR957000-L14400000-BJ0000-16XL1109AF: HAG 16-0024] Filing of Plats of Survey: Oregon/Washington AGENCY:

    Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The plats of survey of the following described lands are scheduled to be officially filed in the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office, Portland, Oregon, 30 days from the date of this publication.

    Willamette Meridian Oregon T. 38 S., R. 3 E., accepted September 16, 2015 Tps. 32 & 33 S., R. 3 W., accepted September 16, 2015 T. 10 S., R. 4 E., accepted September 16, 2015 T. 23 S., R. 8 W., accepted September 16, 2015 T. 32 S., R. 3 W., accepted September 16, 2015
    ADDRESSES:

    A copy of the plats may be obtained from the Public Room at the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office, 1220 SW. 3rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204, upon required payment.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kyle Hensley, (503) 808-6132, Branch of Geographic Sciences, Bureau of Land Management, 1220 SW. 3rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A person or party who wishes to protest against this survey must file a written notice with the Oregon State Director, Bureau of Land Management, stating that they wish to protest. A statement of reasons for a protest may be filed with the notice of protest and must be filed with the Oregon State Director within thirty days after the protest is filed. If a protest against the survey is received prior to the date of official filing, the filing will be stayed pending consideration of the protest. A plat will not be officially filed until the day after all protests have been dismissed or otherwise resolved. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personally identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Mary J.M. Hartel, Chief Cadastral Surveyor of Oregon/Washington.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26951 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-33-P
    INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public Interest AGENCY:

    U.S. International Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has received a complaint entitled Certain Air Mattress Systems, Components Thereof, and Methods of Using the Same, DN 3091; the Commission is soliciting comments on any public interest issues raised by the complaint or complainant's filing under section 210.8(b) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 210.8(b)).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-2000. The public version of the complaint can be accessed on the Commission's Electronic Document Information System (EDIS) at EDIS,1 and will be available for inspection during official business hours (8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-2000.

    1 Electronic Document Information System (EDIS): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    General information concerning the Commission may also be obtained by accessing its Internet server at United States International Trade Commission (USITC) at USITC.2 The public record for this investigation may be viewed on the Commission's Electronic Document Information System (EDIS) at EDIS.3 Hearing-impaired persons are advised that information on this matter can be obtained by contacting the Commission's TDD terminal on (202) 205-1810.

    2 United States International Trade Commission (USITC): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    3 Electronic Document Information System (EDIS): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Commission has received a complaint and a submission pursuant to section 210.8(b) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure filed on behalf of Select Comfort Corporation and Select Comfort SC Corporation on October 16, 2015. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1337) in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain air mattress systems, components thereof, and methods of using the same. The complaint names as respondents Sizewise Rentals LLC of Kansas City, MO; American National Manufacturing Inc. of Corona, CA; Dires LLC of Orlando, FL; and Personal Comfort Beds of Orlando, FL. The complainant requests that the Commission issue a limited exclusion order, cease and desist orders, and a bond upon respondents' alleged infringing articles during the 60-day Presidential review period pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1337(j).

    Proposed respondents, other interested parties, and members of the public are invited to file comments, not to exceed five (5) pages in length, inclusive of attachments, on any public interest issues raised by the complaint or section 210.8(b) filing. Comments should address whether issuance of the relief specifically requested by the complainant in this investigation would affect the public health and welfare in the United States, competitive conditions in the United States economy, the production of like or directly competitive articles in the United States, or United States consumers.

    In particular, the Commission is interested in comments that:

    (i) Explain how the articles potentially subject to the requested remedial orders are used in the United States;

    (ii) identify any public health, safety, or welfare concerns in the United States relating to the requested remedial orders;

    (iii) identify like or directly competitive articles that complainant, its licensees, or third parties make in the United States which could replace the subject articles if they were to be excluded;

    (iv) indicate whether complainant, complainant's licensees, and/or third party suppliers have the capacity to replace the volume of articles potentially subject to the requested exclusion order and/or a cease and desist order within a commercially reasonable time; and

    (v) explain how the requested remedial orders would impact United States consumers.

    Written submissions must be filed no later than by close of business, eight calendar days after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register.There will be further opportunities for comment on the public interest after the issuance of any final initial determination in this investigation.

    Persons filing written submissions must file the original document electronically on or before the deadlines stated above and submit 8 true paper copies to the Office of the Secretary by noon the next day pursuant to section 210.4(f) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 210.4(f)). Submissions should refer to the docket number (“Docket No. 3091”) in a prominent place on the cover page and/or the first page. (See Handbook for Electronic Filing Procedures, Electronic Filing Procedures 4 ). Persons with questions regarding filing should contact the Secretary (202-205-2000).

    4 Handbook for Electronic Filing Procedures: http://www.usitc.gov/secretary/fed_reg_notices/rules/handbook_on_electronic_filing.pdf

    Any person desiring to submit a document to the Commission in confidence must request confidential treatment. All such requests should be directed to the Secretary to the Commission and must include a full statement of the reasons why the Commission should grant such treatment. See 19 CFR 201.6. Documents for which confidential treatment by the Commission is properly sought will be treated accordingly. All nonconfidential written submissions will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Secretary and on EDIS.5

    5 Electronic Document Information System (EDIS): http://edis.usitc.gov

    This action is taken under the authority of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and of sections 201.10 and 210.8(c) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 201.10, 210.8(c)).

    By order of the Commission.

    Issued: October 16, 2015. Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26816 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7020-02-P
    INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public Interest AGENCY:

    U.S. International Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has received a complaint entitled Certain Automated Teller Machines, ATM Modules, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same, DN 3092; the Commission is soliciting comments on any public interest issues raised by the complaint or complainant's filing under section 210.8(b) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 210.8(b)).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-2000. The public version of the complaint can be accessed on the Commission's Electronic Document Information System (EDIS) at EDIS,1 and will be available for inspection during official business hours (8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-2000.

    1 Electronic Document Information System (EDIS): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    General information concerning the Commission may also be obtained by accessing its Internet server at United States International Trade Commission (USITC) at USITC.2 The public record for this investigation may be viewed on the Commission's Electronic Document Information System (EDIS) at EDIS.3 Hearing-impaired persons are advised that information on this matter can be obtained by contacting the Commission's TDD terminal on (202) 205-1810.

    2 United States International Trade Commission (USITC): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    3 Electronic Document Information System (EDIS): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Commission has received a complaint and a submission pursuant to section 210.8(b) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure filed on behalf of Diebold, Incorporated and Diebold Self-Service Systems on October 19, 2015. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1337) in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain automated teller machines, ATM modules, components thereof, and products containing the same. The complaint names as respondents Nautilus Hyosung Inc. of South Korea; Nautilus Hyosung America Inc. of Irving, TX; and HS Global, Inc. of Brea, CA. The complainant requests that the Commission issue a limited exclusion order, and cease and desist orders.

    Proposed respondents, other interested parties, and members of the public are invited to file comments, not to exceed five (5) pages in length, inclusive of attachments, on any public interest issues raised by the complaint or section 210.8(b) filing. Comments should address whether issuance of the relief specifically requested by the complainant in this investigation would affect the public health and welfare in the United States, competitive conditions in the United States economy, the production of like or directly competitive articles in the United States, or United States consumers.

    In particular, the Commission is interested in comments that:

    (i) Explain how the articles potentially subject to the requested remedial orders are used in the United States;

    (ii) identify any public health, safety, or welfare concerns in the United States relating to the requested remedial orders;

    (iii) identify like or directly competitive articles that complainant, its licensees, or third parties make in the United States which could replace the subject articles if they were to be excluded;

    (iv) indicate whether complainant, complainant's licensees, and/or third party suppliers have the capacity to replace the volume of articles potentially subject to the requested exclusion order and/or a cease and desist order within a commercially reasonable time; and

    (v) explain how the requested remedial orders would impact United States consumers.

    Written submissions must be filed no later than by close of business, eight calendar days after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. There will be further opportunities for comment on the public interest after the issuance of any final initial determination in this investigation.

    Persons filing written submissions must file the original document electronically on or before the deadlines stated above and submit 8 true paper copies to the Office of the Secretary by noon the next day pursuant to section 210.4(f) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 210.4(f)). Submissions should refer to the docket number (“Docket No. 3092”) in a prominent place on the cover page and/or the first page. (See Handbook for Electronic Filing Procedures, Electronic Filing Procedures 4 ). Persons with questions regarding filing should contact the Secretary (202-205-2000).

    4 Handbook for Electronic Filing Procedures: http://www.usitc.gov/secretary/fed_reg_notices/rules/handbook_on_electronic_filing.pdf.

    Any person desiring to submit a document to the Commission in confidence must request confidential treatment. All such requests should be directed to the Secretary to the Commission and must include a full statement of the reasons why the Commission should grant such treatment. See 19 CFR 201.6. Documents for which confidential treatment by the Commission is properly sought will be treated accordingly. All nonconfidential written submissions will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Secretary and on EDIS. 5

    5 Electronic Document Information System (EDIS): http://edis.usitc.gov.

    This action is taken under the authority of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and of sections 201.10 and 210.8(c) of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 201.10, 210.8(c)).

    By order of the Commission.

    Issued: October 19, 2015. Lisa R. Barton, Secretary to the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26870 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7020-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Employment and Training Administration Investigations Regarding Eligibility To Apply for Worker Adjustment Assistance

    Petitions have been filed with the Secretary of Labor under Section 221 (a) of the Trade Act of 1974 (“the Act”) and are identified in the Appendix to this notice. Upon receipt of these petitions, the Director of the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, Employment and Training Administration, has instituted investigations pursuant to Section 221 (a) of the Act.

    The purpose of each of the investigations is to determine whether the workers are eligible to apply for adjustment assistance under Title II, Chapter 2, of the Act. The investigations will further relate, as appropriate, to the determination of the date on which total or partial separations began or threatened to begin and the subdivision of the firm involved.

    The petitioners or any other persons showing a substantial interest in the subject matter of the investigations may request a public hearing, provided such request is filed in writing with the Director, Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, at the address shown below, not later than November 2, 2015.

    Interested persons are invited to submit written comments regarding the subject matter of the investigations to the Director, Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, at the address shown below, not later than November 2, 2015.

    The petitions filed in this case are available for inspection at the Office of the Director, Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-5428, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210.

    Signed at Washington, DC this 17th day of September 2015. Hope D. Kinglock, Certifying Officer, Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance. APPENDIX 97 TAA Petitions Instituted Between 8/25/15 and 9/11/15 TA-W Subject firm
  • (petitioners)
  • Location Date of
  • institution
  • Date of
  • petition
  • 90145 MasterCard Worldwide (State/One-Stop) Purchase, NY 08/26/15 08/12/15 90146 Alcoa (State/One-Stop) Lake Charles, LA 08/26/15 08/17/15 90147 Exterran Energy Solutions LP (State/One-Stop) Broken Arrow, OK 08/26/15 08/17/15 90148 Molycorp Minerals LLC (Company) Mountain Pass, CA 08/26/15 08/20/15 90149 US Green Fiber (State/One-Stop) Hagaman, NY 08/26/15 08/20/15 90150 Barnes Aerospace/Barnes Group Inc. (State/One-Stop) Windsor, CT 08/26/15 08/20/15 90151 Sherwood Valve LLC (Union) Washington, PA 08/26/15 08/19/15 90152 Micro Pneumatic Logic Inc. (Company) Pompano Beach, FL 08/26/15 08/19/15 90153 Ericsson (State/One-Stop) Overland Park, KS 08/26/15 08/21/15 90154 AVA Design (Workers) New York, NY 08/27/15 08/22/15 90155 Donaldson Company (Workers) Cresco, IA 08/27/15 08/24/15 90156 Boston Scientific (Company) San Jose, CA 08/27/15 08/24/15 90157 LA Darling (State/One-Stop) Corning, AR 08/27/15 08/24/15 90158 Steeltek Inc. (State/One-Stop) Tulsa, OK 08/27/15 08/24/15 90159 Cyclonic Valve Company Inc. (State/One-Stop) Broken Arrow, OK 08/27/15 08/24/15 90160 Baker Hughes (State/One-Stop) Clinton, OK 08/27/15 08/24/15 90161 Boardman LLC (State/One-Stop) Wichita, KS 08/27/15 08/24/15 90162 NCO Financial (State/One-Stop) Lenexa, KS 08/27/15 08/24/15 90163 Donaldson Company, Inc. (Union) Grinnell, IA 08/27/15 08/17/15 90164 Bayside Recycling Corporation (Workers) Duluth, MN 08/27/15 07/27/15 90165 Retro Systems (State/One-Stop) Valley Center, KS 08/27/15 08/26/15 90166 GE/Dresser Flow & Process Technologies (Union) Avon, MA 08/27/15 08/17/15 90167 International Business Machines (IBM) (State/One-Stop) Seattle, WA 08/27/15 08/26/15 90168 Transamerica Life Insurance Company (State/One-Stop) Los Angeles, CA 08/27/15 08/26/15 90169 Bradford Supply Company (State/One-Stop) Robinson, IL 08/27/15 08/18/15 90170 Startek (State/One-Stop) Greenwood Village, CO 08/27/15 08/13/15 90171 Hewlett-Packard Company (State/One-Stop) Palo Alto, CA 08/28/15 08/25/15 90172 Maxim Integrated Programs, Inc. (State/One-Stop) Dallas, TX 08/28/15 08/24/15 90173 Diamond Power (Workers) Lancaster, OH 08/28/15 08/18/15 90174 Hallmark Cards (State/One-Stop) Kansas City, MO 08/28/15 08/25/15 90175 Universal Well Services (Workers) Bradford, PA 08/28/15 08/26/15 90176 NCI (Workers) Dallas, TX 08/28/15 08/19/15 90177 Lufkin Industries, LLC—Foundry (Workers) Lufkin, TX 08/28/15 08/14/15 90178 Wingspan (State/One-Stop) Monroe, LA 08/31/15 08/28/15 90179 Leedon Webbing Company Inc (State/One-Stop) Central Falls, RI 08/31/15 08/28/15 90180 The Results Companies (State/One-Stop) Lawrence, KS 08/31/15 08/28/15 90181 Bradken (State/One-Stop) Atchison, KS 08/31/15 08/27/15 90182 Convergys (State/One-Stop) Wichita, KS 08/31/15 08/27/15 90183 Milestone AV Technologies (State/One-Stop) Wichita, KS 08/31/15 08/27/15 90184 Century Aluminum (State/One-Stop) Hawesville, KY 08/31/15 08/28/15 90185 Orchard Brands, Blair LLC (Workers) Warren, PA 08/31/15 08/27/15 90186 Grays Harbor Community Hospital (East Campus) (Union) Aberdeen, WA 08/31/15 08/26/15 90187 International Paper (State/One-Stop) Memphis, TN 08/31/15 08/27/15 90188 AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (State/One-Stop) Syracus, NY 08/31/15 08/28/15 90189 Runnells Specialized Hospital (Workers) Berkeley Heights, NJ 09/01/15 08/24/15 90190 Teleflex Incorporated (Union) Reading, PA 09/01/15 08/25/15 90191 Sun Mt Sports (Workers) Missoula, MT 09/01/15 07/03/15 90192 Frontier Airlines (State/One-Stop) Denver, CO 09/01/15 08/27/15 90193 Bishop Fixture & Millwork (Workers) Balsam Lake, WI 09/01/15 08/20/15 90194 Stomaco Energy Services, Inc. (Workers) Kilgore, TX 09/01/15 08/03/15 90195 Peel Technologies, Inc. (State/One-Stop) Mountain View, CA 09/01/15 08/27/15 90196 Quintiles (State/One-Stop) Overland Park, KS 09/02/15 08/28/15 90197 Legacy Measurements Solutions (State/One-Stop) Bristow, OK 09/02/15 08/31/15 90198 Yupana Tech (Workers) Walnut Creek, CA 09/02/15 09/02/15 90199 AIG (State/One-Stop) Berkeley Heights, NJ 09/03/15 07/15/15 90200 Commerzbank (State/One-Stop) New York, NY 09/03/15 09/02/15 90201 Desmi-Afti (State/One-Stop) Orchard Park, NY 09/03/15 08/24/15 90202 Extreme Networks (State/One-Stop) Salem, NH 09/03/15 09/01/15 90203 Fritz Enterprises Inc. (Workers) Fairfield, AL 09/03/15 09/01/15 90204 FTS (Workers) Chickasha, OK 09/03/15 09/01/15 90205 Lenovo (Workers) Morrisville, NC 09/03/15 09/01/15 90206 Motorad (State/One-Stop) Niagara Falls, NY 09/03/15 08/24/15 90207 National Oilwell Varco (State/One-Stop) Houston, OK 09/03/15 09/01/15 90208 Noble Energy Inc. (Workers) Ardmore, OK 09/03/15 09/02/15 90209 Primary Financial Services, LLC (State/One-Stop) Cheektowaga, NY 09/03/15 09/01/15 90210 Uni-Select USA (State/One-Stop) Tonawanda, NY 09/03/15 09/02/15 90211 United Health Group/Optum Healthcare (State/One-Stop) Trumbull, CT 09/03/15 09/01/15 90212 Verso Corporation (State/One-Stop) Jay, ME 09/03/15 09/02/15 90213 Volvo Construction Equipment North America (Company) Chambersburg, PA 09/03/15 09/02/15 90214 Concurrent Manufacturing (State/One-Stop) Hialeah, FL 09/04/15 09/03/15 90215 Chem Pruf Door Co Ltd (Workers) Brownsville, TX 09/08/15 09/05/15 90216 iMedX (State/One-Stop) Atlanta, GA 09/08/15 09/04/15 90217 Keystone Profiles Ltd (Company) Beaver Falls, PA 09/08/15 09/04/15 90218 Legend 3D (Workers) Carlsbad, CA 09/08/15 09/05/15 90219 Morgan Advanced Material (Union) Coudersport, PA 09/08/15 08/14/15 90220 Nabors Completion & Production (Workers) El Reno, OK 09/08/15 09/08/15 90221 Niagara LaSalle Corporation (State/One-Stop) Buffalo, NY 09/08/15 09/03/15 90222 Telesource Services, LLC (Company) Bensenville, IL 09/08/15 09/04/15 90223 Telesource Services, LLC (Company) Poniac, MI 09/08/15 09/04/15 90224 Texas Health Care, P.L.L.C. (Company) Fort Worth, TX 09/08/15 09/03/15 90225 TMK Ipsco Koppel Tubulars (Union) Ambridge, PA 09/08/15 09/01/15 90226 Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. (Workers) Farmington Hills, MI 09/08/15 09/01/15 90227 ResMed Motor Technologies (State/One-Stop) Chatsworth, CA 09/09/15 09/08/15 90228 Allergan Medical (State/One-Stop) Santa Maria, CA 09/09/15 09/08/15 90229 Carrier (Union) Syracuse, NY 09/10/15 09/01/15 90230 Energizer Holding, Inc. (State/One-Stop) Westlake, OH 09/10/15 08/31/15 90231 Express Group Holdings LLC (State/One-Stop) Tulsa, OK 09/10/15 09/09/15 90232 IBM (State/One-Stop) Glendale, CA 09/10/15 09/09/15 90233 Miller Welding & Machine Company (Company) Brookville, PA 09/10/15 09/04/15 90234 Parker Hannifin Corporation (Company) Anaheim, CA 09/10/15 09/09/15 90235 Parker Hannifin Corporation (Company) Fontana, CA 09/10/15 09/09/15 90236 Gamma North (State/One-Stop) Alden, NY 09/10/15 08/31/15 90237 YP LLC (Workers) Tucker, GA 09/11/15 09/10/15 90238 BIC (State/One-Stop) Shelton, CT 09/11/15 09/08/15 90239 PCS, Inc. (State/One-Stop) Fremont, CA 09/11/15 09/10/15 90240 ABB, Inc. (Union) Greensburg, PA 09/11/15 09/11/15 90241 Wood Group—PAC (State/One-Stop) Houston, TX 09/11/15 09/10/15
    [FR Doc. 2015-26826 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-FN-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Employment and Training Administration Notice of Determinations Regarding Eligibility to Apply for Worker Adjustment Assistance

    In accordance with Section 223 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2273) the Department of Labor herein presents summaries of determinations regarding eligibility to apply for trade adjustment assistance for workers by (TA-W) number issued during the period of August 25, 2015 through September 11, 2015.

    In order for an affirmative determination to be made for workers of a primary firm and a certification issued regarding eligibility to apply for worker adjustment assistance, each of the group eligibility requirements of Section 222(a) of the Act must be met.

    I. Under Section 222(a)(2)(A), the following must be satisfied:

    (1) a significant number or proportion of the workers in such workers' firm have become totally or partially separated, or are threatened to become totally or partially separated;

    (2) the sales or production, or both, of such firm have decreased absolutely; and

    (3) One of the following must be satisfied:

    (A) Imports of articles or services like or directly competitive with articles produced or services supplied by such firm have increased;

    (B) imports of articles like or directly competitive with articles into which one or more component parts produced by such firm are directly incorporated, have increased;

    (C) imports of articles directly incorporating one or more component parts produced outside the United States that are like or directly competitive with imports of articles incorporating one or more component parts produced by such firm have increased;

    (D) imports of articles like or directly competitive with articles which are produced directly using services supplied by such firm, have increased; and

    (4) the increase in imports contributed importantly to such workers' separation or threat of separation and to the decline in the sales or production of such firm; or

    II. Section 222(a)(2)(B) all of the following must be satisfied:

    (1) A significant number or proportion of the workers in such workers' firm have become totally or partially separated, or are threatened to become totally or partially separated;

    (2) One of the following must be satisfied:

    (A) There has been a shift by the workers' firm to a foreign country in the production of articles or supply of services like or directly competitive with those produced/supplied by the workers' firm;

    (B) there has been an acquisition from a foreign country by the workers' firm of articles/services that are like or directly competitive with those produced/supplied by the workers' firm; and

    (3) the shift/acquisition contributed importantly to the workers' separation or threat of separation.

    In order for an affirmative determination to be made for adversely affected secondary workers of a firm and a certification issued regarding eligibility to apply for worker adjustment assistance, each of the group eligibility requirements of Section 222(b) of the Act must be met.

    (1) a significant number or proportion of the workers in the workers' firm have become totally or partially separated, or are threatened to become totally or partially separated;

    (2) the workers' firm is a Supplier or Downstream Producer to a firm that employed a group of workers who received a certification of eligibility under Section 222(a) of the Act, and such supply or production is related to the article or service that was the basis for such certification; and

    (3) either—

    (A) the workers' firm is a supplier and the component parts it supplied to the firm described in paragraph (2) accounted for at least 20 percent of the production or sales of the workers' firm; or

    (B) a loss of business by the workers' firm with the firm described in paragraph (2) contributed importantly to the workers' separation or threat of separation.

    In order for an affirmative determination to be made for adversely affected workers in firms identified by the International Trade Commission and a certification issued regarding eligibility to apply for worker adjustment assistance, each of the group eligibility requirements of Section 222(e) of the Act must be met.

    (1) the workers' firm is publicly identified by name by the International Trade Commission as a member of a domestic industry in an investigation resulting in—

    (A) an affirmative determination of serious injury or threat thereof under section 202(b)(1);

    (B) an affirmative determination of market disruption or threat thereof under section 421(b)(1); or

    (C) an affirmative final determination of material injury or threat thereof under section 705(b)(1)(A) or 735(b)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1671d(b)(1)(A) and 1673d(b)(1)(A));

    (2) the petition is filed during the 1-year period beginning on the date on which—

    (A) a summary of the report submitted to the President by the International Trade Commission under section 202(f)(1) with respect to the affirmative determination described in paragraph (1)(A) is published in the Federal Register under section 202(f)(3); or

    (B) notice of an affirmative determination described in subparagraph (1) is published in the Federal Register; and

    (3) the workers have become totally or partially separated from the workers' firm within—

    (A) the 1-year period described in paragraph (2); or

    (B) notwithstanding section 223(b)(1), the 1-year period preceding the 1-year period described in paragraph (2).

    Affirmative Determinations for Worker Adjustment Assistance

    The following certifications have been issued. The date following the company name and location of each determination references the impact date for all workers of such determination.

    The following certifications have been issued. The requirements of Section 222(a)(2)(A) (increased imports) of the Trade Act have been met.

    TA-W No. Subject firm Location Impact date 86,039 Arcelormittal Georgetown Georgetown, SC April 5, 2015. 86,039A Phoenix Services, Working On-Site at Arcelormittal Georgetown Georgetown, SC May 27, 2014.

    The following certifications have been issued. The requirements of Section 222(a)(2)(B) (shift in production or services) of the Trade Act have been met.

    TA-W No. Subject firm Location Impact date 85,144 IP & Science (Patent Payments), Master Data Center, Global Operations, Thomson Reuters, Pontoon, and Adecco Bingham Farms, MI March 12, 2013. 85,173 Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc., Business Services, LLC, Finance & Accounting Departments, Robert Half, etc Waite Park, MN March 21, 2013. 85,247 MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., MoneyGram, International, Accountemps, Apex Systems, Baker Tilly, etc Brooklyn Center, MN April 18, 2013. 85,350 Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Insurance Division, Shared Engineering & Technology Services Group Blythewood, SC May 30, 2013. 85,427 MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., MoneyGram International, Accountemps, APEX Systems, Baker Tilly, etc Lakewood, CO July 15, 2013. 85,427A MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., MoneyGram International, Customer Car Division, Intellisource Lakewood, CO November 19, 2013. 85,495 Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations USA, Inc., Sumitomo Electric USA Holding, Inc., VCSEL Group Albuquerque, NM August 20, 2013. 85,527 Syncreon Technology (America), Inc., Express Employment Professionals Allentown, PA September 10, 2013. 85,605 GE Power Electronics, Inc., GE Energy Management Division, General Electric Company Galion, OH October 17, 2013. 85,903 Accenture LLP, Verizon Customer Case and Operations, Verizon Business Network, etc. Richardson, TX March 25, 2014. 85,903A Accenture LLP, Verizon Customer Case and Operations, Verizon Business Network, etc. Richardson, TX March 25, 2014. 86,076 Omnicare, Inc., Omnicare Headquarters—Cincinnati, IT Business Group Cincinnati, OH June 8, 2014. 86,076A Omnicare, Inc., OIS Helpdesk and Data Center, IT Business Group, DotStaff Dublin, OH June 8, 2014. 86,076B Omnicare, Inc., Omnicare Information Solutions—Trevose, IT Business Group Trevose, PA June 8, 2014. 86,108 Sol Inc., Carmanah Technologies Corporation, ADP Totalsource Palm City, FL June 17, 2014. 86,114 Regal Beloit America, Inc., West Plains Division, Regal Beloit Corporation West Plains, MO May 22, 2015. 86,120 Avery Dennison, Retail Branding & Information Solutions (RBIS) Division, Adecco, Zero Chaos Greensboro, NC June 22, 2014. Determinations Terminating Investigations of Petitions for Worker Adjustment Assistance

    After notice of the petitions was published in the Federal Register and on the Department's Web site, as required by Section 221 of the Act (19 U.S.C. 2271), the Department initiated investigations of these petitions.

    The following determinations terminating investigations were issued because the petitioner has requested that the petition be withdrawn.

    TA-W No. Subject firm Location Impact date 86,070 Interplex Tech Group North Haven, CT.

    I hereby certify that the aforementioned determinations were issued during the period of August 25, 2015 through September 11, 2015. These determinations are available on the Department's Web site www.tradeact/taa/taa_search_form.cfm under the searchable listing of determinations or by calling the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance toll free at 888-365-6822.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 16th day of September 2015. Hope D. Kinglock, Certifying Officer, Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26825 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-FN-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Office of the Secretary Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption for Cross-Trades of Securities by Index and Model-Driven Funds ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Labor (DOL) is submitting the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) sponsored information collection request (ICR) titled, “Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption for Cross-Trades of Securities by Index and Model-Driven Funds,” to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval for continued use, without change, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. Public comments on the ICR are invited.

    DATES:

    The OMB will consider all written comments that agency receives on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    A copy of this ICR with applicable supporting documentation; including a description of the likely respondents, proposed frequency of response, and estimated total burden may be obtained free of charge from the RegInfo.gov Web site at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=201509-1210-004 (this link will only become active on the day following publication of this notice) or by contacting Michel Smyth by telephone at 202-693-4129, TTY 202-693-8064, (these are not toll-free numbers) or by email at [email protected]

    Submit comments about this request by mail or courier to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for DOL-EBSA, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503; by Fax: 202-395-5806 (this is not a toll-free number); or by email: [email protected] Commenters are encouraged, but not required, to send a courtesy copy of any comments by mail or courier to the U.S. Department of Labor-OASAM, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Attn: Departmental Information Compliance Management Program, Room N1301, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; or by email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michel Smyth by telephone at 202-693-4129, TTY 202-693-8064, (these are not toll-free numbers) or by email at [email protected]

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This ICR seeks to extend PRA authority for the Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption for Cross-Trades of Securities by Index and Model-Driven Funds information collection. Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption 2002-12 permits cross-trades of securities between index and model-driven funds managed by investment managers and among such funds and certain large accounts to which such investment managers act as a trading adviser in connection with a specific portfolio-restructuring program. To ensure managers have complied with exemption requirements, the DOL has included in the exemption certain recordkeeping and disclosure obligations designed to safeguard plan assets by periodically providing information to plan fiduciaries, which generally must be independent about the cross-trading program. Employee Retirement Income Security Act section 408(a) authorizes this information collection. See 29 U.S.C. 1108(a).

    This information collection is subject to the PRA. A Federal agency generally cannot conduct or sponsor a collection of information, and the public is generally not required to respond to an information collection, unless it is approved by the OMB under the PRA and displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. In addition, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person shall generally be subject to penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that does not display a valid Control Number. See 5 CFR 1320.5(a) and 1320.6. The DOL obtains OMB approval for this information collection under Control Number 1210-0115.

    OMB authorization for an ICR cannot be for more than three (3) years without renewal, and the current approval for this collection is scheduled to expire on October 31, 2015. The DOL seeks to extend PRA authorization for this information collection for three (3) more years, without any change to existing requirements. The DOL notes that existing information collection requirements submitted to the OMB receive a month-to-month extension while they undergo review. For additional substantive information about this ICR, see the related notice published in the Federal Register on June 17, 2015 (80 FR 34696).

    Interested parties are encouraged to send comments to the OMB, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section within thirty (30) days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. In order to help ensure appropriate consideration, comments should mention OMB Control Number 1210-0115. The OMB is particularly interested in comments that:

    • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    • Evaluate 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;

    • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Agency: DOL-EBSA.

    Title of Collection: Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption for Cross-Trades of Securities by Index and Model-Driven Funds.

    OMB Control Number: 1210-0115.

    Affected Public: Private Sector—businesses or other for-profits.

    Total Estimated Number of Respondents: 60.

    Total Estimated Number of Responses: 840.

    Total Estimated Annual Time Burden: 855 hours.

    Total Estimated Annual Other Costs Burden: $800.

    Dated: October 18, 2015. Michel Smyth, Departmental Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26827 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-29-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Office of the Secretary Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Safety Standards for Roof Bolts in Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Underground Coal Mines ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Labor (DOL) is submitting the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) sponsored information collection request (ICR) titled, “Safety Standards for Roof Bolts in Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Underground Coal Mines,” to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval for continued use, without change, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. Public comments on the ICR are invited.

    DATES:

    The OMB will consider all written comments that agency receives on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    A copy of this ICR with applicable supporting documentation; including a description of the likely respondents, proposed frequency of response, and estimated total burden may be obtained free of charge from the RegInfo.gov Web site at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=201507-1219-006 (this link will only become active on the day following publication of this notice) or by contacting Michel Smyth by telephone at 202-693-4129, TTY 202-693-8064, (these are not toll-free numbers) or by email at [email protected]

    Submit comments about this request by mail or courier to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for DOL-MSHA, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503; by Fax: 202-395-5806 (this is not a toll-free number); or by email: [email protected] Commenters are encouraged, but not required, to send a courtesy copy of any comments by mail or courier to the U.S. Department of Labor-OASAM, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Attn: Departmental Information Compliance Management Program, Room N1301, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; or by email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michel Smyth by telephone at 202-693-4129, TTY 202-693-8064, (these are not toll-free numbers) or by email at [email protected]

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This ICR seeks to extend PRA authority for the Safety Standards for Roof Bolts in Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Underground Coal Mines information collection requirements codified in various regulations. More specifically, this ICR addresses recordkeeping requirements associated with regulations 30 CFR 56.3203, 57.3203, and 75.204(a) and (f)(6). Federal Mine Safety & Health Act of 1977 sections 103(a) and 103(h) authorize this information collection. See 30 U.S.C. 813(a) and 30 U.S.C. 813(h).

    This information collection is subject to the PRA. A Federal agency generally cannot conduct or sponsor a collection of information, and the public is generally not required to respond to an information collection, unless it is approved by the OMB under the PRA and displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. In addition, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person shall generally be subject to penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that does not display a valid Control Number. See 5 CFR 1320.5(a) and 1320.6. The DOL obtains OMB approval for this information collection under Control Number 1219-0121.

    OMB authorization for an ICR cannot be for more than three (3) years without renewal, and the current approval for this collection is scheduled to expire on October 31, 2015. The DOL seeks to extend PRA authorization for this information collection for three (3) more years, without any change to existing requirements. The DOL notes that existing information collection requirements submitted to the OMB receive a month-to-month extension while they undergo review. For additional substantive information about this ICR, see the related notice published in the Federal Register on June 4, 2015 (80 FR 31923).

    Interested parties are encouraged to send comments to the OMB, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section within thirty (30) days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. In order to help ensure appropriate consideration, comments should mention OMB Control Number 1219-0121. The OMB is particularly interested in comments that:

    • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    • Evaluate 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;

    • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Agency: DOL-MSHA.

    Title of Collection: Safety Standards for Roof Bolts in Metal and Nonmetal Mines and Underground Coal Mines.

    OMB Control Number: 1219-0121.

    Affected Public: Private Sector—businesses or other for-profits.

    Total Estimated Number of Respondents: 844.

    Total Estimated Number of Responses: 87,674.

    Total Estimated Annual Time Burden: 537 hours.

    Total Estimated Annual Other Costs Burden: $0.

    Dated: October 17, 2015. Michel Smyth, Departmental Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-26829 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-43-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Office of the Secretary Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Health Standards for Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure in Underground Metal and Nonmetal Mines ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Labor (DOL) is submitting the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) sponsored information collection request (ICR) titled, “Health Standards for Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure in Underground Metal and Nonmetal Mines,” to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval for continued use, without change, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. Public comments on the ICR are invited.

    DATES:

    The OMB will consider all written comments that agency receives on or before November 23, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    A copy of this ICR with applicable supporting documentation; including a description of the likely respondents, proposed frequency of response, and estimated total burden may be obtained free of charge from the RegInfo.gov Web site at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=201507-1219-007 (this link will only become active on the day following publication of this notice) or by contacting Michel Smyth by telephone at 202-693-4129, TTY 202-693-8064, (these are not toll-free numbers) or by email at [email protected]

    Submit comments about this request by mail or courier to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for DOL-MSHA, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503; by Fax: 202-395-5806 (this is not a toll-free number); or by email: [email protected] Commenters are encouraged, but not required, to send a courtesy copy of any comments by mail or courier to the U.S. Department of Labor-OASAM, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Attn: Departmental Information Compliance Management Program, Room N1301, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; or by email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Contact Michel Smyth by telephone at 202-693-4129, TTY 202-693-8064, (these are not toll-free numbers) or by email at [email protected]

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This ICR seeks to extend PRA authority for the Health Standards for Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) Exposure in Underground Metal and Nonmetal Mines information collection requirements codified in various sections of regulations 30 CFR part 57. DPM is a probable carcinogen consisting of tiny particles present in diesel engine exhaust that can readily penetrate into the deepest recesses of the lungs. Despite ventilation, the confined underground mine work environment may contribute to significant concentrations of particles produced by equipment used in the mine. Underground miners are exposed to higher concentrations of DPM than any other occupational group. As a result, these workers face a significantly greater risk than other workers do of developing such diseases as lung cancer, heart failure, serious allergic responses, and other cardiopulmonary problems.

    The DPM regulations establish a permissible exposure limit to total carbon, which is a surrogate for measuring a miner's exposure