Federal Register Vol. 80, No.212,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 212 (November 3, 2015)

Page Range67621-68242
FR Document

80_FR_212
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 67820 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BATS Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rule 11.25, Retail Order Attribution ProgramPDF
80 FR 67827 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BATS Y-Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rule 3.22, Concerning Gifts and Gratuities in Relation to the Business of the Employer of the Recipient, and Renaming the Rule “Influencing or Rewarding Employees of Others”PDF
80 FR 68241 - National Entrepreneurship Month, 2015PDF
80 FR 68239 - Military Family Month, 2015PDF
80 FR 68237 - Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, 2015PDF
80 FR 67797 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 67680 - Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; Reopening of Period for CommentsPDF
80 FR 67734 - Proposed Pilot Program Exploring an Alternative Approach to Institution Decisions in Post Grant Administrative Reviews; Reopening of Period for CommentsPDF
80 FR 67833 - Order of Suspension of Trading; In the Matter of American Power Corp. and Locan, Inc.PDF
80 FR 67834 - Meeting on United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Environment Chapter Implementation and Environmental Cooperation Commission Meeting Under the United States-Korea Environmental Cooperation AgreementPDF
80 FR 67704 - Approval of Subzone Status Swisscosmet Corporation New Port Richey, FloridaPDF
80 FR 67704 - Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Zale Delaware, Inc.; Subzone 39F; (Assembly of Jewelry) Irving, TexasPDF
80 FR 67706 - Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Opportunity To Request Administrative ReviewPDF
80 FR 67819 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
80 FR 67704 - Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Advance Notification of Sunset ReviewsPDF
80 FR 67734 - Notice Inviting Postsecondary Educational Institutions To Participate in Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative; Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs Under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as AmendedPDF
80 FR 67682 - Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; New Mexico; Regional Haze Five-Year Progress Report State Implementation PlanPDF
80 FR 67638 - Regulated Navigation Area; Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, Oregon Inlet, NCPDF
80 FR 67626 - Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Payment of Fees To Cover Credit Subsidy CostsPDF
80 FR 67705 - Initiation of Five-Year (“Sunset”) ReviewPDF
80 FR 67634 - Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Announcement of Fee To Cover Credit Subsidy CostsPDF
80 FR 67778 - Notice of a Federal Advisory Committee Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee Technical Systems Subcommittee TeleconferencePDF
80 FR 67677 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; New River, Fort Lauderdale, FLPDF
80 FR 67635 - Special Local Regulation; Mavericks Surf Competition, Half Moon Bay, CAPDF
80 FR 67664 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; 2015 Management Area 1A Seasonal Annual Catch Limit HarvestedPDF
80 FR 67664 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason AdjustmentsPDF
80 FR 67785 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for CommentsPDF
80 FR 67742 - Granting of Request for Early Termination of the Waiting Period Under the Premerger Notification RulesPDF
80 FR 67702 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Kansas Advisory Committee to plan for a public hearing regarding civil rights and voting requirements in the State. The discussion will include approving an agenda of speakers, and logistical setup for the event.PDF
80 FR 67708 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Marine Geophysical Survey in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Mid-November to December 2015PDF
80 FR 67834 - Mutual Savings Association Advisory CommitteePDF
80 FR 67788 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TXPDF
80 FR 67730 - Availability of Seats for National Marine Sanctuary Advisory CouncilsPDF
80 FR 67786 - Notice of Public Meeting, Pecos District Resource Advisory Council Meeting, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat Preservation Area of Critical Environmental Concern (LPC ACEC) Livestock Grazing Subcommittee New MexicoPDF
80 FR 67776 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 67771 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 67740 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
80 FR 67739 - Notice of Proposals To Engage in or To Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking ActivitiesPDF
80 FR 67767 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records NoticePDF
80 FR 67786 - Filing of Plats of Survey: CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 67782 - Marine Mammals; Letters of Authorization To Take Pacific Walrus and Polar Bears, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, AlaskaPDF
80 FR 67738 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
80 FR 67737 - Combined Notice Of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 67731 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Construction of the Block Island Transmission SystemPDF
80 FR 67782 - Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Applications for Participation in the Oil and Gas Industry Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle in OklahomaPDF
80 FR 67701 - Notice of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics MeetingPDF
80 FR 67805 - Amendment to Postal ProductPDF
80 FR 67764 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Announcement of Office of Management and Budget Approval; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff-Class II Special Controls Automated Blood Cell Separator Device Operating by Centrifugal or Filtration Separation PrinciplePDF
80 FR 67767 - Notice of Interest Rate on Overdue DebtsPDF
80 FR 67788 - Notice of the 2016 Meeting Schedule for Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Advisory CommissionPDF
80 FR 67700 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Papaya From Colombia and EcuadorPDF
80 FR 67786 - Notice of Public Meeting and Request for CommentsPDF
80 FR 67701 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Tomatoes From Certain Central American CountriesPDF
80 FR 67787 - Big Cypress National Preserve Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Committee Charter RenewalPDF
80 FR 67703 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67788 - Cancellation of November 6, 2015, Meeting of the Na Hoa Pili O Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Advisory CommissionPDF
80 FR 67698 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Phytosanitary Export CertificationPDF
80 FR 67699 - Notice of Determination; Changes to the National Poultry Improvement Plan Program StandardsPDF
80 FR 67766 - Science Board to the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 67789 - Certain Iron Mechanical Transfer Drive Components From Canada and China; Institution of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations and Scheduling of Preliminary Phase InvestigationsPDF
80 FR 67790 - Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe From Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and VietnamPDF
80 FR 67764 - Health Canada and United States Food and Drug Administration Joint Public Consultation on International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use; Public Webinar; Request for CommentsPDF
80 FR 67795 - NASA Advisory Council; Science Committee; Public Nominations for SubcommitteesPDF
80 FR 67732 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 67733 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
80 FR 67794 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Waiver of Service by Registered or Certified MailPDF
80 FR 67779 - Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the Northern Spotted Owl and Draft Environmental Assessment, Roseburg Resources Company and Oxbow Timber I, LLC, Lane County, ORPDF
80 FR 67793 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; YouthBuild Impact Evaluation: Youth Follow-Up SurveysPDF
80 FR 67762 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Prescription Drug Product Labeling; Medication Guide RequirementsPDF
80 FR 67764 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Announcement of Office of Management and Budget Approval; Survey on Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Selected Retail and Foodservice Facility TypesPDF
80 FR 67835 - Special Medical Advisory Group; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 67835 - Clinical Science Research and Development Service Cooperative Studies Scientific Evaluation Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 67835 - Veterans' Rural Health Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 67773 - National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Announcement of Requirements and Registration for “Addiction Research: There's an App for That” ChallengePDF
80 FR 67793 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Water ActPDF
80 FR 67623 - Special Conditions: Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 Airplanes; Occupant Protection For Side-Facing Seats Forward of Aft-Facing SeatsPDF
80 FR 67621 - Special Conditions: TIMCO Aerosystems, Boeing Model 777-300ER Series Airplanes; Dynamic Test Requirements for Single-Occupant, Oblique (Side-Facing) Seats with Airbag DevicesPDF
80 FR 67761 - Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 Infection: Developing Antiretroviral Drugs for Treatment; Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 67740 - Step N Grip, LLC; Analysis To Aid Public CommentPDF
80 FR 67772 - Center For Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 67698 - Notice of Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid MeetingPDF
80 FR 67672 - Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Grant ProgramsPDF
80 FR 67738 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
80 FR 67689 - Improving Outage Reporting for Submarine Cables and Enhancing Submarine Cable Outage DataPDF
80 FR 67792 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Application for Federal Firearms License (Collector of Curios and Relics)PDF
80 FR 67791 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; National Response Team Customer Satisfaction SurveyPDF
80 FR 67647 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; OklahomaPDF
80 FR 67681 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; OklahomaPDF
80 FR 67821 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67819 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67805 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change to Amend the Fees SchedulePDF
80 FR 67828 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; National Securities Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change to Provide Additional Details Regarding the Requirement that Members Participate in Annual Testing of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery PlansPDF
80 FR 67822 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Amending Rule 123D To Specify That Exchange Systems May Open One or More Securities Electronically if a Designated Market Maker Registered in a Security or Securities Cannot Facilitate the Opening of Trading as Required by Exchange RulesPDF
80 FR 67827 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Designation of a Longer Period for Commission Action on a Proposed Rule Change To List and Trade Shares of the Global Currency Gold Fund Under NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.201PDF
80 FR 67830 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE MKT LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Amending Rule 123D-Equities To Specify That Exchange Systems May Open One or More Securities Electronically if a Designated Market Maker Registered in a Security or Securities Cannot Facilitate the Opening of Trading as Required by Exchange RulesPDF
80 FR 67808 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BATS Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Extend the Pilot Period of the BATS Exchange, Inc.'s Supplemental Competitive Liquidity Provider ProgramPDF
80 FR 67810 - SPDR® Series Trust, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
80 FR 67826 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67818 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67820 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67827 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 67642 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Connecticut; Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Large Aboveground Storage TanksPDF
80 FR 67681 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Connecticut; Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Large Aboveground Storage TanksPDF
80 FR 67759 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
80 FR 67760 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
80 FR 67757 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
80 FR 67645 - Air Plan Approval; North Carolina; Conflict of Interest Infrastructure RequirementsPDF
80 FR 67822 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Amendment No. 1 and Order Granting Accelerated Approval to a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1, Adopting New Equity Trading Rules Relating to Trading Halts, Short Sales, Limit Up-Limit Down, and Odd Lots and Mixed Lots to Reflect the Implementation of Pillar, the Exchange's New Trading Technology Platform; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 67784 - Proposed Information Collection; Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Bear Viewing SurveyPDF
80 FR 67795 - NASA Advisory Council; Ad Hoc Task Force on STEM Education; Meeting.PDF
80 FR 67777 - Current List of HHS-Certified Laboratories and Instrumented Initial Testing Facilities Which Meet Minimum Standards To Engage in Urine Drug Testing for Federal AgenciesPDF
80 FR 67772 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 67702 - Notice of Public Meeting of the South Carolina Advisory Committee for a Meeting To Welcome New Members of the Committee and Discuss Potential Project TopicsPDF
80 FR 68126 - Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Revisions to Requirements for Discharge Planning for Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Home Health AgenciesPDF
80 FR 67906 - Change in Rates and Classes of General Applicability for Competitive ProductsPDF
80 FR 67797 - Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations and Containing Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information and Order Imposing Procedures for Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards InformationPDF
80 FR 68158 - Defense Materiel DispositionPDF
80 FR 67652 - Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Nevada; Infrastructure Requirements for Ozone, NO2 and SO2PDF
80 FR 67838 - Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source CategoryPDF

Issue

80 212 Tuesday, November 3, 2015 Contents Agency Agency for International Development NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, 67698 2015-27932 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

See

National Agricultural Statistics Service

Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: National Response Team Customer Satisfaction Survey, 67791-67792 2015-27920 Animal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 67701 2015-27965 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Importation of Papaya From Colombia and Ecuador, 67700 2015-27967 Phytosanitary Export Certification, 67698-67699 2015-27960 Determinations: Changes to the National Poultry Improvement Plan Program Standards, 67699-67700 2015-27959 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 67757-67761 2015-27888 2015-27889 2015-27890 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services PROPOSED RULES Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Revisions to Requirements for Discharge Planning for Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Home Health Agencies, 68126-68155 2015-27840 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Kansas Advisory Committee, 67702-67703 2015-27991 South Carolina Advisory Committee, 67702 2015-27867 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Regulated Navigation Areas: Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, Oregon Inlet, NC, 67638-67642 2015-28006 Special Local Regulation: Mavericks Surf Competition, Half Moon Bay, CA, 67635-67638 2015-27998 PROPOSED RULES Drawbridge Operations: New River, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 67677-67680 2015-27999 Commerce Commerce Department See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

Patent and Trademark Office

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 67703-67704 2015-27962
Comptroller Comptroller of the Currency NOTICES Meetings: Mutual Savings Association Advisory Committee, 67834-67835 2015-27989 Defense Department Defense Department RULES Defense Materiel Disposition, 68158-68233 2015-27397 Education Department Education Department PROPOSED RULES Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Grant Programs, 67672-67677 2015-27930 NOTICES Inviting Postsecondary Educational Institutions to Participate in Experiments under the Experimental Sites Initiative: Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs, 67734-67737 2015-28010 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Connecticut; Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Large Aboveground Storage Tanks, 67642-67645 2015-27900 Nevada; Infrastructure Requirements for Ozone, NO2 and SO2, 67652-67663 2015-27029 North Carolina; Conflict of Interest Infrastructure Requirements; Air Plan Approval, 67645-67647 2015-27881 Oklahoma, 67647-67652 2015-27918 Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category, 67838-67903 2015-25663 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Connecticut; Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Large Aboveground Storage Tanks, 67681 2015-27894 New Mexico; Regional Haze Five-Year Progress Report State Implementation Plan, 67682-67689 2015-28007 Oklahoma, 67681 2015-27917 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Special Conditions: Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 Airplanes; Occupant Protection for Side-Facing Seats Forward of Aft-Facing Seats, 67623-67626 2015-27937 TIMCO Aerosystems, Boeing Model 777-300ER Series Airplanes; Dynamic Test Requirements for Single-Occupant, Oblique (Side-Facing) Seats with Airbag Devices, 67621-67623 2015-27936 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission PROPOSED RULES Improving Outage Reporting for Submarine Cables and Enhancing Submarine Cable Outage Data, 67689-67697 2015-27926 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 67738-67739 2015-27927 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 67737-67738 2015-27975 2015-27976 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 67740 2015-27982 Proposals to Engage in or to Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities, 67739-67740 2015-27981 Federal Trade Federal Trade Commission NOTICES Early Termination of the Waiting Period under the Premerger Notification Rules, 67742-67757 2015-27992 Proposed Consent Agreements: Step N Grip, LLC; Analysis to Aid Public Comment, 67740-67742 2015-27934 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Bear Viewing Survey, 67784-67785 2015-27874 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Northern Spotted Owl; Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement; Roseburg Resources Co. and Oxbow Timber I, LLC, Lane County, OR, 67779-67781 2015-27947 Incidental Take Permit Applications: Oil and Gas Industry Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle in Oklahoma, 67782 2015-27973 Takes of Marine Mammals: Pacific Walrus and Polar Bears, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, AK; Letters of Authorization, 67782-67784 2015-27978 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Guidance for Industry and Staff -- Class II Special Controls Automated Blood Cell Separator Device Operating by Centrifugal or Filtration Separation Principle, 67764 2015-27970 Prescription Drug Product Labeling; Medication Guide Requirements, 67762-67763 2015-27945 Survey on Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Selected Retail and Foodservice Facility Types, 67764 2015-27944 Guidance: Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 Infection—Developing Antiretroviral Drugs for Treatment, 67761-67762 2015-27935 Meetings: Joint Public Consultation on International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use, 67764-67766 2015-27953 Science Board to the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee, 67766 2015-27957 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Proposed Production Activities: Zale Delaware, Inc., Subzone 39F (Assembly of Jewelry), Irving, TX, 67704 2015-28029 Subzone Status; Approvals: Swisscosmet Corp., New Port Richey, FL, 67704 2015-28030 Geological Geological Survey NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 67785 2015-27993 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

See

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

NOTICES Interest Rate on Overdue Debts, 67767 2015-27969 Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 67767-67771 2015-27980
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department RULES Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Announcement of Fee to Cover Credit Subsidy Costs, 67626-67635 2015-28002 2015-28004 NOTICES Meetings: Federal Advisory Committee, Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee, Technical Systems Subcommittee; Teleconference, 67778-67779 2015-28001 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Geological Survey

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Advance Notification of Sunset Reviews, 67704-67705 2015-28017 Initiation of Five-Year (Sunset) Review, 67705-67706 2015-28003 Opportunity to Request Administrative Review, 67706-67708 2015-28028 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Iron Mechanical Transfer Drive Components from Canada and China, 67789-67790 2015-27956 Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam, 67790-67791 2015-27955 Justice Department Justice Department See

Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Federal Firearms License (Collector of Curios and Relics), 67792-67793 2015-27922 Consent Decrees under the Clean Water Act, 67793 2015-27938
Labor Department Labor Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Waiver of Service by Registered or Certified Mail, 67794-67795 2015-27948 YouthBuild Impact Evaluation—Youth Follow-Up Surveys, 67793-67794 2015-27946 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Pecos District Resource Advisory Council, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat Preservation Area of Critical Environmental Concern Livestock Grazing Subcommittee New Mexico, 67786 2015-27985 Plats of Surveys: California, 67786 2015-27979 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Meetings: NASA Advisory Council; Ad Hoc Task Force on STEM Education, 67795 2015-27873 Requests for Nominations: NASA Advisory Council; Science Committee, 67795-67797 2015-27952 National Agricultural National Agricultural Statistics Service NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics, 67701-67702 2015-27972 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 67771-67773, 67776 2015-27870 2015-27933 2015-27983 2015-27984 Requirements and Registration for Addiction Research—There's an App for That Challenge, 67773-67776 2015-27939 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Atlantic Herring Fishery; 2015 Management Area 1A Seasonal Annual Catch Limit Harvested, 67664 2015-27997 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery: 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments, 67664-67671 2015-27995 NOTICES Meetings: New England Fishery Management Council, 67732-67734 2015-27949 2015-27950 2015-27951 Requests for Nominations: Seats for National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils, 67730-67731 2015-27987 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Construction of the Block Island Transmission System, 67731-67732 2015-27974 Marine Geophysical Survey in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Mid-November to December 2015, 67708-67730 2015-27990 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Charter Renewals: Big Cypress National Preserve Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Committee, 67787 2015-27964 Inventory Completions: Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 67788-67789 2015-27988 Meetings: Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Advisory Commission; 2016 Schedule, 67788 2015-27968 Na Hoa Pili O Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Advisory Commission; Cancellation, 67788 2015-27961 National Christmas Tree Lighting and Subsequent 29-Day Event, 67786-67787 2015-27966 National Transportation National Transportation Safety Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 67797 2015-28140 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Facility Operating and Combined Licenses: Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, etc., 67797-67804 2015-27753 Patent Patent and Trademark Office PROPOSED RULES Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 67680 2015-28108 NOTICES Proposed Pilot Program Exploring an Alternative Approach to Institution Decisions in Post Grant Administrative Reviews, 67734 2015-28107 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Amendment to Postal Product, 67805 2015-27971 Postal Service Postal Service NOTICES Change in Rates and Classes of General Applicability for Competitive Products, 67906-68124 2015-27763 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: Critical Infrastructure Security And Resilience Month (Proc. 9357), 68235-68238 2015-28216 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 67818-67822, 67826-67828 2015-27915 2015-27916 2015-27903 2015-27904 2015-27905 2015-27906 Applications: SPDR Series Trust, et al., 67810-67818 2015-27907 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 67819 2015-28027 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: BATS Exchange, Inc., 67808-67810, 67820 2015-27908 C1--2015--27221 BATS Y-Exchange, Inc., 67827 C1--2015--26577 Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc., 67805-67808 2015-27913 National Securities Clearing Corp., 67828-67830 2015-27912 New York Stock Exchange, LLC, 67822-67826 2015-27911 NYSE Arca, Inc., 67827 2015-27910 NYSE Arca, Inc.: Correction, 67822 2015-27877 NYSE MKT, LLC, 67830-67833 2015-27909 Trading Suspension Orders: American Power Corp. and Locan, Inc., 67833 2015-28065 State Department State Department NOTICES Meetings: United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Environment Chapter Implementation and Environmental Cooperation Commission, 67834 2015-28034 Substance Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration NOTICES Certified Laboratories and Instrumented Initial Testing Facilities: Urine Drug Testing for Federal Agencies, 67777-67778 2015-27872 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Comptroller of the Currency

Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Meetings: Clinical Science Research and Development Service Cooperative Studies Scientific Evaluation Committee, 67835-67836 2015-27941 Special Medical Advisory Group, 67835 2015-27942 Veterans' Rural Health Advisory Committee, 67835 2015-27940 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Environmental Protection Agency, 67838-67903 2015-25663 Part III Postal Service, 67906-68124 2015-27763 Part IV Health and Human Services Department, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 68126-68155 2015-27840 Part V Defense Department, 68158-68233 2015-27397 Part VI Presidential Documents, 68235-68238 2015-28216 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.

80 212 Tuesday, November 3, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2015-2123; Special Conditions No. 25-604-SC] Special Conditions: TIMCO Aerosystems, Boeing Model 777-300ER Series Airplanes; Dynamic Test Requirements for Single-Occupant, Oblique (Side-Facing) Seats with Airbag Devices AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for Boeing Model 777-300ER series airplanes. This airplane, as modified by TIMCO Aerosystems, will have novel or unusual design features associated with oblique-angled, single-occupant seats equipped with airbag systems. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for these design features. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

The effective date of these special conditions is November 3, 2015. We must receive your comments by December 18, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-2123 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

John Shelden, Airframe and Cabin Safety, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2785; facsimile 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

Comments Invited

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

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

Background

On August 20, 2014, through FAA project no. ST14746AT-T, certification plan no. 13T422R006, TIMCO Aerosystems applied for a supplemental type certificate to allow the installation of oblique passenger seats, positioned at 30 degrees to the vertical plane of the airplane longitudinal centerline, and to include inflatable lap belts, in Boeing Model 777-300ER airplanes. The Boeing Model 777-300ER airplane is a wide-body, swept-wing, conventional-tail, twin-engine, turbofan-powered transport airplane, with seating capacity for 550 passengers and 11 crew members.

TIMCO Aerosystems proposes the installation of oblique (side-facing) B/E Aerospace Super Diamond Business Class (B/C) seats. These seats will include airbag devices for occupant restraint and injury protection.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of § 21.101, TIMCO Aerosystems must show that the 777-300ER, as changed, continues to meet the applicable provisions of the regulations listed in type certificate no. T00001SE, or the applicable regulations in effect on the date of application for the change, except for earlier amendments as agreed upon by the FAA. The regulations listed in the type certificate are commonly referred to as the “original type-certification basis.” The regulations listed in type certificate no. T00001SE are as follows:

The type-certification basis for the Model 777-300ER airplane is 14 CFR part 25, effective February 1, 1965, as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-98, including special conditions 25-295-SC and 25-187A-SC. In addition, the certification basis includes certain special conditions, exemptions, or later amended sections of the applicable part that are not relevant to these proposed special conditions.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Boeing Model 777-300ER airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which they are issued. Should the applicant apply for a supplemental type certificate to modify any other model included on the same type certificate to incorporate the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would also apply to the other model under § 21.101.

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Boeing Model 777-300ER airplane must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

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

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Boeing Model 777-300ER airplane will incorporate the following novel or unusual design features:

Installation of B/E Aerospace Super Diamond Business Class (B/C) seats manufactured by B/E Aerospace in “J” class, to be installed at an angle of 30 degrees to the airplane centerline. These seats will include airbag devices for occupant restraint and injury protection. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for occupants of seats installed in the proposed configuration.

The seating configuration TIMCO Aerosystems proposes is novel and unusual due to the seat installation at 30 degrees to the airplane centerline, the airbag-system installation, and the seat/occupant interface with the surrounding furniture that introduces occupant alignment and loading concerns.

Ongoing research is progressing to establish acceptable occupant-injury limits. Until those limits become available, the FAA proposes a set of interim limits based on the current literature available, current National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations, and preliminary test data from the research program.

The existing regulations do not provide adequate or appropriate safety standards for occupants of oblique-angled seats with airbag systems. To provide a level of safety that is equivalent to that afforded occupants of forward- and aft-facing seats, additional airworthiness standards, in the form of special conditions, are necessary. These special conditions supplement part 25 and, more specifically, supplement §§ 25.562 and 25.785. The requirements contained in these special conditions consist of both test conditions and injury pass/fail criteria.

Discussion

Amendment 25-15 to part 25, dated October 24, 1967, introduced the subject of side-facing seats, and a requirement that each occupant in a side-facing seat must be protected from head injury by a safety belt and a cushioned rest that will support the arms, shoulders, head, and spine.

Subsequently, Amendment 25-20, dated April 23, 1969, clarified the definition of side-facing seats to require that each occupant of a seat, positioned at more than an 18-degree angle to the vertical plane of the airplane longitudinal centerline, must be protected from head injury by a safety belt and an energy-absorbing rest that will support the arms, shoulders, head, and spine; or by a safety belt and shoulder harness that will prevent the head from contacting any injurious object. The FAA concluded that an 18-degree angle would provide an adequate level of safety based on tests that were performed at that time, and thus adopted that standard.

Part 25 was amended June 16, 1988, by Amendment 25-64, to revise the emergency-landing conditions that must be considered in the design of the airplane. Amendment 25-64 revised the static-load conditions in 14 CFR 25.561, and added the new § 25.562 that requires dynamic testing for all seats approved for occupancy during takeoff and landing. The intent of Amendment 25-64 is to provide an improved level of safety for occupants on transport-category airplanes. Because most seating is forward-facing on transport-category airplanes, the pass/fail criteria developed in Amendment 25-64 focused primarily on these seats. As a result, the FAA issued Policy Memorandums ANM-03-115-30 and PS-ANM-100-2000-00123 to provide the additional guidance necessary to demonstrate the level of safety required by the regulations for side-facing seats, and their mounting plates and adapters.

Special conditions 25-295-SC were issued on August 9, 2005, for the Boeing Model 777, with injury criteria for seats installed at an oblique angle; however, those injury criteria were developed for a seat configuration that provided body support for the occupant, and do not directly address the complex occupant-loading conditions introduced by the oblique seat configuration that is the subject of these new special conditions.

To reflect current research findings, the FAA developed a methodology to address all fully side-facing seats (i.e., seats positioned in the airplane with the occupant facing 90 degrees to the vertical plane of the airplane centerline), and has documented those requirements in a set of new special conditions. The FAA issued Policy Statement PS-ANM-25-03-R1 to define revised injury criteria associated with neck and leg injuries as they relate to fully side-facing seats, i.e., seats installed 90 degrees to the airplane centerline. That policy statement does not address oblique seat installations. Some of those criteria are applicable to oblique seats but others are not, because the motion of an occupant in an oblique seat is different from the motion of an occupant in a fully side-facing seat during emergency-landing conditions.

Most recently, on September, 30, 2015, the FAA issued special conditions 25-594-SC and 25-596-SC, applicable to the Boeing 747-8 and 777-200, for oblique seats. These new special conditions are identical to both of those special conditions. No public comments were received for those special conditions.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Boeing Model 777-300ER airplane. Should TIMCO apply at a later date for a supplemental type certificate to modify any other model included on type certificate no. T00001SE, to incorporate the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to the other model as well.

Conclusion

This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on one model of airplane. It is not a rule of general applicability, and affects only the applicant who applied to the FAA for approval of these features on the airplane.

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

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

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

The Special Conditions Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for the Boeing Model 777-300ER airplane as modified by TIMCO Aerosystems. Side-Facing Seats Special Conditions

In addition to the requirements of § 25.562:

1. Head-Injury Criteria

Compliance with § 25.562(c)(5) is required, except that, if the anthropomorphic test device (ATD) has no apparent contact with the seat/structure but has contact with an airbag, a head-injury criterion (HIC) unlimited score in excess of 1000 is acceptable, provided the HIC15 score (calculated in accordance with 49 CFR 571.208) for that contact is less than 700.

2. Body-to-Wall/Furnishing Contact

If a seat is installed aft of structure (e.g., an interior wall or furnishing) that does not provide a homogenous contact surface for the expected range of occupants and yaw angles, then additional analysis and/or test(s) may be required to demonstrate that the injury criteria are met for the area that an occupant could contact. For example, if different yaw angles could result in different airbag performance, then additional analysis or separate test(s) may be necessary to evaluate performance.

3. Neck Injury Criteria

The seating system must protect the occupant from experiencing serious neck injury. The assessment of neck injury must be conducted with the airbag device activated, unless there is reason to also consider that the neck-injury potential would be higher for impacts below the airbag-device deployment threshold.

a. The Nij (calculated in accordance with 49 CFR 571.208) must be below 1.0, where Nij =Fz/Fzc + My/Myc, and Nij critical values are:

i. Fzc = 1530 lb for tension ii. Fzc = 1385 lb for compression iii. Myc = 229 lb-ft in flexion iv. Myc = 100 lb-ft in extension

b. In addition, peak upper-neck Fz must be below 937 lb of tension and 899 lb of compression.

c. Rotation of the head about its vertical axis, relative to the torso, is limited to 105 degrees in either direction from forward-facing.

d. The neck must not impact any surface that would produce concentrated loading on the neck.

4. Spine and Torso Injury Criteria

a. The shoulders must remain aligned with the hips throughout the impact sequence, or support for the upper torso must be provided to prevent forward or lateral flailing beyond 45 degrees from the vertical during significant spinal loading. Alternatively, the lumbar spine tension (Fz) cannot exceed 1200 lb.

b. Significant concentrated loading on the occupant's spine, in the area between the pelvis and shoulders during impact, including rebound, is not acceptable. During this type of contact, the interval for any rearward (X-direction) acceleration exceeding 20g must be less than 3 milliseconds as measured by the thoracic instrumentation specified in 49 CFR part 572, subpart E, filtered in accordance with SAE International (SAE) J211-1.

c. Occupant must not interact with the armrest or other seat components in any manner significantly different than would be expected for a forward-facing seat installation.

5. Longitudinal test(s), conducted to measure the injury criteria above, must be performed with the FAA Hybrid III ATD, as described in SAE 1999-01-1609. The test(s) must be conducted with an undeformed floor, at the most-critical yaw case(s) for injury, and with all lateral structural supports (armrests/walls) installed.

Note:

TIMCO Aerosystems must demonstrate that the installation of seats via plinths or pallets meets all applicable requirements. Compliance with the guidance contained in FAA Policy Memorandum PS-ANM-100-2000-00123, dated February 2, 2000, titled “Guidance for Demonstrating Compliance with Seat Dynamic Testing for Plinths and Pallets,” is acceptable to the FAA.

Inflatable Lap Belt Special Conditions

If inflatable lap belts are installed on single-place side-facing seats, the lap belts must meet Special Conditions no. 25-187A-SC.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on October 28, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-27936 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2015-3368; Special Conditions No. 25-603-SC] Special Conditions: Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 Airplanes; Occupant Protection For Side-Facing Seats Forward of Aft-Facing Seats AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes. These airplanes will have a novel or unusual design feature associated with a seat configuration of side-facing seats positioned forward of aft-facing seats, and with a structural armrest between the side-facing and aft-facing seats. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

The effective date of these special conditions is November 3, 2015. We must receive your comments by December 18, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-3368 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jayson Claar, FAA, Airframe and Cabin Safety Branch, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2194, facsimile (425) 227-1232.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

Comments Invited

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

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

Background

On October 14, 2010, Embraer S.A. applied for an amendment to type certificate no. TC00062IB to include the new Embraer Model EMB-545 airplane. These special conditions allow installation of side-facing seats forward of aft-facing seats in Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes.

The Embraer Model EMB-545 airplane is a derivative of the Model EMB-550 airplane currently approved under type certificate no. TC00062IB. As compared to the Model EMB-550, the Model EMB-545 fuselage is one meter shorter. The Model EMB-545 airplane is designed for an eight-passenger configuration and a maximum of nine passengers (including lavatory seat).

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.101, Embraer must show that the Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes meet the applicable provisions of the regulations listed in type certificate no. TC00062IB, or the applicable regulations in effect on the date of application for the change, except for earlier amendments as agreed upon by the FAA. The regulations listed in the type certificate are commonly referred to as the “original type certification basis.” The regulations incorporated by reference in type certificate no. TC00062IB are as follows:

Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations part 25, effective February 1, 1965, including Amendments 25-1 through 25-129, in their entirety. In addition, the certification basis includes certain special conditions, exemptions, or later amended sections of the applicable part that are not relevant to these special conditions.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under § 21.16.

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

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

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

Novel or Unusual Design Features

Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes will incorporate the following novel or unusual design feature: Side-facing seats installed forward of aft-facing seats.

Discussion

This issuance of special conditions for side-facing seats installed forward of aft-facing seats requires dynamic seat testing. Such tests are required of all applicants who plan to install side-facing and oblique seating in passenger airplanes.

ER03NO15.244

The intent of the dynamic seat testing is to evaluate airplane seats, restraints, and related interior systems to demonstrate their structural strength and their ability to protect an occupant from serious injuries in a survivable crash. The current regulations (14 CFR 25.561, 25.562, and 25.785) address occupant-injury protection for forward- and aft-facing seats. The FAA has issued special conditions no. 25-495-SC for Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes to address the additional occupant-injury protection concerns raised by for side-facing seats. However, the aft occupant of the side-facing seat (see Figure 1 in these special conditions) may interact with the aft-facing seat, a scenario that the regulations do not specifically address.

The aft-facing seat back could deform during the dynamic-test event, and could contact the occupant in the aft side-facing seat. The point that the seat back contacts the occupant could be in an area of the body that has no defined, acceptable, injury-evaluation method, such as the shoulder. This type of contact is addressed in the above-mentioned side-facing-seat special conditions, which prohibit body-to-body contact.

The applicant proposed installing a structural armrest between the side-facing seat and the aft-facing seat to help prevent contact between the aft-facing seat and the aft occupant of the side-facing seat. The FAA believes that this contact would be likely to occur if the structural armrest failed to perform as intended in an emergency landing. Therefore, the purpose of these special conditions is to define the specific structural requirements of the proposed structural armrest, and the additional requirements necessary to protect the seated occupant from both the side-facing seat and the adjacent aft-facing seat.

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

Applicability

These special conditions are applicable to Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes. Should Embraer apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model that incorporates the same novel or unusual design feature, or should any other model already included on the same type certificate be modified to incorporate the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to the other model as well.

Conclusion

This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes. It is not a rule of general applicability, and it affects only those airplanes listed on amended type certificate no. TC00062IB.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

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

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for Embraer Model EMB-545 and EMB-550 airplanes with side-facing seats installed forward of aft-facing seats.

The applicant must propose a certification strategy for the structural armrest. This strategy must address the structural integrity of the structural armrest, and occupant protection, after a survivable crash. The strategy must define how the applicant will ensure that the installation, when deformed due to the application of static, dynamic, and interaction (with aft-facing seat) loads, and while complying with the applicable 14 CFR 25.561 and 25.562 requirements:

1. The proposed structural armrest will not touch the side-facing seat's aft occupant, and the occupant will not act as an “human cushion;”

2. The backrest of the aft-facing seat will not touch the side-facing seat's aft occupant;

3. The proposed structural armrest will not impose loads to the side-facing seat structure, and;

4. The seat back of the aft-facing seat will not, as a result of contact with the structural armrest, result in damage or deformation of the seat back that could be injurious to the occupant of the aft-facing seat.

In addition, the applicant must:

1. Test the structural armrest with pitch and roll of the seat track to ensure that the armrest continues to protect the occupant of the side-facing seat.

2. Conduct at least two 16G forward-structural tests with the combination of the side-facing seat, structural armrest, and the aft-facing seat. For these tests, the applicant must account for all structural requirements and post-test conditions.

3. Document any load sharing between the side-facing seat, structural armrest, and the aft-facing seat.

4. Address the worst-case floor deformation that:

a. Produces the maximum load into the structural armrest. This includes the load caused by the floor deformation and the load from the aft-facing seat back.

b. allows the aft-facing seat back the most forward dynamic deformation in the area of the side-facing seat's aft occupant. No contact between the aft-facing seat and the side-facing seat aft occupant is acceptable.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on October 27, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-27937 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT 24 CFR Part 570 [Docket No. FR-5767-F-03] RIN 2506-AC35 Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Payment of Fees To Cover Credit Subsidy Costs AGENCY:

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, HUD.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule amends HUD's Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program (Section 108 Program) regulations to permit HUD to collect fees from Section 108 borrowers to offset the credit subsidy costs of Section 108 loan guarantees. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Acts of 2014 and 2015 authorize HUD, for each of those fiscal years, to collect fees from borrowers to offset the credit subsidy costs for the guaranteed loans. This final rule amends HUD's Section 108 Program regulations to ensure that HUD can begin to make Section 108 loan guarantee commitments without appropriated credit subsidy budget authority, in accordance with applicable law. This final rule follows publication of the February 5, 2015, proposed rule and adopts the proposed rule with minor, clarifying changes to how HUD will determine and announce the amount of the fee. Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, HUD is publishing a document that sets the fee that it will charge borrowers under the Section 108 Program for loan guarantee commitments awarded in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

DATES:

Effective Date: December 3, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Paul Webster, Director, Financial Management Division, Office of Block Grant Assistance, Office of Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 7180, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 202-708-1871 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service, toll-free, at 800-877-8339. Faxed inquiries (but not comments) may be sent to Mr. Webster at 202-708-1798 (this is not a toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background A. The February 5, 2015, Proposed Rule

On February 5, 2015, HUD published a rule in the Federal Register, at 80 FR 6470, proposing to amend the Section 108 regulations at 24 CFR part 570, subpart M, to permit HUD, in accordance with statutory authority, to collect fees from Section 108 borrowers to offset the cost of Section 108 loan guarantees. HUD published its proposal in anticipation of annual appropriations that do not include budget authority for a credit subsidy and require HUD to collect fees from borrowers to cover the credit subsidy costs for guaranteeing the loans.

HUD's February 5, 2015, rule proposed establishing a new section, § 570.712, entitled “Collection of fees; procedure to determine amount of the fee,” that would provide for the collection of fees for the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program. Specifically, § 570.712 would provide that when HUD has been authorized to collect a fee for the Section 108 Program and Congress has not appropriated a subsidy for the Section 108 Program or the appropriated subsidy is insufficient to offset the costs of the Section 108 loan guarantees, HUD will collect a fee for the program. When such conditions occur, HUD stated that it would announce through notice published in the Federal Register its intent to impose a fee and explain the basis and amount of the fee imposed. The fee that would be imposed would be expressed as a percentage of the principal amount of the guaranteed loan. Recognizing that the amount of the fee would be dependent upon the authority provided by HUD's annual appropriations to issue loan guarantee commitments and could vary from year to year, HUD proposed announcing the fee through notice published in the Federal Register rather than codifying it in § 570.712. HUD stated that the amount of the fee would reduce the credit subsidy cost to the Federal Government to a level that eliminates the need for appropriated credit subsidy budget authority.

In addition to establishing the new § 570.712, the February 5, 2015, rule proposed related amendments to other sections of part 570, subpart M, to implement the authority to charge Section 108 borrowers a fee. Specifically, HUD proposed amending § 570.701 (Definitions) to add a definition of “credit subsidy cost” to mean the estimated long-term cost to the Federal Government of a Section 108 loan guarantee or a modification thereof, calculated on a net present value basis, excluding administrative costs and any incidental effects on governmental receipts or outlays. HUD based this definition on the definition of “cost” in the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 1 (2 U.S.C. 661-661f at § 661a), modified to exclude direct loans, which are not authorized under the Section 108 Program. HUD also proposed amending § 570.705(g) to add, as a loan requirement, that each public entity, or its designated public agency, and each State issuing debt obligations pay any and all fees charged by HUD for the purpose of paying the credit subsidy costs of the loan guarantee.

1 The Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2014, references section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Section 502 was added to the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, Public Law 101-508, title XIII, subtitle B, section 13201(a), 104 Stat. 1388-610.

To facilitate the payment of these charges, HUD's February 5, 2015, rule proposed permitting the payment of these fees from guaranteed loan proceeds. HUD proposed amending § 570.703 (Eligible activities) to provide that guaranteed loan funds may be used for the payment of fees charged by HUD, when the fees are paid from the disbursement of guaranteed loan funds. In addition, to notify the public of plans to use grant funds or loan proceeds to pay the fee, HUD proposed changes to § 570.704 (Application requirements) to require that applicants include the estimated amount of the fee to be paid in the application for loan guarantee assistance. Use of grant funds for fees or payments of principal and interest would also need to be included in each applicant's consolidated plan.

Finally, HUD proposed amending § 570.200(a)(3)(iii) to clarify that when the fee is paid from the proceeds of a guaranteed loan, grant funds used to repay that loan would not be subject to the requirement that not less than 70 percent of a grantee's aggregate Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) expenditures over a specified 1-, 2-, or 3-year period be used for activities benefitting low- and moderate-income persons.2 This exclusion was proposed to make clear that payment of fees would be treated as part of the cost of carrying out the activity financed with the guaranteed loan. HUD stated that Section 108 activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons are already included in the calculation and that the activities should only be considered once when calculating overall benefit.

2 Section 101(c) of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5301(c)).

B. Proposed FY 2015 Fee

In addition to the February 5, 2015, proposed rule, HUD published a notice on February 5, 2015, at 80 FR 6469, proposing the amount of the fee that HUD would collect in FY 2015 to offset the credit subsidy costs to the Federal Government for making a loan guarantee. Specifically, HUD proposed a fee of 2.42 percent of the principal amount of the loan, proposed to make that fee effective in FY 2015 after available credit subsidy appropriations were depleted, and solicited public comment on the amount of the fee. HUD's February 5, 2015, notice was consistent with § 570.712(b)(2) of the proposed rule, which provided that HUD would publish a notice to establish the fee to pay the credit subsidy costs. HUD stated that it anticipated issuing fee notices before the beginning of the applicable fiscal year, with an effective date of the beginning of the fiscal year, and may provide updated notices as necessary. Furthermore, HUD stated that it would periodically publish the estimated subsidy cost and fee as part of the President's Budget.

C. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2015

HUD stated in its February 5, 2015, proposed rule that the Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2014,3 authorizes HUD to collect fees from borrowers to offset the credit subsidy cost for the program. On December 16, 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2015 4 (2015 HUD Appropriations Act) was enacted. The 2015 HUD Appropriations Act does not include budget authority for a credit subsidy and requires HUD to collect fees from borrowers to result in a credit subsidy cost of zero for guaranteeing loans.

3 Title II of Division L of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76, 128 Stat. 5, approved January 17, 2014; 128 Stat. 604) (2014 HUD Appropriations Act).

4 Title II of Division K of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235, 128 Stat. 2130, approved December 16, 2014; 128 Stat. 2739) (2015 HUD Appropriations Act).

Both the Senate Report (S. Rep. No. 113-182) accompanying the Senate's FY 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriation bill and the House Report (H.R. Rep. No. 113-464) accompanying the House's FY 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriation bill support the conversion of the Section 108 Program to a fee-based program. The Senate Report states that the Senate Committee on Appropriations expects HUD to move quickly to complete the rulemaking process and clearly communicate program costs and requirements to communities. The Committee concludes that it expects HUD to ensure that a financing structure is in place by the beginning of the fiscal year to ensure that this important program remains available to communities.

This final rule is consistent with the expectations expressed in the Senate Report. As discussed in this preamble, to assist with the conversion to a fee-based financing mechanism, the Section 108 Program allows Section 108 borrowers to include the fee in the guaranteed loan amount. Borrowers would also have the option to use existing statutory authority that permits the fee to be paid with CDBG funds.

II. This Final Rule

The public comment period for the February 5, 2015, proposed rule and notice closed on March 9, 2015. HUD received 10 comments on the rule and 8 comments on the notice by the close of the public comment period. Commenters included State governments, cities, trade associations, and housing development organizations, and addressed issues including the need for the fee, the amount of the fee, and the basis for the fee. The following section of this preamble summarizes the significant issues raised by the commenters on the February 5, 2015, proposed rule and notice and HUD's responses to these comments. Because similar comments were received on the rule and the notice, HUD is addressing all public comments in this final rule.

After considering the public comments received, HUD has decided to adopt the February 5, 2015, proposed rule with minor, clarifying changes. HUD is clarifying § 570.712(a) to provide that program income may be used to pay the fee. HUD is also clarifying § 570.712(b)(1) to provide that the amount of the fee shall be based on the date of the loan guarantee commitment. Finally, HUD is clarifying § 570.712(b)(2) to more accurately describe how it will announce its intent to impose the fee. Specifically, HUD is clarifying § 570.712(b)(2) to provide, as discussed in the preamble of the February 5, 2015, proposed rule, that it would announce the fee through notice published in the Federal Register and would solicit comment on future fee notices if the assumptions underlying the fee calculation change or the fee structure itself raises new considerations for borrowers.

Given the timing of the publication of the final rule and the availability of appropriated budget authority to defray the credit subsidy cost, HUD has decided not to impose a fee with respect to FY 2015 loan guarantee commitments. After considering the public comments received, HUD is establishing the fee at 2.58 percent of the principal amount of the loan disbursements for loan guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2016. The change in the amount of the fee is based on reasons given in the notice being published elsewhere in today's Federal Register. HUD published the anticipated 2.58 percent fee for FY 2016 on February 2, 2015, as part of the FY 2016 President's Budget.5

5 The FY 2016 President's Budget for HUD is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/hud.pdf. The fee is specified in table 6 of the Federal Credit Supplement to the 2016 budget and is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/cr_supp.pdf.

III. Discussion of Public Comments on February 5, 2015, Proposed Rule and Notice

Comment: A commenter responding to the issue, “whether to require borrowers to pay fee amounts from other sources or allow borrowers to add up-front fees to the face value of the guaranteed loan by paying fees from guaranteed loan funds at the time of loan disbursement,” stated that likely the best option is to build the fee into the loan proceeds amount. The commenter questioned, however, what might happen if a borrower needs to borrow a significantly large amount of money and needs to use the entire loan to subsidize the housing development or purchase. According to the commenter, the fee may deter borrowers from choosing to finance through the Section 108 Program. The commenter recommended that borrowers be allowed to pay fees from other sources or add up-front fees to the face value of the guaranteed loan, stating that allowing borrowers the most flexibility regarding how to pay the fee would provide comfort to borrowers since the fee could result in higher net costs because the fee would take into account the risk of default and the borrower would have to pay interest on the financed fee. Another commenter stated that the fee should be imposed with as much flexibility as possible. According to the commenter, allowing the payment of the fee as part of the borrowing or with block grant funding would allow the borrower to borrow the loan fee and amortize it over the life of the loan. The commenter also stated that as entitlement communities adjust to the fee they will appreciate having the flexibility to best structure their loan deals to the project needs.

HUD Response: This final rule does not restrict borrowers to paying the fee with guaranteed loan proceeds or limit the source of the fee payment, but permits the payment with guaranteed loan funds. Specifically, as clarified by this final rule, § 570.712(a) states that “[s]uch fees are payable from grants allocated to the issuer pursuant to the Act (including program income derived therefrom or from other sources). . . .” (emphasis added). As a result, borrowers may use grant funds, pursuant to § 570.705(c)(1)(i), guaranteed loan funds, or program income to pay the fee.

Comment: The commenter also stated that the notice period is not explicitly stated in the proposed rule, except that it will be before the beginning of a fiscal year. According to the commenter, many borrowers plan their financial investments and obligations far in advance, and it would be good business for borrowers to be notified of the fee at least one quarter in advance of when the fee would be announced. The commenter asked whether HUD could, if unable to publish the final fee with sufficient advanced notice, publish a range of what the upcoming year's fee might be. The commenter also stated that the annual fee might cause borrowers whose time is more flexible without the immediate need to borrow to wait and see if the fee will be lower in the upcoming year.

HUD Response: The President's Budget is typically published each February preceding the beginning of a new fiscal year. As part of the Budget, HUD is required to publish its estimated Section 108 credit subsidy costs and the fee required to offset such costs approximately 7 months before the start of the fiscal year when any new fee rate would take effect. This period provides sufficient time to notify borrowers of the fee in advance of the beginning of the fiscal year. HUD believes that this time period should also provide potential borrowers sufficient opportunity to plan their financial investments and obligations.

Comment: Several commenters stated that what the fee might be in the future is a point of concern. According to the commenters, the proposed rule states only that “future notices may provide for a combination of up front and periodic fees.” As a result, how much those fees might be in the future or when they may take effect is a complete unknown. The commenters concluded that uncertainty makes any planning exercises relating to the Section 108 Program tenuous. One commenter asked HUD to reconsider the fee.

HUD Response: As stated in the response to the previous comment, HUD is required to specify the anticipated Section 108 credit subsidy cost and fee required to offset that cost approximately 7 months before the beginning of the fiscal year when the new fee rate would take effect. For fees applicable to commitments awarded in FY 2017 and thereafter, this will provide HUD sufficient time before the beginning of the fiscal year to notify potential borrowers as provided by § 570.712(b)(2). HUD would also note that only one fee schedule will apply to a loan guarantee commitment, i.e., once HUD approves the application and awards a loan guarantee commitment, the fee applicable to the period covering the date of the commitment will apply to all loan disbursements under that commitment. HUD is clarifying this by revising § 570.712(b)(1) to state that the fee shall be based on the date of the loan guarantee commitment. HUD anticipates that applicants for Section 108 loan guarantees will have access to the fee schedule that will be applicable to commitments awarded pursuant to their applications. Thus, a Section 108 borrower that receives a loan guarantee commitment will not be subject to the kind of risk envisioned by the commenters. In response to the comment requesting that HUD reconsider the fee, without an appropriation for payment of the credit subsidy cost, HUD must impose a fee to offset credit subsidy costs of guaranteeing these loans.

Comment: A commenter stated that it would be in HUD's best interest to provide the maximum amount at which the fee may be set. According to the commenter, allowing the borrower the most flexibility with the fee will mitigate any deterrence against the newly imposed fee. Another commenter also stated that flexibility is important because no two Section 108 loans are exactly alike.

HUD Response: HUD will seek to publish a new fee rate at the earliest opportunity in order to provide borrowers maximum notice and flexibility. As noted above, HUD has seven months to notify the public of the anticipated new fee rate and will do so with sufficient time in advance of the fee taking effect. However, due to the assumptions that are taken into consideration in formulating the rate, HUD is not able to set a maximum amount at which the fee may be set.

Comment: A commenter stated that the fee is unnecessary and excessive, but recognized that that the elimination of a credit subsidy appropriation requires HUD to charge some fee. Several other commenters advocated for the continuation of using appropriated credit subsidy budget authority to address the Section 108 credit subsidy cost, but acknowledged that the President's Budget and the FY 2015 HUD Appropriation Act authorize HUD to collect fees. Several other commenters opposed any fee or other mechanism that requires grantees to pay for the subsidy cost of the program. Other commenters stated that the fee is unnecessary and counterproductive considering the fact that, as HUD pointed out in the proposed rule, “there have been no defaults in the history of the program. HUD has never had to invoke its full faith and credit guarantee, nor has it paid out on any guarantee from the credit subsidy reserved each year for future losses.” According to these commenters, HUD's requirements for grantees to pledge their CDBG allocations and furnish other security interests or collateral in case of default reduce HUD's credit risk to zero. Another commenter added that as part of the Section 108 loan guarantee application process, borrowers must identify appropriate collateral to cover 100 percent of the loan amount. This commenter stated that a key role for HUD is to evaluate and approve this collateral, and that HUD has never had to invoke its 100 percent guarantee even though a number of projects have failed or gone bankrupt. Another commenter stated that because of collateralization, instituting a loan fee calculated on assumptions of default is a “functional fiction.”

Another commenter stated that because HUD limits an entitlement community to borrowing up to five times its CDBG authority, a community's annual Section 108 repayment requirement would not exceed its available CDBG capacity under most common deal structures. The commenter suggested that at current rates, a standard term 20-year loan with straight amortization of the entire available loan capacity would require an annual payment of just over 25 percent of a community's CDBG allocation. According to the commenter, interest rates would have to increase to almost 20 percent to exceed a full allocation. The commenter also stated that this calculation assumes that the community would secure any debt only with its CDBG capacity. Prudent borrowing dictates that communities provide additional security for Section 108-funded loans. The commenter (a city) stated that it subjects Section 108 loans to the most stringent underwriting and requires substantial collateral, including a mortgage position on the property, personal and corporate guaranties from the Borrower, and the establishment of project debt reserves. These protections are rigorously reviewed by HUD's staff at the local and headquarters offices and subject to extensive review by the city's staff and its external loan review committee. The commenter concluded that HUD's debt is secured both by strong underwriting and collateral at the community level, reviewed and approved by HUD staff, and ultimately guaranteed by CDBG allocations that are more than sufficient to secure against a portfolio-wide default.

Another commenter stated that the Section 108 Program is set up to ensure payment is made to the bondholders on time through a pledge of grantees' CDBG lines of credit and collateral for each loan to secure approximately 125 percent of the loan amount. Because these mechanisms are in place to safeguard the loans, the commenter questioned the reason a fee is being proposed. The commenter stated that it appears that HUD does not recognize the impact of the fee on borrowers despite permitting the credit subsidy fees to be paid with proceeds from the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program or by using CDBG funds.

HUD Response: In order to comply with the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, HUD must estimate the credit subsidy cost of a loan guarantee. Under Federal credit budgeting principles, the availability of CDBG funds to repay the guaranteed loans cannot be assumed in the development of the credit subsidy cost estimate. Thus, the estimate must incorporate the risk that alternative sources are used to repay the guaranteed loan in lieu of CDBG funds, and that those sources may be insufficient. Based on the annual rate that CDBG funds are used as repayment for loan guarantees, HUD's calculation of the credit subsidy cost must take into account the possibility of future defaults despite the history of no defaults in the program. When fees are collected by HUD, they are deposited into the Financing Account established in accordance with Federal Credit Reform Act procedures. The fees, together with interest earned thereon, will be used as the source for future years' default claims.

Comment: Several commenters also stated that credit subsidy is typically used to cover costs associated with delinquencies, interest subsidies, and other costs related to loans. The commenters questioned if HUD has not experienced a loss in the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program, why charge a fee to cover those costs? One commenter stated that since there is no history of default due to the nature of the program, the fee should be as minimal as possible. Another commenter stated that HUD has not had to pay out on any guarantee from the credit subsidy reserve and asked what HUD will do with the accumulated fees it receives from grantees. Several other commenters recommended that HUD be required to keep the funds in a separate interest bearing account and, upon closeout of a grantee's Section 108 loans, that HUD should remit to the contributing grantees the fee amounts contributed plus interest minus their pro rata share of any pay-outs made from the fund by HUD. One commenter added that a portion of the fee should be available for recapture in the event that there is no default on a loan since this would be an added incentive to see that loans are underwritten properly and invested in only sustainable projects. Another commenter stated that any excess fees above actual costs should be recapitalized as credit subsidy in future years and/or credited against loan fees already paid.

HUD Response: These commenters generally question the need for the fee based on the fact that HUD has experienced no losses due to defaults on loans guaranteed under the Section 108 Program. As HUD stated in response to an earlier comment, the absence of losses to date does not mean that losses will never be incurred. The main reason that no losses have been incurred by HUD is that pledged CDBG funds have been available to repay guaranteed loans even when CDBG funds were not the planned source for repayment. If CDBG funds were not available, it is likely that some defaults would have occurred and that the collateral security for the defaulted loans would not have been sufficient to fully repay the outstanding obligations. HUD responds to the recommendation that fees be held during the loan repayment period and available for recapture by the Borrower in the event the loan is fully repaid with no default elsewhere in this discussion of public comments.

Comment: Several commenters also recommended various options for recapture of fees paid if not needed to cover actual losses (e.g., refunds or credits against loan fees already paid).

HUD Response: As stated in HUD's preceding response, collected fees are deposited into the Section 108 Financing Account. It is important for the public to understand that the purpose of the fee is to offset the credit subsidy cost to the Federal Government of making the loan guarantee, as of the time of the loan disbursement. The commenters understand correctly that the credit subsidy cost is an estimate and, therefore, subject to change. In fact, the Federal Credit Reform Act procedures provide for the reestimate of the credit subsidy cost annually. Although the credit subsidy cost is reestimated annually and may be reduced in subsequent years, it may also be increased. The fee is nonrefundable, even if the cost is less than initially estimated. On the other hand, the borrower is not assessed additional fees for any deficiency in amounts available to the Federal Government if the cost is greater than initially estimated. The Federal Government assumes the risk that the fee initially charged will be insufficient to cover future losses. Thus, while borrowers do not benefit if the actual losses are less than originally estimated, they also are not penalized if losses are greater than initially estimated.

Comment: A commenter stated that HUD should consider reducing the fees based on the experience of the program because the HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program is fiscally sound and that the Federal Government would not be faced with payments due to default.

HUD Response: HUD agrees that the program is fiscally sound. As stated above, however, if non-CDBG revenues are the expected source for repayment and those revenues fail to materialize as expected, it is likely that HUD would be required to make payments under its guarantee if CDBG funds are unavailable for that purpose. As also stated above, the Federal Credit Reform Act has been interpreted to preclude reliance on future, unappropriated funds in calculating the credit subsidy cost of a credit program.

Comment: A commenter stated that, in addition to publishing a notice in the Federal Register with the fee structure and levels, taking into consideration the total available commitment authority and what level of fees may be needed to operate the program, HUD should also provide statistics that explain how the fee is determined. This commenter asked whether HUD can provide an explanation for how the proposed fee of 2.42 6 percent of the principal amount of the loan is determined and why HUD believes it should be a flat rate for the year, rather than a variable percentage based on market conditions. The commenter asked what would result if the fee is not high enough to cover the amount that would have been provided by credit subsidies, coupled with poor market conditions, resulting in less loan obligations under the program?

6 Commenters cited and used in examples 2.42 percent as the amount of the fee to be applied to the principal amount of loans, based on the rate specified in the proposed rule and notice. However, as noted in Section II of this final rule and as published elsewhere in today's Federal Register, HUD is establishing the fee at 2.58 percent of the principal amount of the loan for commitments awarded in FY 2016.

HUD Response: The fee is calculated using the data on default frequency for municipal debt, the recovery rates on collateral security for comparable municipal debt, and the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio by end users of the guaranteed loan funds. These data will be updated periodically. The fee rate is the weighted average of the data based on the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio. The data is adjusted to reflect the availability of appropriated CDBG funds in the early years of the loan guarantee cohort. The effect of the availability of appropriated CDBG funds is to reduce the credit subsidy cost and, thus, the fee payable by borrowers. It is important to understand that the fee applicable to a Section 108 guaranteed loan will be based on the fee schedule published in the Federal Register and in effect when the loan guarantee commitment is awarded and will not be subject to change. If the rate were changed periodically, as one commenter recommended, it would introduce additional uncertainty for borrowers and would make the Section 108 Program less useful as a financing tool for community and economic development projects. HUD will specify the default and recovery rates used in connection with the two categories of municipal debt used in calculating the fee in the notice, once published.

Comment: Several commenters stated that the manner in which HUD arrived at the proposed 2.42 percent fee is confusing. The commenters stated that instead of using actual Section 108 loan data to arrive at the proposed fee, HUD looked at the default frequency for municipal debt and data on recovery rates on collateral security for comparable municipal debt, and at the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio by end users of the guaranteed loan funds (e.g., third-party borrowers and public entities). The commenter stated that the credit subsidy fees should be risk-based and include a number of factors surrounding a grantee's Section 108 loan performance, including the number of payments made on time and the risk level for each loan made. Another commenter stated that the fee is based on long-term data derived from general municipal debt and industrial revenue bonds (IRB) loan history. According to the commenter, IRBs have higher default rates than general purpose debt. The commenter stated that HUD based 73 percent of its calculation on the default and recovery data for IRBs and only 27 percent on general purpose debt because HUD determined that most projects funded through its Section 108 Program fit better into IRB types of activities rather than into general purpose debt. The commenter stated that this is not the case with the commenter's program and suggested that each State have its own fee structure. The commenter also stated that an argument could be made that by the nature of the security and back-up security required by HUD for Section 108 loans (plus the ultimate CDBG allocation guarantee), Section 108 is actually more similar to a general obligation type of debt than a revenue bond.

Other commenters stated that they did not understand the justification for the proposed 2.42 percent fee. According to these commenters, the notice states that the fee “would cover the cost associated with making a loan guarantee,” however, the notice also states that the fee is based on assumptions on default frequency, recovery rates on collateral, the composition of the Section 108 loan portfolio by the end users, and nebulous “other factors” that HUD deems relevant. The commenters stated that there has never been a default in the history of Section 108 in which HUD has had to invoke full faith and credit or pay out any guarantee. The commenters suggested that the fee be based on costs related to the sale of notes and actual loan issuance, rather than the loan default and other costs mentioned in the notice. One commenter asked, “If there are other costs related to the sale of notes and actual loan issuance that are no longer subsidized, why is that not the major focus of discussion?”

HUD Response: The commenters make a valid point regarding the fact that the fee represents the weighted average of data for two distinct categories of municipal debt. HUD will continue to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to study the feasibility of establishing separate fees for Section 108 loans according to which category of municipal debt is most comparable to the Section 108 loans to which a fee would apply. However, HUD has decided to retain the weighted average approach for the time being in order to avoid the disruption to the program that could be created by implementing separate fees. A Section 108 loan guarantee is not a general obligation in a large majority of cases. In some cases, however, borrowers have offered to pledge their full faith and credit.

Regarding the recommendation to focus on costs of issuance in lieu of default costs, the fee specified in HUD's proposed rule and related notice would only be imposed to reduce the credit subsidy cost for the Section 108 Program to zero. This final rule defines Credit subsidy cost to mean “. . . the estimated long-term cost to the Federal Government of a Section 108 loan guarantee or a modification thereof, calculated on a net present value basis, excluding administrative costs and any incidental effects on governmental receipts or outlays.” Costs related to the sale of notes and loan issuances are not included in this definition and, in any event, are costs paid by borrowers and not by HUD. As stated in previous responses, the main reason why HUD has never been required to pay a default claim is that pledged CDBG funds have been available to repay the guaranteed loans. As also stated previously, the Federal Credit Reform Act has been interpreted to preclude reliance on the availability of future appropriations for purposes of calculating the Section 108 credit subsidy cost.

Comment: A commenter stated that if the fee is actually used to underwrite the staff and administrative costs of the Section 108 Program, then this should be the true nexus of the calculation for the fee being proposed.

HUD Response: As previously stated in HUD's responses to public comments, the only purpose of the fee is to reduce the credit subsidy cost to zero, and the definition of credit subsidy cost excludes administrative costs. As a result, the fee may not be used to pay for HUD staff or other program administration costs.

Comment: A commenter stated that the fee is based on a blended default rate of general purpose municipal debt and industrial development bonds, based on HUD's current loan portfolio. According to the commenter, the Section 108 loan is secured by future CDBG obligations, making it essentially a general debt obligation of the borrowing community. In addition, the commenter stated that unlike bonds secured by public taxation, HUD's ability to sequester CDBG allocations before distributing them to the community gives HUD complete control over the security which overall makes HUD's risk extremely low. The commenter suggested that the proposed 2.42 percent fee implies that $1 in every $40 lent by HUD defaults, which overestimates the default risk faced by HUD. According to the commenter, if HUD uses a blended rate, then the rate should more accurately reflect the current Section 108 default rate (zero percent).

HUD Response: Some of the factors noted by the commenter are, in effect, incorporated into the calculation of the credit subsidy cost. Using CDBG funds to make payment is not, in itself, a risk factor since borrowers are statutorily permitted to use CDBG funds to repay Section 108 loans and the loans are often most comparable to general purpose municipal debt (which has a lower expected default rate). Compliance with program requirements is not a factor that affects payment defaults.

Comment: Several commenters stated that the proposed fee seems to be an additional fee to the “underwriting and issuance fee” currently charged to Section 108 loans assessed at the time permanent financing is obtained. These commenters stated that § 570.712, entitled “Collection of Fees; Procedure to Determine Amount of Fee,” does not address the underwriting and issuance fee currently assessed, nor the interim financing fees currently assessed by HUD's fiscal agent. The commenters recommended that § 570.712 be revised to address all fees assessed on each Section 108 loan issuance, not just credit subsidy costs, which, according to the commenters, could be approximately 3.42 percent of the loan amount, subject to market conditions.

HUD Response: HUD does not agree with the commenters. The only purpose of § 570.712 is to authorize collection of the fee to pay the credit subsidy cost of a guaranteed loan and to establish a procedure for determining the amount of the fee. Section 570.705(g) addresses all issuance and other costs, including the new fee to pay the credit subsidy cost.

Comment: Two commenters stated that the Section 108 Program provides a relatively low cost to jurisdictions to borrow and urged HUD to keep it that way, stating that Section 108 funding is crucial to filling the gap between other committed funding and local project costs.

HUD Response: HUD agrees with the commenters and is working to ensure that the Section 108 Program continues to provide jurisdictions a source of low-cost financing.

Comment: Several commenters stated that the proposed fee of 2.42 percent of the principal amount plus the Section 108 Program's cost of funds, currently around 4 percent, will push the net cost of borrowing Section 108 funds too high for many of the types of economic development projects that have been undertaken, and urged HUD to lower the proposed fee. Other commenters stated that the fee will significantly reduce the value of the Section 108 Program as an economic development resource since these costs will be charged to the project, thus limiting the benefit or the financing. According to these commenters, this places an additional financial burden on borrowers and creates a disincentive to private developers and local governments to utilize this program. One commenter stated that the additional cost of the fee essentially serves as an increase in the cost of funds by 25 basis points over the term of a standard 20-year loan. According to the commenter, this is a significant cost to the financing since Section 108 debt is frequently used as gap financing, subject to a “but for” test. The increased costs of borrowing could kill projects, decrease the ability to use Section 108 financing to improve communities, and negatively impact equitable development since many projects benefit low- and moderate-income communities.

HUD Response: HUD believes that the Section 108 Program will continue to be an attractive financing source for community and economic development projects. In this regard, the rate on Section 108 loans will continue to be lower than the rate on most other taxable financing, and it will continue to offer highly flexible terms that conform to the financing needs of borrowers. While the fee will increase somewhat the cost of project financing, HUD recognizes the potential impact of the fee and will offer training to recipients to assist them in minimizing any adverse effect on their ability to meet their community and economic development needs. Based on the experience of other Federal credit programs (e.g., programs administered by the Small Business Administration) that charge fees, HUD is confident that the Section 108 Program will continue to be an effective financing tool for CDBG recipients.

Comment: Several commenters stated that there should be an exemption for borrowers with good loan portfolios (e.g., no record of late payments, defaults, adequate collateral to ensure repayment of their loans) and that have established a separate loan loss reserves to ensure repayment of their Section 108 loans. Another commenter stated that a borrower with a sound loan portfolio should be given a reprieve from these fees, unless a performance issue arises.

HUD Response: To allow for as smooth a transition as possible to the fee-based system for payment of credit subsidy costs, HUD will implement the assumptions proposed in the February 5, 2015, notice. HUD will formally announce the fee in the Federal Register once HUD has authority to award commitments and collect fees. However, HUD takes the commenters' proposal very seriously. Accordingly, the final rule will preserve the option for future revision of the fee schedule to incorporate a risk-based approach. However, it is highly unlikely that fees can be eliminated entirely because some risk of default will always exist.

Comment: One commenter sought clarification that the fee would be a one-time fee at the initiation of the loan and the final rule would not permit addition of any new fee during the term of the loan.

HUD Response: HUD is clarifying § 570.712(b)(1) to make clear that the fee will be based on the fee schedule published in the Federal Register and in effect when the loan guarantee commitment is awarded and will not be subject to change.

Comment: Several commenters stated that the fee should not apply to current Section 108 loan participants, as one commenter's program terms and assumptions have been made public based on assumptions that did not include the proposed fee, and the commenter has been advertising a rate based on current assumptions for over a year.

HUD Response: A fee will not apply to Section 108 commitments that have been approved, or to any future commitment for which appropriated credit subsidy budget authority has been obligated.

Comment: A commenter representing a State housing and community development authority stated that the primary competitive advantages of the Section 108 Program over private lenders are its scale and its rate. The commenters stated that regard to scale, the proposed fee likely will have a chilling effect on the amount individual jurisdictions are willing to borrow, particularly to capitalize lending programs such as those administered by the commenter. With regard to rate, the commenter stated that the money will become significantly less attractive to its borrowers if it must also pass the fee to its borrowers. According to the commenter, if it decides not to pass the fee to its borrowers, it would have to determine another way to cover these costs even though these costs were not considered when the benefits and costs of deploying Section 108-backed capital were originally weighted. In this era of scarce discretionary dollars, according to the commenters, this represents a considerable challenge.

HUD Response: As stated above, the payment of a fee is not required for commitments that have already been awarded. HUD anticipates that it will be authorized in FY 2016 to collect fees from borrowers to result in a credit subsidy cost of zero for guaranteeing Section 108 loans, and anticipates publishing a fee in the Federal Register pursuant to § 570.712(b)(2) of this final rule. As previously stated, the purpose of the fee is to offset the credit subsidy cost to the Federal Government of making the loan guarantee, as of the time of the loan disbursement. Fees will not be added to the interest rate.

Comment: A commenter stated that the fee would be $968,000 on a $40 million Section 108 loan guarantee. According to the commenter, this amount would be very difficult for a State to pay and, if this fee were to be passed on to the end borrower, the State's interest rates would go from about 3.5 percent on permanent financing to 5.92 percent. The commenter concluded that, if HUD moves forward with the proposed fee, potential projects would look to other financial institutions, bonding entities, etc., particularly given all of the requisite Federal requirements, and the States' programs would be rendered nonviable.

HUD Response: Again, it is important to understand that the fee in FY 2016 will be an up-front payment, and will not be added to the interest rate. For example, if the interest rate on the guaranteed loan is 3.5 percent per annum, the borrower does not pay a rate of 5.92 percent per annum for both the interest and the fee. Rather, the borrower would pay the fee as a percent of the loan amount when that loan amount is disbursed by the lender to the borrower. Thereafter, the borrower would pay interest at a rate of 3.5 percent and would pay no further fees in connection with that loan disbursement. Depending on the term and principal payment schedule of the guaranteed loan, the fee will increase somewhat the borrowing costs—based on the most current Section 108 rates, the effective rate on a loan with a 20-year term would increase by approximately 25 to 30 basis points. Thus, under this example the effective borrowing cost would increase from 3.5 percent per annum to approximately 3.75 to 3.80 percent per annum. As stated in a previous response, HUD will also offer training for borrowers on how to minimize the impact of the fee.

Comment: Other commenters stated that withholding 2.42 percent of each drawdown in reserve is possible, yet is an undesirable option for States. According to the commenters, this practice would avoid the States' passing the cost down to the end borrowers, but results in States essentially paying HUD interest on money that they could never loan out and thus never receive proceeds on. One commenter stated that given the low State CDBG administrative allowance, States would not choose their administrative allowance to pay the Section 108 fee. Another stated that the money would come from the general administrative allocation. This commenter stated that assuming that the money may take 5 years to draw down incrementally, perhaps the interest paid on an annual basis will be affordable and this is the best way to approach the added fee, but the commenter also stated that it does not know how much administrative allocation “cushion” it has. The commenter also stated that, according to a HUD field office, CDBG funds used to pay the fee will not be subject to the 70 percent low- and moderate-income benefit objective and that is helpful.

HUD Response: The commenters noted some of the issues regarding the options available to States for paying the fee. As a reminder, HUD will provide training for borrowers regarding how to minimize the adverse impact of the fee. The treatment of a state's use of CDBG funds for payment of a fee requires clarification. The payment is authorized by § 570.705(c)(1)(i) in connection with the financing of the guaranteed loan and is not subject to the limitations on administrative costs at § 570.489.

Comment: A commenter stated that, based on its experience, the program could be operated with more efficiency so that loan decisions are rendered in a timely manner. The commenter offered to assist in developing ways to improve the process, drawing on its experience at the local level and working with different regional offices, to provide timely assistance to communities.

HUD Response: The reason for establishing the fee and the considerations in determining the rate are not affected by the timeliness of loan decisions. While HUD appreciates the offer of assistance and welcomes suggestions to improve the general process of administering the Section 108 Program, including providing assistance to local communities, such operations would not impact the necessity or amount of the fee.

IV. Findings and Certifications Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), generally requires an agency to conduct a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

This rule implements HUD's statutory authority to collect fees from borrowers to cover the credit subsidy costs of loan guarantees. As discussed in this preamble, HUD assists Section 108 borrowers' transition to a fee-based financing mechanism by allowing borrowers to include the fee in the guaranteed loan amount. This rule also permits borrowers to pay the fee with pledged CDBG funds. The amount of the fee would be determined by the amount required to fully offset the credit subsidy cost of the loan guarantees.

The 2015 HUD Appropriations Act does not appropriate credit subsidy budget authority for the Section 108 Program but requires that HUD charge borrowers a fee to result in a credit subsidy cost of zero. As a result, this rule reflects statutorily authorized actions which HUD determined that it must take to ensure uninterrupted operation of the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program. By allowing borrowers to include the fee in the guaranteed loan amount or pay the fee with grant funds, guaranteed loan funds, or program income, HUD has strived to minimize the impact that imposing a fee may otherwise have on the program. Accordingly, it is HUD's determination that this rule does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Environmental Review

In accordance with 24 CFR 50.19(c)(6), this rule involves establishment of a rate or cost determination and related external administrative requirements and procedures which do not constitute a development decision that affects the physical condition of specific project areas or building sites. Accordingly, under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(6), this rule is categorically excluded from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321).

Federalism

Executive Order 13132 (entitled “Federalism”) prohibits an agency from publishing any rule that has federalism implications if the rule either imposes substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments and is not required by statute or the rule preempts State law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements of section 6 of the Executive order. This rule does not have federalism implications and does not impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments nor preempt State law within the meaning of the Executive order.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) (UMRA) establishes requirements for Federal agencies to assess the effects of their regulatory actions on State, local, and tribal governments and on the private sector. This rule does not impose any Federal mandates on any State, local, or tribal governments, or on the private sector, within the meaning of UMRA.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) program number for the Section 108 Loan Guarantee program is 14.248.

List of Subjects in 24 CFR Part 570

Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Community Development Block Grants, Grant programs—education, Grant programs—housing and community development, Guam, Indians, Loan programs—housing and community development, Low and moderate income housing, Northern Mariana Islands, Pacific Islands Trust Territory, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Student aid, Virgin Islands.

Accordingly, for the reasons described in the preamble, HUD amends 24 CFR part 570 as follows:

PART 570—COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS 1. The authority citation for 24 CFR part 570 continues to read as follows: Authority:

42 U.S.C. 3535(d) and 5301-5320.

2. In § 570.200, revise paragraph (a)(3)(iii) to read as follows:
§ 570.200 General policies.

(a) * * *

(3) * * *

(iii) Funds expended for the repayment of loans guaranteed under the provisions of subpart M of this part (including repayment of the portion of a loan used to pay any issuance, servicing, underwriting, or other costs as may be incurred under § 570.705(g)) shall also be excluded;

3. In § 570.701, add in alphabetical order the definition of “Credit subsidy cost” to read as follows:
§ 570.701 Definitions.

Credit subsidy cost means the estimated long-term cost to the Federal Government of a Section 108 loan guarantee or a modification thereof, calculated on a net present value basis, excluding administrative costs and any incidental effects on governmental receipts or outlays.

4. In § 570.703, add paragraph (n) to read as follows:
§ 570.703 Eligible activities.

(n) Payment of fees charged by HUD pursuant to § 570.712.

5. Amend § 570.704 by adding paragraph (a)(1)(i)(D), revising paragraph (a)(1)(v), and removing and reserving paragraph (c)(2) to read as follows:
§ 570.704 Application requirements.

(a) * * *

(1) * * *

(i) * * *

(D) A description of any CDBG funds, including guaranteed loan funds and grant funds, that will be used to pay fees required under § 570.705(g). The description must include an estimate of the amount of CBDG funds that will be used for this purpose. If the applicant will use grant funds to pay required fees, it must include this planned use of grant funds in its consolidated plan.

(v) If an application for loan guarantee assistance is to be submitted by an entitlement or nonentitlement public entity simultaneously with the public entity's submission for its grant, the public entity shall include and identify in its proposed and final consolidated plan the activities to be undertaken with the guaranteed loan funds, the national objective to be met by each of these activities, the amount of any program income expected to be received during the program year, and the amount of guaranteed loan funds to be used. The public entity shall also include in the consolidated plan a description of the pledge of grants, as required under § 570.705(b)(2), and the use of grant funds to pay for any fees required under § 570.705(g). In such cases the proposed and final application requirements of paragraphs (a)(1)(i), (iii), and (iv) of this section will be deemed to have been met.

(c) * * *

(2) [Reserved]

6. Amend § 570.705 by revising the heading of paragraph (c) and revising paragraph (g) to read as follows:
§ 570.705 Loan requirements.

(c) Use of grants for loan repayment, issuance, underwriting, servicing, and other costs.

(g) Issuance, underwriting, servicing, and other costs. (1) Each public entity or its designated public agency and each State issuing debt obligations under this subpart must pay the issuance, underwriting, servicing, trust administration, and other costs associated with the private sector financing of the debt obligations.

(2) Each public entity or its designated public agency and each State issuing debt obligations under this subpart must pay any and all fees charged by HUD pursuant to § 570.712.

7. Add § 570.712 to subpart M to read as follows:
§ 570.712 Collection of fees; procedure to determine amount of the fee.

This section contains additional procedures for guarantees of debt obligations under section 108 when HUD is required or authorized to collect fees to pay the credit subsidy costs of the loan guarantee program.

(a) Collection of fees. HUD may collect fees from borrowers for the purpose of paying the credit subsidy cost of the loan guarantee. Each public entity or its designated public agency and each State issuing debt obligations under this subpart is responsible for the payment of any and all fees charged pursuant to this section. The fees are payable from the grant allocated to the issuer pursuant to the Act (including program income derived therefrom) or from other sources, but are only payable from guaranteed loan funds if the fee is deducted from the disbursement of guaranteed loan funds.

(b) Amount and determination of fee. (1) HUD shall calculate the amount of the fee as a percentage of the principal amount of the guaranteed loan as provided by this section, based on a determination that the fees when collected will reduce the credit subsidy cost to the amount established by applicable appropriation acts. The amount of the fee payable by the public entity or State shall be based on the date of the loan guarantee commitment and shall be determined by applying the percentages announced by Federal Register notice to guaranteed loan disbursements as they occur or periodically to outstanding principal balances, or both.

(2) HUD shall publish in the Federal Register the fees required under paragraph (a) of this section, announcing the fee to be applied, the effective date of the fee, and any other necessary information regarding payment of the fee and, if necessary, provide a 30-day public comment period for the purpose of inviting comment on the proposed fee before adopting changes to the assumptions underlying the fee calculation or if the fee structure itself raises new considerations for Borrowers. HUD will publish a second Federal Register notice, if necessary, after consideration of public comments.

Dated: October 26, 2015. Harriet Tregoning, Principal Deputy Assistant, Secretary for Community Planning and Development. Approved: October 19, 2015. Nani A. Coloretti, Deputy Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2015-28004 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210-67-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT 24 CFR Part 570 [Docket No. FR-5767-N-04] RIN 2506-AC35 Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Announcement of Fee To Cover Credit Subsidy Costs AGENCY:

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, HUD.

ACTION:

Announcement of fee.

SUMMARY:

This document announces the fee that HUD will collect from borrowers of loans guaranteed under the HUD's Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program (Section 108 Program) to offset the credit subsidy costs of the guaranteed loans pursuant to commitments awarded in FY 2016, as authorized by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016. Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, HUD is publishing a final rule that amends its regulations to permit HUD to collect fees for Section 108 guaranteed loans.

DATES:

Effective Date: December 3, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Paul Webster, Director, Financial Management Division, Office of Block Grant Assistance, Office of Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 7180, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 202-708-1871 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. FAX inquiries (but not comments) may be sent to Mr. Webster at 202-708-1798 (this is not a toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, HUD is publishing a final rule that amends the Section 108 Program regulations to establish additional procedures when HUD is required or authorized to collect fees from Section 108 borrowers to offset the costs of the Section 108 loan guarantee commitments. Following consideration of the public comments submitted in response to HUD's February 5, 2015 (80 FR 6469) notice that proposed the fee required to offset the credit subsidy costs to the Federal government to guarantee Section 108 loans, HUD has determined to set the fee for Section 108 loan disbursements under loan guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2016 at 2.58 percent of the principal amount of the loan. As discussed below, and as HUD discusses in its final rule published elsewhere in today's Federal Register, HUD determined to not to impose a fee with respect to FY 2015 loan guarantee commitments. The public is directed to HUD's final rule for a detailed discussion by HUD of the significant issues raised by the public comments submitted in response to HUD's February 5, 2015, notice and HUD's response to those comments.

II. FY 2016 Fee: 2.58 Percent of the Principal Amount of the Loan

This document sets the fee for Section 108 loan disbursements under loan guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2016 at 2.58 percent of the principal amount of the loan. HUD will collect this fee from borrowers of loans guaranteed under the Section 108 Program to offset the credit subsidy costs of the guaranteed loans pursuant to commitments awarded in FY 2016, as authorized by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. 114-53, approved September 30, 2015). The calculation of the FY 2016 fee, which was specified in the FY 2016 President's Budget,1 uses the same fee calculation model as the FY 2015 proposed fee included in HUD's February 5, 2015, notice, but incorporates updated information regarding the composition of the Section 108 portfolio and the timing of the estimated future cash flows for defaults and recoveries. The calculation of the fee is also affected by the discount rates required to be used by HUD when calculating the present value of the future cash flows as part of the Federal budget process.

1 The FY 2016 President's Budget for HUD is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/hud.pdf. The fee is specified in table 6 of the Federal Credit Supplement to the 2016 budget and is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2016/assets/cr_supp.pdf.

As described in HUD's February 5, 2015, notice, HUD's credit subsidy calculation is based on the amount required to fully offset the credit subsidy cost to the Federal government associated with making a Section 108 loan guarantee. As a result, HUD's credit subsidy cost calculations incorporated assumptions based on: (i) Data on default frequency for municipal debt where such debt is comparable to loans in the Section 108 loan portfolio; (ii) data on recovery rates on collateral security for comparable municipal debt; (iii) the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio by end users of the guaranteed loan funds (e.g., third party borrowers and public entities); and (iv) other factors that HUD determines may be relevant to this calculation.

Taking these factors into consideration, HUD determined that the fee for disbursements made under loan guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2016 is 2.58 percent, which will be applied only at the time of loan disbursements. Note that future notices may provide for a combination of up-front and periodic fees for loan guarantee commitments awarded in future fiscal years but will be subject to the public comment provisions of § 570.712(b)(2) of the final rule.

As HUD discusses in response to public comment on the amount of the fee, the expected cost of a Section 108 loan guarantee is difficult to estimate using historical program data because there have been no defaults in the history of the program that required HUD to invoke its full faith and credit guarantee or use the credit subsidy reserved each year for future losses.2 This is due to a variety of factors, including the availability of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds as security. As authorized by Section 108 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5308), borrowers may make payments on Section 108 loans using CDBG grant funds. Borrowers may also make Section 108 loan payments from other anticipated sources but continue to have CDBG funds available should they encounter shortfalls in the anticipated repayment source.

2 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Study of HUD's Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program, (prepared by Econometrica, Inc. and The Urban Institute), September 2012.

The fee of 2.58 percent of the principal amount of the loan will offset the expected cost to the government due to default, financing costs, and other relevant factors. To arrive at this measure, HUD analyzed data on comparable municipal debt over an extended 16 to 23 year period. The estimated rate is based on the default and recovery rates for general purpose municipal debt and industrial development bonds. The cumulative default rates on industrial development bonds (14.62 percent) were higher than the default rates on general purpose municipal debt (0.25 percent) during the period from which the data were taken. (The recovery rates for industrial development bonds and general purpose debt were 74.76 and 90.27 percent, respectively.) These two subsectors of municipal debt were chosen because their purposes and loan terms most closely resemble those of Section 108 guaranteed loans. In this regard, Section 108 guaranteed loans can be broken down into two categories: (1) Loans that finance public infrastructure and activities to support subsidized housing (other than financing new construction) and (2) other development projects (e.g., retail, commercial, industrial). The 2.58 percent fee was derived by weighting the default and recovery data for general purpose municipal debt and the data for industrial development bonds according to the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio by corresponding project type. Based on dollar amount of Section 108 loan guarantee commitments awarded during the period from FY 2010 through FY 2014, HUD expects that 25 percent of the Section 108 portfolio will be similar to general purpose municipal debt and 75 percent of the portfolio will be similar to industrial development bonds. In setting the fee at 2.58 percent of the principal amount of the guaranteed loan, HUD believes that the amount generated will fully offset the cost to the Federal government associated with making guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2016.

Dated: October 26, 2015. Harriet Tregoning, Principal Deputy Assistant, Secretary for Community Planning and Development.
[FR Doc. 2015-28002 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210-67-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0949] RIN 1625-AA08 Special Local Regulation; Mavericks Surf Competition, Half Moon Bay, CA AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Temporary final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary special local regulation in the navigable waters of Half Moon Bay, CA, near Pillar Point in support of the Mavericks Surf Competition, an annual invitational surf competition held at the Mavericks Break. This special local regulation will temporarily restrict vessel traffic in the vicinity of Pillar Point and prohibit vessels and persons not participating in the surfing event from entering the surf competition area. This regulation is necessary to provide for the safety of life on the navigable waters immediately prior to, during, and immediately after the surfing competition, which is held only one day during the period of November 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016.

DATES:

Effective date: This rule is effective November 3, 2015 through March 31, 2016.

Enforcement date: This rule will be enforced on the competition day, which, if defined wave and wind conditions are met, will occur one day during the period from November 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016. This rule will be enforced from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on the actual competition day.

ADDRESSES:

To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2015-0949 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 about this rulemaking, call or email Lieutenant Junior Grade Christina Ramirez, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco; telephone (415) 399-3585, email at [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 Pub. L. Public Law § Section U.S.C. United States Code OCMI Officer in Charge of Marine Inspections NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking II. Background Information and Regulatory History

The Mavericks Surf Competition is a one day “Big Wave” surfing competition between the top 24 big wave surfers. The competition only occurs when 15-20 foot waves are sustained for over 24 hours and are combined with mild easterly winds of no more than 5-10 knots. The rock and reef ridges that make up the sea floor of the Pillar Point area, combined with optimal weather conditions, create the large waves that Mavericks is known for. Due to the hazardous waters surrounding Pillar Point at the time of the surfing competition, the Coast Guard is establishing a special local regulation in the vicinity of Pillar Point that restricts navigation in the area of the surf competition and in neighboring hazardous areas.

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 making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. It is impracticable to publish an NPRM because we must establish this special local regulation by November 1, 2015, and the competition would occur before the notice-and-comment rulemaking process would be completed. The rule needs to be effective by that date to respond to the potential safety hazards associated with the dangers posed by the surf conditions during the Mavericks Surf Competition. The regulated area is necessary to provide for the safety of event participants, spectator craft, and other vessels transiting the event area.

III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

Under 33 CFR 100.35, the Coast Guard District Commander has authority to promulgate certain special local regulations deemed necessary to ensure the safety of life on the navigable waters immediately before, during, and immediately after an approved regatta or marine parade. The Commander of Coast Guard District 11 has delegated to the Captain of the Port (COTP) San Francisco the responsibility of issuing such regulations.

The Cartel Management Inc. will sponsor the Mavericks Surf Competition. The Mavericks Surf Competition will take place on a day that presents favorable surf conditions on one day during the period from November 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016, from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the navigable waters of Half Moon Bay, CA near Pillar Point in approximate position 37°29′34″ N., 122°30′02″ W. (NAD 83) as depicted in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chart 18682. The regulation is issued to establish a regulated area on the waters surrounding the competition. This regulated area is bounded by an arc extending 1000 yards from Sail Rock (37°29′34″ N., 122°30′02″ W.) excluding the waters within Pillar Point Harbor. The regulated area is necessary to ensure the safety of mariners transiting the area.

IV. Discussion of the Rule

The Coast Guard will enforce a regulated area in navigable waters defined by an arc extending 1000 yards from Sail Rock between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the day of the actual competition. Mavericks Surf Competition can only occur when 15-20 foot waves are sustained for over 24 hours and are combined with mild easterly winds of no more than 5-10 knots. Unpredictable weather patterns and the event's narrow operating window limit the Coast Guard's ability to notify the public of the event. The Coast Guard will issue notice of the event as soon as practicable, but no later than 24 hours before competition day via the Broadcast Notice to Mariners and will issue a written Boating Public Safety Notice at least 24 hours in advance of Competition day. Also, the zones that would be established by this rule will be prominently marked by at least 8 buoys throughout the course of the event.

The Mavericks Surf Competition will occur in the navigable waters of Half Moon Bay, CA, in the vicinity of Pillar Point as depicted in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chart 18682. The Coast Guard will enforce a regulated area defined by an arc extending 1000 yards from Sail Rock (37°29′34″ N., 122°30′02″ W.) excluding the waters within Pillar Point Harbor. All restrictions would apply only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the day of the actual competition.

The effect of this regulation will be to restrict navigation in the vicinity of Pillar Point during the Mavericks Surf Competition. During the enforcement period, the Coast Guard will direct the movement and access of all vessels within the regulated area. The regulated area will be divided into two zones. Zone 1 will be designated as the competition area, and the movement of vessels within Zone 2 will be controlled by the Patrol Commander (PATCOM).

This regulation is needed to keep spectators and vessels a safe distance away from the event participants and the hazardous waters surrounding Pillar Point. Past competitions have demonstrated the importance of restricting access to the competition area to only vessels in direct support of the competitors. Failure to comply with the lawful directions of the Coast Guard could result in additional vessel movement restrictions, citation, or both.

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, the rule has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

We expect the economic impact of this rule does not rise to the level of necessitating a full Regulatory Evaluation. The regulated area and associated regulations are limited in duration, and are limited to a narrowly tailored geographic area. In addition, although this rule restricts access to the waters encompassed by the regulated area, the effect of this rule will not be significant because the local waterway users will be notified via public Broadcast Notice to Mariners to ensure the regulations will result in minimum impact. The entities most likely to be affected are small commercial vessels, and pleasure craft engaged in recreational activities.

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 Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

This rule may affect small commercial vessels, and pleasure craft engaged in recreational activities and sightseeing. This regulated area would not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons. This regulated area would be activated, and thus subject to enforcement, for a limited duration. The maritime public will be advised in advanced of this regulated area via Broadcast Notice to Mariners.

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 would 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 determined that this rule does not have implications for federalism.

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 would 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 regulated area of an arc extending 1000 yards and lasting less than 12 hours. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(h) and 35(b) of Figure 2-1 of Commandant Instruction M16475.lD. 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, and Waterways.

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

PART 100—REGATTAS AND MARINE PARADES 1. The authority citation for part 100 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

33 U.S.C. 1233; 33 CFR 1.05-1.

2. Effective November 4, 2015 through March 31, 2016, suspend § 100.1106. 3. Effective November 4, 2015 through March 31, 2016, add § 100.T11-739 to read as follows:
§ 100.T11-739 Special Local Regulation; Mavericks Surf Competition.

(a) Location. This special local regulation establishes a regulated area on the waters of Half Moon Bay, located in the vicinity of Pillar Point, excluding the waters within Pillar Point Harbor. This regulated area is defined in paragraph (c) of this section.

(b) Enforcement period. This section will be enforced between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Competition day, which if defined wave and wind conditions are met, will occur for one day one day during the period from November 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016. Notice of the specific enforcement date of this section will be announced via Broadcast Notice to Mariners and issued in writing by the Coast Guard in a Boating Public Safety Notice at least 24 hours in advance of Competition day.

(c) Definitions. As used in this section—

Competition day means the one day between November 1 of each year and March 31 of the following year, that Mavericks Surf Competition will be held. The Mavericks Surf Competition will only be held if 15 to 20 foot waves are sustained for over 24 hours and are combined with mild easterly winds of no more than 5 to 10 knots.

Competitor means a surfer enrolled in the Mavericks Surf Competition.

Patrol Commander or PATCOM means a Coast Guard Patrol Commander, including a Coast Guard coxswain, petty officer, or other officer, or a Federal, State, or local officer designated by the Captain of the Port San Francisco (COTP), to assist in the enforcement of the special local regulation.

Regulated area means the area in which the Maverick's Surf Competition will take place. This area is bounded by an arc extending 1000 yards from Sail Rock (37°29′34″ N., 122°30′02″ W.) excluding the waters within Pillar Point Harbor. All coordinates are North American Datum 1983. Within the regulated area, at least two zones will be established and marked by buoys on the day of the competition. Due to the dynamic and changing nature of the surf, the exact size and location of the zones will not be made public until the competition day. The zones will be prominently marked by at least 8 buoys, placed and maintained throughout the course of the event by the event sponsor in a pattern approved by the PATCOM. In addition, the USCG will notify the public of the zone locations via Broadcast Notice to Mariners on the day of the event.

Spectator vessel means any vessel or person, including human powered craft, which is not designated by the sponsor as a support vessel.

Support vessel means a vessel, including jet skis, which is designated and conspicuously marked by the sponsor to provide direct support to the competitors. Support vessels must be pre-designated and approved to serve as such for this event by the Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection (OCMI) prior to the competition.

Zone 1 means the competition area within the regulated area. Zone 1 will generally be located to the northwest of a line drawn between Sail Rock (37°29′34″ N., 122°30′02″ W.) and Pillar Point Entrance Lighted Gong Buoy 1 (37°29′10.410″ N., 122°30′21.904″ W.).

Zone 2 means the area within the regulated area where the Coast Guard may direct the movement of all vessels, including restricting vessels from this area. Zone 2 will generally be located to the southeast of a line drawn between Sail Rock (37°29′34″ N., 122°30′02″ W.) and Pillar Point Entrance Lighted Gong Buoy 1 (37°29′10.410″ N., 122°30′21.904″ W.).

(d) Special local regulations. The following regulations apply between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the competition day.

(1) Only support vessels may be authorized by the Patrol Commander (PATCOM) to enter Zone 1 during the competition.

(2) Entering the water in Zone 1 by any person other than the competitors is prohibited. Competitors may enter the water in Zone 1 from authorized support vessels only.

(3) Spectator vessels and support vessels within Zone 2 must maneuver as directed by PATCOM. Given the changing nature of the surf in the vicinity of the competition, PATCOM may close Zone 2 to all vessels due to hazardous conditions. Due to weather and sea conditions, the Captain of the Port may deny access to Zone 2 and the remainder of the regulated area to all vessels other than competitors and support vessels on the day of the event

(4) Entering the water in Zone 2 by any person is prohibited.

(5) Rafting and anchoring of vessels are prohibited within the regulated area.

(6) Only vessels authorized by the PATCOM will be permitted to tow other watercraft within the regulated area.

(7) Spectator and support vessels in Zones 1 and 2 must operate at speeds which will create minimum wake, in general, 7 miles per hour or less.

(8) When hailed or signaled by the PATCOM by a succession of sharp, short signals by whistle or horn, the hailed vessel must come to an immediate stop and comply with the lawful directions issued. Failure to comply with a lawful direction may result in additional operating restrictions, citation for failure to comply, or both.

(9) During the events, vessel operators may contact the PATCOM on VHF-FM channel 13.

Dated: October 15, 2015. Gregory G. Stump, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port San Francisco.
[FR Doc. 2015-27998 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2014-0987] RIN 1625-AA11 Regulated Navigation Area; Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, Oregon Inlet, NC AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard is establishing a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) on the navigable waters of Oregon Inlet, NC surrounding the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. This RNA will allow the Coast Guard to enforce vessel traffic restrictions within the RNA when necessary to safeguard people and vessels from the hazards associated with potential catastrophic structural damage that could occur due to vessel allisions with the bridge.

DATES:

This rule is effective on December 3, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Comments received from the public, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble are part of Docket Number USCG-2014-0987. 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 Derek Burrill, Waterways Management Division Chief, U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, telephone (910) 772-2230, email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Acronyms COTP Captain of the Port DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register RNA Regulated Navigation Area A. Regulatory Information

On December 17, 2014, we published an interim final rule and request for comments entitled “Regulated Navigation Area; Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, Oregon Inlet, North Carolina” in the Federal Register (79 FR 75050). We received five comments coming from two submitters on the Interim Final Rule. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

B. Background and Purpose

This rulemaking is authorized by 33 U.S.C. 1231; 46 U.S.C. Chapter 701, 3306, 3703; 50 U.S.C. 191, 195; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, 160.5; Pub. L. 107-295, 116 Stat. 2064; and DHS Delegation No. 0170.1. Under these authorities the Coast Guard may establish a RNA in defined water areas that are determined to have hazardous conditions and in which vessel traffic can be regulated in the interest of safety. The purpose of this RNA is to reduce the risk of a bridge strike resulting from a vessel transiting through alternative spans of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which are not intended for navigation. In addition, this RNA will serve to ensure vessels transiting the area are restricted to those that may do so safely, and will not impose unnecessary risk of harm to themselves or other maritime traffic. A bridge strike to un-fendered or unprotected structural elements of the Bonner Bridge would introduce a clear and present danger to stability of the bridge, motorists, mariners, and indirect impacts on local businesses and residents of Hatteras Island, NC. A grounded vessel in this heavily trafficked waterway would also greatly increase the risk of a bridge strike by another vessel.

When shoaling is present in the vicinity of the navigation span, vessels attempt to transit through alternate spans. Transiting through alternate spans is hazardous. Mariners transiting near and through the unprotected structural components increase the potential of a bridge strike; these spans do not have fenders or other mechanisms to protect the bridge from vessel strikes. Vessels that transit alternate bridge spans pose a risk to safe navigation as there are no advertised vertical and horizontal clearances for these areas.

The Coast Guard has also considered the 2006 North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) biennial bridge inspection in accordance with National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) for the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. This report takes into account the substructure and superstructure inspections along with analysis of the maritime navigational and motor vehicle concerns. The report noted weakened pile supports as a result of section loss and substructure erosion to the point of showing exposed rebar. Publically available information provided by NC DOT indicates that the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge has a very low sufficiency rating. The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge is the only vehicular access to Hatteras Island for residents, commercial vendors, and business owners transiting from Nags Head-Bodie Island to Hatteras Island. The Bonner Bridge is subject to heavy traffic volume, particularly during the summer tourist season. Risks to the lives of mariners, vehicle motorist and passengers, have been considered in the development of this rulemaking.

C. Discussion of Comments and Changes

The Coast Guard received a total of five comments coming from two submitters on the Interim Final Rule. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

Economic Effects: Limiting Passage of Certain Vessels Pursuant to Enforcing the RNA

Two comments were received about the possible economic effects of the interim rule on small entities and local economies. Specifically, the comments expressed concern that the RNA if utilized would have significant negative impact on commercial and recreational mariners and the regional economy because alternate routes around Oregon Inlet are distant.

As noted in the Interim Final Rule, there are alternate routes for vessels bound for Oregon Inlet, North Carolina and inland waterfront communities, including Wanchese, NC. Those alternate routes include transiting through Beaufort Inlet or Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Sounds of North Carolina. The distance from Oregon Inlet Lighted Whistle Buoy “OI” to Wanchese, North Carolina via Beaufort Inlet, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Pamlico Sound is approximately 190 nautical miles. The distance from Oregon Inlet Lighted Whistle Buoy “OI” to Wanchese, North Carolina via Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Albemarle Sound is approximately 200 nautical miles.

No change to the rule were made based on these comments because alternate access routes exist and should significant hazardous conditions be evident the potential risk of loss of life, damage to the bridge, and the impact on access to Hatteras Island outweighs the benefits of permitting navigation in the vicinity or under the Bonner Bridge. Additionally, the Coast Guard has and will continue to use all available resources to safely and efficiently monitor the conditions of the designated waters of this RNA to minimize impacts to the waterway users. Should the need arise for the Coast Guard to restrict vessel traffic in the RNA based on shoaling, hazardous conditions or severe weather conditions, these restrictions would be imposed for certain vessels who, in the discretion of the COTP, pose a safety risk to the bridge structure. Given this limited scope of restriction, any negative economic impact would be minimal and strongly outweighed by the associated safety concerns.

RNA Vessel Designation and Characteristics: Designation of Vessels Allowed To Transit Through the RNA

One comment was received that the rule does not provide sufficient notice regarding what types of vessels will be allowed to transit through the RNA when enforced. The comment acknowledged the Coast Guard authority to designate vessel characteristics of vessels which may navigate within the RNA but suggested that the RNA allow all vessels under 65 feet in length, with a draft of less than 6 feet and a tonnage under 50 tons to continue navigating in the vicinity of the RNA when being enforced.

The Coast Guard wants to impose the appropriate restrictions based on the conditions in the inlet. The Oregon Inlet waterway is constantly changing: Hurricanes and strong low pressure systems (e.g. Nor'easters) exacerbate tidal current and the seasonal fluctuations of the inlet's water depths. Also, frequent dredging and realignment of the approach channel east of the bridge has become routine. Publically available U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) hydrographic survey data over the past two years indicates shoaling to depths of less than 3 feet at mean low water within the approaches to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on a frequently occurring basis. Because many of these factors are uncontrollable, having the ability to impose variable restrictions dependent on conditions allows the Coast Guard to tailor the restrictions to vessels which pose the most significant risk and threat to the bridge while minimizing impacts on the commercial and recreational waterway users.

A change to the notification aspect of the rule was made based on this comment. As noted in the NPRM the Coast Guard will notify the public of restrictions via Local Notice to Mariners, Broadcast Notice to Mariners and via other methods described in 33 CFR 165.7. Also, Coast Guard personnel may be on-scene to advise the public of enforcement of any restrictions on vessel navigation within the RNA. In 33 CFR 165.520(c)(3), a provision was added so that the Coast Guard will also notify the maritime community of any imposed RNA restrictions or impacts to navigation through the U.S. Coast Guard HOMEPORT Web site and Marine Safety Information Bulletins. Additionally, the Coast Guard will notify recognized commissions and/or committees appointed by the Dare County, North Carolina elected officials who represent commercial and recreational mariner interests in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, when practicable, prior to imposing restrictions pursuant to enforcement of the RNA. The rule also allows the COTP or his/her designated representative to permit vessel access on a case-by-case basis should heavy vessel traffic be present.

Rule Making Process: Interim Final Rule Verse Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

One comment was received that stated the Coast Guard should not have issued an Interim Final Rule as broad and restrictive as the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge RNA without first undertaking notice and comment procedures. The commenter felt that other Coast Guard RNA's were established using a notice and comment period and recommended replacing the Interim Final Rule with a temporary rule establishing a limited duration RNA and form a working group to determine what type of vessels and under what circumstances these vessels may navigate in Oregon Inlet.

No changes to the rule were based on these comments. The Coast Guard issued this interim final rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment before being enforceable 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.” The Coast Guard maintains that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because immediate action is necessary to protect the maritime public who transit Oregon Inlet and motorist that use the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. The potential dangers posed by vessel strikes to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge resulting in catastrophic damage makes immediate action necessary to minimize the risk of potential loss of life, damage to the bridge, and the impact on access to Hatteras Island. The shoaling in this area continues to worsen and the structural integrity of the bridge continues to deteriorate, which combine to create an unacceptable risk to the public that justified the issuance of an interim final rule. Accordingly, waiting for a comment period to run would be contrary to the public interest of protecting life, property and a vital motorist transit.

Additionally, the Interim Final Rule was issued with a 30 day request for comments to solicit and consider information in issuing a Final Rule from those entities that may be impacted by this rule.

Notification Process: Publicizing Enforcement of the RNA

One comment was received stating notification of the RNA requirements when enforced is critical due to the amount vessel traffic which utilizes the inlet, especially in the summer months.

One change to the rule was made based on this comment.

As noted in the NPRM the Coast Guard will notify the public of restrictions via Local Notice to Mariners, Broadcast Notice to Mariners and via other methods described in 33 CFR 165.7. Also, Coast Guard personnel may be on-scene to advise the public of enforcement of any restrictions on vessel navigation within the RNA. In 33 CFR 165.520(c)(3), a provision was added so that the Coast Guard will also notify the maritime community of any imposed RNA restrictions or impacts to navigation through the U.S. Coast Guard HOMEPORT Web site and Marine Safety Information Bulletins. Additionally, the Coast Guard will notify recognized commissions and/or committees appointed by the Dare County, North Carolina elected officials who represent commercial and recreational mariner interests in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, when practicable, prior to imposing restrictions pursuant to enforcement of the RNA. The rule also allows the COTP or his/her designated representative to permit vessel access on a case-by-case basis should heavy vessel traffic be present.

D. Regulatory Analyses

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

1. Regulatory Planning and Review

This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders.

This regulation will restrict access within the Regulated Navigation Area at Oregon Inlet and the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, the effect of this rule will not be significant because: (i) The Coast Guard will make extensive notifications of the regulated area to the maritime public via maritime advisories so mariners can adjust their plans accordingly; (ii) these restrictions will only be imposed based on the extent of shoaling, hazardous conditions and severe weather in the area, and will only be imposed on vessels that exceed certain size restrictions; and (iii) vessels impacted by this regulation may request permission from Commander Coast Guard Sector North Carolina/COTP North Carolina to transit the regulated area on a case by case basis.

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 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. The regulation may have an economic impact on vessels that normally transit Oregon Inlet. These small entities are primarily commercial and recreational fishing vessels. Operation of vessels of certain characteristics in this RNA will be prohibited from transiting Oregon Inlet by the Captain of the Port (COTP) or designated representative when shoaling in the vicinity of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge creates unsafe condition for vessels. The potential risk of loss of life, damage to the bridge, and the impact on access to Hatteras Island outweighs the benefits of permitting navigation in the vicinity or under the Bonner Bridge.

Although the Oregon Inlet area is used by many small entities, including commercial and recreational fishing businesses, alternate routes are available to vessels. The Coast Guard will make extensive notifications of the regulated navigation area to the maritime public via maritime advisories so mariners can adjust their plans accordingly; and in extreme circumstances, vessels prohibited from entry may request permission from Commander Coast Guard Sector North Carolina/COTP North Carolina to transit the RNA on a case by case basis. Moreover the restrictions imposed will be based on the extent of shoaling, hazardous conditions and severe weather in the area, and limited only to vessels that exceed certain size restrictions.

3. Assistance for Small Entities

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

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

4. Collection of Information

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

5. Federalism

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

6. Protest Activities

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

7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

8. Taking of Private Property

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

9. Civil Justice Reform

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

10. Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks

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

11. Indian Tribal Governments

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

12. Energy Effects

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

13. Technical Standards

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

14. Environment

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

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the interim rule amending 33 CFR part 165 published at 79 FR 75050 on December 17.2014 is adopted as a final rule, with changes, 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; 46 U.S.C. Chapter 701, 3306, 3703; 50 U.S.C. 191, 195; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, 160.5; Pub. L. 107-295, 116 Stat. 2064; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

2. Revise § 165.520 to read as follows:
§ 165.520 Regulated Navigation Area; Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, Oregon Inlet, NC.

(a) Regulated area. The following area is a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA): All navigable waters of Oregon Inlet, North Carolina within 100 yards under or surrounding any portion of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.

(b) Definitions. As used in this section:

(1) Captain of the Port means the Captain of the Port (COTP) North Carolina.

(2) Captain of the Port Representative means any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant, or petty officer who has been authorized by the Captain of the Port North Carolina to act as a designated representative of the COTP.

(3) Hazardous Condition means any condition that may adversely affect the safety of any vessel, bridge, structure, or shore area or the environmental quality of any port, harbor, or navigable waterway of the United States, as defined in 33 CFR 160.204.

(4) Official patrol vessel means any Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, state, or local law enforcement vessel(s) assigned and authorized by COTP North Carolina.

(c) Regulations. (1) The general regulations governing Regulated Navigation Areas found in 33 CFR 165.10, 165.11, and 165.13, including the Regulated Navigation Area described in paragraph (a) of this section and the following regulations, apply.

(2) Operation of vessels of certain characteristics in this RNA will be prohibited by the Captain of the Port (COTP) or designated representative in order to safeguard people and vessels from the hazards associated with shoaling and the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge from the potential catastrophic structural damage that could occur from a vessel bridge strike. The COTP or designated representative will evaluate local marine environmental conditions prior to issuing restrictions regarding vessel navigation. Factors that will be considered include, but are not limited to: hydrographic survey data, vessel characteristics such as displacement, tonnage, length and draft, current weather conditions including visibility, wind, sea state, and tidal currents.

(3) The Coast Guard will notify the public of restrictions via Local Notice to Mariners, Broadcast Notice to Mariners, electronic mail, U.S. Coast Guard HOMEPORT Web site, Marine Safety Information Bulletins and via other methods described in 33 CFR 165.7. Additionally, the Coast Guard will notify recognized commissions and/or committees appointed by the Dare County, North Carolina elected officials who represent commercial and recreational mariner interests in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, when practicable, prior to imposing restrictions pursuant to enforcement of the RNA. Coast Guard personnel may be on-scene to advise the public of enforcement of any restrictions on vessel navigation within the RNA.

(4) In accordance with the general regulations, entry into, anchoring, or movement within the RNA, during periods of enforcement, is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) or the COTP's on-scene designated representative. The “on-scene designated representative” of the COTP is any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been designated by the COTP to act on the COTP's behalf. The on-scene representative may be on a Coast Guard vessel; State agency vessel, or other designated craft; or may be on shore and will communicate with vessels via VHF-FM marine band radio or loudhailer. Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary may be present to assist COTP representatives with notification of vessel operators regarding the contents of this regulation.

(5) Any deviation from paragraph (c)(4) of this section due to extreme circumstances must be authorized by the Coast Guard District Commander, the Captain of the Port (COTP) or the COTP's designated representative. Vessels granted permission to transit the RNA must do so in accordance with the directions provided by the COTP or COTP representative to that vessel. To request permission to transit the regulated navigation area, the COTP or COTP representative can be contacted at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, telephone number (910) 343-3880, or on VHF-FM marine band radio channel 13 (165.65 MHz) or channel 16 (156.8 MHz). During periods of enforcement, all persons and vessels given permission to enter or transit within the RNA must comply with the instructions of the COTP or designated representative. Upon being hailed by an official patrol vessel by siren, radio, flashing-light, or other means, the operator of a vessel must proceed as directed.

(d) Enforcement. The Coast Guard may be assisted in the patrol and enforcement of the Regulated Navigation Area by other Federal, State, and local agencies. The COTP may impose additional requirements within the RNA due to unforeseen changes to shoaling of Oregon Inlet or structural integrity of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.

(e) Notification. The Coast Guard will rely on the methods described in 33 CFR 165.7 and paragraph (c)(3) of this section to notify the public of the date, time and duration of any closure of the RNA. Violations of this RNA may be reported to the COTP at (910) 343-3880 or on VHF-FM channel 16.

Dated: October 9, 2015. Stephen P. Metruck, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2015-28006 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546; A-1-FRL-9933-89-Region 1] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Connecticut; Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Large Aboveground Storage Tanks AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Connecticut. The revision amends Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA) section 22a-174-20 to update the requirements for controlling volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from large aboveground storage tanks. The intended effect of this action is to approve these regulations into the Connecticut SIP. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act (CAA).

DATES:

This direct final rule will be effective January 4, 2016, unless EPA receives adverse comments by December 3, 2015. If adverse comments are received, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments identified by Docket ID Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546, by one of the following methods:

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

2. Email: [email protected].

3. Fax: (617) 918-0584.

4. Mail: “Docket Identification Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546,” David Mackintosh, Air Quality Planning Unit, Office of Ecosystem Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912.

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

Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit through www.regulations.gov, or email, information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

Docket: All documents in the electronic docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at Office of Ecosystem Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, Boston, MA. EPA requests that if at all possible, you contact the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to schedule your inspection. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays.

In addition, copies of the state's submittal are available for public inspection during normal business hours, by appointment at the state environmental agency: The Bureau of Air Management, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State Office Building, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-1630.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

David Mackintosh, Air Quality Planning Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail Code OEP05-02), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone 617-918-1584, facsimile 617-918-0584, email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Throughout this document whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA. The following outline is provided to aid in locating information in this preamble.

I. What action is EPA taking? II. What is the background for this action? III. What is included in the submittal? IV. EPA's Evaluation of the Submittal V. Final Action VI. Incorporation by Reference VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. What action is EPA taking?

EPA is approving a SIP revision submitted by the State of Connecticut on April 8, 2014, concerning updates to requirements for controlling VOC emissions from large aboveground storage tanks. The Connecticut requirements, set out in RCSA section 22a-174-20, “Control of organic compound emissions,” subsections (a), (b), (c) and (x), were revised to be consistent with the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) model rule for large aboveground VOC storage tanks.

II. What is the background for this action?

EPA last approved RCSA section 22a-174-20, “Control of organic compound emissions,” subsections that addresses large aboveground storage tanks into the Connecticut SIP on October 18, 1991 (56 FR 52205).

On June 3, 2010, Connecticut signed an OTC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing the state to the evaluation and adoption of an OTC model rule designed to reduce VOC emissions from large aboveground storage tanks.

On March 5, 2014, Connecticut revised RCSA section 22a-174-20 subsections (a), (b), (c) and (x) to update VOC emission control requirements from large aboveground storage tanks. On April 8, 2014, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), submitted the newly adopted subsections to EPA as a SIP revision.

III. What is included in the submittal?

Connecticut's April 8, 2014 SIP submittal includes revised RCSA section 22a-174-20, “Control of organic compound emissions.” Specifically, the following subsections of Connecticut's existing regulation were revised:

1. Subsection (a), “Storage of volatile organic compounds and restrictions for the Reid vapor pressure of gasoline;”

2. subsection (b), “Loading of gasoline and other volatile organic compounds,” subdivisions (1) through (4) and (17);

3. subsection (c), “Volatile organic compound and water separation;” and

4. subsection (x), “Control of Volatile Organic Compound Leaks from Synthetic Organic Chemical & Polymer Manufacturing Equipment,” subdivision (12).

IV. EPA's Evaluation of the Submittal

RCSA section 22a-174-20, “Control of organic compound emissions,” subsections (a), (b), (c) and (x) have been revised to incorporate the OTC model rules for large aboveground VOC storage tanks. Specifically, Connecticut adopted the following substantive changes:

1. Remove the option to use an un-domed floating roof tank to store VOCs, clarify inspection requirements, and add requirements for roof landing events, degassing, and cleaning operations in subsection (a);

2. Revise the storage and transfer of VOCs to include a lower vapor pressure floor for determining applicability and the vapor pressure is simplified by basing it on absolute vapor pressure rather than actual vapor pressure in subsections (a) and (b);

3. Add a requirement for the timely repair of leaks throughout the VOC storage and transfer facility as subdivision (b)(17);

4. Revise the floating roof requirements for volatile organic compound and water separators to be consistent with the floating roof requirements for storage tanks in subsection (c) and;

5. Revise the tank control provisions for synthetic organic chemical and polymer manufacturing equipment to require retesting within two days of repairs in subdivision (x)(12).

Connecticut's revised RCSA section 22a-174-20 includes additional and more stringent VOC emission controls than the previous SIP-approved version of the rule, and are generally consistent with the recommendations made within the OTC's model rule. Thus, the revised RCSA section 22a-174-20 satisfies the anti-back sliding requirements in Section 110(l) of the CAA and we are approving Connecticut's revised rule into the Connecticut SIP.

V. Final Action

EPA is approving and incorporating into the Connecticut SIP the following revisions of RCSA section 22a-174-20, “Control of organic compound emissions,” to update the control of emissions from large aboveground storage tanks:

(1) the amendment of subsection (a);

(2) the withdrawal of subdivision (b)(1);

(3) the amendment of subdivisions (b)(2), (b)(3) and (b)(4);

(4) the addition of subdivision (b)(17);

(5) the amendment of subsection (c); and

(6) the amendment of subdivision (x)(12).

The EPA is publishing this action without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial amendment and anticipates no adverse comments. However, in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register publication, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve this SIP revision should relevant adverse comments be filed. This rule will be effective January 4, 2016 without further notice unless the Agency receives relevant adverse comments by December 3, 2015.

If the EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a notice withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule will not take effect. All public comments received will then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. The EPA will not institute a second comment period on the proposed rule. All parties interested in commenting on the proposed rule should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on January 4, 2016 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

VI. Incorporation by Reference

In this rule, the EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies described in the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 set forth below. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

Under the Clean Air Act, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the Clean Air Act. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

• Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993);

• does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

• is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

• does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

• does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

• is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

• is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

• is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; and

• does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this action and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

Under section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by January 4, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action.

Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of today's Federal Register, rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds.

Dated: August 27, 2015. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England.

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

PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

Subpart H—Connecticut 2. Section 52.370 is amended by adding paragraph (c)(110) to read as follows:
§ 52.370 Identification of plan.

(c) * * *

(110) Revisions to the State Implementation Plan submitted by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on April 8, 2014.

(i) Incorporation by reference.

(A) Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, revisions to Section 22a-174-20(a), as published in the Connecticut Law Journal on May 6, 2014, effective March 7, 2014:

(1) 22a-174-20(a);

(2) 22a-174-20(b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4), and (b)(17);

(3) 22a-174-20(c); and

(4) 22a-174-20(x)(12).

(B) Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, Subsection (b)(1) of Section 22a-174-20 is removed without replacement, as published in the Connecticut Law Journal on May 6, 2014, effective March 7, 2014.

3. In § 52.385, Table 52.385 is amended by adding a new entry to an existing state citation for 22a-174-20 to read as follows:
§ 52.385—EPA-approved Connecticut regulations. Table 52.385—EPA-Approved Regulations Connecticut state citation Title/subject Dates Date adopted by State Date approved by EPA Federal Register citation Section 52.370 Comments/description *         *         *         *         *         *         * 22a-174-20 Control of organic compound emissions 3/5/14 11/3/15 [Insert Federal Register citation] (c)(110) Large aboveground storage tanks updates: amend (a); withdraw (b)(1); amend (b)(2), (b)(3) and (b)(4); add (b)(17); amend (c) and (x)(12). *         *         *         *         *         *         *
[FR Doc. 2015-27900 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0440; FRL-9936-35-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; North Carolina; Conflict of Interest Infrastructure Requirements AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to approve revisions to the North Carolina State Implementation Plan (SIP), submitted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Division of Air Quality (DAQ), on February 5, 2013, and supplemented on July 27, 2015. The submissions pertain to conflict of interest requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) and were submitted to satisfy the infrastructure SIP sub-element related to the state board for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), 2010 Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) NAAQS, 2008 8-hour Ozone NAAQS and 2008 Lead NAAQS. The CAA requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each NAAQS promulgated by EPA, commonly referred to as an “infrastructure” SIP, which includes conflict of interest requirements. EPA is taking final action to approve the portions of North Carolina's 2010 NO2 infrastructure SIP, 2010 SO2 infrastructure SIP, 2008 8-hour ozone infrastructure SIP, and 2008 Lead infrastructure SIP as meeting these State board requirements. EPA is also taking final action to convert conditional approvals related to the state board requirements for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS, and the 1997 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS to full approval under the CAA. EPA notes that all other applicable North Carolina infrastructure SIP elements for the above listed NAAQS have been or will be addressed in separate rulemakings.

DATES:

This rule will be effective December 3, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket Identification No. EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0440. All documents in the docket are listed on the www.regulations.gov Web site. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., Confidential Business Information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically through www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. EPA requests that if at all possible, you contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to schedule your inspection. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sean Lakeman, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Mr. Lakeman can be reached by telephone at (404) 562-9043 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

SIPs meeting the requirements of sections 110(a)(1) and (2) of the CAA are to be submitted by states within three years after promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS. Sections 110(a)(1) and (2) require states to address basic SIP requirements, including emissions inventories, monitoring, and modeling to assure attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS. More specifically, section 110(a)(1) provides the procedural and timing requirements for SIPs. Section 110(a)(2) lists specific elements that states must meet for “infrastructure” SIP requirements related to a newly established or revised NAAQS.

EPA is taking final action to approve North Carolina's February 5, 2013, and July 27, 2015, submissions as: (1) Satisfying the requirements of section 128 of the CAA; and (2) the infrastructure SIP sub-element for section 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) related to the state board requirements for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS, 2010 SO2 NAAQS, 2008 8-hour Ozone NAAQS and 2008 Lead NAAQS.1 Additionally, North Carolina's February 5, 2013, and July 27, 2015, submissions satisfy EPA's multiple conditional approvals of sub-element 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) published on February 6, 2012 (77 FR 5703), and October 16, 2012 (77 FR 63234), for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS, and 1997 annual and 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS, respectively.2 As a result of today's action approving the State's submissions as meeting section 128 of the CAA, EPA is converting the aforementioned conditional approvals to full approvals regarding North Carolina's infrastructure requirements for section 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS, and 1997 annual and 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS.

1 Sub-element 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) was previously submitted by North Carolina DAQ previous submissions to EPA to satisfy the state board requirements for the referenced NAAQS. EPA is taking final action to approve the February 5, 2013, and July 27, 2015, final submissions in conjunction with the previously submissions for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS (August 23, 2013), 2010 SO2 NAAQS (March 18, 2014), 2008 8-hour Ozone NAAQS (November 2, 2012), and 2008 Lead NAAQS (July 20, 2012) as satisfying for the state board requirements of section 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) sub-element.

2 Sub-element 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) was previously submitted by North Carolina DAQ to EPA to satisfy the state board requirements for the referenced NAAQS. EPA is taking final action to approve the February 5, 2013, and July 27, 2015, final submissions in conjunction with the previous conditional approvals for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS and 1997 annual and 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS as satisfying the state board requirements for this sub-element.

EPA proposed to approve the February 5, 2013, and July 27, 2015, submissions in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) published on August 24, 2015. See 80 FR 51167. The details of North Carolina's submittals and the rationale for EPA's actions are explained in the NPR. Comments on the proposed rulemaking were due on or before September 23, 2015. No adverse comments were received.

II. Final Action

As described above, EPA is taking final action to approve North Carolina's February 5, 2013, and July 27, 2015, submissions concerning the conflict of interest requirements of CAA section 128(a)(2) for inclusion into the North Carolina SIP.3 Specifically, EPA is approving North Carolina's submissions related to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve air permits or enforcement orders and as it relates to appealed matters decided by administrative law judges (ALJs). Additionally, EPA is approving the portions of North Carolina's 2010 NO2 infrastructure SIP, 2010 SO2 infrastructure SIP, 2008 8-hour ozone infrastructure SIP, and 2008 Lead infrastructure SIP related to 110(a)(2)(E)(ii). EPA is also converting previous conditional approvals for North Carolina's infrastructure submissions for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS, 1997 annual and 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS addressing CAA section 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) requirements to approvals.

3 As noted in the NPR, as of October 1, 2012, North Carolina has no boards or bodies with authority over air pollution permits or enforcement orders and therefore the requirements of section 128(a)(1) are not applicable.

III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. See 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

• Is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

• does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

• is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

• does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

• does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

• is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

• is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

• is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and

• does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

The SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), nor will it impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this action and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by January 4, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. See section 307(b)(2).

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate Matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds.

Dated: October 20, 2015. Heather McTeer Toney, Regional Administrator, Region 4.

40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

42. U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

Subpart II—North Carolina 2. Section 52.1770(e), is amended by adding new entries for “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 1997 8-hour Ozone NAAQS”, “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 1997 Annual PM2.5 NAAQS”, “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS”, “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Lead NAAQS”, “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 8-hour Ozone NAAQS”, “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS”, “110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS” and “Chapter 7A section 754 of the North Carolina General Statues” at the end of the table to read as follows:
§ 52.1770 Identification of plan.

(e) * * *

EPA-Approved North Carolina Non-Regulatory Provisions Provision State
  • effective
  • date
  • EPA
  • Approval
  • date
  • Federal Register citation Explanation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 1997 8-hour Ozone NAAQS 7/27/2015 11/3/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 1997 Annual PM2.5 NAAQS 7/27/2015 11/3/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS 7/27/2015 11/3/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 Lead NAAQS 7/27/2015 approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2008 8-hour Ozone NAAQS 7/27/2015 approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS 7/27/2015 11/3/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS 7/27/2015 11/3/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] approving 110(a)(2)(E)(ii) as it relates to the Secretary of the DENR and his/her delegatee that approve permit or enforcement orders and appealed matters decided by ALJs. Chapter 7A section 754 of the North Carolina General Statues 7/27/2015 11/3/2015 [Insert Federal Register citation] Specifically, the following paragraph of 7A-754 stating “The Chief Administrative Law Judge and the administrative law judges shall comply with the Model Code of Judicial Conduct for State Administrative Law Judges, as adopted by the National Conference of Administrative Law Judges, Judicial Division, American Bar Association, (revised August 1998), as amended from time to time, except that the provisions of this section shall control as to the private practice of law in lieu of Canon 4G, and G.S. 126-13 shall control as to political activity in lieu of Canon 5.” is approved into the SIP.
    § 52.1773 [Amended]
    3. Amend § 52.1773 by removing paragraph (a), and redesignating paragraphs (b) and (c) as paragraphs (a) and (b), respectively.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27881 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R06-OAR-2011-0034; FRL-9936-37-Region 6] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Oklahoma AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the Federal Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving revisions to the Oklahoma State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the State of Oklahoma designee. The revisions are administrative in nature and modify redundant or erroneous text within the SIP. The revisions also incorporate new definitions and the current national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for four criteria pollutants; delete a subchapter that addresses motor vehicle pollution control devices; and add requirements for certain incinerators.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on January 4, 2016 without further notice, unless EPA receives relevant adverse comment by December 3, 2015. If EPA receives such comment, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R06-OAR-2011-0034, by one of the following methods:

    www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions.

    • Email: Carrie Paige at [email protected]

    • Mail: Guy Donaldson, Chief, Air Planning Section (6PD-L), Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R06-OAR-2011-0034. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Do not submit information through www.regulations.gov or email, if you believe that it is CBI or otherwise protected from disclosure. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means that EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment along with any disk or CD-ROM submitted. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption and should be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.

    Docket: The index to the docket for this action is available electronically at www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at EPA Region 6, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, Texas. While all documents in the docket are listed in the index, some information may be publicly available only at the hard copy location (e.g., copyrighted material), and some may not be publicly available at either location (e.g., CBI).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Carrie Paige, (214) 665-6521 or [email protected] To inspect the hard copy materials, please schedule an appointment with her or Mr. Bill Deese at (214) 665-7253.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document, “we,” “us,” and “our” means the EPA.

    I. Background

    Section 110 of the Act requires states to develop air pollution regulations and control strategies to ensure that air quality meets the EPA's NAAQS. These ambient standards are established under section 109 of the Act and they currently address six criteria pollutants: Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, lead, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. The state's air regulations are contained in its SIP, which is basically a clean air plan. Each state is responsible for developing SIPs to demonstrate how the NAAQS will be achieved, maintained, and enforced. The SIP must be submitted to EPA for approval and any changes a state makes to the approved SIP also must be submitted to the EPA for approval.

    The Secretary of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) submitted revisions for approval by EPA on July 16th and December 27th of 2010, February 6, 2012, and January 18, 2013. The revisions address air pollution regulations and control strategies codified in the Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) under Title 252 (DEQ), Chapter 100 (Air Pollution Control). Three of the four submittals include revisions that address air permitting and incorporate by reference applicable provisions of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (denoted 40 CFR). These revisions can be evaluated independently (i.e., are severable) and will be evaluated in separate actions. Further, we are not acting on submitted revisions to the State's NOx rules because these revisions can be evaluated independently and we will consider these rule revisions in a separate action. Table C-1 in the Technical Support Document (TSD) lists the four submittals and identifies which portions are evaluated in this rulemaking action and which will be evaluated in separate actions.1 The revisions under evaluation in Section II of this action apply to the following sections within Chapter 100: Subchapter 15 (Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Devices); subchapter 17 (Incinerators); subchapter 19 (Control of Emission of Particulate Matter); subchapter 25 (Visible Emissions and Particulates); appendices A and B within subchapter 17; appendices C, D, and G within subchapter 19; and appendices E and F within subchapter 3 (Air Quality Standards and Increments).2

    1 The TSD is provided in the docket for this rulemaking.

    2 The cover letter for the January 18, 2013 submittal lists revisions to subchapter 31, but no such revisions were provided in the submittal package; therefore, they are not before EPA for consideration.

    The substantive revisions in the four submittals before us include incorporation of new definitions; updating the SIP with the current NAAQS for lead, ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2); and adding specific requirements for certain incinerators. The non-substantive revisions delete redundant definitions; move certain definitions into other locations within the SIP; and correct erroneous text.

    The criteria used to evaluate these SIP revisions are found primarily in section 110 of the CAA. Section 110(l) requires that a SIP revision submitted to EPA be adopted after reasonable notice and public hearing and also requires that EPA not approve a SIP revision if the revision would interfere with any applicable requirement concerning attainment and reasonable further progress, or any other applicable requirement of the CAA. Our TSD contains a detailed evaluation of the revisions, describing how each revision meets the requirements for SIP approval.

    II. EPA's Evaluation of the Revisions

    A synopsis of the submitted revisions and our evaluation follows.

    A. Subchapter 15, Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Devices

    The ODEQ removes subchapter 15 in its entirety. Subchapter 15 is duplicative of section 203 of the CAA. Subchapter 15 was not ever required to be in the Oklahoma SIP and did not supersede or otherwise modify requirements for pollution control devices on motor vehicles.3 In addition, subchapter 15 was not used as a source of emission reductions and did not contribute toward attainment in Oklahoma (see 45 FR 79051, November 28, 1980). The State's annual motor vehicle inspection and emission anti-tampering rules remain in the SIP (see 61 FR 7709, February 29, 1996). Removal of subchapter 15 from the SIP does not constitute loss in emission reductions because such rules are in place and enforceable at the federal level.

    3 Section 203 of the CAA prohibits tampering with any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with motor vehicle emission standards.

    B. Subchapter 17, Incinerators

    Part 1 clarifies that incinerators used to generate useful heat energy are subject to all applicable requirements of subchapter 17. Part 3 adds specificity by identifying the applicable sources; clarifying existing definitions and requirements; expanding incinerator design requirements to include operation requirements; and adding definitions for “Particulate matter” and “Secondary combustion chamber.” Other revisions to parts 1 and 3 are non-substantive and delete redundant text.

    A new part 4 addresses biomedical waste incinerators. The new terms and definitions, design and operation, and emission limits are consistent with EPA's Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources: Hospital/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators (see 74 FR 51368, October 6, 2009 and 40 CFR 60.51c), and EPA's Standards Of Performance for Incinerators at 40 CFR 60, Subpart E.

    The ODEQ removes appendix B, renames appendix A, and moves the appendix B formulas into A. A typographical error was corrected. There were no changes to the allowable emission rates.

    C. Subchapter 19, Control of Emissions of Particulate Matter

    The ODEQ submits new definitions for “Condensable particulate matter,” “Filterable particulate matter,” and “Total particulate matter.” They are consistent with the definitions addressing particulate matter at 40 CFR 51.100. Other revisions to this subchapter clarify that the particulate matter (PM) emission rates in this subchapter refer to condensable and filterable PM.

    The submitted revisions also address appendices C, D and G within subchapter 19. The revisions are confined to retitling the appendices, such that each now includes “particulate matter” in its title.

    D. Subchapter 25, Visible Emissions and Particulates

    The submitted revisions include a non-substantive edit to style and the correction of an error in a citation at 100-25-3(b)(3). These revisions to subchapter 25 provide consistency and accuracy.

    E. Appendix E (Primary Ambient Air Quality Standards) and Appendix F (Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards)

    The ODEQ revised appendices E and F for the 2008 NAAQS for ozone 4 and lead and the 2010 NAAQS for NO2 and SO2.

    4 On October 1, 2015, the EPA announced its decision to strengthen the ozone NAAQS, which does not obstruct our action here. See [http://www3.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/actions.html#sep2015]. Because Oklahoma elects to have its SIP refer to specific iterations of the NAAQS, it will need to revise it from time to time to reflect the current NAAQS.

    F. Consistency With Section 110(l) of the CAA

    The submitted revisions addressed in today's rulemaking provide consistency with the NAAQS and EPA's rules regarding incinerators, and provide clarity and accuracy, thus improving the Oklahoma SIP. These revisions will not interfere with any applicable requirement regarding attainment or any other applicable requirement of the CAA and are consistent with section 110(l) of the Act.

    III. Final Action

    The EPA is approving all or parts of four Oklahoma SIP submittals. Specifically, we are approving the portions of the July 16, 2010 submittal that revise appendices C, D, E, F and G and subchapters 19 and 25. We are also approving in whole the December 27, 2010 submittal that revises subchapter 15 and appendices E and F. We are also approving the portion of the February 6, 2012 submittal that revises appendix E. We are also approving the portion of the January 18, 2013 submittal that revises subchapter 17 and appendices A and B. The EPA is approving these SIP revisions in accordance with the requirements of the CAA.

    The EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because we view this as a non-controversial amendment and anticipate no adverse comments. However, in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register publication, we are publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision if relevant adverse comments are received. This rule will be effective on January 4, 2016 without further notice unless we receive adverse comment by December 3, 2015. If we receive adverse comments, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect. We will address all public comments in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. We will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so now. Please note that if we receive adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, we may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, we are finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with the requirements of 1 CFR 51.4, we are finalizing the incorporation by reference of the revisions to the Oklahoma regulations as described in the preceding Final Action section. We have made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulation.gov and/or in hard copy at the EPA Region 6 office.

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely proposes to approve state law as meeting federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

    • Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

    • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

    • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

    • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

    • Does not have federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

    • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

    • Is not subject to requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and

    • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by January 4, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this rule for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2)).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: October 20, 2015. Ron Curry, Regional Administrator, Region 6.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

    PART 52—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart LL —Oklahoma 2. In § 52.1920, the table in paragraph (c) under the heading entitled “Chapter 100 (OAC 252:100). Air Pollution Control” is amended by: a. Removing the heading entitled “Subchapter 15. Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Devices” and the entries under this heading; b. Revising entries for “252:100-17-1” and “252:100-17-1.1”; c. Removing the entry for “252:100-17-1.2”; d. Adding an entry for “252:100-17-1.3” in numerical order; e. Revising entries for “252:100-17-2”, “252:100-17-2.1”, “252:100-17-2.2”, “252:100-17-4”, “252:100-17-5”, “252:100-17-5.1”, and “252:100-17-7”; f. Adding the heading entitled “Part 4. Biomedical Waste Incinerators” and entries for “252:100-17-8”, “252:100-17-9”, “252:100-17-10”, and “252:100-17-11” in numerical order; g. Revising entries for “252:100-19-1.1” and “252:100-19-11”; h. Revising the entry for “252:100-25-3”; i. Revising the entry for “252:100, Appendix A”; j. Removing the entry for “252:100, Appendix B”; and k. Revising entries for “252:100, Appendix C”, “252:100, Appendix D”, “252:100, Appendix E”, “252:100, Appendix F”, and “252:100, Appendix G”.

    The revisions and additions read as follows:

    § 52.1920 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA Approved Oklahoma Regulations State citation Title/Subject State effective date EPA Approval date Explanation *         *         *         *         *         *         * CHAPTER 100 (OAC 252:100). AIR POLLUTION CONTROL *         *         *         *         *         *         * Subchapter 17. Incinerators Part 1. General Provisions 252:100-17-1 Purpose 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-1.1 Reference to 40 CFR 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-1.3 Incinerators and fuel-burning equipment or units 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • Part 3. Incinerators 252:100-17-2 Applicability 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-2.1 Exemptions 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-2.2 Definitions 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * 252:100-17-4 Particulate matter 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-5 Incinerator design and operation requirements 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-5.1 Alternative incinerator design requirements 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-7 Test methods 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • Part 4. Biomedical Waste Incinerators 252:100-17-8 Applicability 7/1/2011 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-9 Definitions 7/1/2011 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-10 Design and operation 7/1/2011 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100-17-11 Emission limits 7/1/2011 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • Subchapter 19. Control of Emission of Particulate Matter *         *         *         *         *         *         * 252:100-19-1.1 Definitions 7/1/2009 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * 252:100-19-11 Allowable particulate matter emission rates from combined wood fuel and fossil fuel fired steam generating units 7/1/2009 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * Subchapter 25. Visible Emissions and Particulates *         *         *         *         *         *         * 252:100-25-3 Opacity limit 7/1/2009 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * Appendices for OAC 252: Chapter 100 252:100, Appendix A Allowable Particulate Matter Emission Rate for Incinerators 7/11/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100, Appendix C Allowable Particulate Matter Emission Rates for Indirectly Fired Fuel-Burning Units 7/1/2009 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100, Appendix D Allowable Particulate Matter Emission Rates for Indirectly Fired Wood Fuel-Burning Units 7/1/2009 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100, Appendix E Primary Ambient Air Quality Standards 7/1/2011 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100, Appendix F Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards 7/1/2010 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • 252:100, Appendix G Allowable Particulate Matter Emission Rates for Directly Fired Fuel-Burning Units and Industrial Process 7/1/2009 11/3/2015
  • [Insert Federal Register citation]
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2015-27918 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Parts 52 and 81 [EPA-R09-OAR-2014-0812; FRL-9935-82-Region 9] Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Nevada; Infrastructure Requirements for Ozone, NO2 and SO2 AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving in part and disapproving in part State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions submitted by the State of Nevada pursuant to the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the 2008 ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), the 2010 nitrogen dioxide (NO2) NAAQS and the 2010 sulfur dioxide (SO2) NAAQS. The CAA requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each NAAQS promulgated by the EPA, and that EPA act on such SIPs. Nevada has met most of the applicable requirements. Where EPA is disapproving, in part, Nevada's SIP revisions, the deficiencies have already been addressed by a federal implementation plan (FIP).

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on December 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action, identified by Docket ID Number EPA-R09-OAR-2014-0812. The index to the docket for this action is available electronically at http://www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at EPA Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California. While all documents in the docket are listed in the index, some information may be publicly available only at the hard copy location (e.g., copyrighted material), and some may not be publicly available in either location (e.g., confidential business information (CBI)). To inspect the hard copy materials, please schedule an appointment during normal business hours with the contact listed directly below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tom Kelly, Air Planning Office (AIR-2), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX, (415) 972-3856, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document, the terms “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to EPA.

    Table of Contents I. Background II. EPA's Response to Comments III. Final Action IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background

    Section 110(a)(1) of the CAA requires each state to submit to EPA, within three years (or such shorter period as the Administrator may prescribe) after the promulgation of a primary or secondary NAAQS or any revision thereof, a SIP that provides for the “implementation, maintenance, and enforcement” of such NAAQS. EPA refers to these specific submissions as “infrastructure” SIPs because they are intended to address basic structural SIP requirements for new or revised NAAQS.

    EPA issued a revised NAAQS for ozone on March 28, 2010, for NO2 on February 9, 2010, and for SO2 on June 22, 2010.1 2 3 These NAAQS revisions triggered requirements for states to submit an infrastructure SIP to address the applicable requirements of section 110(a)(2) within three years. The Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) has submitted several infrastructure SIP submittals in response to EPA's promulgation of these NAAQS, including:

    1 73 FR 16436. This final rule reduced the ozone NAAQS from 0.08 parts per million (ppm) to 0.075 ppm.

    2 75 FR 6474. This final rule revised the primary NO2 NAAQS from an annual arithmetic average to a one-hour NO2 NAAQS of 100 parts per billion (ppb) and left unchanged EPA's secondary annual NO2 NAAQS. The form of the 1-hour standard is the 3-year average of the 98th percentile of the yearly distribution of 1-hour daily maximum NO2 concentrations.

    3 This final rule revoked EPA's annual and 24-hour SO2 NAAQS and a 1-hour NAAQS of 75 ppb. The form of the 1-hour standard is the 3-year average of the 99th percentile of the yearly distribution of 1-hour daily maximum SO2 concentrations.

    Ozone

    • The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Portion of the Nevada State Implementation Plan for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS: Demonstration of Adequacy April 10, 2013;

    • State Implementation Plan Revision to Meet the Ozone Infrastructure SIP Requirements of the Clean Air Act § 110(a)(2), Clark County, Nevada, February, 2013;

    • The Washoe County Portion of the Nevada State Implementation Plan for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS: Demonstration of Adequacy, February 28, 2013.

    NO2

    • NDEP letter to EPA, dated May 9, 2013 and Washoe County letter, dated April 26, 2013, containing the Approved Minutes of the February 28, 2013 public hearing and the Certificate of Adoption;

    • The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Portion of the Nevada State Implementation Plan for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide Primary NAAQS: Demonstration of Adequacy and appendices, January 18, 2013;

    • State Implementation Plan Revision to Meet the Nitrogen Dioxide Infrastructure SIP Requirements of the Clean Air Act § 110(a)(2), and attachments Clark County, Nevada, December, 2012;

    • The Washoe County Portion of the Nevada State Implementation Plan to Meet the Nitrogen Dioxide Primary NAAQS; Final Submittal, March 15, 2013.

    SO2

    • The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Portion of the Nevada State Implementation Plan for the 2010 Sulfur Dioxide Primary NAAQS, and appendices, June 3, 2013;

    • State Implementation Plan Revision to Meet the Sulfur Dioxide Infrastructure SIP Requirements of the Clean Air Act § 110(a)(2), and attachments Clark County, Nevada, May, 2013;

    • The Washoe County Portion of the Nevada State Implementation Plan to Meet the Sulfur Dioxide Infrastructure SIP Requirements of Clean Air Act § 110(a)(2), and attachments, March 28, 2013.

    We refer to these submittals collectively as “Nevada's Infrastructure Submittals.”

    On May 20, 2015 (80 FR 28893), EPA proposed to approve in part, and disapprove in part, these SIP revisions addressing the infrastructure requirements of CAA section 110(a)(1) and (2) for the 2008 ozone, the 2010 NO2, and the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. Except for the interstate transport elements of 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the 2008 ozone and 2010 SO2 NAAQS, we are taking final action on all the Nevada Infrastructure Submittals since they collectively address the applicable infrastructure SIP requirements.

    Nevada's submittals also requested that EPA reclassify the Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region from priority IA to priority III for SO2 emergency episodes and remove historic, outdated language at 40 CFR 52.1475 from the state's approved SIP. Our Notice of Proposed Rulemaking included these proposed changes. We also proposed to define the term Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region and proposed to reclassify the Las Vegas Intrastate Air Quality Control Region from priority IA to priority III for SO2 emergency episodes.

    The rationale supporting EPA's actions is explained in our May 20, 2015 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (proposed rule) and the associated technical support documents (TSDs) and will not be restated here.4 5 The proposed rule and TSD are available online at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID number EPA-R09-OAR-2015-0812.

    4 80 FR 28893, May 20, 2015.

    5 “Technical Support Document Evaluation of the Nevada Infrastructure SIP for 2008 Ozone, 2010 NO2 and 2010 SO2” May 2015; “Nevada Pb Infrastructure SIP Technical Support Document, September 13, 2012; Technical Support Document: EPA Evaluation of Nevada Provisions for 1997 Ozone, 1997 PM2.5, and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS for Section 110(a)(2)(A) through (C), D((i)(II) and (D)(ii), E(i) and (E(iii), (F) through (M), July 2012; and Technical Support Document: EPA Evaluation of NV Provisions for Section 110 (a)(2)(E)(ii)/Section 128 Conflict of Interest Requirements, July 2012.

    II. EPA's Response to Comments

    The public comment period on EPA's proposed rule opened on May 20, 2015, the date of its publication in the Federal Register, and closed on June 19, 2015. During this period, EPA received comments from an unidentified commenter, NDEP, and a single comment letter from the Sierra Club and Earthjustice. The comments are summarized below; full text of these comments is available in the docket to this final rule.6

    6See document number EPA-R09-OAR-2015-0812-0074, 0076 and 0077 at http://www.regulations.gov under docket ID number EPA-R09-OAR-2014-0812.

    A. Unidentified Commenter

    Comment: The commenter supported the partial disapproval of the Nevada SIP and discussed the health benefits of minimizing criteria pollutants and maintaining low levels of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone. The commenter asserted that with stricter standards, clean renewable energy may become more popular.

    Response: EPA acknowledges the support for our action. We do wish to clarify that EPA's partial approval and partial disapproval of elements of the Nevada SIP will not result in changes to air quality regulation in Nevada, as the specific deficiencies have already been addressed by the delegation of EPA's prevention of significant deterioration of air quality (PSD) program to NDEP and Washoe County. The need for this action, however, did result from EPA's lowering of its NAAQS for ozone (in 2008), nitrogen dioxide (in 2010) and sulfur dioxide (in 2010).

    B. NDEP Comments

    NDEP Comment 1: NDEP suggested that EPA revise and approve all proposed disapprovals in the proposed rulemaking. The commenter contended that the proposed disapproval of two elements, CAA section 110(a)(2)(C) and (D), were based on NDEP and Washoe County having a delegated PSD programs. The commenter further claimed that the proposed disapprovals stem from EPA's interpretation that a delegated PSD program is not considered part of the applicable Nevada SIP. Next, NDEP cited Federal Register language from EPA's approval and disapproval of a recent Nevada Infrastructure SIP, “the SIP, viewed broadly, thus includes both portions of the plan submitted by the State and approved by EPA as well as any FIP promulgated by EPA to substitute for a State plan disapproved by EPA or not submitted by a State.” 7 Then the commenter stated “the NDEP suggests that this broad interpretation of what constitutes Nevada's applicable SIP is the appropriate interpretation . . . delegation is an acceptable method for implementing a PSD program and no penalties to the state apply if they choose that option.”

    7 77 FR 64737 (October 23, 2012) Partial Approval and Partial Disapproval of Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Nevada; Infrastructure Requirements for Ozone and Fine Particulate Matter.

    Response: We disagree with NDEP's suggestion that Nevada's I-SIP Submittals should be approved for PSD-related infrastructure SIP requirements for the NDEP and Washoe County jurisdictions. We note that NDEP and Washoe County submitted similar comments in 2012 and 2013 with respect to EPA's proposed rulemaking on infrastructure SIPs for the 1997 ozone, 1997 fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS; and proposed rulemaking on infrastructure SIPs for the 2008 Pb NAAQS. Our response to NDEP's comment largely reiterates our response to NDEP and Washoe County's comments on delegated PSD FIP programs during our 2012 and 2014 rulemakings on Nevada's infrastructure SIPs.8

    8 77 FR 64737, October 23, 2012; 79 FR 15697, March 21, 2014.

    The CAA requires each state to adopt and submit a plan which provides for implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS. See CAA section 110(a)(1). Section 110(a)(2) sets forth the content requirements for such plans, including the requirement for a permit program as required in part C (“Prevention of Significant Deterioration of Air Quality,” or “PSD”) of title I of the CAA. Such plans are referred to as state implementation plans or SIPs.

    EPA's authority to promulgate a FIP derives from EPA's determination that a state has failed to submit a complete, required SIP submission or from EPA's disapproval of a state submission of a SIP or SIP revision. See CAA section 110(c)(1). The SIP, viewed broadly, thus includes both portions of the plan submitted by the state and approved by EPA as well as any FIP promulgated by EPA to substitute for a state plan disapproved by EPA or not submitted by a state.9

    9 40 CFR 52.02(b).

    In 1974, EPA disapproved each state's SIP with respect to PSD and promulgated a FIP as a substitute for the SIP deficiency (“PSD FIP”).10 In 1975, EPA codified the PSD FIP in each state's subpart in 40 CFR part 52.11 In 1978 and 1980, EPA amended the PSD regulations following the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 and related court decisions and amended the codification of the PSD FIP in each state's subpart, including 40 CFR 52.1485, accordingly.12

    10 39 FR 42510, December 5, 1974.

    11 40 FR 25004, June 12, 1975, adding 40 CFR 52.1485 to Subpart DD—Nevada.

    12 43 FR 26380, June 19, 1978 and 45 FR 52676, August 7, 1980.

    Since then, EPA has approved the PSD SIP for the sources and geographic area that lie within the jurisdiction of Clark County Department of Air Quality (DAQ), and has delegated responsibility for conducting PSD review, as per the PSD FIP, to NDEP and Washoe County. Notwithstanding the delegation, however, the Nevada SIP remains deficient with respect to PSD for the geographic areas and stationary sources that lie within NDEP's and Washoe County's jurisdictions. As such, EPA's disapproval of the infrastructure SIP submittals for those elements that require states to have a SIP that includes a PSD permit program, including CAA sections 110(a)(2)(C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), and (J), is appropriate because EPA disapproved the state's submitted plan as not adequately addressing PSD program requirements. To conclude otherwise would be inconsistent with the long-standing and current disapproval of the SIP for PSD for the applicable areas, with the statutory foundation upon which the PSD FIP is authorized, and with the obligation under section 110(a) for each state to adopt and submit a plan for implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS that includes a PSD program. EPA's delegation of the PSD FIP is not the same as state adoption and submittal of state or district rules meeting PSD requirements and EPA's approval thereof.

    NDEP Comment 2: NDEP requested clarification regarding EPA's “proposed partial disapproval,” at 80 FR 28898, column 3, “of the interstate pollution transport portion” of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) i.e. prongs 1 and 2. The commenter noted that EPA has proposed approval of the transport analysis submitted for nitrogen dioxide, yet proposed no action on the transport analysis for ozone and sulfur dioxide.

    Response: In section IV.A. Proposed Approvals and Partial Approvals of our proposal notice we accidentally identified prongs 1-2 as being under section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II), when in fact prongs 1-2 are sub-elements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). However, a proposed partial approval, partial disapproval for section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) is correct as this sub-element relates to prongs 3 and 4 of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i). As our analysis makes clear in the TSD on pp. 21-22, EPA proposed a partial approval, partial disapproval for prong 3 under section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) because NDEP and Washoe County do not have SIP approved PSD programs. However, we acknowledge NDEP's point that we proposed approval for prongs 1-2 for NO2, and proposed no action on 2008 ozone or 2010 SO2 under section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). We thank NDEP for identifying this typographical error, and we have clarified it in the final rulemaking.

    C. Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comments

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 1: Sierra Club/Earthjustice asserted that the plain language of section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA, and EPA regulations, at 40 CFR 51.112, requires that SIPs contain emissions limits adequate to prohibit NAAQS exceedances in areas not designated nonattainment. The legislative history of the CAA, case law, EPA regulations such as 40 CFR 51.112(a), and EPA interpretations in rulemakings require the inclusion of enforceable emission limits in an infrastructure SIP to prevent NAAQS exceedances in areas not designated nonattainment. The commenter argued that the Nevada 2008 ozone infrastructure SIP submittal did not revise the existing ozone emission limits in response to the 2008 ozone NAAQS and failed to comport with asserted CAA requirements for SIPs to establish enforceable emission limits that are adequate to prohibit NAAQS exceedances in areas not designated nonattainment.

    The commenter believed that the main objective of the infrastructure SIP process “is to ensure that all areas of the country meet the NAAQS,” and that nonattainment areas are addressed through nonattainment SIPs. The commenter maintained the NAAQS are the foundation for specific emission limitations for most large stationary sources, such as coal-fired power plants. The commenter stated its belief that, pursuant to section 107(a), the states have primary responsibility to maintain air quality through the controls and programs contained in the state's infrastructure SIPs as required by section 110(a)(2). The commenter also argued that, on its face, the CAA requires infrastructure SIPs “to be adequate to prevent exceedances of the NAAQS,” as provided in section 110(a)(1), which requires states to adopt a plan for implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS, and the language in section 110(a)(2)(A), which requires SIPs to include enforceable emissions limitations necessary to meet the requirements of the CAA and which the commenter claimed also should include the maintenance plan requirement. The commenter maintained the CAA definition of emission limit, when combined with the provisions stated above, requires “enforceable emission limits on source emissions sufficient to ensure maintenance of the NAAQS.”

    Response: EPA disagrees that section 110 is clear “on its face” and must be interpreted in the manner suggested by Sierra Club/Earthjustice. As we have previously explained in response to the commenter's similar comments on Virginia's SO2 infrastructure SIP, section 110 is only one provision that is part of a complex structure governing implementation of the NAAQS program under the CAA, and it must be interpreted in the context of not only that structure, but in the context of the historical evolution of the Act.13

    13 See Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Virginia; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 Sulfur Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standards, 79 FR 17043 (March 27, 2014); Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; West Virginia; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 Sulfur Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standards, 79 FR 62022 (October 16, 2014); and Final Approval of Illinois Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2008 ozone, 2010 NO2, and 2010 SO2 NAAQS, 79 FR 62042 (October 16, 2014).

    EPA interprets infrastructure SIPs as more general planning SIPs, consistent with the CAA as understood in light of its history and structure. When Congress enacted the CAA in 1970, it did not include provisions requiring states and the EPA to label areas as attainment or nonattainment. Rather, states were required to include all areas of the state in “air quality control regions” (AQCRs) and section 110 set forth the core substantive planning provisions for these AQCRs. At that time, Congress anticipated that states would be able to address air pollution quickly pursuant to the very general planning provisions in section 110 and could bring all areas into compliance with a new NAAQS within five years. Section 110(a)(2)(A)(i) specified that the section 110 plan provide for “attainment” of the NAAQS and section 110(a)(2)(B) specified that the plan must include “emission limitations, schedules, and timetables for compliance with such limitations, and such other measures as may be necessary to insure attainment and maintenance [of the NAAQS].”

    In 1977, Congress recognized that the existing structure was not sufficient and many areas were still violating the NAAQS. At that time, Congress for the first time added provisions requiring states and EPA to identify whether areas of a state were violating the NAAQS (i.e., were nonattainment) or were meeting the NAAQS (i.e., were attainment) and established specific planning requirements in section 172 for areas not meeting the NAAQS. In 1990, many areas still had air quality not meeting the NAAQS and Congress again amended the CAA and added yet another layer of more prescriptive planning requirements for each of the NAAQS. At that same time, Congress modified section 110 to remove references to the section 110 SIP providing for attainment, including removing pre-existing section 110(a)(2)(A) in its entirety and renumbering subparagraph (B) as section 110(a)(2)(A). Additionally, Congress replaced the clause “as may be necessary to insure attainment and maintenance [of the NAAQS]” with “as may be necessary or appropriate to meet the applicable requirements of this chapter.” Thus, the CAA has significantly evolved in the more than 40 years since it was originally enacted. While at one time section 110 of the CAA did provide the only detailed SIP planning provisions for states and specified that such plans must provide for attainment of the NAAQS, under the structure of the current CAA, section 110 is only the initial stepping-stone in the planning process for a specific NAAQS. More detailed, later-enacted provisions govern the substantive planning process, including planning for attainment of the NAAQS.

    Thus, EPA asserts that section 110 of the CAA is only one provision that is part of the complicated structure governing implementation of the NAAQS program under the CAA, as amended in 1990, and it must be interpreted in the context of that structure and the historical evolution of that structure. In light of the revisions to section 110 since 1970 and the later-promulgated and more specific planning requirements of the CAA, EPA reasonably interprets the requirement in section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA that the plan provide for “implementation, maintenance and enforcement” to mean that the SIP must contain enforceable emission limits that will aid in attaining and/or maintaining the NAAQS. EPA has interpreted the requirement for emission limitations in section 110 to mean that the state may rely on measures already in place to address the pollutant at issue or any new control measures that the state may choose to submit. Finally, as EPA stated in the Infrastructure SIP Guidance which specifically provides guidance to states in addressing the 2010 SO2 NAAQS, “[t]he conceptual purpose of an infrastructure SIP submission is to assure that the air agency's SIP contains the necessary structural requirements for the new or revised NAAQS, whether by establishing that the SIP already contains the necessary provisions, by making a substantive SIP revision to update the SIP, or both.” 14 15

    14 See pages 1 and 2 of Guidance on Infrastructure State Implementation Plan (SIP) Elements under Clean Air Act Sections 110(a)(1) and 110(a)(2), September 2013.

    15 Thus, EPA disagrees with Sierra Club's general assertion that the main objective of infrastructure SIPs is to ensure all areas of the country meet the NAAQS, as we believe the infrastructure SIP process is the opportunity to review the structural requirements of a state's air program. EPA, however, does agree with Sierra Club that the NAAQS are the foundation upon which emission limitations are set, but we believe, as explained in responses to other comments, that these emission limitations are generally set in the attainment planning process envisioned by part D of title I of the CAA, including, but not limited to, CAA sections 172 and 191-192.

    EPA addressed the adequacy of Nevada's infrastructure SIP for section 110(a)(2)(A) purposes in the TSD accompanying the May 20, 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and explained that the SIP includes enforceable emission limitations and other control measures “necessary or appropriate to meet the requirements of this chapter.” 16 These include permit requirements for major sources in attainment and nonattainment areas and general permits for minor stationary sources.17 As discussed in the TSD for this rulemaking, EPA finds the provisions for ozone emission limitations and measures adequately address section 110(a)(2)(A) to aid in attaining and/or maintaining the NAAQS and finds that the Clark County portion of the Nevada SIP has demonstrated it has the necessary tools to implement and enforce the NAAQS.

    16 The TSD for this action (“Technical Support Document Evaluation of the Nevada Infrastructure SIP for 2008 Ozone, 2010 NO2 and 2010 SO2” May 2015) is available online at www.regulations.gov, Docket ID Number EPA-R09-OAR-2014-0812-0038.

    17 See Table 3 of “Technical Support Document Evaluation of the Nevada Infrastructure SIP for 2008 Ozone, 2010 NO2 and 2010 SO2” May 2015.

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 2: The commenter claimed that two excerpts from the legislative history of the 1970 CAA support an interpretation that SIP revisions under CAA section 110 must include emissions limitations sufficient to show maintenance of the NAAQS in all areas of Nevada. The commenter also claimed that the legislative history of the CAA supports the interpretation that infrastructure SIPs under section 110(a)(2) must include enforceable emission limitations, citing the Senate Committee Report and the subsequent Senate Conference Report accompanying the 1970 CAA.

    Response: EPA disagrees with the commenters claim. As provided in the previous response (Section C, response to Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 1), the CAA, as enacted in 1970, including its legislative history, cannot be interpreted in isolation from the later amendments that refined that structure and deleted relevant language from section 110 concerning demonstrating attainment. In any event, the two excerpts of legislative history the commenter cites provide that states should include enforceable emission limits in their SIPs. As provided in the response to Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 6 below, the TSD for the proposed rule explains why the Nevada SIP includes enforceable emissions limitations for ozone for the relevant area.

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 3: The commenter referenced two prior EPA rulemaking actions where EPA disapproved or proposed to disapprove SIPs and claimed they were actions in which EPA relied on section 110(a)(2)(A) and 40 CFR 51.112 to reject infrastructure SIPs. The commenter directed attention to a 2006 partial approval and partial disapproval of revisions to Missouri's existing plan addressing the SO2 NAAQS. In that action, EPA relied on section 110(a)(2)(A) for disapproving an emission limit revision on the basis that the State failed to demonstrate the SIP revision was sufficient to ensure maintenance of the SO2 NAAQS; EPA cited to 40 CFR 51.112 as requiring that a plan demonstrates the rules in a SIP are adequate to attain the NAAQS. Second, the commenter cited a 2013 disapproval of a revision to the SO2 SIP for Indiana, where the revision removed an emission limit that applied to a specific emissions source at a facility in the State. See 78 FR 17157, 17158, (March 20, 2013) (proposed rule on Indiana SO2 SIP) and 78 FR 78720, 78721 (December 27, 2013) (final rule on Indiana SO2 SIP). The commenter believed that in the proposed disapproval, EPA relied on 40 CFR 51.112(a) in proposing to reject the revision, stating that the State had not demonstrated that the emission limit was “redundant, unnecessary, or that its removal would not result in or allow an increase in actual SO2 emissions.” The commenter contended that EPA stated in that proposed disapproval that the State had not demonstrated that removal of the limit would not “affect the validity of the emission rates used in the existing attainment demonstration” and asserted that outside of startup, shutdown, and malfunction requirements, EPA's 2013 I-SIP guidance did not discuss postponement of any I-SIP requirements.

    Response: EPA does not agree that the two prior actions referenced by Sierra Club/Earthjustice establish how EPA reviews infrastructure SIPs. It is clear from both the final Missouri rule and the proposed and final Indiana rule that EPA was not reviewing initial infrastructure SIP submissions under section 110 of the CAA, but rather reviewing revisions that would make an already approved SIP designed to demonstrate attainment of the NAAQS less stringent. EPA's partial approval and partial disapproval of revisions to restrictions on emissions of sulfur compounds for the Missouri SIP in 71 FR 12623 addressed a control strategy SIP and not an infrastructure SIP. The Indiana action provides even less support for the commenter's position. 78 FR 78720. The review in that rule was of a completely different requirement than the section 110(a)(2)(A) SIP. Rather, in that case, the State had an approved SO2 attainment plan and was seeking to remove provisions from the SIP that it relied on as part of the modeled attainment demonstration. EPA proposed that the State had failed to demonstrate under section 110(l) of the CAA why the SIP revision would not result in increased SO2 emissions and thus interfere with attainment of the NAAQS. See 78 FR 17157. Nothing in that proposed or final rulemaking addresses the necessary content of the initial infrastructure SIP for a new or revised NAAQS. Rather, it is simply applying the clear statutory requirement that a state must demonstrate why a revision to an approved attainment plan will not interfere with attainment of the NAAQS. The commenter includes a footnote explaining that EPA's infrastructure SIP guidance inappropriately postpones start-up, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) requirements, offering no support for departing from the plain text of EPA's regulations and past practices.

    The guidance states, “two elements that could not be governed by the 3-year submission deadline of section 110(a)(1) . . . the following elements are considered by the EPA to be outside the scope of infrastructure SIP actions: (1) Section 110(a)(2)(C) to the extent that it refers to permit programs (known as “nonattainment new source review”) under part D; and (2) section 110(a)(2)(I) in its entirety, which addresses SIP revisions for nonattainment areas. Both these elements pertain to SIP revisions that collectively are referred to as a nonattainment SIP or an attainment plan, which would be due by the dates statutorily prescribed under subparts 2 through 5 under part D, extending as far as 10 years following area designations for some elements. Because the CAA directs states to submit these plan elements on a separate schedule, the EPA does not believe it is necessary for states to include these elements in the infrastructure SIP submission due 3 years after adoption or revision of a NAAQS.”

    As discussed in detail in the TSD and NPR, EPA finds the Nevada SIP meets the appropriate and relevant structural requirements of section 110(a)(2) of the CAA that will aid in attaining and/or maintaining the NAAQS and that the State demonstrated that it has the necessary tools to implement and enforce a NAAQS.18

    18 EPA will take a separate action on CAA (a)(2)(D)(i)(I) Nevada ozone infrastructure SIP (i.e. the Good Neighbor SIP provisions).

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 4: The commenter discussed several cases applying the CAA which they claimed support their contention that courts have been clear that section 110(a)(2)(A) requires enforceable emissions limits in infrastructure SIPs to prevent exceedances of the NAAQS. The commenter cited to language in Train v. NRDC, 421 U.S. 60, 78 (1975), addressing the requirement for “emission limitations” and stating that emission limitations “are specific rules to which operators of pollution sources are subject, and which, if enforced, should result in ambient air which meet the national standards.” The commenter also cited to Pennsylvania Dept. of Envtl. Resources v. EPA, 932 F.2d 269, 272 (3d Cir. 1991) for the proposition that the CAA directs EPA to withhold approval of a SIP where it does not ensure maintenance of the NAAQS, and to Mision Industrial, Inc. v. EPA, 547 F.2d 123, 129 (1st Cir. 1976), which quoted section 110(a)(2)(B) of the CAA of 1970. The commenter contends that the 1990 Amendments do not alter how courts have interpreted the requirements of section 110, quoting Alaska Dept. of Envtl. Conservation v. EPA, 540 U.S. 461, 470 (2004), which in turn quoted section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA and also stated that “SIPs must include certain measures Congress specified” to ensure attainment of the NAAQS. The commenter also quotes several additional opinions that purportedly stand for similar propositions: Mont. Sulphur & Chem. Co. v. EPA, 666 F.3d 1174, 1180 (9th Cir. 2012) (“The Clean Air Act directs states to develop implementation plans—SIPs—that `assure' attainment and maintenance of [NAAQS] through enforceable emissions limitations”); Hall v. EPA, 273 F.3d 1146, 1153 (9th Cir. 2001) (“Each State must submit a [SIP] that specif[ies] the manner in which [NAAQS] will be achieved and maintained within each air quality control region in the State”); Conn. Fund for Env't, Inc. v. EPA, 696 F.2d 169, 172 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (CAA requires SIPs to contain “measures necessary to ensure attainment and maintenance of NAAQS”); Mich. Dept. of Envtl. Quality v. Browner, 230 F.3d 181 (6th Cir. 2000) (EPA may not approve a SIP revision that does not demonstrate how the rules would not interfere with attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS). The commenter also cites Comm. For a Better Arvin v. EPA, No.11-73924, at*3-4 (9th Cir. May 20, 2015) as supporting their contention that the plain language of section 110(a)(2)(A) requires infrastructure SIPs to include enforceable emissions limits on sources sufficient to ensure maintenance of the NAAQS.

    Response: The EPA disagrees with this comment. None of the cited cases hold that section 110(a)(2)(A) unambiguously requires infrastructure SIPs to include detailed plans providing for attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS in all areas of the state, nor do they shed light on how section 110(a)(2)(A) may reasonably be interpreted. With the exception of Train, none of the cases the commenter cites concerned the interpretation of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A) (or section 110(a)(2)(B) of the pre-1990 Act). Rather, the courts reference section 110(a)(2)(A) (or section 110(a)(2)(B) of the pre-1990 CAA) in the background sections of decisions in the context of either (1) a challenge to an EPA action on revisions to a SIP that were required and approved as meeting other provisions of the CAA, or (2) an enforcement action.

    In Train, 421 U.S. 60, the Court was addressing a state revision to an attainment plan submission made pursuant to section 110 of the CAA, the sole statutory provision at that time regulating such submissions. The issue in that case concerned whether changes to requirements occurring before attainment deadlines were variances (which would be addressed pursuant to the provision governing SIP revisions) or “postponements” (which would have to meet the prescriptive criteria of section 110(f) of the CAA of 1970). The Court concluded that EPA reasonably interpreted section 110(f) not to restrict a state's choice of the mix of control measures needed to attain the NAAQS and that revisions to SIPs that would not impact attainment of the NAAQS by the attainment date were not subject to the limits of section 110(f). The issue was not whether a section 110 SIP must provide for attainment or whether emissions limits are needed as part of the SIP; rather the issue was which statutory provision governed when the state wanted to revise the emission limits in its SIP if such revision would not impact attainment or maintenance of the NAAQS. To the extent the holding in the case has any bearing on how section 110(a)(2)(A) might be interpreted, it is important to realize that in 1975, when the opinion was issued, section 110(a)(2)(B) (the predecessor to section 110(a)(2)(A)) expressly referenced the requirement to attain the NAAQS, a reference that was removed in 1990.

    The decision in Pennsylvania Dept. of Envtl. Resources was also decided based on the pre-1990 provision of the CAA. At issue was whether EPA properly rejected a revision to an approved plan where the inventories relied on by the state for the updated submission had gaps. The Court quoted section 110(a)(2)(B) of the pre-1990 CAA in support of EPA's disapproval, but did not provide any interpretation of that provision. Yet, even if the Court had interpreted that provision, EPA notes that it was modified by Congress in 1990; thus, this decision has little bearing on the issue here.

    At issue in Mision Industrial, 547 F.2d 123, was the definition of “emissions limitation,” not whether section 110 requires the state to demonstrate how all areas of the state will attain and maintain the NAAQS as part of their infrastructure SIPs. The language from the opinion the commenter quotes does not interpret but rather merely describes section 110(a)(2)(A). Sierra Club/Earthjustice does not raise any concerns about whether the measures relied on by the Commonwealth in the infrastructure SIP are “emissions limitations” and the decision in this case has no bearing here.

    In Mont. Sulphur & Chem. Co., 666 F.3d 1174, the Court was reviewing a federal implementation plan (FIP) that EPA promulgated after a long history of the state failing to submit an adequate SIP in response to EPA's finding under section 110(k)(5) that the previously approved SIP was substantially inadequate to attain or maintain the NAAQS, which triggered the state's duty to submit a new SIP to show how it would remedy that deficiency and attain the NAAQS. The Court cited generally to sections 107 and 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA for the proposition that SIPs should assure attainment and maintenance of NAAQS through emission limitations, but this language was not part of the Court's holding in the case, which focused instead on whether EPA's finding of SIP inadequacy, disapproval of the state's responsive attainment demonstration, and adoption of a remedial FIP were lawful. The commenter suggests that Alaska Dept. of Envtl. Conservation, 540 U.S. 461, stands for the proposition that the 1990 CAA Amendments do not alter how courts interpret section 110. This claim is inaccurate. Rather, the Court quoted section 110(a)(2)(A), which, as noted previously, differs from the pre-1990 version of that provision and the court makes no mention of the changed language. Furthermore, Sierra Club/Earthjustice also quotes the Court's statement that “SIPs must include certain measures Congress specified,” but that statement specifically referenced the requirement in section 110(a)(2)(C), which requires an enforcement program and a program for the regulation of the modification and construction of new sources. Notably, at issue in that case was the state's “new source” permitting program, not its infrastructure SIP.

    Two of the cases Sierra Club/Earthjustice cites, Mich. Dept. of Envtl. Quality, 230 F.3d 181, and Hall, 273 F.3d 1146, interpret CAA section 110(l), the provision governing “revisions” to plans, and not the initial plan submission requirement under section 110(a)(2) for a new or revised NAAQS, such as the infrastructure SIP at issue in this instance. In those cases, the courts cited to section 110(a)(2)(A) solely for the purpose of providing a brief background of the CAA.

    In Conn. Fund for Env't, Inc. v. EPA, the Second Circuit was reviewing EPA action on a control measure SIP provision that adjusted the percent of sulfur permissible in fuel oil. 696 F.2d 169 (2d. Cir. 1982). The Second Circuit denied a petition for review concerning whether EPA needed to evaluate effects of the SIP revision on one pollutant or effects of changes on all possible pollutants. The Second Circuit did not address required measures for infrastructure SIPs and nothing in the opinion addressed whether infrastructure SIPs needed to contain measures to ensure attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS. The court did note, however, that, “the need for flexibility in the administration of the [CAA] . . . should not be underestimated,” and highlighted the court's past practice of being “careful to defer to EPA's choice of methods to carry out its `difficult and complex job' as long as that choice is reasonable and consistent with the Act.” Id. at 173-74 (quoting Conn. Fund for the Env't v. EPA, 672 F.2d 998, 1006 (2d Cir. 1982). Here, section 110(a)(2)(A) is reasonably interpreted to require states to submit SIPs that reflect the first step in their planning for attaining and maintaining a new or revised NAAQS and that they contain enforceable control measures and a demonstration that the state has the available tools and authority to develop and implement plans to attain and maintain the NAAQS.

    Finally, in Comm. for a Better Arvin v. EPA, the Petitioner challenged California's plans to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley. At issue was whether EPA erred in approving the state's SIP to comply with the NAAQS under section 109 concerning ozone and fine particulate matter. The court held that by approving the state's plans, even though the plans did not include the state-adopted mobile emissions standards on which those plans rely to achieve their emissions reductions goals, EPA violated the CAA. However, the court found that EPA did not violate the CAA by not requiring inclusion of other state mechanisms in its plans, and that other control measures approved by EPA are enforceable commitments as the CAA requires. While the court cited to section 110(a)(2)(A) for the proposition that SIPs generally should assure attainment and maintenance of NAAQS through emission limitations, such language was not dispositive as to whether or not infrastructure SIPs specifically must include enforceable limits on sources sufficient to maintain the NAAQS. To the contrary, the CAA provides states and EPA with other tools to address concerns that arise with respect to purported violations of the NAAQS in a designated attainment area, such as the authority to redesignate areas pursuant to section 107(d)(3), the authority to issue a “SIP Call” pursuant to section 110(k)(5), or the general authority to approve SIP revisions that can address violations of the NAAQS through other appropriate measures.

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 5: The commenter cited to 40 CFR 51.112(a), providing that “[e]ach plan must demonstrate that the measures, rules and regulations contained in it are adequate to provide for the timely attainment and maintenance of the [NAAQS]” and asserted that this regulation requires all SIPs to include emissions limits necessary to ensure attainment of the NAAQS. The commenter stated their belief that “[a]lthough these regulations were developed before the Clean Air Act separated infrastructure SIPs from nonattainment SIPs—a process that began with the 1977 amendments and was completed by the 1990 amendments—the regulations apply to I-SIPs.” Finally, the commenter stated that EPA has not changed the regulation since 1990, and that in the preamble to the final rule promulgating 40 CFR 51.112, EPA expressly identified that its new regulations were not implementing Subpart D. See Air Quality Implementation Plans; Restructuring SIP Preparation Regulations, 51 FR 40,656, 40,656 (Nov. 7, 1986) (“It is beyond the scope of th[is] rulemaking to address the provisions of Part D of the Act. . . .”). The commenter thus concludes that 40 CFR 51.112 was intended to apply to infrastructure SIPs.

    Response: The commenter's reliance on 40 CFR 51.112 to support its argument that infrastructure SIPs must contain emission limits “adequate to prohibit NAAQS exceedances” and adequate or sufficient to ensure the maintenance of the NAAQS is not supported. As an initial matter, EPA notes and the commenter recognizes this regulatory provision was initially promulgated and “restructured and consolidated” prior to the CAA Amendments of 1990, in which Congress removed all references to “attainment” in section 110(a)(2)(A). And, it is clear on its face that 40 CFR 51.112 applies to plans specifically designed to attain the NAAQS. EPA interprets these provisions to apply when states are developing “control strategy” SIPs such as the detailed attainment and maintenance plans required under other provisions of the CAA, as amended in 1977 and again in 1990, such as sections 175A and 191-192. The commenter suggests that these provisions must apply to section 110 SIPs because in the preamble to EPA's action “restructuring and consolidating” provisions in part 51, EPA stated that the new attainment demonstration provisions in the 1977 Amendments to the CAA were “beyond the scope” of the rulemaking. It is important to note, however, that EPA's action in 1986 was not to establish new substantive planning requirements, but rather was meant merely to consolidate and restructure provisions that had previously been promulgated. EPA noted that it had already issued guidance addressing the new “Part D” attainment planning obligations. Also, as to maintenance regulations, EPA expressly stated that it was not making any revisions other than to re-number those provisions. 51 FR 40657.

    Although EPA was explicit that it was not establishing requirements interpreting the provisions of new “Part D” of the CAA, it is clear that the regulations being restructured and consolidated were intended to address control strategy plans. In the preamble, EPA clearly stated that 40 CFR 51.112 was replacing 40 CFR 51.13 (“Control strategy: SOX and PM (portion)”), 51.14 (“Control strategy: CO, HC, OX and NO2 (portion)”), 51.80 (“Demonstration of attainment: Pb (portion)”), and 51.82 (“Air quality data (portion)”). Id. at 40660. Thus, the present-day 40 CFR 51.112 contains consolidated provisions that are focused on control strategy SIPs, and the infrastructure SIP is not such a plan.

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 6: Citing section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA, the commenter contends that EPA failed to meaningfully evaluate whether the emissions limitations and other control measures are adequate to ensure attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS in EPA's proposed approval of the Clark County Infrastructure SIP. The commenter further contends that “nearly all of the legal authorities . . . pertain only to new or additional sources . . . (and) would do nothing to reduce existing sources.”

    Response: EPA believes that section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA is reasonably interpreted to require states to submit infrastructure SIPs that reflect the first step in their planning for attainment and maintenance of a new or revised NAAQS. These SIP revisions should contain a demonstration that the state has the available tools and authority to develop and implement plans to attain and maintain the NAAQS and show that the SIP has enforceable control measures. In light of the structure of the CAA, EPA's long-standing position regarding infrastructure SIPs is that they are general planning SIPs to ensure that the state has adequate resources and authority to implement a NAAQS in general throughout the state and not detailed attainment and maintenance plans for each individual area of the state. As mentioned above, EPA has interpreted this to mean, with regard to the requirement for emission limitations, that states may rely on measures already in place to address the pollutant at issue or any new control measures that the state may choose to submit.

    As stated in response to Sierra Club/Earthjustice's Comment 5, section 110 of the CAA is merely one provision within the complex, post-1990 regulatory structure governing implementation of the NAAQS, and must be interpreted in the context of that regulatory structure as well as the Act's historical evolution. In light of the revisions to section 110 since 1970 and the later-promulgated and more specific planning requirements of the CAA, EPA reasonably interprets the requirement in section 110(a)(2)(A) of the CAA that the plan provide for “implementation, maintenance and enforcement” to mean that the SIP must contain enforceable emission limits that will aid in attaining and/or maintaining the NAAQS, and that the state demonstrate that it has the necessary tools to implement and enforce a NAAQS (e.g., adequate state personnel and an enforcement program). As discussed above, EPA has interpreted the requirement for emission limitations in section 110 to mean that the state may rely on measures already in place to address the pollutant at issue or any new control measures that the state may choose to submit. Finally, as EPA stated in the Infrastructure SIP Guidance which specifically provides guidance to states in addressing the 2010 SO2 NAAQS, “[t]he conceptual purpose of an infrastructure SIP submission is to assure that the air agency's SIP contains the necessary structural requirements for the new or revised NAAQS, whether by establishing that the SIP already contains the necessary provisions, by making a substantive SIP revision to update the SIP, or both.” 19

    19 Guidance on Infrastructure State Implementation Plan (SIP) Elements under Clean Air Act Sections 110(a)(1) and 110(a)(2), September 2013 at page 2.

    EPA believes that the proper inquiry is whether Nevada, including Clark County, has met the basic structural SIP requirements appropriate at the point in time EPA is acting upon the infrastructure submittal. Emissions limitations and other control measures needed to attain the NAAQS in areas designated nonattainment for that NAAQS are due on a different schedule from the section 110 infrastructure elements. A state, like Nevada, may reference pre-existing SIP emission limits or other rules contained in part D plans for previous NAAQS in an infrastructure SIP submission. For example, NDEP and Clark County submitted a list of existing emission reduction measures in the SIP that control emissions of ozone, which are included in the discussion of Element A of the TSD supporting the NPRM. These provisions have the ability to reduce ozone overall. We mention both NDEP and Clark County because they both regulate facilities within Clark County. As mentioned in the TSD supporting the NPRM, NDEP has the sole authority to regulate facilities that generate energy from steam boilers burning fossil fuels. Fuel combustion is the second largest source of NOX emissions (16%) after (primarily EPA regulated) mobile sources (82%). Some of the largest stationary source emitters of NOX in Clark County, such as the Reid Gardner Generating Station, are regulated by NDEP.

    While NOX emissions are regulated at the federal, state and local level, the commenter specifically raised concerns with Clark County's legal authorities. EPA disagrees that Clark County legal authorities only pertain to new or additional sources. The County's permitting programs and regulatory controls also apply to existing facilities. We acknowledge that the Clark County portion of the ozone SIP submittal does not propose new regulations for the Nevada SIP that would reduce emissions from existing sources, such as those commonly included in an attainment SIP, but that does not mean that existing sources are not regulated at the state and local level.

    EPA believes it is not appropriate to bypass the attainment planning process by imposing separate attainment planning process requirements outside the attainment planning process and into the infrastructure SIP process. Such actions would be disruptive and premature absent exceptional circumstances and would interfere with a state's planning process. See In the Matter of EME Homer City Generation LP and First Energy Generation Corp., Order on Petitions Numbers III-2012-06, III-2012-07, and III2013-01 (July 30, 2014) (hereafter, Homer City/Mansfield Order) at 10-19 (finding that the Pennsylvania SIP did not require imposition of SO2 emission limits on sources independent of the part D attainment planning process contemplated by the CAA). EPA believes that the history of the CAA, and intent of Congress for the CAA as described above, demonstrate clearly that it is within the section 172 and general part D attainment planning process that Nevada must include additional limits on ozone precursor emissions in order to demonstrate future attainment, where needed, for any areas in Nevada or other states that may be designated nonattainment in the future, in order to reach attainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    EPA does not agree with the commenter's reliance on 40 CFR 51.112 to support its argument that infrastructure SIPs must contain emission limits adequate to provide for timely attainment and maintenance of the standard. As explained previously in response to Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 5, EPA notes this regulatory provision clearly on its face applies to plans specifically designed to attain the NAAQS and not to infrastructure SIPs which show the states have in place structural requirements necessary to implement the NAAQS. Therefore, EPA finds 40 CFR 51.112 inapplicable to its analysis of the Nevada ozone infrastructure SIP.

    Sierra Club/Earthjustice Comment 7: The commenter expressed concern that the design values for the Clark County air quality monitors exceeded the ozone NAAQS, yet the area remained designated attainment/unclassifiable. The commenter also referenced a Sierra Club petition, denied by EPA, to redesignate Clark County and other areas to nonattainment 20 and asserted that “design values for monitors in Clark County have exceeded the 2008 0.075 ppm standard for every three-year period since 2001-2003 with the lone exception of 2009-2011.”

    20 Petition to the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Redesignate as Nonattainment 57 Areas with 2012 Design Values Violating the 2008 8-Hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone (Docket: EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0563, and included in the docket for this rulemaking)

    Response: EPA's decision not to redesignate the areas identified in the Sierra Club's petition involved many factors, which we discuss in the next paragraph, including: the role of the declining national NOX and VOC emissions, particularly from mobile sources, which are primarily regulated by EPA; the limited planning requirements associated with marginal nonattainment areas; the development of collaborative strategies to bring newly violating areas back into compliance as soon as possible; and the fluctuation of ozone levels with varying weather conditions.21 We will discuss the factors mentioned in EPA's response to the Sierra Club's redesignation petition (for 57 areas in the U.S.), specifically for Clark County.

    21 In addition to the factors discussed above, EPA's response to the petition, a letter from Gina McCarthy to Seth Johnson, Sierra Club, dated August 14, 2014 (included in the docket for this rulemaking), also states that 22 of the 57 areas were again attaining the ozone NAAQS based on their 2013 design values.

    Our response to Sierra Club's petition explained, “emissions of NOX in the U.S. are expected to decline by 29% from 2011 through 2018, even when accounting for increases in some sectors, such as the oil and gas industry.” NOX emissions from on-road mobile sources, locomotives, and non-road engines are expected to comprise more than 90% of the reductions. The air quality of Clark County stands to benefit even more than the rest of the country on a relative basis, because mobile sources represent 82% of NOX sources within Clark County, but only 58% nationally.22 Our letter also noted 10% declining VOC emissions from 2011 to 2018, nearly all of which resulted from on-road and off-road engine rules.23

    22 Nevada NOX emissions by category (e.g. mobile sources, point sources) can be found at http://www.epa.gov/cgi-bin/broker?_service=data&_debug=0&_program=dataprog.state_1.sas&pol=NOX&stfips=32.

    23 EPA's August 14, 2014 letter to the Sierra Club also discussed increases in NOX and VOC emissions from the oil and gas sector but did not discuss the impact of biogenic VOC emissions, which are likely to remain constant. (EPA's letter is available in the docket for EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0563 at http://www.regulations.gov/.)

    For Clark County's remaining sources of NOX emissions, nearly 18% of the total NOX emissions for the 2011 Emissions Inventory, more than 33% (3,066 tons) were generated by a single facility, the Reid Gardner Generating Station,24 though Clark County states this figure had dropped to 1,848 tons by 2013.25 As we explained in the TSD for our proposed rulemaking, Reid Gardner retired three of four coal-fired boilers at the end of 2014. The fourth unit will be closed in 2017. Senate Bill 123, the Nevada law that required the early retirement of 557 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity at Reid Gardner, allows for the replacement of these units with substantially cleaner burning natural gas-fired boilers (500-550 MW) and renewable generating capacity (150 MW). The cleaner burning facility at Reid Gardner should provide substantial air quality benefits for Clark County.

    24 Based on an emissions query of EPA's Air Markets Division Database (for the year 2011) at http://ampd.epa.gov/ampd/, accessed on July 15, 2015.

    25 Clark County Ozone Advance Submission, submitted to Ms. Laura Bunte, from Lewis Wallenmeyer, Director, Clark County Department of Air Quality, at pp. 2-4, June 23, 2014, available in the docket for this rulemaking.

    Clark County has joined EPA's voluntary Ozone Advance Program, a collaborative effort between EPA, states, tribes, and local governments. It encourages proactive efforts to improve air quality that could better position areas to stay in attainment. The docket for this rulemaking includes Clark County's 2014 and 2015 submittals for the program.26 These documents acknowledge, as the comments note, increasing design values of the network monitoring system. The documents also discuss the use of grants from the (federal) Department of Transportation's Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality Incentive Program, non-regulatory measures to improve air quality, and the previously mentioned reductions at the Reid Gardner Generating Station.

    26 (1) Clark County Department of Air Quality, Ozone Advance Program, Path Forward, June 2014 and (2) Clark County Department of Air Quality, Ozone Advance Program, Progress Report, June 2015.

    The commenter is correct in stating that Clark County's design value appears to have increased in the years following the county's designation as an attainment area (which had been based on 2009-2011 data forming the 2011 design value). However, as we have noted, NO2 and VOC estimated emissions are declining within Clark County. Additionally, ozone is not dependent solely on the emission of precursors.27 Variations in weather conditions play an important role in determining ozone levels and thus design values can fluctuate from year to year, which EPA also noted in our response to the Sierra Club's petition for redesignation. Recent EPA modeling, which included Clark County, estimated a 2017 Clark County ozone maximum design value of 72.8 parts per billion (or 0.0728 parts per million (ppm)), below the 2008 ozone NAAQS of 0.075 ppm.28

    27 EPA notes that two monitors identified by the commenter (Spring Mountain Youth Camp monitor (AQS ID 32-003-7771) and Las Vegas Paiute Tribal monitor (AQS ID 32-003-8000)) are considered non-regulatory and not comparable to the NAAQS. The Spring Mountain monitor is not operated per FEM specifications and cannot be considered a State/Local Air Monitoring Station and therefore, the collected data, while usable for research purposes, is not comparable to the NAAQS. Similarly, The Las Vegas Paiute Tribal monitor is designated as non-regulatory monitor operated for informational purposes only.

    28 80 FR 46271 (August 4, 2015) also at http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/ozonetransportNAAQS.html, Design Values listed in Ozone Design Values_Transport NODA.xlsx.

    III. Final Action

    Under CAA section 110(k)(3), and based on the evaluation and rationale presented in the proposed rule, the related TSDs, and this final rule, EPA is approving in part and disapproving in part Nevada's Infrastructure Submittal for the 2008 Ozone, 2010 NO2 and 2010 SO2 NAAQS. We are also taking final action on other regulatory changes discussed in our proposed rule. In the following subsections, we list the elements for which we are finalizing Infrastructure SIP approval or disapproval and provide a summary of the basis for those elements that are partially disapproved. We also describe the consequences of our disapprovals and discuss finalizing the other regulatory changes in our proposed rule.

    A. Summary of Infrastructure SIP Approvals and Partial Approvals

    EPA is approving Nevada's Infrastructure SIP for the 2008 Ozone, 2010 NO2 and 2010 SO2 NAAQS with respect to the following requirements:

    • 110(a)(2)(A): Emission limits and other control measures.

    • 110(a)(2)(B): Ambient air quality monitoring/data system.

    • 110(a)(2)(C) (in part): Program for enforcement of control measures and regulation of new stationary sources (full approval for Clark County).

    • 110(a)(2)(D) (in part, see below): Interstate Pollution Transport.

    • 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) (in part)—significant contribution to nonattainment, or prongs 1 and 2 (full approval of NDEP, Clark County and Washoe County for the NO2 NAAQS).

    • 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) (in part)—interstate transport—prevention of significant deterioration, or prong 3 (full approval for Clark County).

    • 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) (full approval)—visibility transport, or prong 4.

    • 110(a)(2)(D)(ii) (in part)—interstate pollution abatement and international air pollution (full approval for Clark County).

    • 110(a)(2)(E): Adequate resources and authority, conflict of interest, and oversight of local governments and regional agencies.

    • 110(a)(2)(F): Stationary source monitoring and reporting.

    • 110(a)(2)(G): Emergency episodes.

    • 110(a)(2)(H): SIP revisions.

    • 110(a)(2)(J) (in part): Consultation with government officials, public notification, and prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) and visibility protection (full approval for Clark County).

    • 110(a)(2)(K): Air quality modeling and submission of modeling data.

    • 110(a)(2)(L): Permitting fees.

    • 110(a)(2)(M): Consultation/participation by affected local entities.

    EPA is taking no action on Interstate Transport—significant contribution to nonattainment for NDEP, Clark County and Washoe County on the Ozone and SO2 NAAQS [Section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II)]. B. Summary of Infrastructure SIP Partial Disapprovals

    EPA is disapproving Nevada's Infrastructure Submittal with respect to the following infrastructure SIP requirements:

    • 110(a)(2)(C) (in part): Program for enforcement of control measures and regulation of new and modified stationary sources (disapproved for all NAAQS addressed by this rule and covered by the NDEP and Washoe County PSD permitting programs).

    • 110(a)(2)(D) (in part, see below): Interstate Pollution Transport.

    • 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) (in part): interstate transport—prevention of significant deterioration, or prong 3 (disapproval for all NAAQS addressed by this rule and covered by the NDEP and Washoe County PSD permitting programs).

    • 110(a)(2)(D)(ii) (in part)—interstate pollution abatement and international air pollution (disapproved for all NAAQS addressed by this rule and covered by the NDEP and Washoe County PSD permitting programs).

    • 110(a)(2)(J) (in part): Consultation with government officials, public notification, PSD, and visibility protection (disapproval for all NAAQS addressed by this rule and covered by the NDEP and Washoe County PSD permitting programs).

    As explained in our proposed rule, TSD, and section II of this final rule, we are disapproving Nevada's Infrastructure Submittal for the NDEP and Washoe County portions of the SIP with respect to the PSD-related requirements of CAA sections 110(a)(2)(C), 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II), 110(a)(2)(D)(ii), and 110(a)(2)(J) because the Nevada SIP does not fully satisfy the statutory and regulatory requirements for PSD permit programs under part C, title I of the Act. Both NDEP and Washoe County implement the Federal PSD program in 40 CFR 52.21 for all regulated new source review (NSR) pollutants, pursuant to delegation agreements with EPA.29 Accordingly, although the Nevada SIP remains deficient with respect to PSD requirements in both the NDEP and Washoe County portions of the SIP, these deficiencies are adequately addressed in both areas by the federal PSD program.

    29 40 CFR 52.1485.

    C. Consequences of Partial Disapprovals

    EPA takes disapproval of a state plan seriously. We believe that it is preferable, and preferred in the provisions of the Clean Air Act, that these requirements be implemented through state plans. A state plan need not contain exactly the same provisions that EPA might require, but EPA must be able to find that the state plan is consistent with the requirements of the Act in accordance with its obligations under section 110(k). Further, EPA's oversight role requires that it assure consistent implementation of Clean Air Act requirements by states across the country, even while acknowledging that individual decisions from source to source or state to state may not have identical outcomes. EPA believes these disapprovals are the only path that is consistent with the Act at this time.

    Under section 179(a) of the CAA, final disapproval of a submittal that addresses a requirement of part D of title I of the CAA (CAA sections 171-193) or is required in response to a finding of substantial inadequacy as described in CAA section 110(k)(5) (SIP Call) starts a sanctions clock. Nevada's Infrastructure SIP Submittals were not submitted to meet either of these requirements. Therefore, our partial disapproval of Nevada's Infrastructure Submittals does not trigger mandatory sanctions under CAA section 179.

    In addition, CAA section 110(c)(1) provides that EPA must promulgate a FIP within two years after finding that a state has failed to make a required submission or disapproving a SIP submission in whole or in part, unless EPA approves a SIP revision correcting the deficiencies within that two-year period. As discussed in section III.B of this final rule and in our TSD, we are finalizing several partial disapprovals. These disapprovals do not result in new FIP obligations, because EPA has already promulgated FIPs to address the identified deficiencies.

    D. Summary of Other Regulatory Actions

    EPA is finalizing the other regulatory actions discussed in the proposed rule: Defining the term Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region; reclassifying the Nevada Intrastate and Las Vegas Intrastate Air Quality Control Regions from priority IA to priority III for emergency episodes; removing historic language from the Nevada SIP, which refers to a facility no longer in existence.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review

    This action is not a “significant regulatory action” under the terms of Executive Order (EO) 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and is therefore not subject to review under the EO.

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act

    This action does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., because this partial approval and partial disapproval of SIP revisions under CAA section 110 will not in-and-of itself create any new information collection burdens but simply approves certain State requirements, and disapproves certain other State requirements, for inclusion into the SIP. Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.3(b).

    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) generally requires an agency to conduct a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Small entities include small businesses, small not-for-profit enterprises, and small governmental jurisdictions. For purposes of assessing the impacts of this rule on small entities, small entity is defined as: (1) A small business as defined by the Small Business Administration's (SBA) regulations at 13 CFR 121.201; (2) a small governmental jurisdiction that is a government of a city, county, town, school district or special district with a population of less than 50,000; and (3) a small organization that is any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.

    After considering the economic impacts of this rule on small entities, I certify that this action will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule does not impose any requirements or create impacts on small entities. This partial SIP approval and partial SIP disapproval under CAA section 110 will not in-and-of itself create any new requirements but simply approves certain State requirements, and disapproves certain other State requirements, for inclusion into the SIP. Accordingly, it affords no opportunity for EPA to fashion for small entities less burdensome compliance or reporting requirements or timetables or exemptions from all or part of the rule. Therefore, this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This action contains no Federal mandates under the provisions of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538 for State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector. EPA has determined that the partial approval and partial disapproval action does not include a Federal mandate that may result in estimated costs of $100 million or more to either State, local, or tribal governments in the aggregate, or to the private sector. This action approves certain pre-existing requirements, and disapproves certain other pre-existing requirements, under State or local law, and imposes no new requirements. Accordingly, no additional costs to State, local, or tribal governments, or to the private sector, result from this action.

    E. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.” “Policies that have federalism implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.”

    This action does not have federalism implications. It will 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, as specified in Executive Order 13132, because it merely approves certain State requirements, and disapproves certain other State requirements, for inclusion into the SIP and does not alter the relationship or the distribution of power and responsibilities established in the Clean Air Act. Thus, Executive Order 13132 does not apply to this action.

    F. Executive Order 13175, Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.” This rule does not have tribal implications, as specified in Executive Order 13175. It will not have substantial direct effects on tribal governments, 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. In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this rule.

    G. Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks

    EPA interprets EO 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997) as applying only to those regulatory actions that concern health or safety risks, such that the analysis required under section 5-501 of the EO has the potential to influence the regulation. This action is not subject to EO 13045 because it is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This partial approval and partial disapproval under CAA section 110 will not in-and-of itself create any new regulations but simply approves certain State requirements, and disapproves certain other State requirements, for inclusion into the SIP.

    H. Executive Order 13211, Actions That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

    This rule is not subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

    I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (“NTTAA”), Public Law 104-113, 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs EPA to use voluntary consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless to do so would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. NTTAA directs EPA to provide Congress, through OMB, explanations when the Agency decides not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus standards.

    EPA believes that this action is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of NTTAA because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act.

    J. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population

    Executive Order (EO) 12898 (59 FR 7629, Feb. 16, 1994) establishes federal executive policy on environmental justice. Its main provision directs federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, to make environmental justice part of their mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States.

    EPA lacks the discretionary authority to address environmental justice in this rulemaking.

    K. Congressional Review Act

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. The EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). This rule will be effective on December 3, 2015.

    L. Petitions for Judicial Review

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by January 4, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this rule for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements (see section 307(b)(2)).

    List of Subjects 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Ozone, Nitrogen dioxide, Sulfur dioxide, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    40 CFR Part 81

    Environmental protection, air pollution control, incorporation by reference, Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region.

    Dated: September 30, 2015. Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, Region 9.

    Therefore, 40 CFR Chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart DD—Nevada 2. In § 52.1470, paragraph (e), the table is amended by adding four entries after the entry for “Small Business Stationary Source Technical and Environmental Compliance Assistance Program” to read as follows:
    § 52.1470 Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Nevada Nonregulatory Provisions and Quasi-Regulatory Measures Name of SIP provision Applicable geographic or nonattainment area State submittal date EPA Approval date Explanation Air Quality Implementation Plan for the State of Nevada *         *         *         *         *         *         * Nevada's Clean Air Act § 110(a)(1) and (2) State Implementation Plan for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, excluding appendices A-F for NDEP; excluding the cover letter to NDEP and attachments A and B for Clark County; and excluding the cover letter to NDEP and Attachments A and B for Washoe County State-wide 12/20/2012 [Insert Federal Register citation] 11/3/2015 “Infrastructure” SIP for NDEP, Clark County and Washoe County for the 2008 8-hour ozone standard. Nevada's Clean Air Act § 110(a)(1) and (2) State Implementation Plan for the 2010 nitrogen dioxide NAAQS, excluding appendices A-G for NDEP; excluding the cover letter to NDEP and attachments A-C for Clark County; and excluding the cover letter to NDEP, Washoe County portion of Nevada's State Implementation Plan for the 2010 nitrogen dioxide NAAQS, and attachments A and B for Washoe County NDEP jurisdiction and Clark County 1/18/2013 [Insert Federal Register citation] 11/3/2015 “Infrastructure” SIP for NDEP and Clark County for the 2010 1-hour nitrogen dioxide standard. Washoe County Portion of Nevada's Clean Air Act § 110(a)(1) and (2) State Implementation Plan for the 2010 nitrogen dioxide NAAQS, excluding cover letter to NDEP and attachments A-B Washoe County 3/15/2013 [Insert Federal Register citation] 11/3/2015 “Infrastructure” SIP for Washoe County for the 2010 1-hour nitrogen dioxide standard. Nevada's Clean Air Act § 110(a)(1) and (2) State Implementation Plan for the 2010 sulfur dioxide NAAQS, excluding the cover letter and appendices A-E for NDEP; excluding the cover letter to NDEP and attachments A-C for Clark County; and excluding the cover letter to NDEP, attachments A-C, and public notice information for Washoe County State-wide 6/3/2013 [Insert Federal Register citation] 11/3/2015 “Infrastructure” SIP for NDEP, Clark County and Washoe County for the 2010 1-hour sulfur dioxide standard. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    3. Section 52.1471 is revised to read as follows:
    § 52.1471 Classification of regions.

    The Nevada plan is evaluated on the basis of the following classifications:

    Air quality control region Pollutant Particulate matter Sulfur oxides Nitrogen dioxide Carbon monoxide Ozone Las Vegas Intrastate I III III I I Northwest Nevada Intrastate I III III III III Nevada Intrastate IA III III III III
    4. Section 52.1472 is amended by adding paragraphs (h),(i) and (j) to read as follows:
    § 52.1472 Approval status.

    (h) 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS: The SIPs submitted on December 20, 2012 are partially disapproved for CAA elements 110(a)(2)(C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), and (J) for the NDEP and Washoe County portions of the Nevada SIP; no action is taken for CAA element 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I).

    (i) 2008 1-hour nitrogen dioxide NAAQS: The SIPs submitted on January 18, 2013 are partially disapproved for Clean Air Act (CAA) elements 110(a)(2)(C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), and (J) for the Nevada Division of Environmental Quality (NDEP) and Washoe County portions of the Nevada SIP.

    (j) 2008 2010 1-hour sulfur dioxide NAAQS: The SIPs submitted on June 3, 2013 are disapproved for CAA elements 110(a)(2)(C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), and (J) for the NDEP and Washoe County portions of the Nevada SIP; no action is taken for CAA element 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) .

    § 52.1475 [Removed and Reserved]
    5. Section 52.1475 is removed and reserved.
    PART 81—DESIGNATION OF AREAS FOR AIR QUALITY PLANNING PURPOSES 6. The authority citation for part 81 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart B—Designation of Air Quality Control Regions 7. Section 81.276 is added to read as follows:
    § 81.276 Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region.

    The Nevada Intrastate Air Quality Control Region consists of the territorial area encompassed by the boundaries of the following jurisdictions or described area (including the territorial area of all municipalities (as defined in section 302(f) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 1857h(f)) geographically located within the outermost boundaries of the area so delimited):

    In the State of Nevada: Churchill County, Elko County, Esmeralda County, Eureka County, Humboldt County, Lander County, Lincoln County, Mineral County, Nye County, Pershing County, and White Pine County.

    [FR Doc. 2015-27029 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 130919816-4205-02] RIN 0648-XE292 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; 2015 Management Area 1A Seasonal Annual Catch Limit Harvested AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is implementing a 2,000 lb possession limit for Atlantic herring in or from management Area 1A, based on the projection that 92 percent of the 2015 annual seasonal catch limit for that area will have been harvested by the effective date. 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 Area 1A for the remainder of the fishing year, and federally permitted dealers may not purchase more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring from federally permitted vessels for the duration of this action. This action is necessary to comply with the regulations implementing the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan and is intended to prevent over harvest in Area 1A.

    DATES:

    Effective 1200 hr local time, November 2, 2015, through December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations governing the Atlantic herring fishery can be found at 50 CFR part 648, including requirements for setting annual catch allocations. NMFS set the 2015 Area 1A sub-annual catch limit (ACL) at 30,585 mt, based on an initial 2015 sub-ACL allocation of 31,200 mt, minus a deduction of 936 mt for research set-aside catch, plus an increase of 321 mt to account for unharvested 2013 catch. NMFS established these values in the 2013 through 2015 specifications (78 FR 61828, October 1, 2013) and a final rule implementing sub-ACL adjustments for 2015 (80 FR 7808, February 12, 2015). For management Area 1A, NMFS restricts herring catch to the seasonal period from June 1 through December 31. NMFS prohibits vessels from catching herring during the seasonal period from January 1 through May 31.

    The Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), monitors the herring fishery catch in each of the management areas based on dealer reports, state data, and other available information. The regulations at § 648.201 require that when Regional Administrator projects that herring catch will reach 92 percent of the sub-ACL allocated in any of the four management areas designated in the Atlantic herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP), NMFS must prohibit, through notification in the Federal Register, 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 specified management area for the remainder of the fishing year.

    The Regional Administrator has determined, based on dealer reports, state data, and other available information, that the herring fleet will have caught 92 percent of the total herring sub-ACL allocated to Area 1A by November 2, 2015. Therefore, effective 1200 hr local time, November 2, 2015, federally permitted vessels may not fish for, catch, possess, transfer, land, or sell more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring per trip or calendar day, in or from Area 1A through December 31, 2015, except that vessels that have entered port before 1200 hr on November 2, 2015, may land and sell more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring from Area 1A from that trip. In addition, due to state landing restrictions, all herring vessels must land in accordance with state regulations. A vessel may transit through Area 1A with more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of herring on board, provided all herring was caught outside of Area 1A and all fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use as defined by § 648.2. Effective 1200 hr on November 2, 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 Area 1A through 2400 hr local time, December 31, 2015, unless it is from a trip landed by a vessel that entered port before 1200 hr on November 2, 2015, and that catch is landed in accordance with state regulations.

    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 herring in Area 1A for the remainder of the fishing year. Data indicating the herring fleet will have landed at least 92 percent of the 2015 sub-ACL allocated to Area 1A have only recently become available. Once these data become available, NMFS is required by Federal regulation to implement a 2,000-lb (907.2-kg) possession limit for Area 1A through December 31, 2015. The regulations at § 648.201(a)(1)(i) require such action to ensure that herring vessels do not exceed the 2015 sub-ACL allocated to Area 1A. If implementation of this closure is delayed to solicit prior public comment, the sub-ACL for Area 1A for this fishing year will likely be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the FMP. If sub-ACLs are exceeded, the excess must also be deducted from a future sub-ACL and would reduce future fishing opportunities. 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 29, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27997 Filed 10-29-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140904754-5188-02] RIN 0648-BF44 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures.

    SUMMARY:

    This final rule announces inseason changes to management measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective October 29, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gretchen Hanshew, phone: 206-526-6147, fax: 206-526-6736, or email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic Access

    This rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register Web site at https://www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/. Copies of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Groundfish Specifications and Management Measures for 2015-2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter are available from Donald McIsaac, Executive Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503-820-2280.

    Background

    As part of biennial harvest specifications and management measures, annual catch limits (ACLs) are set for non-whiting groundfish species, deductions are made “off-the-top” from the ACL for various sources of mortality (including non-groundfish fisheries that catch groundfish incidentally, also called incidental open access fisheries) and the remainder, the fishery harvest guideline, is allocated amongst the various groundfish fisheries. The limited availability of overfished species that can be taken as incidental catch in the Pacific whiting fisheries, particularly darkblotched rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and canary rockfish, led NMFS to implement sector-specific allocations for these species to the Pacific whiting fisheries. If the sector-specific allocation for a non-whiting species is reached, NMFS may close one or more of the at-sea sectors automatically, per regulations at § 660.60(d).

    The Council, in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, recommended changes to current groundfish management measures at its September 9-16, 2015 meeting. The Council recommended taking a portion of the darkblotched rockfish initially deducted from the ACL that would likely go unharvested in 2015 and making it available to the mothership (MS) and catcher/processor (C/P) sectors of the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery, with no more than 5 metric tons (mt) to either sector.

    Transferring Darkblotched Rockfish to the Mothership and Catcher/Processor Sectors

    At the September meeting, the MS sector requested an increase to their darkblotched rockfish set-aside to accommodate higher than anticipated bycatch rates in 2015 to prevent closure of the MS sector prior to harvesting their full allocation of Pacific whiting, as occurred temporarily in 2014 before darkblotched rockfish was distributed to them (79 FR 69060, November 20, 2014). At the start of 2015, the C/P and MS sectors of the Pacific whiting fishery were allocated 9.2 mt and 6.5 mt of darkblotched rockfish, respectively, per regulations at § 660.55(c)(1)(i)(A).

    According to the best available fishery information, bycatch rates of darkblotched rockfish in the MS sector have been more than double the rate seen in 2014 (Agenda Item H.9.b, Public Comment, September 2015). Additionally, recent 2015 (late-summer and early autumn) bycatch rates of darkblotched rockfish in the shoreside Pacific whiting sector have been 3.5 times higher than this time last year. This raised concerns that when the MS fleet returns in October from fishing in Alaska, bycatch rates of darkblotched rockfish would be even higher than they were in summer 2015. At the September meeting, best available information regarding bycatch rates of darkblotched rockfish in the C/P sector indicated that, if those rates continued, the Pacific whiting allocation could be achieved prior to harvesting their 2015 darkblotched rockfish set-aside. However, the Council considered the possibility of sudden, unexpected large bycatch events that occasionally occur in the MS and C/P sectors, and how one or more of those events could dramatically change the bycatch rates of darkblotched rockfish, jeopardizing continuation of their seasons and achievement of their 2015 Pacific whiting allocations.

    To maintain 2015 harvest opportunities for the MS and C/P sectors of the Pacific whiting fishery, the Council considered moving darkblotched rockfish quota that would otherwise go unharvested in the incidental open access fishery to the MS and C/P sectors. At the start of 2015 a total of 20.8 mt of darkblotched rockfish was deducted from the ACL, including 18.4 mt of to account for mortality in the incidental open access fishery.

    At its September 2015 meeting, the Council considered best available information regarding harvest levels of darkblotched rockfish in the incidental open access fishery to evaluate whether all 18.4 mt would be harvested in 2015, and if any of those fish that would go unharvested and could be transferred to the MS and C/P sectors inseason to allow for continued fishing opportunities in those sectors. Harvest of darkblotched rockfish in the incidental open access fisheries in 2011-2013 was below 6 mt per year, but the best estimate of mortality in 2014 increased to 24 mt. It was hypothesized that the much higher bycatch levels in 2014 may be due to a large 2013 darkblotched rockfish year class being caught in the pink shrimp trawl fishery. There was also anecdotal evidence that the use of light emitting diode (LED) lights had become widespread in the 2015 pink shrimp fishery following a 2014 research study, which could result in a drastic reduction in bycatch of juvenile darkblotched rockfish when LED lights were affixed to the shrimp trawl gear.

    Therefore, the Council recommended redistributing 8 mt of darkblotched rockfish, from the “off-the-top” deductions that were made at the start of the 2015-2016 biennium, to the MS and C/P sectors, with no more than 5 mt to either sector, to accommodate potential bycatch of darkblotched rockfish as each sector prosecutes the remainder of their 2015 Pacific whiting allocations.

    The Council's recommendation at the September meeting asked NMFS to monitor ongoing MS and C/P fisheries and redistribute darkblotched rockfish based on needs of the at-sea whiting fisheries in an effort prevent closure of those fisheries prior to achieving their respective Pacific whiting allocations. Therefore, this inseason action incorporates updated information on ongoing MS and C/P sector fisheries and on the best available information on how much darkblotched rockfish is anticipated to go unharvested from the off-the-top deductions. According to the best information available on September 29, 2015, observed darkblotched rockfish bycatch rates in the pink shrimp fishery in 2015 were much lower than in 2014, and similar to levels seen in 2011-2013. NMFS projects that the incidental open access fisheries, including the pink shrimp trawl fishery, will harvest 5.7 mt through the end of the year out of the 18.4 mt that was anticipated when the off-the-top deductions were made.

    The off-the-top deduction is a sum of anticipated impacts from scientific research activities, EFPs, Tribal fisheries, and incidental open access fisheries. Fish moved from the off-the-top deduction from the ACL and redistributed to other groundfish fisheries must be fish that would otherwise go unharvested through the end of the year. It was not quantitatively demonstrated that the 8 mt of darkblotched rockfish that the Council recommended redistributing to the MS and C/P sectors would otherwise go unharvested. Therefore, NMFS considered the higher than anticipated scientific research catch of darkblotched rockfish along with the lower than anticipated catch of darkblotched rockfish in the incidental open access fisheries in its decision making. When combined with the projected impacts from other components of the off-the-top deductions, including scientific research, EFPs, and tribal fisheries, it is anticipated that approximately 7.4 mt of the 20.8 mt off-the-top deduction will go unharvested through the end of 2015 (13.4 mt harvested out of 20.8 mt). Given this best available information, released after the Council's recommendation was made, NMFS has determined that the full 8 mt that was recommended by the Council cannot be redistributed.

    Shortly after the conclusion of the September Council meeting, a bycatch event of darkblotched rockfish occurred in the C/P sectors, increasing the likelihood of early closure of that C/P sector if additional darkblotched rockfish were unavailable. Based on this information, there is need for additional darkblotched rockfish in both the MS and C/P sectors.

    Based on the information presented at the September meeting, the Council's recommendation, the best available information on the available amount darkblotched rockfish, and the best available information on bycatch rates in the MS and C/P fisheries, this rule redistributes 7 mt of darkblotched rockfish that is anticipated to go unharvested in the incidental open access fisheries through the end of 2015 to the MS and C/P sectors in equal amounts, 3.5 mt to each sector. To buffer against uncertainty in the estimates, 0.4 mt of darkblotched rockfish will remain in the “off-the-top” deductions. 7 mt of darkblotched rockfish will be distributed equally between the MS and C/P sectors because both fisheries show higher than anticipated bycatch rates this year. If those higher rates continue and no additional darkblotched rockfish is distributed, both sectors are projected to attain their current darkblotched rockfish set-asides of 9.2 mt and 6.5 mt, respectively, before their Pacific whiting allocations are fully harvested.

    This rule partially approves the Council's recommendation to provide additional darkblotched that would otherwise go unharvested in 2015. Increasing the darkblotched rockfish set-asides to 10 mt for the MS sector and 12.7 mt for the C/P sector reduces the risk of closure of the MS and C/P sectors prior to full attainment of the Pacific whiting allocation if higher than anticipated bycatch rates of darkblotched rockfish continue late in 2015. Mortality of darkblotched rockfish in the 2015 incidental open access fishery has been lower than anticipated and the projected mortality indicates it will be within the remaining off-the-top deduction after transferring the 7 mt to the MS and C/P sectors. Transfer of darkblotched rockfish to the MS and C/P sectors, when combined with projected impacts from all other sources, is not expected to result in greater impacts to darkblotched rockfish or other overfished species than originally projected through the end of the year.

    Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures, based on the best available information, consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations and the Halibut Act and its implementing regulations.

    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, during business hours.

    NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and comment on the revisions to groundfish management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Also, for the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), so that this final rule may become effective October 29, 2015.

    At the September 2015 Council meeting, the Council recommended that redistribution of darkblotched rockfish to the MS and C/P sectors be implemented as quickly as possible once a need for additional darkblotched rockfish was identified. Within two weeks of this recommendation, a bycatch event of darkblotched rockfish (4 mt) occurred in the C/P sectors. There was not sufficient time after the September 2015 Council meeting to undergo proposed and final rulemaking before this action needs to be in effect. For the actions implemented in this final rule, affording the time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would prevent transfer of darkblotched rockfish to the MS and C/P sectors until later in the season, or potentially eliminate the possibility or doing so during the 2015 calendar year entirely, and is therefore impractical. Failing to reapportion darkblotched rockfish to the MS and C/P sectors in a timely manner could result in unnecessary restriction of fisheries if the MS or C/P sectors exceeded their darkblotched allocations. Providing the MS and C/P sector fishermen an opportunity to harvest their limits of Pacific whiting without interruption and without exceeding their darkblotched rockfish bycatch limits allows harvest as intended by the Council, consistent with the best scientific information available. The Pacific whiting fishery contributes a large amount of revenue to the coastal communities of Washington and Oregon and this change allows continued harvest of Pacific whiting while continuing to prevent ACLs of overfished species and the allocations for target species from being exceeded. No aspect of this action is controversial, and changes of this nature were anticipated in the biennial harvest specifications and management measures established for 2015-2016.

    Delaying these changes would also keep management measures in place that are not based on the best available information. Such delay would impair achievement of the PCGFMP goals and objectives of managing for appropriate harvest levels while providing for year-round fishing and marketing opportunities.

    Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, NMFS finds good cause to waive prior notice and comment and to waive the delay in effectiveness.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows:

    PART 660-FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

    2. Tables 1a and 1b to Part 660, Subpart C, are revised to read as follows: Table 1a to Part 660, Subpart C—2015, Specifications of OFL, ABC, ACL, ACT and Fishery Harvest Guidelines [Weights in metric tons] OFL ABC AC La Fishery HG b BOCACCIO S. of 40°10′ N. lat c 1,444 1,380 349 341 CANARY ROCKFISH d 733 701 122 107 COWCOD S. of 40°10′ N. lat e 67 60 10 8 DARKBLOTCHED ROCKFISH f 574 549 338 317 PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH g 842 805 158 143 PETRALE SOLE h 2,946 2,816 2,816 2,579 YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH i 52 43 18 12 Arrowtooth flounder j 6,599 5,497 5,497 3,410 Black rockfish (OR-CA) k 1,176 1,124 1,000 999 Black rockfish (WA) l 421 402 402 388 Cabezon (CA) m 161 154 154 154 Cabezon (OR) n 49 47 47 47 California scorpionfish o 119 114 114 112 Chilipepper S. of 40°10′ N. lat p 1,703 1,628 1,628 1,604 Dover sole q 66,871 63,929 50,000 48,406 English sole r 10,792 9,853 9,853 9,640 Lingcod N. of 40°10′ N. lat s 3,010 2,830 2,830 2,552 Lingcod S. of 40°10′ N. lat t 1,205 1,004 1,004 995 Longnose skate u 2,449 2,341 2,000 1,927 Longspine thornyhead (coastwide) v 5,007 4,171 NA NA. Longspine thornyhead No. of 34°27′ N. lat NA NA 3,170 3,124 Longspine thornyhead S. of 34°27′ N. lat NA NA 1,001 998 Pacific Cod w 3,200 2,221 1,600 1,091 Pacific whiting x 804,576 x x 266,684 Sablefish (coastwide) 7,857 7,173 NA NA. Sablefish N. of 36° N. lat y NA NA 4,793 See Table 1c. Sablefish S. of 36° N. lat z. NA NA 1,719 1,714 Shortbelly aa 6,950 5,789 500 498 Shortspine thornyhead (coastwide) bb 3,203 2,668 NA NA. Shortspine thornyhead N. of 34°27′ N. lat NA NA 1,745 1,686 Shortspine thornyhead S. of 34°27′ N. lat NA NA 923 881 Spiny dogfish cc 2,523 2,101 2,101 1,763 Splitnose S. of 40°10′ N. lat dd 1,794 1,715 1,715 1,705 Starry flounder ee 1,841 1,534 1,534 1,524 Widow rockfish ff 4,137 3,929 2,000 1,880 Yellowtail N. of 40°10′ N. lat gg 7,218 6,590 6,590 5,560 Minor Nearshore Rockfish N. of 40°10′ N. lat hh 88 77 69 69 Minor Shelf Rockfish N. of 40°10′ N. lat ii 2,209 1,944 1,944 1,872 Minor Slope Rockfish N. of 40°10′ N. lat jj 1,831 1,693 1,693 1,629 Minor Nearshore Rockfish S. of 40°10′ N. lat kk 1,313 1,169 1,114 1,110 Minor Shelf Rockfish S. of 40°10′ N. lat ll 1,918 1,625 1,624 1,575 Minor Slope Rockfish S. of 40°10′ N. lat mm 813 705 693 673 Other Flatfish nn 11,453 8,749 8,749 8,545 Other Fish oo 291 242 242 242 a Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs) and harvest guidelines (HGs) are specified as total catch values. b Fishery harvest guidelines means the harvest guideline or quota after subtracting Pacific Coast treaty Indian tribes allocations and projected catch, projected research catch, deductions for fishing mortality in non-groundfish fisheries, and deductions for EFPs from the ACL or ACT. c Bocaccio. A bocaccio stock assessment update was conducted in 2013 for the bocaccio stock between the U.S.-Mexico border and Cape Blanco. The stock is managed with stock-specific harvest specifications south of 40°10′ N. lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40°10′ N. lat. A historical catch distribution of approximately 6 percent was used to apportion the assessed stock to the area north of 40°10′ N. lat. The bocaccio stock was estimated to be at 31.4 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. The OFL of 1,444 mt is projected in the 2013 stock assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 1,380 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The 349 mt ACL is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2022 and an SPR harvest rate of 77.7 percent. 8.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (0.7 mt), EFP catch (3.0 mt) and research catch (4.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 340.7 mt. The California recreational fishery has an HG of 178.8 mt. d Canary rockfish. A canary rockfish stock assessment update was conducted in 2011 and the stock was estimated to be at 23.2 percent of its unfished biomass coastwide in 2011. The coastwide OFL of 733 mt is projected in the 2011 rebuilding analysis using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 701 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL of 122 mt is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2030 and an SPR harvest rate of 88.7 percent. 15.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (7.7 mt), the incidental open access fishery (2 mt), EFP catch (1.0 mt) and research catch (4.5 mt) resulting in a fishery HG of 106.8 mt. Recreational HGs are: 3.4 mt (Washington); 11.7 mt (Oregon); and 24.3 mt (California). e Cowcod. A stock assessment for the Conception Area was conducted in 2013 and the stock was estimated to be at 33.9 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. The Conception Area OFL of 55.0 mt is projected in the 2013 rebuilding analysis using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The OFL contribution of 11.6 mt for the unassessed portion of the stock in the Monterey area is based on depletion-based stock reduction analysis. The OFLs for the Monterey and Conception areas were summed to derive the south of 40°10′ N. lat. OFL of 66.6 mt. The ABC for the area south of 40°10′ N. lat. is 59.9 mt. The assessed portion of the stock in the Conception Area is considered category 2, with a Conception area contribution to the ABC of 50.2 mt, which is an 8.7 percent reduction from the Conception area OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.45). The unassessed portion of the stock in the Monterey area is considered a category 3 stock, with a contribution to the ABC of 9.7 mt, which is a 16.6 percent reduction from the Monterey area OFL (σ=1.44/P*=0.45). A single ACL of 10.0 mt is being set for both areas combined. The ACL of 10.0 mt is based on the rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2020 and an SPR harvest rate of 82.7 percent, which is equivalent to an exploitation rate (catch over age 11+ biomass) of 0.007. 2.0 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP fishing (less than 0.02 mt) and research activity (2.0 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 8.0 mt. Any additional mortality in research activities will be deducted from the ACL. A single ACT of 4.0 mt is being set for both areas combined. f Darkblotched rockfish. A 2013 stock assessment estimated the stock to be at 36 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. The OFL of 574 mt is projected in the 2013 stock assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 549 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL of 338 mt is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2025 and an SPR harvest rate of 64.9 percent. 20.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (0.2 mt), the incidental open access fishery (18.4 mt), EFP catch (0.1 mt) and research catch (2.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 317.2 mt. Of the 18.4 mt initially deducted from the ACL to account for mortality in the incidental open access fishery, a total of 7.0 mt is distributed to the mothership and catcher/processor sectors, 3.5 mt to each sector consistent with 660.60(c)(3)(ii), resulting in a 13.8 mt deduction from the ACL. g Pacific Ocean Perch. A POP stock assessment was conducted in 2011 and the stock was estimated to be at 19.1 percent of its unfished biomass in 2011. The OFL of 842 mt for the area north of 40°10′ N. lat. is projected in the 2011 rebuilding analysis using an F50% FMSY proxy. The ABC of 805 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL of 158 mt is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2051 and an SPR harvest rate of 86.4 percent. 15 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (9.2 mt), the incidental open access fishery (0.6 mt), and research catch (5.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 143.0 mt. h Petrale sole. A 2013 stock assessment estimated the stock to be at 22.3 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. The OFL of 2,946 mt is projected in the 2013 assessment using an F30% FMSY proxy. The ABC of 2,816 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL is based on the 25-5 harvest control rule specified in the current rebuilding plan; since the stock is projected to be rebuilt at the start of 2014, the ACL is set equal to the ABC. 236.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (220 mt), the incidental open access fishery (2.4 mt), and research catch (14.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,579.4 mt. i Yelloweye rockfish. A stock assessment update was conducted in 2011. The stock was estimated to be at 21.4 percent of its unfished biomass in 2011. The 52 mt coastwide OFL was projected in the 2011 rebuilding analysis using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 43 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. The 18 mt ACL is based on the current rebuilding plan with a target year to rebuild of 2074 and an SPR harvest rate of 76.0 percent. 5.8 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2.3 mt), the incidental open access fishery (0.2 mt), EFP catch (0.03 mt) and research catch (3.3 mt) resulting in a fishery HG of 12.2 mt. Recreational HGs are: 2.9 mt (Washington); 2.6 mt (Oregon); and 3.4 mt (California). j Arrowtooth flounder. The arrowtooth flounder stock was last assessed in 2007 and was estimated to be at 79 percent of its unfished biomass in 2007. The OFL of 6,599 mt is derived from the 2007 assessment using an F30% FMSY proxy. The ABC of 5,497 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B25%. 2,087 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2,041 mt), the incidental open access fishery (30 mt), and research catch (16.4 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 3,410 mt. k Black rockfish south (Oregon and California). A stock assessment was conducted for black rockfish south of 45°46′ N. lat. (Cape Falcon, Oregon) to Central California (i.e., the southern-most extent of black rockfish, Love et al. 2002) in 2007. The biomass in the south was estimated to be at 70 percent of its unfished biomass in 2007. The OFL from the assessed area is derived from the 2007 assessment using an FMSY harvest rate proxy of F50% plus 3 percent of the OFL from the stock assessment conducted for black rockfish north of 45°46′ N. lat., to cover the portion of the stock occurring off Oregon north of Cape Falcon (the 3% adjustment is based on historical catch distribution). The resulting OFL for the area south of 46°16′ N. lat. is 1,176 mt. The ABC of 1,124 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The 2015 ACL is 1,000 mt, which maintains the constant catch strategy designed to keep the stock above its target biomass of B40%. 1 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate EFP catch, resulting in a fishery HG of 999 mt. The black rockfish ACL, in the area south of 46°16′ N. lat. (Columbia River), is subdivided with separate HGs for waters off Oregon (579 mt/58 percent) and for waters off California (420 mt/42 percent). l Black rockfish north (Washington). A stock assessment was conducted for black rockfish north of 45°46′ N. lat. (Cape Falcon, Oregon) in 2007. The biomass in the north was estimated to be at 53 percent of its unfished biomass in 2007. The OFL from the assessed area is derived from the 2007 assessment using an FMSY harvest rate proxy of F50%. The resulting OFL for the area north of 46°16′ N. lat. is 421 mt and is 97 percent of the OFL from the assessed area based on the area distribution of historical catch. The ABC of 402 mt for the north is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC since the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. 14 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery, resulting in a fishery HG of 388 mt. m Cabezon (California). A cabezon stock assessment was conducted in 2009. The cabezon spawning biomass in waters off California was estimated to be at 48.3 percent of its unfished biomass in 2009. The OFL of 161 mt is calculated using an FMSY proxy of F45%. The ABC of 154 mt is based on a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. There are no deductions from the ACL so the fishery HG is equal to the ACL of 154 mt. n Cabezon (Oregon). A cabezon stock assessment was conducted in 2009. The cabezon spawning biomass in waters off Oregon was estimated to be at 52 percent of its unfished biomass in 2009. The OFL of 49 mt is calculated using an FMSY proxy of F45%. The ABC of 47 mt is based on a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 species. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. There are no deductions from the ACL so the fishery HG is also equal to the ACL of 47 mt. o California scorpionfish was assessed in 2005 and was estimated to be at 79.8 percent of its unfished biomass in 2005. The OFL of 119 mt is projected in the 2005 assessment using an FMSY harvest rate proxy of F50%. The ABC of 114 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. 2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery, resulting in a fishery HG of 112 mt. p Chilipepper. The coastwide chilipepper stock was assessed in 2007 and estimated to be at 70 percent of its unfished biomass in 2006. Chilipepper are managed with stock-specific harvest specifications south of 40°10 N. lat. and within the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex north of 40°10′ N. lat. Projected OFLs are stratified north and south of 40°10′ N. lat. based on the average 1998-2008 assessed area catch, which is 93 percent for the area south of 40°10′ N. lat. and 7 percent for the area north of 40°10′ N. lat. The OFL of 1,703 mt for the area south of 40°10′ N. lat. is projected in the 2007 assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 1,628 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. 24 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (5 mt), EFP fishing (10 mt), and research catch (9 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,604 mt. q Dover sole. A 2011 Dover sole assessment estimated the stock to be at 83.7 percent of its unfished biomass in 2011. The OFL of 66,871 mt is projected in the 2011 stock assessment using an FMSY proxy of F30%. The ABC of 63,929 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL could be set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B25%. However, the ACL of 50,000 mt is set at a level below the ABC and higher than the maximum historical landed catch. 1,594 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (1,497 mt), the incidental open access fishery (55 mt), and research catch (41.9 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 48,406 mt. r English sole. A 2013 stock assessment was conducted, which estimated the stock to be at 88 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. The OFL of 10,792 mt is projected in the 2013 assessment using an FMSY proxy of F30%. The ABC of 9,853 mt is an 8.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.45) as it is a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B25%. 213 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (200 mt), the incidental open access fishery (7 mt) and research catch (5.8 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 9,640 mt. s Lingcod north. A lingcod stock assessment was conducted in 2009. The lingcod spawning biomass off Washington and Oregon was estimated to be at 62 percent of its unfished biomass in 2009. The OFL for Washington and Oregon of 1,898 mt is calculated using an FMSY proxy of F45%. The OFL is re-apportioned by adding 48% of the OFL from California, resulting in an OFL of 3,010 mt for the area north of 40°10′ N. lat. The ABC of 2,830 mt is based on a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) for the area north of 42° N. lat. as it's a category 1 stock, and an 8.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.45) for the area between 42° N. lat. and 40°10′ N. lat. as it's a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC. 278 mt is deducted from the ACL for the Tribal fishery (250 mt), the incidental open access fishery (16 mt), EFP catch (0.5 mt) and research catch (11.7 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 2,552 mt. t Lingcod south. A lingcod stock assessment was conducted in 2009. The lingcod spawning biomass off California was estimated to be at 74 percent of its unfished biomass in 2009. The OFL for California of 2,317 mt is projected in the assessment using an FMSY proxy of F45%. The OFL is re-apportioned by subtracting 48% of the OFL, resulting in an OFL of 1,205 mt for the area south of 40°10′ N. lat. The ABC of 1,004 mt is based on a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC since the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. 9 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (7 mt), EFP fishing (1 mt), and research catch (1.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 995 mt. u Longnose skate. A stock assessment was conducted in 2007 and the stock was estimated to be at 66 percent of its unfished biomass. The OFL of 2,449 mt is derived from the 2007 stock assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 2,341 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL of 2,000 mt is a fixed harvest level that provides greater access to the stock and is less than the ABC. 73 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (56 mt), incidental open access fishery (3.8 mt), and research catch (13.2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,927 mt. v Longspine thornyhead. A 2013 longspine thornyhead coastwide stock assessment estimated the stock to be at 75 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. A coastwide OFL of 5,007 mt is projected in the 2013 stock assessment using an F50% FMSY proxy. The ABC of 4,171 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. For the portion of the stock that is north of 34°27′ N. lat., the ACL is 3,170 mt, and is 76 percent of the coastwide ABC based on the average swept-area biomass estimates (2003-2012) from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey. 47 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (30 mt), the incidental open access fishery (3 mt), and research catch (13.5 mt) resulting in a fishery HG of 3,124 mt. For that portion of the stock south of 34°27′ N. lat. the ACL is 1,001 mt and is 24 percent of the coastwide ABC based on the average swept-area biomass estimates (2003-2012) from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey. 3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (2 mt), and research catch (1 mt) resulting in a fishery HG of 998 mt. w Pacific cod. The 3,200 mt OFL is based on the maximum level of historic landings. The ABC of 2,221 mt is a 30.6 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=1.44/P*=0.40) as it's a category 3 stock. The 1,600 mt ACL is the OFL reduced by 50 percent as a precautionary adjustment. 509 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (500 mt), research catch (7 mt), and the incidental open access fishery (2.0 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,091 mt. x Pacific whiting. The coastwide stock assessment was conducted in 2015 and estimated the stock to be at 74 percent of its unfished biomass. The 2015 OFL of 804,576 mt is based on the 2015 assessment with an F40% FMSY proxy. The 2015 coastwide, unadjusted Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 383,365 mt is based on the 2015 stock assessment. Consistent with the provisions of the Pacific Hake/Whiting Agreement, up to 15 percent of each party's unadjusted 2014 TAC (41,842 mt for the U.S. and 14,793 mt for Canada) is added to the 2015 unadjusted TAC, resulting in an adjusted coastwide 2015 TAC of 440,000 mt. The U.S. TAC is 73.88 percent of the coastwide TAC. The U.S. adjusted 2015 TAC is 325,072 mt. From the adjusted U.S. TAC, 56,888 mt is deducted to accommodate the Tribal fishery, and 1,500 mt is deducted to accommodate research and bycatch in other fisheries, resulting in a fishery HG of 266,684 mt. The TAC for Pacific whiting is established under the provisions of the Pacific Hake/Whiting Agreement with Canada and the Pacific Whiting Act of 2006, 16 U.S.C. 7001-2010, and the international exception applies. Therefore, no ABC or ACL values are provided for Pacific whiting. y Sablefish north. A coastwide sablefish stock assessment was conducted in 2011. The coastwide sablefish biomass was estimated to be at 33 percent of its unfished biomass in 2011. The coastwide OFL of 7,857 mt is projected in the 2011 stock assessment using an FMSY proxy of F45%. The ABC of 7,173 mt is an 8.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.40). The 40-10 adjustment is applied to the ABC to derive a coastwide ACL value because the stock is in the precautionary zone. This coastwide ACL value is not specified in regulations. The coastwide ACL value is apportioned north and south of 36° N. lat., using the 2003-2010 average estimated swept area biomass from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey, with 73.6 percent apportioned north of 36° N. lat. and 26.4 percent apportioned south of 36° N. lat. The northern ACL is 4,793 mt and is reduced by 479 mt for the tribal allocation (10 percent of the ACL north of 36° N. lat.). The 479 mt Tribal allocation is reduced by 1.6 percent to account for discard mortality. Detailed sablefish allocations are shown in Table 1c. z Sablefish south. The ACL for the area south of 36° N. lat. is 1,719 mt (26.4 percent of the calculated coastwide ACL value). 5 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (2 mt) and research catch (3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,714 mt. aa Shortbelly rockfish. A non-quantitative shortbelly rockfish assessment was conducted in 2007. The spawning stock biomass of shortbelly rockfish was estimated to be 67 percent of its unfished biomass in 2005. The OFL of 6,950 mt is based on the estimated MSY in the 2007 stock assessment. The ABC of 5,789 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction of the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. The 500 mt ACL is set to accommodate incidental catch when fishing for co-occurring healthy stocks and in recognition of the stock's importance as a forage species in the California Current ecosystem. 2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate research catch, resulting in a fishery HG of 498 mt. bb Shortspine thornyhead. A 2013 coastwide shortspine thornyhead stock assessment estimated the stock to be at 74.2 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. A coastwide OFL of 3,203 mt is projected in the 2013 stock assessment using an F50% FMSY proxy. The coastwide ABC of 2,668 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. For the portion of the stock that is north of 34°27′ N. lat., the ACL is 1,745 mt. The northern ACL is 65.4 percent of the coastwide ABC based on the average swept-area biomass estimates (2003-2012) from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey. 59 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (50 mt), the incidental open access fishery (2 mt), and research catch (7 mt) resulting in a fishery HG of 1,686 mt for the area north of 34°27′ N. lat. For that portion of the stock south of 34°27′ N. lat. the ACL is 923 mt. The southern ACL is 35.6 percent of the coastwide ABC based on the average swept-area biomass estimates (2003-2012) from the NMFS NWFSC trawl survey. 42 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (41 mt) and research catch (1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 881 mt for the area south of 34°27′ N. lat. cc Spiny dogfish. A coastwide spiny dogfish stock assessment was conducted in 2011. The coastwide spiny dogfish biomass was estimated to be at 63 percent of its unfished biomass in 2011. The coastwide OFL of 2,523 mt is derived from the 2011 assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The coastwide ABC of 2,101 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. 338 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (275 mt), the incidental open access fishery (49.5 mt), EFP catch (1 mt), and research catch (12.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,763 mt. dd Splitnose rockfish. A splitnose rockfish coastwide assessment was conducted in 2009 that estimated the stock to be at 66 percent of its unfished biomass in 2009. Splitnose rockfish in the north is managed in the Minor Slope Rockfish complex and with species-specific harvest specifications south of 40°10′ N. lat. The coastwide OFL is projected in the 2009 assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The coastwide OFL is apportioned north and south of 40°10′ N. lat. based on the average 1916-2008 assessed area catch resulting in 64.2 percent of the coastwide OFL apportioned south of 40°10′ N. lat., and 35.8 percent apportioned for the contribution of splitnose rockfish to the northern Minor Slope Rockfish complex. The southern OFL of 1,794 mt results from the apportionment described above. The southern ABC of 1,715 mt is a 4.4 percent reduction from the southern OFL (σ=0.36/P*=0.45) as it's a category 1 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is estimated to be above its target biomass of B40%. 10.5 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate research catch (9 mt) and EFP catch (1.5 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,705 mt. ee Starry Flounder. The stock was assessed in 2005 and was estimated to be above 40 percent of its unfished biomass in 2005 (44 percent in Washington and Oregon, and 62 percent in California). The coastwide OFL of 1,841 mt is derived from the 2005 assessment using an FMSY proxy of F30%. The ABC of 1,534 mt is a 16.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.40) as it's a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is estimated to be above its target biomass of B25%. 10.3 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (2 mt), and the incidental open access fishery (8.3 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,524 mt. ff Widow rockfish. The widow rockfish stock was assessed in 2011 and was estimated to be at 51.1 percent of its unfished biomass in 2011. The OFL of 4,137 mt is projected in the 2011 stock assessment using an F50% FMSY proxy. The ABC of 3,929 mt is a 5 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.41/P*=0.45). A unique sigma of 0.41 was calculated for widow rockfish since the variance in estimated biomass was greater than the 0.36 used as a proxy for other category 1 stocks. The ACL could be set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. However, the ACL of 2,000 mt is less than the ABC due to high uncertainty in estimated biomass, yet this level of allowable harvest will allow access to healthy co-occurring species, such as yellowtail rockfish. 120.2 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (100 mt), the incidental open access fishery (3.3 mt), EFP catch (9 mt), and research catch (7.9 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,880 mt. gg Yellowtail rockfish. A 2013 yellowtail rockfish stock assessment was conducted for the portion of the population north of 40°10′ N. lat. The estimated stock depletion is 69 percent of its unfished biomass in 2013. The OFL of 7,218 mt is projected in the 2013 stock assessment using an FMSY proxy of F50%. The ABC of 6,590 mt is an 8.7 percent reduction from the OFL (σ=0.72/P*=0.45) as it is a category 2 stock. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because the stock is above its target biomass of B40%. 1,029.6 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (1,000 mt), the incidental open access fishery (3 mt), EFP catch (10 mt), and research catch (16.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 5,560 mt. hh Minor Nearshore Rockfish north. The OFL for Minor Nearshore Rockfish north of 40°10′ N. lat. of 88 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for the component species managed in the complex. The ABCs for the minor rockfish complexes are based on a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., blue rockfish in California, brown rockfish, China rockfish, and copper rockfish) and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.45. The resulting ABC of 77 mt is the summed contribution of the ABCs for the component species. The ACL of 69 mt is the sum of contributing ABCs of healthy assessed stocks and unassessed stocks plus the ACL contributions for blue rockfish in California and China rockfish where the 40-10 adjustment was applied to the ABC contributions for these two stocks, because those stocks are in the precautionary zone. No deductions are made to the ACL, thus the fishery HG is equal to the ACL, which is 69 mt. Between 40°10′ N. lat. and 42° N. lat. the Minor Nearshore Rockfish complex north has a harvest guideline of 23.7 mt. Blue rockfish south of 42° N. lat. has a species-specific HG, described in footnote kk/. ii Minor Shelf Rockfish north. The OFL for Minor Shelf Rockfish north of 40°10′ N. lat. of 2,209 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for the component species within the complex. The ABCs for the minor rockfish complexes are based on a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., greenspotted rockfish between 40°10′ and 42° N. lat. and greenstriped rockfish) and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.45. The resulting ABC of 1,944 mt is the summed contribution of the ABCs for the component species. The ACL of 1,944 mt is the sum of contributing ABCs of healthy assessed stocks and unassessed stocks, plus the ACL contribution of greenspotted rockfish in California where the 40-10 adjustment was applied to the ABC contribution because the stock is in the precautionary zone (the ACL is slightly less than the ABC but rounds to the ABC value). 72 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (30 mt), the incidental open access fishery (26 mt), EFP catch (3 mt), and research catch (13.4 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,872 mt. jj Minor Slope Rockfish north. The OFL for Minor Slope Rockfish north of 40°10′ N. lat. of 1,831 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for the component species within the complex. The ABCs for the Minor Slope Rockfish complexes are based on a sigma value of 0.39 for aurora rockfish, a sigma value of 0.36 for other category 1 stocks (i.e., splitnose rockfish), a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., rougheye rockfish, blackspotted rockfish and sharpchin rockfish), and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.45. A unique sigma of 0.39 was calculated for aurora rockfish since the variance in estimated spawning biomass was greater than the 0.36 used as a proxy for other category 1 stocks. The resulting ABC of 1,693 mt is the summed contribution of the ABCs for the component species. The ACL is set equal to the ABC because all the assessed component stocks are above the target biomass of B40%. 64 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (36 mt), the incidental open access fishery (19 mt), EFP catch (1 mt), and research catch (8.1 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,629 mt. kk Minor Nearshore Rockfish south. The OFL for the Minor Nearshore Rockfish complex south of 40°10′ N. lat. of 1,313 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for the component species within the complex. The ABC for the southern Minor Nearshore Rockfish complex is based on a sigma value of 0.36 for category 1 stocks (i.e., gopher rockfish north of 34°27′ N. lat.), a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., blue rockfish north of 34°27′ N. lat., brown rockfish, China rockfish, and copper rockfish), and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.45. The resulting ABC of 1,169 mt is the summed contribution of the ABCs for the component species. The ACL of 1,114 mt is the sum of contributing ABCs of healthy assessed stocks and unassessed stocks, plus the ACL contribution for blue rockfish north of 34°27′ N. lat. where the 40-10 adjustment was applied to the ABC contribution for this stock because it is in the precautionary zone. 4 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (1.4 mt) and research catch (2.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,110 mt. Blue rockfish south of 42° N. lat. has a species-specific HG set equal to the 40-10-adjusted ACL for the portion of the stock north of 34°27′ N lat. (133.6 mt) plus the ABC contribution for the unassessed portion of the stock south of 34°27′ N lat. (60.8 mt). The California (i.e., south of 42° N. lat.) blue rockfish HG is 194.4 mt. ll Minor Shelf Rockfish south. The OFL for the Minor Shelf Rockfish complex south of 40°10′ N. lat. of 1,918 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for the component species within the complex. The ABCs for the southern Minor Shelf Rockfish complex is based on a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., greenspotted and greenstriped rockfish) and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.45. The resulting ABC of 1,625 mt is the summed contribution of the ABCs for the component species. The ACL of 1,624 mt is the sum of contributing ABCs of healthy assessed stocks and unassessed stocks, plus the ACL contribution of greenspotted rockfish in California where the 40-10 adjustment was applied to the ABC contribution for this stock because it is in the precautionary zone. 49 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (9 mt), EFP catch (30 mt), and research catch (9.6 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 1,575 mt. mm Minor Slope Rockfish south. The OFL for the Minor Slope Rockfish complex south of 40°10′ N. lat. of 813 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for the component species within the complex. The ABC for the southern Minor Slope Rockfish complex is based on a sigma value of 0.39 for aurora rockfish, a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., blackgill rockfish, rougheye rockfish, blackspotted rockfish, and sharpchin rockfish), and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.45. A unique sigma of 0.39 was calculated for aurora rockfish since the variance in estimated biomass was greater than the 0.36 used as a proxy for other category 1 stocks. The resulting ABC of 705 mt is the summed contribution of the ABCs for the component species. The ACL of 693 mt is the sum of contributing ABCs of healthy assessed stocks and unassessed stocks, plus the ACL contribution of blackgill rockfish where the 40-10 adjustment was applied to the ABC contribution for this stock because it is in the precautionary zone. 20 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the incidental open access fishery (17 mt), EFP catch (1 mt), and research catch (2 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 673 mt. Blackgill rockfish has a species-specific HG set equal to the species' contribution to 40-10-adjusted ACL. The blackgill rockfish HG is 114 mt. nn Other Flatfish. The Other Flatfish complex is comprised of flatfish species managed in the PCGFMP that are not managed with species-specific OFLs/ABCs/ACLs. Most of the species in the Other Flatfish complex are unassessed and include butter sole, curlfin sole, flathead sole, Pacific sanddab (assessed in 2013 but the assessment results were too uncertain to inform harvest specifications), rock sole, sand sole, and rex sole (assessed in 2013). The Other Flatfish OFL of 11,453 mt is based on the sum of the OFL contributions of the component stocks. The ABC of 8,749 mt is based on a sigma value of 0.72 for category 2 stocks (i.e., rex sole) and a sigma value of 1.44 for category 3 stocks (all others) with a P* of 0.40. The ACL is set equal to the ABC since all of the assessed stocks (i.e., Pacific sanddabs and rex sole) were above their target biomass of B25%. 204 mt is deducted from the ACL to accommodate the Tribal fishery (60 mt), the incidental open access fishery (125 mt), and research catch (19 mt), resulting in a fishery HG of 8,545 mt. oo Other Fish. The Other Fish complex is comprised of kelp greenling coastwide, cabezon off Washington, and leopard shark coastwide. These species are unassessed. The OFL of 291 mt is the sum of the OFL contributions for kelp greenling off California (the SSC has not approved methods for calculating the OFL contributions for kelp greenling off Oregon and Washington), cabezon off Washington, and leopard shark coastwide. The ABC of 242 mt is the sum of ABC contributions for kelp greenling off California, cabezon off Washington and leopard shark coastwide calculated by applying a P* of 0.45 and a sigma of 1.44 to the OFL contributions for those stocks. The ACL is set equal to the ABC. There are no deductions from the ACL so the fishery HG is equal to the ACL of 242 mt. Table 1b to Part 660, Subpart C—2015, Allocations by Species or Species Group [Weight in metric tons] Species Area Fishery HG or ACT Trawl Percent Mt Non-trawl Percent Mt BOCACCIO a S of 40°10′ N. lat. 340.7 N/A 81.9 N/A 258.8 CANARY ROCKFISH a b Coastwide 106.8 N/A 56.9 N/A 49.9 COWCOD a c S of 40°10′ N. lat. 4 N/A 1.4 N/A 2.6 DARKBLOTCHED ROCKFISH d Coastwide 317.2 95 301.3 5 15.9 PACIFIC OCEAN PERCH e N of 40°10′ N. lat. 143 95 135.9 5 7.2 PETRALE SOLE a Coastwide 2,579.40 N/A 2,544.4 N/A 35 YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH a Coastwide 12.2 N/A 1 N/A 11.2 Arrowtooth flounder Coastwide 3,410 95 3,239 5 170 Chilipepper S of 40°10′ N. lat. 1,604 75 1,203 25 401 Dover sole Coastwide 48,406 95 45,986 5 2,420 English sole Coastwide 9,640 95 9,158 5 482 Lingcod N of 40°10′ N. lat. 2,552 45 1,148 55 1,404 Lingcod S. of 40°10′ N. lat. 995 45 448 55 547 Longnose skate a Coastwide 1,927 90 1,734 10 193 Longspine thornyhead N of 34°27′ N. lat. 3,124 95 2,967 5 156 Pacific cod Coastwide 1,091 95 1,036 5 55 Pacific whiting Coastside 266,684 100 266,684 0 0 Sablefish N of 36° N. lat. 0 See Table 1c Sablefish S of 36° N. lat. 1,714 42 720 58 994 Shortspine thornyhead N of 34°27′ N. lat. 1,686 95 1,601 5 84 Shortspine thornyhead S of 34°27′ N. lat. 881 N/A 50 N/A 831 Splitnose S of 40°10′ N. lat. 1,705 95 1,619 5 85 Starry flounder Coastwide 1,524 50 762 50 762 Widow rockfish f Coastwide 1,880 91 1,711 9 169 Yellowtail rockfish N of 40°10′ N. lat. 5,560 88 4,893 12 667 Minor Shelf Rockfish complex a N of 40°10′ N. lat. 1,872 60.20 1,127 39.8 745 Minor Shelf Rockfish complex a S of 40°10′ N. lat. 1,575 12.20 192 87.8 1,383 Minor Slope Rockfish complex N of 40°10′ N. lat. 1,629 81 1,319 19 309 Minor Slope Rockfish complex S of 40°10′ N. lat. 673 63 424 37 249 Other Flatfish complex Coastwide 8,545 90 7,691 10 855 a Allocations decided through the biennial specification process. b 13.7 mt of the total trawl allocation of canary rockfish is allocated to the at-sea whiting fisheries, as follows: 5.7 mt for the mothership fishery, and 8.0 mt for the catcher/processor fishery. c The cowcod fishery harvest guideline is further reduced to an ACT of 4.0 mt. d Consistent with regulations at § 660.55(c), 9 percent (27.1 mt) of the total trawl allocation for darkblotched rockfish is allocated to the whiting fisheries, as follows: 11.4 mt for the shorebased IFQ fishery, 6.5 mt for the mothership fishery, and 9.2 mt for the catcher/processor fishery. The amounts available to the mothership and catcher/processor fisheries were each raised by 3.5 mt, to 10 mt for the mothership fishery and to 12.7 mt for the catcher/processor fishery, by distributing 7.0 mt of the 18.4 mt initially deducted from the ACL to account for mortality in the incidental open access fishery, consistent with 660.60(c)(3)(ii). The tonnage calculated here for the whiting portion of the shorebased IFQ fishery contributes to the total shorebased trawl allocation, which is found at 660.140(d)(1)(ii)(D). e Consistent with regulations at § 660.55(c), 30 mt of the total trawl allocation for POP is allocated to the whiting fisheries, as follows: 12.6 mt for the shorebased IFQ fishery, 7.2 mt for the mothership fishery, and 10.2 mt for the catcher/processor fishery. The tonnage calculated here for the whiting portion of the shorebased IFQ fishery contributes to the total shorebased trawl allocation, which is found at 660.140(d)(1)(ii)(D). f Consistent with regulations at § 660.55(c), 500 mt of the total trawl allocation for widow rockfish is allocated to the whiting fisheries, as follows: 210 mt for the shorebased IFQ fishery, 120 mt for the mothership fishery, and 170 mt for the catcher/processor fishery. The tonnage calculated here for the whiting portion of the shorebased IFQ fishery contributes to the total shorebased trawl allocation, which is found at 660.140(d)(1)(ii)(D).
    [FR Doc. 2015-27995 Filed 10-29-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 212 Tuesday, November 3, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 2 CFR Part 3474 [Docket ID ED-2015-OS-0105] RIN 1894-AA07 Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Grant Programs AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Secretary proposes to amend the regulations regarding the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in order to require that all Department grantees awarded direct competitive grant funds openly license to the public all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds.

    These proposed changes would increase the Department's ability to be more strategic with limited resources, broadening the impact of its investments by allowing stakeholders, such as local educational agencies (LEAs), State educational agencies (SEAs), institutions of higher education (IHEs), and other entities, to benefit from these investments, even if they are not themselves recipients of Department funds. An open licensing requirement would also allow the Department to sustain innovations beyond the grant period by encouraging subject matter experts and users to adapt, update, and build upon grant products, stimulating quality and innovation in the development of educational resources. Finally, the proposed requirement would promote equity and access to Department-funded technology and materials and increase transparency and accountability for the Department and its grantees.

    DATES:

    We must receive your comments on or before December 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments by fax or by email. Please submit your comments only one time, in order to ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under the help tab at “How To Use Regulations.gov.”

    Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you mail or deliver your comments about the proposed regulations, address them to Sharon Leu, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 6W252, Washington, DC 20202-5900.

    Privacy Note: The Department's policy for comments received from members of the public is to make these submissions 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:

    Sharon Leu, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., room 6W252, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 453-5646 or by email: [email protected]

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or 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 these proposed regulations. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the final regulations, we urge you to identify clearly the specific section or sections of the proposed regulations that each of your comments addresses and to arrange your comments in the same order as the proposed regulations.

    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 these proposed regulations. Please let us know of any ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the Department's programs and activities.

    Specific Issues Open for Comment:

    In addition to your general comments, we are particularly interested in your feedback on the following questions:

    • Should the Department require that copyrightable works be openly licensed prior to the end of the grant period as opposed to after the grant period is over? If yes, what impact would this have on the quality of the final product?

    • Should the Department include a requirement that grantees distribute copyrightable works created under a direct competitive grant program? If yes, what suggestions do you have on how the Department should implement such a requirement?

    • What further activities would increase public knowledge about the materials and resources that are created using the Department's grant funds and broaden their dissemination?

    • What technical assistance should the Department provide to grantees to promote broad dissemination of their grant-funded intellectual property?

    • What experiences do you have implementing requirements of open licensing policy with other Federal agencies? Please share your experiences with these different approaches, including lessons learned and recommendations that might be related to this document.

    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about these proposed regulations by accessing Regulations.gov. You may also inspect the comments, in person, in room 6W100, 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. 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 these proposed regulations. 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.

    Background

    The Department's regulations and policies related to copyrightable works created by Department grant funds have continually evolved with the goal of maximizing the dissemination of these works to the public.

    In regulations published in the Federal Register on April 3, 1980 (45 FR 22494, 22550), the Department implemented a new policy that allowed grantees to retain unlimited rights to copyright and royalty income. Simultaneously, the Department retained a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use, and to authorize others to use without cost, works created with Department grant funds for Federal Government purposes (45 FR 22593). The purpose of this regulation was to create a policy that was conducive to disseminating grant-funded works to the public that was consistent with provisions in OMB Circular A-110.

    After this final rule was promulgated, the Department thereafter amended part 80 on March 11, 1988 (53 FR 8034, 8071), and part 74 on July 6, 1994 (59 FR 34722, 34733-34), to incorporate this copyright policy. These provisions remained in effect until 2014, when the Department removed parts 74 and 80 from title 34 and adopted 2 CFR part 200 (79 FR 75871), including 200.315(b) which reflects the current policy. The 1988, 1994, and 2014 rulemakings did not substantively alter the policy.

    We believe that the wide variety of educational materials created through the Department's discretionary competitive grants should be shared more broadly with the public. Even though current policy allows the public to access grant-funded resources for use for Federal Government purposes by seeking permission from the Department, the public rarely requested access to these copyrighted materials, possibly due to administrative barriers, lack of clarity regarding the scope of Federal Government purposes, or lack of information about available products. We believe that removing barriers and clarifying usage rights to these products, including lesson plans, instructional plans, professional development tools, and other teaching and learning resources will benefit the Department's diverse stakeholders and will benefit teaching and learning. These include LEAs, SEAs, IHEs, students, nonprofit educational organizations, and others beyond direct grant recipients. The Department's goal remains to institute a policy that results in broadest and most effective dissemination of grant-funded works to the public, and therefore the Department is proposing to modify this policy to require, with minimal exceptions, that all copyrightable works created under a direct competitive grant program be openly licensed.

    Proposed Regulatory Changes 2 CFR Part 3474 Section 3474.20 Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Competitive Grant Programs

    Current Regulations: None.

    Proposed Regulations: Proposed § 3474.20 would establish an open licensing requirement for copyrightable works created using funds from direct competitive grant programs. Section 3474.20 would require that all Department grantees awarded direct competitive grant funds openly license to the public all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds. This requirement would apply to only new copyrightable materials created with Department grant funds and copyrightable modifications made to pre-existing content using Department grant funds awarded after the effective date of the final regulations.

    Accordingly, the proposed open licensing requirement would not apply to existing grants or existing copyrightable intellectual property. Additionally, the proposed regulations would not apply to grants that provide funding for general operating expenses, grants that provide support to individuals (e.g., scholarships, fellowships), or peer-reviewed research publications that arise from scientific research funded, either fully or partially, from grants awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Institute) that are already covered by the Institute's existing public access policy, found at http://ies.ed.gov/funding/researchaccess.asp. Moreover, the Secretary would retain authority pursuant to 2 CFR 3474.5 and 2 CFR 200.102 to authorize exceptions to the open licensing requirement.

    These proposed regulations would allow the public to access and use copyrightable intellectual property created with direct competitive grant funds for any purpose, provided that the user gives attribution to the designated authors or copyright holders of the intellectual property.

    Reasons: We believe that the wide variety of educational materials created through the Department's direct competitive grants should be shared broadly with the public. These products, including lesson plans, instructional plans, professional development tools, and other teaching and learning resources provide benefit to LEAs, SEAs, IHEs, nonprofit educational organizations, and others beyond direct competitive grant recipients. Current Department practice, in combination with Federal grant regulations and copyright law, may present unnecessary barriers for the public to access these materials. Under current practice, Department grantees retain an “all rights reserved copyright,” allowing them to restrict reuse and redistribution of these materials, sometimes resulting in significant cost or administrative burden to the general public for their access. In addition, in general, the Department currently exercises its Federal purpose license in § 200.315(b) only in rare cases where a grantee fails to implement its copyright or prices its product at an unacceptably high cost that educators cannot afford to pay. While the current practice helps make copyrightable work created by grantees more available to educators, we are concerned that the policy fails to make the materials more widely available to all educators, regardless of their resources. For example, in certain instances, grant-funded materials may only be commercially available, requiring the public to incur additional costs for their use. While the Department recognizes that commercial incentives can often encourage the development of high-quality materials, we believe that the public should have access to works created under a Department direct competitive grant with public funds at the lowest cost possible.

    To this end, the proposed regulation under § 3474.20, requires all Department grantees awarded direct competitive grant funds to openly license to the public all copyrightable intellectual property created with these funds. Open licensing would broaden the impact of ED investments, allowing LEAs, SEAs, IHEs, students, and others beyond direct grant recipients to benefit from the Department's investment. These stakeholders would have free access to and use of all materials produced by grantees, without needing to seek permission from the copyright holder to access such resource for each instance of use or to create derivative works. We believe this access would accelerate innovation and improve quality in education by enabling others to test and build upon Department-funded work, and by stimulating a market of derivative works. In addition, access to technology and high-quality materials would promote equity and especially benefit resource-poor stakeholders.

    This requirement would also increase the Department's ability to be more strategic with limited resources. For example, in some cases, dissemination of openly licensed materials could reduce the need to fund multiple duplicate projects. In other cases, it could encourage diversity and non-duplication in the types of projects receiving similar funding.

    We believe that an open licensing requirement would improve the quality of educational resources and sustain innovations beyond the grant period by encouraging subject matter experts and other users to build upon the grant products and enriching the grant-funded content. We also expect that an open licensing requirement would stimulate innovation in the development of educational resources by encouraging commercial adaptation and derivatives and supporting large-scale adoption of grant products, even after the grant period.

    We note that nothing in the proposed regulations would require a grantee to distribute work that a grantee would be required to openly license under proposed § 3474.20. In the Invitation to Comment section, we include specific questions to help inform us whether such a distribution requirement should be included in the final § 3474.20; or, alternatively, whether we should use non-regulatory approaches such as technical assistance and guidance to help facilitate distribution.

    Section 3474.1 Adoption of 2 CFR Part 200

    Current Regulations: Current § 3474.1 adopts 2 CFR part 200 but specifically excludes certain provisions from 2 CFR part 200 as being applicable under the Department's regulations.

    Proposed Regulations: Proposed § 3474.1 would include, among these exceptions, 2 CFR 200.315(b). However, in proposed § 3474.20(d), we have retained the Federal government's royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so, provided through § 200.315(b).

    Reasons: We propose to except § 200.315(b) from the Department's regulations because § 200.315(b) allows a non-Federal entity to copyright certain work developed under a Federal award, which is inconsistent with our proposed open licensing requirement. In order to have a consistent rule for how intellectual property developed with the Department's direct competitive grant funds is licensed, we need to add § 200.315(b) to the provisions within 2 CFR part 200 that are inapplicable under the Department's Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards regulations.

    We propose to retain the Federal government's royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so, in order to reserve the right to disseminate certain copyrightable intellectual property created with Department funds, if we determine that such action is the best way to make this content readily available. In the case of State administered or direct formula grant programs not covered by this proposed rule, the Department is exploring additional opportunities to expand dissemination of educational materials produced under those programs and to broaden dissemination of those materials to the public.

    Under some direct competitive grants, the Department funds the costs of general operating expenses or the costs to provide support to individuals such as through scholarships or fellowship programs. In these cases, the Department's funding covers expenditures incurred to engage in activities not directly associated with the production of products, even though products are sometimes created. The open licensing requirement would not apply to these grantees, though they are encouraged to consider whether an open license would be appropriate or useful.

    This open licensing requirement also does not apply to peer-reviewed research publications that arise from scientific research funded, either fully or partially, from grants awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences, since they are already covered by the Institute's existing public access policy.

    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 a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.

    We have also reviewed these regulations 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 regulations only on a reasoned determination that their benefits would justify their costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that these proposed regulations are 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 associated with this regulatory action are those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.

    Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The open licensing requirement will not impose significant costs on entities that receive assistance through the Department's direct competitive grant programs. Application, submission, and participation in a competitive discretionary grant program are voluntary. The costs of meeting the requirements will be paid for with program funds and therefore will not be a burden for grantees, including small entities. While there are no significant costs, in some limited circumstances, there may be some instances of lost revenue or added costs related to the loss of commercial benefit derived from exclusive copyrights.

    Under current regulations, grantees that create copyrightable works as part of a grant program retain unlimited rights to copyright and royalty income while the Department also retains a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use, and to authorize others to use without cost, works created with Department grant funds for Federal Government purposes. These rights are assigned to the grantee at the time of the grant award and no further action is necessary to designate these rights. Grantees may establish terms and conditions that permit use and re-use of their works to any member of the public, for each instance of use or for each created work.

    Proposed changes to the regulation would require that grantees openly license copyrightable works to enable the public to use the work without restriction, so long as they provide attribution to the grantee as the author of the works or the holder of the copyright and author, if different. While the type of license will differ depending on the type of work created, applying an open license to a grant product typically involves the addition of a brief license identification statement or insertion of a license icon. This could occur following the development of the product, at the same time that the disclaimer currently required under 34 CFR 75.620 is applied.

    In this context, the proposed regulations could reduce commercial incentives for an eligible entity to apply to participate in a discretionary grant program. For example, under some competitive grant programs, grant recipients have produced materials that were subsequently sold or licensed to third parties, such as publishing companies or others in the field. Although an open license does not preclude the grantee or any individual from developing commercial products and derivatives from the grant funded material, it does remove the competitive advantage that these grantees currently possess as the exclusive copyright holder. In addition, publishers and other third parties may incur loss of revenue since their commercial product will potentially compete with freely available versions of a similar product. We note, however, that based on the Department's program offices' past grantmaking experiences, relatively few grantees develop and market copyrighted content paid for with Department funds.

    However, the proposed regulations would result in significant benefits. The proposed policy would increase the Department's ability to be strategic with limited resources, encouraging diversity and non-duplication in the types of projects that receive funding. By encouraging subject matter experts and other users to build upon the grant products and enrich and update the content, this proposed regulation would ensure the quality and long-term sustainability of innovations created through grant funds.

    The proposed regulations would also broaden the impact of the Department's investments, enabling broader and more effective dissemination of grant-funded works to the public. Department stakeholders, such as LEAs, SEAs, IHEs, students, and others beyond direct grant recipients would be able to freely use and access the technology and high-quality materials, promoting equity and especially benefiting resource-poor stakeholders.

    For example, the Department's First in the World grant program currently requires grantees to openly license intellectual property. The online remediation tool being created by the Southern New Hampshire University under this grant program will help underprepared, underrepresented, and low-income working adults obtain a postsecondary credential and reduce the time to degree completion. Under the terms of the grant, the open license will allow any other IHE or adult education provider to use this tool to serve the working adults in its service areas, without incurring costs or duplicating efforts of development.

    Under the proposed open licensing requirement, stakeholders will be able to more easily access resources that are created by the many other competitive discretionary grant programs at the Department. For example, the Department grantees have created educational materials, assessments, and technical assistance that support the needs of various special populations. These include grants by the Department's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to create resources that support children, youth, and adults with disabilities. An open license would give broad permission for any member of the public to use, adapt, and widely redistribute the assistive technologies, resources for building inclusive communities, and training materials for specialized service personnel to the address particular needs of their own school or community, without the additional administrative burden of seeking permission from the grantee or copyright holder. Similarly, some grants by the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) support innovative approaches to literacy to promote reading skills. An open license on those professional development tools and reading resources would allow stakeholders and other members of the public to access and share resources to address the needs of the public beyond those known to the grantee or copyright holder.

    Clarity of the Regulations

    Executive Order 12866 and the Presidential memorandum “Plain Language in Government Writing” require each agency to write regulations that are easy to understand.

    The Secretary invites comments on how to make these proposed regulations easier to understand, including answers to questions such as the following:

    • Are the requirements in the proposed regulations clearly stated?

    • Do the proposed regulations contain technical terms or other wording that interferes with its clarity?

    • Does the format of the proposed regulations (grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce their clarity?

    • Would the proposed regulations be easier to understand if we divided them into more (but shorter) sections? (A “section” is preceded by the symbol “§ ” and a numbered heading; for example, § 3474.20 Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Competitive Grant Programs.)

    • Could the description of the proposed regulations in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this preamble be more helpful in making the proposed regulations easier to understand? If so, how?

    • What else could we do to make the proposed regulations easier to understand?

    To send any comments that concern how the Department could make these proposed regulations easier to understand, see the instructions in the ADDRESSES section.

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    This Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis presents an estimate of the effect on small entities of the proposed regulations. The U.S. Small Business Administration Size Standards define “for-profit institutions” as “small businesses” if they are independently owned and operated and not dominant in their field of operation with total annual revenue below $7,000,000, and defines “non-profit institutions” as small organizations if they are independently owned and operated and not dominant in their field of operation, or as small entities if they are institutions controlled by governmental entities with populations below 50,000. The Secretary certifies that these proposed regulations would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. We recognize that the proposed rule would eliminate the ability for a grantee to sell copyrighted content developed using the Department's funds. However, we do not believe many grantees would experience this potential loss of income, in part because relatively few grantees develop and market copyrighted content paid for with Department funds and in part because a grantee could still sell its openly licensed content under the proposed regulation. Additionally, there are other avenues of funding outside of the Department that can be pursued if a small entity is focused on profiting from the educational tools and resources it develops. Lastly, we believe that small entities as a whole may realize significant benefits from access to a vast array of openly licensed educational tools and resources under the proposed open-licensing rule. However, the Department acknowledges that it is difficult to quantify the impact of this proposed regulation on small entities and, therefore, the Secretary invites comments from such entities as to whether they believe the proposed changes would have a significant economic impact on them and, if so, requests evidence to support that belief.

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    These proposed regulations do not contain any information collection requirements.

    Intergovernmental Review

    These proposed regulations affect direct grant programs of the Department that are 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 these programs.

    Assessment of Educational Impact

    In accordance with section 411 of the General Education Provisions Act, 20 U.S.C. 1221e-4, the Secretary particularly requests comments on whether these proposed regulations would require transmission of information that any other agency or authority of the United States gathers or makes available.

    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 program 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.

    List of Subjects in 2 CFR Part 3474

    Accounting, Administrative practice and procedure, Adult education, Aged, Agriculture, American Samoa, Bilingual education, Blind, Business and industry, Civil rights, Colleges and universities, Communications, Community development, Community facilities, Copyright, Credit, Cultural exchange programs, Educational facilities, Educational research, Education, Education of disadvantaged, Education of individuals with disabilities, Educational study programs, Electric power, Electric power rates, Electric utilities, Elementary and secondary education, Energy conservation, Equal educational opportunity, Federally affected areas, Government contracts, Grant programs, Grant programs—agriculture, Grant programs—business and industry, Grant programs—communications, Grant programs—education, Grant programs—energy, Grant programs—health, Grant programs—housing and community development, Grant programs—social programs, Grant administration, Guam, Home improvement, Homeless, Hospitals, Housing, Human research subjects, Indians, Indians—education, Infants and children, Insurance, Intergovernmental relations, International organizations, Inventions and patents, Loan programs, Loan programs social programs, Loan programs—agriculture, Loan programs—business and industry, Loan programs—communications, Loan programs—energy, Loan programs—health, Loan programs—housing and community development, Manpower training programs, Migrant labor, Mortgage insurance, Nonprofit organizations, Northern Mariana Islands, Pacific Islands Trust Territories, Privacy, Renewable Energy, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rural areas, Scholarships and fellowships, School construction, Schools, Science and technology, Securities, Small businesses, State and local governments, Student aid, Teachers, Telecommunications, Telephone, Urban areas, Veterans, Virgin Islands, Vocational education, Vocational rehabilitation, Waste treatment and disposal, Water pollution control, Water resources, Water supply, Watersheds, Women.

    Dated: October 28, 2015. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary proposes to amend part 3474 of title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 3474—UNIFORM ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENTS, COST PRINCIPLES, AND AUDIT REQUIREMENTS FOR FEDERAL AWARDS. 1. The authority citation for part 3474 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1221e-3, 3474, and 2 CFR part 200, unless otherwise noted.

    § 3474.1 [Amended]
    2. Section 3474.1(a) is amended by removing “2 CFR 200.102(a) and 2 CFR 200.207(a)” and adding, in its place, “2 CFR 200.102(a), 200.207(a), and 200.315(b)”. 3. Add § 3474.20 to read as follows:
    § 3474.20 Open licensing requirement for direct competitive grant programs.

    For direct competitive grants awarded after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL REGULATIONS]:

    (a) A grantee that is awarded direct competitive grant funds must openly license to the public new copyrightable materials created in whole, or in part, with Department grant funds and copyrightable modifications made to pre-existing content using Department grant funds, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section. The license must be worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable, and must grant the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use, for any purposes, copyrightable intellectual property created with direct competitive grant funds, provided that the licensee gives attribution to the designated authors of the intellectual property. The licensee must also include the statement of attribution and disclaimer in 34 CFR 75.620(b).

    (b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, a grantee that is awarded direct competitive grant funds must openly license all computer software source code developed or created with these grant funds under an intellectual property license that allows the public to freely use and build upon computer source code created or developed with these grant funds.

    (c) The requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section do not apply to—

    (1) Grants that provide funding for general operating expenses;

    (2) Grants that provide support to individuals (e.g., scholarships, fellowships); or

    (3) Peer-reviewed research publications that arise from scientific research funded, either fully or partially, from grants awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences that are already covered by the Institute's public access policy found at http://ies.ed.gov/funding/researchaccess.asp.

    (d) The Department reserves a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so.

    [FR Doc. 2015-27930 Filed 10-29-15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2015-0271] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; New River, Fort Lauderdale, FL AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard proposes to change the operating schedule that governs the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Railroad Bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL. This proposed rule implements requirements for the operator designed to ensure that adequate notice of bridge closure times are available to the waterway traffic. It also changes the on demand schedule to an operating regulation requiring the bridge to be open at least 60 minutes in every 2 hour period. Modifying the bridge operating schedule will allow the bridge owner to operate the bridge remotely with assistance from the onsite bridge tender.

    DATES:

    Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before December 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2015-0271 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further instructions on submitting comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this proposed rule, call or email Mr. Rod Elkins with the Coast Guard; telephone 305-415-6989, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Acronyms CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking § Section Symbol U.S.C. United States Code FEC Florida East Coast Railway A. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    We view public participation as essential to effective rulemaking, and will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. Your comment can help shape the outcome of this rulemaking. If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking, indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation.

    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using http://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions. Documents mentioned in this notice, and all public comments, are in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that Web site's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.

    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, you may review a Privacy Act notice regarding the Federal Docket Management System in the March 24, 2005, issue of the Federal Register (70 FR 15086).

    B. Regulatory History and Information

    From May 18 through October 16, 2015, a test deviation was in effect for the FEC Railroad Bridge (80 FR 28184). The comment period ended on 17 August 2015. There were eight comments received from the test deviation. Of these comments, three comments expressed opposition to a future rail project, which we would like to emphasize, is not the focus of this proposed regulation. One comment opposed the proposed modification and recommended a schedule of four 15 minute openings every two hours. Based on input from the bridge owner and input gathered at Coast Guard public meetings, the Coast Guard determined that this is not a viable option because trains would have considerable difficulty coordinating passage across the bridge with this schedule. Additionally, it would not benefit waterway users, because the proposed regulation provides for the same minimum opening times in a two hour period, and it is more flexible because the bridge will remain open when trains are not crossing. The remaining four comments supported the proposed modification, but recommended minimum time limits to bridge openings. A temporary deviation was conducted and waterway users were satisfied with the operating schedule implemented, but requested a minimum time limit of 15 minutes for each opening. We refrained from specifying such limits because these limits would require the bridge to remain open for 15 minutes or more when less time may be adequate for vessel traffic to pass. For example, if the bridge was closed for a train crossing and another train was crossing five minutes later, the bridge would remain closed until the later train passed. Establishing a minimum amount of time for the bridge to remain open could unduly restrict the tender from conducting a short duration opening to allow a vessel through. The Coast Guard anticipates the proposed regulation will meet or exceed the recommended minimum time limits while allowing for more flexibility to accommodate vessel traffic.

    One of the eight comments requested a public meeting. A public meeting was held on 12 November 2014, and the proposed schedule modification was developed from the input received from the public meeting.

    C. Basis and Purpose

    Presently, in accordance with 33 CFR 117.5, the FEC Railroad Bridge is required to open on signal for the passage of vessels.

    Prior to implementing a test deviation on May 18, 2015, the Bridge operated without a tender or monitor. An automated system closed the Bridge when a train approached and reopened the Bridge when a train cleared. The Coast Guard received multiple complaints from mariners because there was no means of obtaining notice of bridge closure times or potential closure duration. The proposed schedule, discussed further below, balances the reasonable needs of waterway traffic on the New River with train traffic moving through condensed population areas such as Ft. Lauderdale where train schedules at the crossings cannot be precisely timed because of delays caused by train car loading and vehicular traffic crossing the track.

    Also, train bridges must be in the down position well in advance of the train's arrival to ensure that it can safely navigate the bridge or stop if there are problems with the bridge. The purpose of this proposed regulation is to improve navigation on the New River through increased communications and closure time limits.

    The FEC Railroad Bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL is a single leaf bascule bridge. It has a vertical clearance of 4 feet at mean high water in the closed position and horizontal clearance of 60 feet. Traffic on the waterway includes both commercial and recreational vessels.

    D. Discussion of Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule is for the draw of the FEC Railroad Bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL, to operate as follows:

    (a) The bridge shall be tended constantly.

    (b) The bridge tender will utilize a VHF-FM radio to communicate on channels 9 and 16 and may be contacted by telephone at 305-889-5572.

    (c) Signs will be posted displaying VHF radio contact information and telephone numbers for the bridge tender and dispatch. A countdown clock giving notice of the time remaining before bridge closure shall be posted at the bridge site and visible for maritime traffic.

    (d) A bridge log will be maintained including, at a minimum, bridge opening and closing times.

    (e) When the draw is in the fully open position, green lights will be displayed to indicate that vessels may pass.

    (f) When a train approaches, the lights flash red and a horn starts four blasts, pauses, and then continues four blasts, then the draw lowers and locks.

    (g) After the train has cleared the bridge, the draw opens and the lights turn to green.

    (h) The bridge shall not be closed more than 60 minutes combined for any 120 minute time period beginning at 12:01 a.m. each day.

    (i) The bridge shall remain open to maritime traffic when trains are not crossing.

    E. Regulatory Analyses

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

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review

    This proposed rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders.

    This regulatory action is not a significant regulatory action because it will still allow vessels to pass through the bridge at more consistant intervals while taking into account the reasonable needs of other modes of transportation.

    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 proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    This proposed rule would affect the following entities, some of which might be small entities: the owners or operators of vessels needing to transit the bridge may experience delays when the bridge is closed to allow train crossings. Vessels will still be allowed to transit this waterway but at more consistent and shorter intervals. This change in operating schedule will still meet the reasonable needs of navigation while taking into account other modes of transportation.

    If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this rule would have a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and how and to what degree this rule would economically affect it.

    3. Assistance for Small Entities

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this proposed rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

    4. Collection of Information

    This proposed rule would call for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520.).

    5. Federalism

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

    6. Protest Activities

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

    7. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    8. Taking of Private Property

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

    9. Civil Justice Reform

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

    10. Protection of Children

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

    11. Indian Tribal Governments

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

    12. Energy Effects

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

    13. Technical Standards

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

    14. Environment

    We have analyzed this proposed rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guides the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This proposed rule simply promulgates the operating regulations or procedures for drawbridges. This rule is categorically excluded, under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of the Instruction.

    Under figure 2-1, paragraph (32)(e), of the Instruction, an environmental analysis checklist and a categorical exclusion determination are not required for this rule. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this proposed rule

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

    Bridges.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 117 as follows:

    PART 117—DRAWBRIDGE OPERATION REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 117 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 499; 33 CFR 1.05-1; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    2. In § 117.313, revise paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) to read as follows:

    (c) The following requirements apply to the Florida East Coast Railway Railroad Bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL:

    1. The bridge shall be constantly tended.

    2. The bridge tender will utilize a VHF-FM radio to communicate on channels 9 and 16 and may be contacted by telephone at 305-889-5572.

    3. Signs will be posted displaying VHF radio contact information and telephone numbers for the bridge tender and dispatch. A countdown clock giving notice of time remaining before bridge closure shall remain at the bridge site and must be visible for maritime traffic.

    4. A bridge log will be maintained including, at a minimum, bridge opening and closing times.

    5. When the draw is in the fully open position, green lights will be displayed to indicate that vessels may pass.

    6. When a train approaches, the lights go to flashing red and a horn starts four blasts, pauses, and then continues four blasts then the draw lowers and locks.

    7. After the train has cleared the bridge, the draw opens and the lights return to green.

    8. The bridge shall not be closed more than 60 minutes combined for any 120 minute time period beginning at 12:01 a.m. each day.

    9. The bridge shall remain open to maritime traffic when trains are not crossing.

    (d) Reserved

    (e) The draw of the Marshal (Seventh Avenue) bridge, mile 2.7 at Fort Lauderdale shall open on signal; except that, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, the draw need not open. Public vessels of the United States, tugs with tows, and vessels in distress shall be passed at any time.

    Dated: October 22, 2015. S.A. Buschman, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27999 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office 37 CFR Part 42 [Docket No.: PTO-P-2015-0053] RIN 0651-AD01 Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; Reopening of Period for Comments AGENCY:

    United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking; reopening of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) provided for new administrative trial proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board). The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a number of final rules and a trial practice guide in August and September of 2012 to implement the new administrative trial provisions of the AIA. The USPTO published a request for comments in the Federal Register on June 27, 2014, seeking public comment on all aspects of the new administrative trial proceedings, including the administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide. In response to comments received by the public, the USPTO issued a first, final rule, which was published on May 19, 2015. That final rule addressed issues concerning the patent owner's motion to amend and the petitioner's reply brief that involved ministerial changes. The USPTO issued a second, proposed rule that addresses more involved proposed changes to the rules concerning the claim construction standard for AIA trials, new testimonial evidence submitted with a patent owner's preliminary response, Rule 11-type certification, and word count for major briefing. The USPTO is now extending the period for public comment on the second, proposed rule until November 18, 2015.

    DATES:

    Written comments on the proposed rule published August 20, 2015 (80 FR 50720) must be received on or before November 18, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments must be sent by electronic mail message over the Internet addressed to: [email protected]

    Electronic comments submitted in plain text are preferred, but also may be submitted in ADOBE® portable document format or MICROSOFT WORD® format. Comments not submitted electronically should be submitted on paper in a format that facilitates convenient digital scanning into ADOBE® portable document format. The comments will be available for viewing via the USPTO's Internet Web site (http://www.uspto.gov). Because comments will be made available for public inspection, information that the submitter does not desire to make public, such as an address or phone number, should not be included in the comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan L. C. Mitchell, Lead Administrative Patent Judge by telephone at (571) 272-9797.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Sections 3, 6, and 18 of the AIA provided for the following new Board administrative trial proceedings: (1) Inter partes review; (2) post-grant review; (3) covered business method patents review; and (4) derivation proceedings. Public Law 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011). The USPTO issued a number of final rules and a trial practice guide in August and September of 2012 to implement the new administrative trial provisions of the AIA. See Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and Judicial Review of Patent Trial and Appeal Board Decisions, 77 FR 48612 (Aug. 14, 2012) (final rule); Changes to Implement Inter Partes Review Proceedings, Post-Grant Review Proceedings, and Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents, 77 FR 48680 (Aug. 14, 2012) (final rule); Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents—Definitions of Covered Business Method Patent and Technological Invention, 77 FR 48734 (Aug. 14, 2012) (final rule); Changes to Implement Derivation Proceedings, 77 FR 56068 (Sept. 11, 2012) (final rule); and Office Patent Trial Practice Guide, 77 FR 48756 (Aug. 14, 2012).

    In issuing the administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide, the USPTO committed to revisiting the rules and practice guide once the Board and public had operated under the rules and practice guide for some period and had gained experience with the new administrative trial proceedings. The USPTO began the process of revisiting the AIA administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide by engaging in a nation-wide listening tour. The USPTO conducted a series of roundtables in April and May of 2014, held in Alexandria, New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Dallas, and Denver, to share information concerning the AIA administrative trial proceedings with the public and obtain public feedback on these proceedings. The USPTO also published a request for comments in the Federal Register on June 27, 2014, seeking public comment on all aspects of the new administrative trial proceedings, including the administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide. See Request for Comments on Trial Proceedings Under the America Invents Act Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 79 FR 36474-77 (June 27, 2014). In response to comments received, the USPTO issued two rule packages: (1) A first, final rule package that addressed issues concerning the patent owner's motion to amend and the petitioner's reply brief that involved ministerial changes, see Amendments to the Rules of Practice for Trial Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 80 FR 28561-66 (May 19, 2015), and (2) a second, proposed rule that addresses more involved proposed changes to the rules concerning the claim construction standard for AIA trials, new testimonial evidence submitted with a patent owner's preliminary response, Rule 11-type certification, and word count for major briefing, see Amendments to the Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 80 FR 50720-47 (Aug. 20, 2015). The notice of proposed rulemaking for the second, proposed rule indicated that written comments must be received on or before October 19, 2015. See id at 50720. In view of stakeholder requests for additional time to submit comments on the new administrative trial proceedings, the USPTO is now extending the period for public comment until November 18, 2015.

    Dated: October 26, 2015. Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretaray of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28108 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-M
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546; A-1-FRL-9933-88-Region 1] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Connecticut; Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Large Aboveground Storage Tanks AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Connecticut. The revision amends Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA) section 22a-174-20 to update the requirements for controlling volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from large aboveground storage tanks. The intended effect of this action is to approve these regulations into the Connecticut SIP. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before December 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments identified by Docket ID Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546 for comments by one of the following methods:

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

    2. Email: [email protected]

    3. Fax: (617) 918-0584.

    4. Mail: “Docket Identification Number EPA-R01-OAR-2015-0546,” David Mackintosh, Air Quality Planning Unit, Office of Ecosystem Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912.

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

    Please see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules Section of this Federal Register for detailed instructions on how to submit comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Mackintosh, Air Quality Planning Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail Code OEP05-02), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone 617-918-1584, facsimile 617-918-0584, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Final Rules Section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this rule, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    For additional information, see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules Section of this Federal Register.

    Dated: August 27, 2015. H. Curtis Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27894 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R06-OAR-2011-0034; FRL-9936-36-Region 6] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Oklahoma AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the Federal Clean Air Act the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving revisions to the Oklahoma State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the State of Oklahoma designee. The revisions are administrative in nature and modify redundant or erroneous text within the SIP. The revisions also incorporate new definitions and the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for four criteria pollutants; delete a subchapter that addresses motor vehicle pollution control devices; and add requirements for certain incinerators.

    DATES:

    Written comments should be received on or before December 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be mailed to Mr. Guy Donaldson, Chief, Air Planning Section (6PD-L), Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733. Comments may also be submitted electronically or through hand delivery/courier by following the detailed instructions in the ADDRESSES section of the direct final rule located in the rules section of this Federal Register.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Carrie Paige, (214) 665-6521, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the final rules section of this Federal Register, the EPA is approving the State's SIP submittals as a direct rule without prior proposal because the Agency views these as noncontroversial submittals and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no relevant adverse comments are received in response to this action no further activity is contemplated. If the EPA receives relevant adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. The EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time.

    For additional information, see the direct final rule which is located in the rules section of this Federal Register.

    Dated: October 20, 2015. Ron Curry, Regional Administrator, Region 6.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27917 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R06-OAR-2014-0237; FRL-9936-46-Region 6] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; New Mexico; Regional Haze Five-Year Progress Report State Implementation Plan AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing approval of a revision to a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the State of New Mexico through the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on March 14, 2014. New Mexico's SIP revision addresses requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the EPA's rules that require states to submit periodic reports describing progress toward reasonable progress goals (RPGs) established for regional haze and a determination of the adequacy of the State's existing regional haze SIP (RH SIP).

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before December 3, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments, identified by Docket No. EPA-R06-OAR-2014-0237, by one of the following methods:

    www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions.

    Email: Mr. Guy Donaldson at [email protected]

    Mail or Delivery: Mr. Guy Donaldson, Chief, Air Planning Section (6PD-L), Environmental Protection Agency, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733.

    Instructions: Direct comments to Docket No. EPA-R06-OAR-2014-0237. The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and made available online at www.regulations.gov. The EPA includes any personal information provided, unless a comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit any information electronically that is considered CBI or any other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means the EPA will not know one's identity or contact information unless it is provided in the body of a comment. If a comment is emailed directly to the EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, then the sender's email address will automatically be captured and included as part of the public docket comment and made available on the Internet. If a comment is submitted electronically, then it is recommended that one's name and other contact information be included in the body of the comment, and with any disk or CD-ROM submitted. If the EPA cannot read a particular comment due to technical difficulties and is unable to contact for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider the comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment will be considered the official comment with multimedia submissions and should include all discussion points desired. The EPA will generally not consider comments or their contents submitted outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing systems). For additional information on submitting comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    Docket: The index to the docket for this action is available electronically at www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at the EPA Region 6, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 700, Dallas, Texas. While all documents in the docket are listed in the index, some information may be publicly available only at the hard copy location (e.g., copyrighted material), and some may not be publicly available at either location (e.g., CBI).

    The New Mexico regional haze progress report is available online at the following: www.nmenv.state.nm.us/aqb/reghaz/regional-haze_index.html. It is also available for public inspection during official business hours, by appointment, at the Air Quality Bureau, Environmental Protection Division, New Mexico Environment Department, 525 Camino de los Marquez, Suite 1, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. James E. Grady, (214) 665-6745; [email protected] To inspect the hard copy materials, please contact Mr. Grady or Mr. Bill Deese at (214) 665-7253.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document, “we,” “our,” or “us” each mean “the EPA.”

    Table of Contents I. Background on Regional Haze II. Background on Regional Haze SIPs III. Requirements for Five-Year Regional Haze Progress Report SIP IV. Evaluation of New Mexico's Regional Haze Progress Report SIP A. Status of Control Strategies 1. Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) 2. SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program 3. Agricultural and Forestry Smoke Management Techniques 4. Additional Controls—State Air Regulations: NSR and PSD 5. Summary of Control Strategy Implementation B. Emissions Reductions From Control Strategies C. Visibility Progress D. Emissions Progress E. Assessment of Changes Impeding Visibility Progress F. Assessment of Current Strategy To Meet RPGs G. Review of Visibility Monitoring Strategy H. Determination of Adequacy V. The EPA's Proposed Action VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background on Regional Haze

    Regional haze is visibility impairment that occurs over a wide geographic area primarily from the pollution of fine particles (PM2.5) 1 in nature. Fine particles causing haze consist of sulfates, nitrates, ammonium, particulate organic matter, black carbon, and soil dust. Airborne PM2.5 can scatter and absorb the incident light and therefore lead to atmospheric opacity and horizontal visibility degradation. Regional haze limits visual distance and reduces color, clarity and contrast of view. Emissions that affect visibility include a wide variety of natural and man-made sources. In New Mexico, the most important sources of haze-forming emissions are coal-fired power plants, oil and gas development, woodland fires, and windblown dust. Reducing PM2.5 and their precursor gases in the atmosphere is an effective method of improving visibility. PM2.5 precursors consist of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), ammonia (NH3) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

    1 Additionally, coarse particles (PM10) can contribute to light extinction. However, they settle out from the air more rapidly than fine particles and usually will be found relatively close to emission sources. Fine particles can be transported long distances by wind and can be found in the air thousands of miles from where they were formed.

    II. Background on Regional Haze SIPs

    In section 169A of the 1977 Amendments to the CAA, Congress created a program for protecting visibility in the nation's national parks and wilderness areas. This section of the CAA establishes as a national goal the prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing man-made impairment of visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas designated as mandatory Class I Federal areas.2 On December 2, 1980, the EPA promulgated regulations to address visibility impairment in Class I areas that is “reasonably attributable” to a single source or small group of sources, i.e., “reasonably attributable visibility impairment.” 3 These regulations represented the first phase in addressing visibility impairment. The EPA deferred action on regional haze that emanates from a variety of sources until monitoring, modeling and scientific knowledge about the relationships between pollutants and visibility impairment were improved.

    2 Areas designated as mandatory Class I Federal areas consist of National Parks exceeding 6000 acres, wilderness areas and national memorial parks exceeding 5000 acres, and all international parks that were in existence on August 7, 1977. 42 U.S.C. 7472(a). In accordance with section 169A of the CAA, EPA, in consultation with the Department of Interior, promulgated a list of 156 areas where visibility is identified as an important value. 44 FR 69122 (November 30, 1979). The extent of a mandatory Class I area includes subsequent changes in boundaries, such as park expansions. 42 U.S.C. 7472(a). Although states and tribes may designate as Class I additional areas which they consider to have visibility as an important value, the requirements of the visibility program set forth in section 169A of the CAA apply only to “mandatory Class I Federal areas.” Each mandatory Class I Federal area is the responsibility of a “Federal Land Manager.” 42 U.S.C. 7602(i). When we use the term “Class I area” in this action, we mean a “mandatory Class I Federal area.”

    3 45 FR 80084 (December 2, 1980).

    Congress added section 169B to the CAA in 1990 to address regional haze issues, and the EPA promulgated regulations addressing regional haze in 1999.4 The Regional Haze Rule revised the existing visibility regulations to integrate into the regulations provisions addressing regional haze impairment and established a comprehensive visibility protection program for Class I areas. The requirements for regional haze, found at 40 CFR 51.308 and 51.309, are included in the EPA's visibility protection regulations at 40 CFR 51.300-309. States must demonstrate reasonable progress toward meeting the national goal of a return to natural visibility conditions for mandatory Class I Federal areas both within and outside states by 2064. The requirement to submit a regional haze SIP applies to all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. States were required to submit the first implementation plan addressing regional haze visibility impairment no later than December 17, 2007.5

    4 64 FR 35714 (July 1, 1999), codified at 40 CFR part 51, subpart P (Regional Haze Rule).

    5 See 40 CFR 51.308(b). EPA's regional haze regulations require subsequent updates to the regional haze SIPs. 40 CFR 51.308(g)-(i).

    III. Requirements for the Five-Year Regional Haze Progress Report SIP

    The Regional Haze Rule requires a comprehensive analysis of each state's regional haze SIP every ten years and a progress report every five years. This five-year review is intended to provide a progress report on, and, if necessary, mid-course corrections to, the regional haze SIP. The progress report provides an opportunity for public input on the State's (and the EPA's) assessment of whether the approved regional haze SIP is being implemented appropriately and whether reasonable visibility progress is being achieved consistent with the projected visibility improvement in the SIP. At a minimum, New Mexico must include in its progress report the following seven elements: 6

    6 See 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)

    (1) Provide a description of the status of implementation of all control measures in the approved RH SIP.

    (2) Summarize the emissions reductions achieved through implementation of the control measures.

    (3) Assess the visibility conditions and changes for each Class I area in the State.

    (4) Analyze the changes in emissions from sources and activities within the State.

    (5) Provide an assessment of any significant changes in anthropogenic emissions within or outside the State that have limited or impeded progress in reducing emissions and improving visibility in Class I areas.

    (6) Evaluate the sufficiency of the approved RH SIP to meet all RPGs.

    (7) Provide a review of the State's visibility monitoring strategy.

    New Mexico submitted their progress report SIP for the State 7 under 40 CFR 51.309.8 Typically, progress report requirements of most states are covered under 40 CFR 51.308(g) and (h). However, 40 CFR 51.309 presents nine western states with an optional approach of fulfilling Regional Haze Rule requirements by adopting emission reduction strategies developed by the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission (GCVTC). These strategies were designed primarily to improve visibility of sixteen Class I areas in the Colorado Plateau 9 area. Since New Mexico currently has one Class I area, the San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area, inside the Colorado Plateau, the State exercised the option to meet the alternative requirements contained in 40 CFR 51.309 for RH SIPs. The requirements for five-year progress reports are consistent with those for the other states, but the requirements for the reports are codified at 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10) instead of at 40 CFR 51.308(g) and (h). Also, under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i), states must submit a regional haze progress report in the years 2013 and 2018. In contrast, under 40 CFR 51.308, states must submit a progress report five years from submittal of the initial implementation plan. Under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(ii), states are required to submit, at the same time as the progress report SIP, a determination of the adequacy of their existing RH SIP and to take one of four possible actions, as described in more detail in this proposal.

    7 The proposed action does not pertain to the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County portion of the SIP in New Mexico. The New Mexico Air Quality Control Act (section 74-2-4) authorizes Albuquerque/Bernalillo County to locally administer and enforce the State Air Quality Control Act by providing for a local air quality control program, and that entity submitted an initial RH SIP for its own jurisdiction that was separately approved by the EPA (77 FR 71119, November 29, 2012). The EPA anticipates a separate RH progress report SIP submittal from this entity.

    8 Three Western States (New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) exercised the option provided in the Regional Haze Rule to meet the alternative requirements contained in 40 CFR 51.309 for RH SIPs.

    9 The Colorado Plateau is a high, semi-arid tableland in Southeast Utah, Northern Arizona, Northwest New Mexico, and Western Colorado. The sixteen mandatory Class I areas are as follows: Grand Canyon National Park, Mount Baldy Wilderness, Petrified Forest National Park, Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Wilderness, Flat Tops Wilderness, Maroon Bells Wilderness, Mesa Verde National Park, Weminuche Wilderness, West Elk Wilderness, San Pedro Parks Wilderness, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capital Reef National Park, and Zion National Park.

    IV. Evaluation of New Mexico's Regional Haze Progress Report SIP

    On December 31, 2003, the State of New Mexico submitted a RH SIP with later SIP revisions (July 5, 2011 and October 7, 2013) that addressed the requirements of 40 CFR 51.309.10 On March 14, 2014, the EPA received the periodic report on progress from NMED in the form of a regional haze SIP revision. This latest submission is the subject of this proposed approval. The periodic report was made in the first implementation period toward RPGs for Class I areas in and outside the State that were affected by emissions from New Mexico's sources. The SIP revision includes the State's determination that the existing RH SIP requires no substantive revision to achieve the established regional haze visibility improvement and emissions reduction goals for 2018. The EPA is proposing to approve New Mexico's progress report SIP on the basis that it satisfies the requirements of 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10).

    10 The EPA approved all of the 2003 and 2011 submittals on November 27, 2012 (77 FR 70693) except for the submitted NOX Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) determination for the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS). The EPA had issued a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) containing a different NOX BART determination for the SJGS. 76 FR 52,388 (Aug. 22, 2011). The 2013 RH SIP revision contained a new NOX BART determination for the SJGS that superseded the State's previous NOX BART determination included in the 2011 RH SIP revision. The EPA withdrew the FIP and approved the 2013 RH SIP revision on October 9, 2014 (79 FR 60985 and 79 FR 60978)

    New Mexico has nine Class I areas within its borders: Bandelier Wilderness, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Gila Wilderness, Pecos Wilderness, Salt Creek Wilderness, Wheeler Peak Wilderness, White Mountain Wilderness, and San Pedro Parks Wilderness. San Pedro Parks Wilderness is the only Class I area in New Mexico that is located on the Colorado Plateau.11 Visibility impairment at New Mexico's nine Class I areas is tracked in units of deciviews (dv), which is related to the cumulative sum of visibility impairment from individual aerosol species as measured by eight monitors in the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) Network.12

    11 The Section 309 SIP submitted by the State of New Mexico in December of 2003 addresses only San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area. All of the other Class I areas are addressed under the Section 309(g) SIP submitted by the State of New Mexico in June of 2011 and as revised and submitted in October of 2013.

    12 The IMPROVE monitor for the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area is used to represent visibility conditions at the nearby Pecos Wilderness. The IMPROVE monitor for Carlsbad Caverns is located in Texas at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

    Through collaboration with the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP),13 New Mexico worked with the western states to assess state-by-state contributions to visibility impairment in specific Class I areas in New Mexico and those affected by emissions from New Mexico. The WRAP report provides data on other, less pertinent Class I areas outside New Mexico borders, and this information primarily appears in the technical appendices.14

    13 The WRAP is a collaborative effort of tribal governments, state governments and various federal agencies representing the western states that provides technical and policy tools for the western states and tribes to comply with the EPA's Regional Haze regulations. Detailed information regarding WRAP support of air quality management issues for western states is provided on the WRAP Web site (www.wrapair2.org). Data summary descriptions and tools specific to Regional Haze Rule support are available on the WRAP Technical Support System Web site (http://vista.cira.colostate.edu/tss/).

    14 The Western Regional Air Partnership Regional Haze Rule Reasonable Progress Summary Report technical support document has been prepared on behalf of the fifteen Western State members in the WRAP region to provide the technical basis for use by states to develop the first of their individual reasonable progress reports for the 116 Federal Class I areas located in the Western states.

    The following sections cover:

    • The seven regulatory elements required by the progress report SIP; 15

    15 See 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i).

    • How New Mexico's progress report SIP addressed each element; and

    • The EPA's analysis and proposed determination as to whether New Mexico satisfied each part.

    A. Status of Control Strategies

    40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(A) requires a description of the status of implementation of all control measures included in the RH SIP for achieving RPGs for Class I areas both within and outside the State.

    New Mexico stated in the progress report that it is implementing all long-term control strategies, with the exception of the state adopted State Mobile Source Regulation.16 The State Mobile Source Regulation, when adopted, sought to apply California motor vehicle standards within New Mexico, and this regulation, while mentioned in the State's long-term strategy, was not submitted to EPA as a SIP revision. The report explains that federal programs, as revised, achieve the same emission reductions and have provided the State a basis, in its judgment, for not implementing the regulation. The EPA considers this explanation acceptable.

    16 Under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(5)(ii), New Mexico is required to submit interim reports to the EPA and the public on the implementation status of the regional and local strategies to address mobile source emissions.

    New Mexico evaluated the status of all measures included in its RH SIP in accordance with the requirements under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(A). The major control measures identified by New Mexico in the progress report RH SIP are as follows:

    • Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) • SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program • Agricultural and Forestry Smoke Management Techniques • Additional Controls—State Air Regulations: New Source Review (NSR) and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)

    In its initial RH SIP, New Mexico identified ammonium sulfate, particulate organic matter, and coarse mass as the largest contributors to visibility impairment. Many of the contributing sources to visibility impairment in New Mexico are natural, rather than anthropogenic in nature, and are not controllable. The primary sources of ammonium sulfate are point sources and on- and off-road mobile source emissions. For particulate organic matter, the primary sources of emissions are from natural and anthropogenic fire. The primary sources of coarse mass emissions in New Mexico are windblown and fugitive dust. For the progress report, New Mexico focused on those emission sources that were anthropogenic in nature.

    The progress report stated that the emissions reductions from implementing the major control measures would ensure that the New Mexico Class I areas would achieve the RPGs. New Mexico included a summary of the implementation status associated with each control measure and quantified the benefits where possible. When comparing baseline to current visibility conditions, the progress report showed that New Mexico is currently on track, if not exceeding, the visibility impairment emission reductions needed to achieve RPG's for 2018.17

    17 See table 2.1 of New Mexico Regional Haze progress report SIP. A complete copy of the progress report SIP is available in the online docket for this proposal.

    1. Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART)

    New Mexico identified one single stationary source in the progress report SIP, the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS), to be subject to BART. The SJGS includes four coal-fired boilers. In the New Mexico 2013 RH SIP, New Mexico determined that the BART controls for boiler units 1 and 4 will have selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) air pollution control devices installed for visibility-impairing pollutant reduction. Consistent with the terms in the State's then-pending SIP revision, the report assumed future installation of controls would occur fifteen months following approval of the revised RH SIP (but not earlier than January 31, 2016).18 Additionally, the remaining two boiler units, 2 and 3, would be retired by the end of 2017. New Mexico estimated that implementation of the BART controls at SJGS would result in NOX reduction of approximately 13,000 tons per year (tpy) (from 21,000 tpy to 8,011 tpy); SO2 reduction of 6,600 tpy (from 10,500 tpy to 3,843 tpy); and particulate matter (PM) reduction of 1,200 tpy (from 2,380 tpy to 1,184 tpy). These reductions represent a 35% reduction in the statewide emissions of NOX, SO2, and PM.

    18 Subsequent to the submission of the New Mexico progress report SIP, the EPA withdrew the FIP and approved the 2013 RH SIP revision on October 9, 2014 (79 FR 60985 and 79 FR 60978).

    The EPA finds that the progress report SIP adequately reviews the status of New Mexico's BART source. It identifies the controls to be applied; outlines the compliance timeframe for those controls; and shows potential reduction in visibility-impairing pollutants with future BART implementation.

    2. SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program

    The progress report SIP discusses the SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program 19 as a control measure. New Mexico has participated in this voluntary program since December 31, 2003. New Mexico must submit an annual report that compares tracked stationary source SO2 emissions to yearly milestones. A milestone is an established maximum level of annual emissions for a given year (from 2003 to 2018). The milestones help establish annual SO2 emission reduction targets. The annual targets represent RPGs in reducing visibility-impairing emissions. If states fail to meet the milestones, then the backstop-trading program is triggered to implement an emissions cap. The cap allocates emission allowances (or credits) to the affected sources based on the cap, and requires the sources to hold sufficient allowances to cover their emissions each year.

    19 Under Section 309 of the Federal Regional Haze Rule, nine western states and tribes within those states have the option of submitting plans to reduce regional haze emissions that impair visibility at 16 Class I areas on the Colorado Plateau. Five states—Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming—and Albuquerque-Bernalillo County initially exercised this option by submitting plans to the EPA by December 31, 2003. Oregon elected to cease participation in the program in 2006 and Arizona elected to cease participation in 2010. The tribes were not subject to the deadline and still can opt into the program at any time.

    Appendix B of the progress report SIP includes the 2011 Regional SO2 Emissions and Milestone Report. The 2011 milestone is 200,722 tons SO2, which represents the average regional emissions milestone for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011. The average of 2009, 2010, and 2011 adjusted emissions was determined to be 130,935 tons SO2. New Mexico and participating States have met the 200,722 tons SO2 milestone. Emissions were about 35% below the 2011 three-State regional milestone.

    3. Agricultural and Forestry Smoke Management Techniques 20

    20 The EPA approved 20.2.65 NMAC, Smoke Management and 20.2.60 NMAC Open Burning, on November 27, 2012 (77 FR 70693) in the same action approving the 2011 New Mexico RH SIP.

    The progress report SIP affirms that New Mexico developed a state Smoke Management Plan (SMP) to be used as a control measure. The EPA previously approved smoke management rules into the SIP in 2012, which protect the health and welfare of New Mexicans from the impacts of smoke from all sources of fire.21

    21 Several WRAP policies developed by the GCVTC were used to guide the development of the New Mexico SMP program: The WRAP Policy for Characterizing Fire Emissions shows a methodology to categorize fire emissions as either natural or anthropogenic. The WRAP Policy on Enhanced Smoke Management Programs for Visibility identifies and enhanced SMP to address visibility effects from all types of fire that contribute to visibility impairment in mandatory Federal Class I areas. The WRAP Policy on Annual Emissions Goals for Fire outlines a process by which states/tribes may establish annual emission goals, based on the utilization of currently available emission reduction techniques, to include in their RH SIPs.

    4. Additional Controls—State Air Regulations: NSR and PSD

    The progress report affirms that New Mexico continues to implement the State's NSR program and asserts that state regulations are up to date with 40 CFR 51.166. NSR applies to all construction permitting for new stationary sources under the CAA, for attainment or non-attainment areas.22

    22 The NSR program is established by 20.2.72 NMAC. http://164.64.110.239/nmac/parts/title20/20.002.0072.htm.

    Likewise, New Mexico implements the State's PSD program, as has been the case since 1982. PSD is the NSR program for new major 23 stationary sources and major modifications in attainment areas. The program minimizes new pollution and utilizes best available control technology (BACT) to reduce visibility-impairing pollutants and prevent deterioration of Class I areas.24

    23 “Major” means emitting or having the potential to emit 100 tpy or more of any criteria pollutant for the specific source categories listed in the PSD regulations. There are 28 listed source categories, which include power plants that use steam to generate electricity, petroleum refineries and glass fiber processing plants. If a plant does not fall into one of the listed source categories, then a threshold of 250 tpy applies. BART addresses certain sources that have the potential to emit 250 tpy or more of a single visibility-impairing pollutant.

    24 The most recent approval of New Mexico's PSD program was on 12/11/2013 (see 78 FR 75253). PSD is established by 20.2.74 NMAC. http://164.64.110.239/nmac/parts/title20/20.002.0074.htm.

    Both PSD and BART protect Class I area visibility in the same way. BART and PSD are complementary programs aimed at regulating the same source categories; either one or the other applies depending upon when the source was constructed. PSD was adopted in 1977 for all new major sources. BART is applied to pre-PSD, to address visibility impacts from existing major sources built 1962 to 1977. BART only addresses visibility, whereas PSD addresses NAAQS, increment consumption, and visibility.

    5. Summary of Control Strategy Implementation

    The EPA proposes to conclude that New Mexico adequately addressed the status of control measures in its progress report RH SIP as required by the provisions under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(A). All major control measures (including BART) were identified and the emission reduction strategy behind each control was explained. New Mexico included a summary of the implementation status associated with each control measure and quantified the benefits where possible. In addition, the progress report SIP adequately outlined the compliance timeframe for all controls.

    B. Emissions Reductions From Control Strategies

    40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(B) requires a summary of the emission reductions achieved throughout the State through implementation of control measures mentioned in 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(A). The progress report must identify and estimate emissions reductions to date in visibility-impairing pollutants from the SIP control measures identified for implementation.

    New Mexico reported in figure 3.6 of the progress report SIP that NOX, SO2, and PM point source emissions decreased in New Mexico from 2008 to 2012. Approximated NO2 emissions reduced from 63,000 tpy to 44,000 tpy, constituting an emission reduction of about 30%. Approximated SO2 emissions reduced from 26,000 tpy to 15,000 tpy, constituting an emission reduction of about 42%. As compared to NO2 and SO2, PM emissions represent a small part of the State's emissions inventories, and PM reductions are not especially pronounced. Figure 3.6 shows that actual point source emissions for NO2 and SO2 decreased below the WRAP's projected 2018 point-source emissions that helped establish New Mexico's RPGs for the first planning period. In reviewing the point source data, the EPA compared it to that reported by the Clean Air Markets Division (CAMD) and found that the reported emissions were consistent with that data.25

    25 See the Technical Support Document (TSD), “Evaluation of State Emission Trends Analysis,” a copy of which is posted in the docket for this proposal.

    New Mexico explained that the most significant decrease in emissions since the RH SIP revision in June 2011 has been from SO2 in accordance with the State's SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program. SO2 emissions were about 35% below the 2011 three-state regional milestone.

    Part of the observed emission reductions were also the result of controls installed at SJGS completed in 2009 in response to a 2005 consent decree. Future emission reductions to satisfy BART at SJGS will also occur during this planning period, resulting in a significant reduction in total point source emissions in the State. New Mexico estimated that implementation of the BART controls at SJGS would result in NOX reduction of approximately 13,000 tons per year (tpy) (from 21,000 tpy to 8,011 tpy); SO2 reduction of 6,600 tpy (from 10,500 tpy to 3,843 tpy); and particulate matter (PM) reduction of 1,200 tpy (from 2,380 tpy to 1,184 tpy). These reductions represent a 35% reduction in the statewide emissions of NOX, SO2, and PM. Statewide emissions are significantly below the 2018 projected levels relied upon in the 2011 RH SIP. Therefore, New Mexico does not expect reasonable progress to be adversely impacted in any of the Class I areas in New Mexico or neighboring states.

    Additional control measures included in the SIP were federal and state programs (NSR, PSD, and SMP programs). Qualitatively, the continued implementation of those federal and state measures is expected to continue to reduce emissions. Deciview and aerosol extinction maps provided by New Mexico illustrate both a decrease in magnitude of visibility impairment and relative pollutant contribution in New Mexico and surrounding states for 2005-2009.26

    26 See Figures 3.1 through 3.5 of progress report SIP.

    The EPA proposes to conclude that New Mexico has adequately summarized the emission reductions achieved throughout the State in its progress report RH SIP as required under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(B). In meeting this requirement, the EPA does not expect states to quantify emission reductions for measures which have not yet been implemented or for which the compliance date has not yet been reached. However, for purposes of future progress reports, we recommend that New Mexico include additional quantitative details on the reductions of each major specific visibility-impairing pollutant and utilize available CAMD data, as appropriate.

    C. Visibility Progress

    40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(C) requires that for each mandatory Class I Federal area within the State, the State must assess the following visibility conditions and changes, with values for most impaired and least impaired days 27 expressed in terms of five-year averages of these annual values:

    27 The “most impaired days” and “least impaired days” in the regional haze rule refers to the average visibility impairment (measured in deciviews) for the 20% of monitored days in a calendar year with the highest and lowest amount of visibility impairment, respectively, averaged over a five-year period. See 40 CFR 51.301.

    1. Assess the current visibility conditions for the most impaired and least impaired days.

    2. Analyze the difference between current visibility conditions for the most impaired and least impaired days and baseline visibility conditions.

    3. Evaluate the change in visibility impairment for the most impaired and least impaired days over the past five years.

    New Mexico provided visibility data for 2000 through 2011 that addressed the three requirements of 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(C) for Class I areas in New Mexico. Much of the analysis and visibility data presented in the New Mexico progress report SIP were taken from the RHR Reasonable Progress Summary Report prepared by the WRAP.

    This section requires the report to include deciview values for three separate periods: Baseline visibility conditions, current visibility conditions, and visibility conditions of the past five years. Baseline visibility conditions refer to conditions identified in initial RH SIPs for the 2000-2004 period. Current visibility conditions refer to the most recent five-year average data available at the time the State submitted its progress report. The past five years would be five years before the year used for current visibility conditions.28

    28General Principles for the 5-Year Regional Haze Progress Reports for the Initial Regional Haze State Implementation Plans (Intended to Assist States and EPA Regional Offices in Development and Review of the Progress Reports), EPA, April 2013.

    New Mexico calculated the five-year baseline visibility conditions for 2000-2004; successive five-year average visibility conditions for 2005-2009; and the most recent visibility conditions for 2007-2011. The change in baseline and current visibility was compared to the change in baseline and past five-year visibility.29 Both results were tabulated for the 20% worst and best days and compared to 2018 RPGs.30 The most recent data from 2007-2011 in the progress report SIP were not addressed. The EPA provided a comparison of the 2007-2011 data in table 2, below, showing that progress, while trending toward further visibility improvement, was not quite as good as in the 2005-2009 period.

    29 New Mexico also included 2006 to 2010 data, but it was not included in table 2.

    30 See Tables 3.3 through 3.20 of the New Mexico progress report SIP.

    Table 2—Visibility Conditions at New Mexico Class I Areas Class I Area Baseline (2000-2004) (dv) 2005-2009
  • (dv)
  • Visibility
  • improvement
  • over baseline
  • (2005-2009)
  • (dv) *
  • 2007-2011 (dv) Visibility
  • improvement
  • over baseline
  • (2007-2011)
  • (dv) *
  • 2018 RPGs
  • (dv)
  • Visibility
  • improvement needed over baseline for 2018 RPGs
  • (dv) *
  • 20% Worst Days Bandelier 12.2 11.8 0.4 12.0 0.2 11.9 0.3 Bosque del Apache 13.8 13.4 0.4 13.1 0.7 13.59 0.21 Gila Wilderness 13.1 12.5 0.6 11.3 1.8 12.99 0.11 Carlsbad Caverns 17.2 15.9 1.3 15.3 1.9 16.93 0.27 Salt Creek 18.0 17.5 0.5 17.3 0.7 17.33 0.67 San Pedro Parks 10.2 9.9 0.3 10.1 0.1 9.8 0.4 Wheeler Peak 10.4 9.1 1.3 9.6 0.8 10.23 0.17 White Mountain 13.7 13.2 0.5 13.9 −0.2 13.27 0.43 20% Best Days Bandelier 5.0 4.2 0.8 3.9 1.1 4.89 0.11 Bosque del Apache 6.3 5.8 0.5 5.5 0.8 6.1 0.2 Gila Wilderness 3.3 2.7 0.6 2.4 0.9 3.2 0.1 Carlsbad Caverns 5.9 5.4 0.5 4.9 1.0 6.14 Salt Creek 7.8 7.3 0.5 6.9 0.9 7.43 0.37 San Pedro Parks 1.5 1.0 0.5 1.0 0.5 1.2 0.3 Wheeler Peak 1.2 0.9 0.3 0.9 0.3 1.13 0.07 White Mountain 3.6 3.3 0.3 3.3 0.3 3.42 0.18 * Negative Visibility Improvement means an increase above the baseline values, indicating that visibility has worsened.

    All Class I areas show visibility improvement over the baseline through the first progress period (2005-2009). In addition, all Class I sites were below the 2018 RPGs for the first progress period except for San Pedro Parks and Salt Creek. The five-year average deciview trends for 2007-2011 progress period achieved visibility improvement for all Class I areas except White Mountain, which got slightly worse by 0.2 dv. All but three sites met the 2018 RPGs during the 2007-2011 period.

    The EPA proposes to conclude that New Mexico has adequately addressed the requirements under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(C) to include summaries of monitored visibility data as required by the Regional Haze Rule. For purposes of improved clarity on future reports, the EPA recommends that New Mexico include a graph of rolling averages similar to what was provided in the guidance example,31 illustrating the uniform glide path. The glide path graphically shows what would be a uniform rate of progress, toward meeting the national goal of a return to natural visibility conditions by 2064 for each Class I area.

    31 See page 10 of General Principles for the 5-Year Regional Haze Progress Reports for the Initial Regional Haze State Implementation Plans (Intended to Assist States and EPA Regional Offices in Development and Review of the Progress Reports) April 2013.

    D. Emissions Progress

    40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(D) requires an analysis tracking the change over the past five years in emissions of pollutants contributing to visibility impairment from all sources and activities within the State. Emission changes should be identified by type of source or activity. The analysis must be based on the most recent updated emissions inventory, with estimates projected forward as necessary and appropriate, to account for emissions changes during the applicable five-year period. The EPA evaluated New Mexico's analysis and more detail is provided in the Technical Support Document for this action.

    The EPA proposes to conclude that New Mexico has adequately addressed the requirements under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(D) to track changes in emissions of pollutants contributing to visibility impairment from all sources and activities within the State. The analysis in this progress report was based on appropriate available data with sufficient forward projections.

    E. Assessment of Changes Impeding Visibility Progress

    40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(E) requires an assessment of any significant changes in anthropogenic emissions within or outside the State that have occurred over the past five years that have limited or impeded progress in reducing pollutant emissions and improving visibility in Class I areas impacted by the State's sources.

    New Mexico stated in the progress report SIP that there does not appear to be any anthropogenic emissions within New Mexico that would have limited or impeded progress in reducing pollutant emissions or improving visibility. New Mexico stated that SO2 and PM were the major visibility-impairing concerns on the 20% worst days. Stationary point sources were the greatest contributor of SO2 while fire, including natural and anthropogenic, was the greatest PM contributor. Both of these pollutants were covered by long-term control measures described in the progress report SIP (BART, SMP, and SO2 Milestone and Backstop Trading Program). Other states relied on WRAP modeling to show reasonable progress at their Class I areas. With the BART determination of a two-unit shut down and two-unit SNCR installation for the SJGS, New Mexico will be exceeding the modeled levels relied on by WRAP for regional haze. Therefore, New Mexico is not impeding other states in meeting their RPGs, and is decreasing visibility-impairing pollutants more than was anticipated in the WRAP modeling for NOX, SO2 and PM.

    The EPA proposes to find that New Mexico has adequately addressed the requirements under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(E) to show that the major contributors of anthropogenic emissions are being reduced and visibility is improving at a uniform rate without having limited or impeded progress.

    F. Assessment of Current Strategy To Meet RPGs

    40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(F) calls for an assessment of whether the current implementation plan elements and strategies in the RH SIP are sufficient to enable the State, or other states with mandatory Federal Class I areas affected by emissions from the State, to meet all established RPGs.

    New Mexico stated in the progress report SIP that the elements and strategies outlined in its RH SIP are sufficient to enable New Mexico and other neighboring states to meet all the established RPGs. To support this conclusion, New Mexico referenced visibility data 32 that showed five-year average deciview trends for the 20% worst and best days for the baseline period (2000-2004); subsequent five-year visibility conditions (2005-2009); and the most recent five-year visibility conditions (2007-2011). All Class I areas indicated visibility improvement over the baseline through the first progress period. All but two Class I areas were below the RPGs for the first progress period based on 2005-2009 data. The five-year average deciview trend for the most recent period (2007-2011) achieved visibility improvement for all Class I areas except White Mountain, which got slightly worse by 0.2 dv. All but three sites met the 2018 RPGs based on 2007-2011 data: The data supports an inference that 2007-2011 visibility conditions at White Mountain are higher due to elevated course mass levels in 2011 compared to baseline levels. The 2007-2011 visibility conditions at Bandelier and San Pedro parks were high, apparently due to elevated organic mass levels in 2011 from impacts of fires.

    32 In Appendix C of Regional Haze Progress Report SIP.

    Although three Class I sites were not tracking the RPGs at the time of the progress report, New Mexico expects further reduction of SO2 and NO2 emissions, not accounted for in the original RH SIP, principally from the implementation of BART controls. These added control measures should contribute toward Bandelier, San Pedro, and White Mountain achieving the RPGs for 2018. Further progress will also occur through recently adopted or proposed regulatory programs. The EPA notes that visibility conditions at these sites in some years can be impacted more significantly by natural sources of wind-blown dust and/or fires than other years and considers this relevant when evaluating progress toward the natural visibility goals.

    The EPA proposes to conclude that New Mexico has adequately addressed the requirements under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(F). The EPA views the requirement of this section as a qualitative assessment that should evaluate emissions and visibility trends, including expected emissions reductions from measures that have not yet become effective. New Mexico referenced the improving visibility trends with appropriately supported data with a focus on future implementation of BART controls.

    G. Review of Visibility Monitoring Strategy

    40 CFR 51.309(10)(i)(G) requires a review of the State's visibility monitoring strategy and any modifications to the strategy as necessary.

    The monitoring strategy for regional haze in New Mexico relies upon participation in the IMPROVE 33 network, which is the primary monitoring network for regional haze nationwide. The IMPROVE network provides a long-term record for tracking visibility improvement or degradation. New Mexico currently relies on data collected through the IMPROVE network to satisfy the regional haze monitoring requirement as specified in the Regional Haze Rule.

    33 Data from IMPROVE show that visibility impairment caused by air pollution occurs virtually all the time at most national parks and wilderness areas. The average visual range in many Class I areas (i.e., national parks and memorial parks, wilderness areas, and international parks meeting certain size criteria) in the western United States is 100-150 kilometers, or about one-half to two-thirds of the visual range that would exist without anthropogenic air pollution. In most of the eastern Class I areas of the United States, the average visual range is less than 30 kilometers, or about one-fifth of the visual range that would exist under estimated natural conditions. 64 FR 35715 (July 1, 1999).

    In its progress report SIP, New Mexico summarizes the existing IMPROVE monitoring network: Seven monitoring sites in New Mexico and one in Texas (utilized for Carlsbad Caverns National Park). New Mexico stated that IMPROVE monitoring data served as the baseline for the regional haze program and that future regional haze monitoring strategy must be based on, or directly comparable to the current IMPROVE network. New Mexico concluded that the existing network is adequate and modifications to the visibility monitoring strategy are not necessary at this time.

    The EPA proposes to conclude that New Mexico has adequately addressed the sufficiency of its monitoring strategy as required by the provisions under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i)(G). New Mexico reaffirmed its continued reliance upon the IMPROVE monitoring network. New Mexico also explained the importance of the IMPROVE monitoring network for tracking visibility trends at its Class I areas and identified no expected changes in this network.

    H. Determination of Adequacy

    Under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(ii), states are required to submit, at the same time as the progress report SIP, a determination of the adequacy of their existing RH SIP and to take one of four possible actions based on information in the progress report. 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(ii) requires states to take one of the following actions:

    (1) Submit a negative declaration to the EPA that no further substantive revision to the State's existing RH SIP is needed.

    (2) If the State determines that the implementation plan is or may be inadequate to ensure reasonable progress due to emissions from sources in another state(s) which participated in a regional planning process, the State must provide notification to the EPA and to the other state(s) which participated in the regional planning process with the states. The State must also collaborate with the other state(s) through the regional planning process for developing additional strategies to address the plan's deficiencies.

    (3) Where the State determines that the implementation plan is or may be inadequate to ensure reasonable progress due to emissions from sources in another country, the State shall provide notification, along with available information, to the Administrator.

    (4) If the State determines that the implementation plan is or may be inadequate to ensure reasonable progress due to emissions from sources within the State, then the State shall revise its implementation plan to address the plan's deficiencies within one year.

    The State of New Mexico has provided the information required under 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10)(i) in the five-year progress report. Based upon this information, New Mexico states in its progress report SIP that it believes that the current Section 309 and 309(g) RH SIPs are adequate to meet the State's 2018 RPGs and require no further revision at this time. Thus, the EPA has received a negative declaration from New Mexico.

    V. The EPA's Proposed Action

    The EPA is proposing to approve New Mexico's regional haze five-year progress report SIP revision (submitted on March 11, 2014) as meeting the applicable regional haze requirements set forth in 40 CFR 51.309(d)(10). The EPA is proposing to approve New Mexico's determination that the current RH SIP is adequate to meet the State's 2018 RPGs.

    VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, the EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely proposes to approve state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

    • Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

    • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

    • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

    • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

    • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

    • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

    • Is not subject to requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and

    • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the proposed rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). This action does have tribal implications in non-reservation areas of Indian country within the state. However, it will neither impose substantial direct compliance costs on federally recognized tribal governments, nor preempt tribal law. The EPA is coordinating with tribes regarding this matter.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Best Available Retrofit Technology, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen oxides, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Regional haze, Sulfur dioxide, Visibility, Volatile organic compounds.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: October 23, 2015. Samuel Coleman, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 6.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28007 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 1, 4 [GN Docket No. 15-206; FCC 15-119] Improving Outage Reporting for Submarine Cables and Enhancing Submarine Cable Outage Data AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) proposes to require submarine cable licensees, as a condition of their license, to report on outages involving either lost connectivity or degradation of 50 percent or more of a submarine cable's capacity for periods of at least 30 minutes, regardless of whether the cable's traffic is re-routed. The Commission seeks comment on whether this reporting system is necessary, whether the proposed reporting triggers are appropriate, and whether the reporting system proposed is the most efficient means to accomplish the Commission's goals of gaining visibility into the operational status of submarine cables. The document also seeks comment on ways in which the Commission can act to improve the submarine cable deployment process either on its own accord or by coordinating with other stakeholders.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before December 3, 2015 and reply comments by December 18, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number GN 15-206, by any of the following methods:

    • Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    • Mail: U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554. Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.

    • People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

    Parties wishing to file materials with a claim of confidentiality should follow the procedures set forth in section 0.459 of the Commission's rules. Confidential submissions may not be filed via ECFS but rather should be filed with the Secretary's Office following the procedures set forth in 47 CFR 0.459. Redacted versions of confidential submissions may be filed via ECFS. For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael D. Saperstein, Jr., Attorney Advisor, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, (202) 418-7008 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in GN Docket No. 15-206, released on September 18, 2015. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554, or online at https://www.fcc.gov/document/improving-outage-reporting-submarine-cables.

    Synopsis of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking I. Introduction

    Submarine (or “undersea”) cables provide the primary means of connectivity—voice, data and Internet—between the mainland United States and consumers in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as connectivity between the United States and the rest of the world. Given the role of submarine cables to the nation's economic and national security, there is value to ensuring that infrastructure is reliable, resilient and diverse. Today, however, the ad hoc approach to outage reporting for undersea cables has resulted in a gap in the sufficiency of the information that the Commission staff receives from service providers. To effectuate our statutory obligations of promoting the public interest and our nation's economic and national security, we need the ability to (1) be advised of undersea cable outages when they occur; (2) receive the information necessary to understand the nature of the damage and potential impacts on critical U.S. economic sectors, national security, and other vital interests; and (3) enhance coordination and help facilitate restoration of service in outage events.

    In this Notice of Proposed RulemakingNPRM”), we propose to require submarine cable licensees to report outages involving either lost connectivity or degradation of 50 percent or more of an undersea cable's capacity for periods of at least 30 minutes, regardless of whether the cable's traffic is re-routed. We also propose to amend the submarine cable landing license rules to require compliance with the outage reporting requirements.

    II. Discussion

    In this NPRM we propose rules to improve the Commission's present lack of visibility on undersea cable operational status by requiring undersea cable licensees to provide outage information to the Commission through a reliable part 4 template in accordance with logical standards and triggers. We also propose to revise part 1 of the rules governing submarine cable licenses to ensure compliance with the outage reporting requirements. We seek comment on all aspects of this proposal, including the definitions, degradation thresholds, and reporting structure for these requirements.

    A. Extending Mandatory Outage Reporting to Submarine Cables

    Undersea Cable Information System (UCIS). In 2008, in cooperation with other Federal agencies, and in support of Federal national security and emergency preparedness communications programs, the Commission began UCIS as a voluntary outage reporting system. Licensees that elect to use UCIS are asked to provide four categories of information for each submarine cable with a cable landing in the United States: (1) A terrestrial route map; (2) a location spreadsheet; (3) a general description of restoration plans in the event of an incident; and (4) system restoration messages. The Commission's experience with the ad hoc nature of this reporting approach highlights two significant concerns: (1) The Commission only receives information on about one-fourth of the cables; and (2) the information submitted is neither uniform, complete, nor consistent with respect to reporting triggers, form, or substance. We seek comment on licensees' evaluation of their participation in the UCIS program. To what extent and under what circumstances do submarine cable licensees make use of this tool? How many outages, planned or unplanned, does a licensee experience per year? Are there discernable patterns to submarine cable outages?

    Based on our experience, we believe that the Commission needs access to more timely and consistent reporting and information to assess the operational status of submarine cables, including any outages and the associated restoration status of these cables. We seek comment on whether the approach we propose in this item achieves our policy goals, and whether there are other approaches that may also achieve our policy goals. Is there a manner in which the Commission could maintain the UCIS model, either in format or in substance, and ensure it receives the necessary data on submarine cable operational status? What changes would need to be made to the current system?

    B. Proposed Submarine Cable Reporting System

    In light of the foregoing, we propose to replace UCIS in its entirety by extending modified outage reporting requirements in part 4 of our rules to submarine cable licensees.

    1. Covered Providers

    Pursuant to the Cable Landing License Act and Executive Order 10530, the Commission has promulgated cable landing licensing rules that require a person or entity to obtain a cable landing license to connect: (1) The contiguous United States with any foreign country; (2) Alaska, Hawaii, or United States territories or possessions with a foreign country, the contiguous United States, or with each other; and (3) points within the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or a territory or possession in which the cable is laid within international waters (e.g., Washington State to Alaska). The following entities are required to be licensees on a cable landing license: (1) Any entity that owns or controls a cable landing station in the United States; and (2) all other entities owning or controlling a five percent or greater interest in the cable system and using the U.S. points of the cable system. We note that although an entity with less than 5 percent ownership in a submarine cable is not required to be a licensee under the current rules, it may be a licensee, particularly on cables licensed prior to the rule change in 2002.

    In order to ensure resiliency of these critically important undersea cables, regardless of whether they are used for domestic or international voice and data traffic, we propose to require that all submarine cable licensees will be subject to Part 4's reporting requirements as further described in this Notice. Specifically, we propose to amend section 1.767 to make outage reporting a condition of each cable landing license. We seek comment on this proposal. Are there any categories of licensees that should be exempted from mandatory outage reporting? If so, why? Are there any entities subject to the Commission's jurisdiction (e.g., international communications service providers) that are not licensees that should be covered by these rules? How would applying these rules to such providers affect our legal analysis of our authority?

    Many submarine cables are jointly owned and operated by multiple licensees in a consortium. We seek comment on the assumption that, should an outage occur, it will generally cause a disruption for all licensees of that submarine cable. Based on that premise, and in an effort to minimize the burden both on licensees and the Commission, we propose that where there are multiple licensees of the same cable, only one licensee per cable will be required to file an outage report. In particular, we propose an approach whereby all licensees sharing a submarine cable would acknowledge and provide consent for a designated licensee to file on behalf of the cable should an outage occur. We seek comment on this approach.

    We observe that using a single licensee to coordinate filing is consistent with our treatment of submarine cables in other contexts. We seek comment on whether requiring only one licensee to file outage data on cables with multiple licensees would be efficacious. Does such an approach present a risk that the Commission will receive insufficient or otherwise incomplete information? Will the “Responsible Licensee” always have sufficient information to timely file and provide a full and accurate report? Should we require licensees to formally designate with the Commission one “Responsible Licensee” per submarine cable to bear the reporting obligation where there are multiple licensees? Does designating a “Responsible Licensee” place that licensee in the position of having to get information from a different licensee who caused or experienced the outage in order to comply with full and accurate reporting requirements?

    If we adopt a “Responsible Licensee” reporting paradigm to enhance administrative efficiency and convenience, we believe that every submarine cable licensee has a duty to ensure that outages are properly and adequately reported. We seek comment on this approach. Is such an approach equitable and capable of efficient implementation? Would such an approach create the right incentives for co-licensees to work together to quickly and accurate identify and report on outages? If reports are not timely-filed or accurate due to inability of the “Responsible Licensee” to obtain necessary information from the licensee who caused the outage, would enforcement action be appropriate against the “Responsible Licensee” only, or against co-licensees? Should each licensee be jointly and severally liable for any forfeiture? Are the administrative efficiencies of the Responsible Licensee system beneficial to reporting entities? Would the Responsible Licensee system complicate the Commission's ability to ensure proper reporting?

    2. Defining a Reportable Outage or Disruption

    We propose that an outage sufficient to trigger Part 4 reporting exists for submarine cables if there is a failure or significant degradation in the performance of a submarine cable, regardless of whether traffic traversing that cable can be re-routed to an alternate cable. This proposal, analogous to part 4 reporting for simplex outages, seems appropriate given the possibility of damage to multiple cables due to one or multiple related or unrelated events and the relatively small number of undersea cables available for re-routing generally. We seek comment on this proposal. How do licensees generally provide redundancy, and what are the notable effects on other services, if any?

    Further, we propose reporting of a submarine cable disruption when either: (i) an event occurs in which connectivity in either the transmit mode or the receive mode is lost for at least 30 minutes; or (ii) an event occurs in which 50 percent or more of a cable's capacity in either the transmit mode or the receive mode is lost for at least 30 minutes, regardless of whether the traffic is re-routed. In this proposal we distinguish connectivity, which is the fundamental ability to transmit a signal, from capacity, which speaks to the cable's bandwidth or throughput that it is capable of transmitting at any one time. We seek comment on all aspects of this proposal.

    We seek comment on whether there are more specific technical aspects of submarine cable performance or operation that, if reported, would enable the Commission to perform more sophisticated and useful outage reporting analysis. Are there any elements of the UCIS reporting structure that should remain if we adopt our proposal to require submarine cable outages under Part 4 of our rules? If we were to retain UCIS, are these reporting elements still applicable? Are there other technical specifications or aspects of submarine cable performance that should trigger a reporting requirement?

    3. Report Information, Format and Timing

    We propose to integrate submarine cable outage reporting into the existing NORS platform because it has proven to be an efficient mechanism for both reporting entities and Commission analysis. Our proposed system is similar, but not identical, to other part 4 outage reporting requirements. Here, we propose a three-report system that requires a Notification, an Interim Report to inform the Commission when repairs have been scheduled, and a Final Report for each outage event. We propose that in the event of a planned outage, licensees would not be required to file an Interim Report if the planned nature of the event was appropriately signaled in the Notification.

    Under our proposal, a licensee would be required to file a Notification in NORS within 120 minutes from the time that the licensee has determined that an event is reportable. We propose that the Notification would include:

    • The name of the reporting entity;

    • The name of the cable and a list of all licensees for that cable;

    • A brief description of the event, including root cause;

    • Whether the event is planned or unplanned;

    • The date and time of onset of the outage (for planned events, this is the estimated start time/date of the repair);

    • Nearest cable landing station;

    • Approximate location of the event (either in nautical miles from the nearest cable landing station or in latitude and longitude);

    • Best estimate of the duration of the event (total amount of time connectivity will be lost or 50 percent or more of the capacity will be lost);

    • A contact name, contact email address, and contact telephone number by which the Commission's technical staff may contact the reporting entity. We seek comment on all aspects of our proposed Notification. Should we require reporting of additional technical elements of submarine cable performance that would enable the Commission to perform more thorough and systematic outage reporting analysis? What technical elements would be appropriate to include in the Notification and do they differ from those that should be included in the Interim Report and Final Report? Are all of the reporting elements proposed generally known, or knowable with due diligence, to the licensees at the time the Notification would be due? If not, what elements are generally unknown at this stage and when do licensees receive such information? If the outage is a planned outage, should we require advance notification of the planned outage?

    Following the Notification, we propose to require licensees to file an Interim Report, if applicable (i.e., for an unplanned outage), when the repair has been scheduled. We believe that a licensee will have significantly more information about expected repair times after it has scheduled its undersea repair. Accordingly, we propose to require an Interim Report within 120 minutes of scheduling the repair. We propose that the Interim Report would include:

    • The name of the reporting entity;

    • The name of the cable;

    • A brief description of the event, including root cause;

    • The date and time of onset of the outage;

    • Nearest cable landing station;

    • Approximate location of the event (either in nautical miles from the nearest cable landing station or in latitude and longitude);

    • Best estimate of when the cable is scheduled to be repaired, including approximate arrival time and date of the repair ship, if applicable;

    • A contact name, contact email address, and contact telephone number by which the Commission's technical staff may contact the reporting entity. We seek comment on all aspects of our proposed Interim Report. We note that the NORS interface automatically populates the fields where information required duplicates that of the Notification, so the reporting licensee will not have to reenter data unless it is to amend or edit a previously-supplied response. Should we require reporting of additional technical elements of submarine cable performance that would enable the Commission to perform more thorough and systematic outage reporting analysis? What technical elements would be appropriate to include in the Interim Report and do they differ from those that should be included in the Notification and Final Report? Are all of the reporting elements proposed generally known, or knowable with due diligence, to the licensees at the time the Interim Report would be due? If not, what elements are generally unknown at this stage and when do licensees receive such information?

    After the Interim Report (if applicable), we propose to require licensees to file a Final Report seven days after the repair is completed. We propose that the Final Report would include:

    • The name of the reporting entity;

    • The name of the cable;

    • Whether the outage was planned or unplanned;

    • The date and time of onset of the outage (for planned events, this is the start date and time of the repair);

    • A brief description of the event;

    • Nearest cable landing station;

    • Approximate location of the event (either in nautical miles from the nearest cable landing station or in latitude and longitude);

    • Duration of the event (total amount of time connectivity was lost or 50 percent or more of the capacity is lost);

    • The restoration method;

    • A contact name, contact email address, and contact telephone number by which the Commission's technical staff may contact the reporting entity.

    We seek comment on all aspects of our proposed Final Report. We note that the NORS interface automatically populates the fields where information required duplicates that of the Notification and Interim Report, so the reporting licensee will not have to reenter data unless it is to amend or edit a previously-supplied response. Should we require reporting of additional technical elements of submarine cable performance that would enable the Commission to perform more thorough and systematic outage reporting analysis? What technical elements would be appropriate to include in the Final Report and do they differ from those that should be included in the Notification and Interim Report? Are all of the reporting elements proposed generally known, or knowable with due diligence, to the licensees at the time the Final Report would be due? If not, what elements are generally unknown at this stage and when do licensees receive such information?

    We propose to adopt substantially the same wording codified in section 4.11 of our rules for the submarine cable outage reporting system to the extent that it addresses authorized personnel, the requirement of good faith, the method of attestation that the information supplied is complete and accurate, and the manner of filing. We seek comment on applying the concepts of this rule to submarine cable reporting.

    4. Confidentiality

    Section 4.2 of the Commission's rules governing outage reporting states that “[r]eports filed under this part will be presumed to be confidential.” We propose to continue treating this information as presumptively confidential. We seek comment on this proposal. We observe that NORS data is routinely shared with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Commission is currently seeking comment on whether to share its Part 4 NORS outage reporting data with other federal agencies and/or state governments. We seek comment on whether the decision the Commission adopts regarding sharing outage reporting in the current NORS context should be applicable to information the Commission would receive if it were to extend the outage reporting requirements to submarine cables. What types of federal agencies and/or state and territorial governments would need to access information on submarine cable outage reports? Should such sharing be limited to cases where there is a direct effect on the government entity?

    C. Costs and Benefits of Outage Reporting Requirements

    We tentatively conclude that the benefits to be gained from this new reporting regime will substantially outweigh any costs to providers. The benefit of the Commission's situational awareness and ability to facilitate communications alternatives, which would come as a result of promulgating these rules, is particularly amplified with submarine cables due to the relatively small number of submarine cable serving as conduits for traffic to and from the United States.

    We are proposing a narrowly-tailored submarine cable outage reporting regime that we believe will have minimal cost to the entities reporting those outages. We seek comment on the tentative conclusion that our proposal's expected benefits will far exceed the minimal costs imposed on reporting entities. In our UCIS OMB Supporting Statement we estimated that the reporting required would cost $265,000 for 5,300 total hours spent on annual reporting (i.e., developing the initial reporting on terrestrial route maps, undersea cable location spreadsheet and restoration capabilities, updating the initial reports as necessary and reporting outages as they occur); we believe that the reporting system we propose in this NPRM would have substantially lower costs of compliance because we have eliminated many of the elements requested in UCIS. We estimated that there would be 40 annual restoration or trouble reports. Is this figure still accurate? There are roughly 100-200 incidents requiring repair each year globally, and the majority of these incidents appear to have occurred on cables not directly connected to the United States. In light of the relatively small number of submarine cable incidents that appear to have affected FCC-licensed cables directly, and depending on how we define a reportable incident, we seek input on the burden of such reporting on filing parties. Do licensees already collect the information we are seeking? If so, how much extra effort would be required to input that information into the proposed database?

    We conservatively estimate that the total annual burden will be $8,000 for the entire industry once the licensees have set up adequate reporting processes. For the annual burden, we conservatively estimate that there will be 50 reportable events. We conservatively estimate based on our experience with NORS reporting that the Notification will require 15 minutes to complete, the Interim Report will require 45 minutes to complete, and the final report will require one hour to complete, for a total of two hours per reportable event. At an assumed labor cost of $80/hour, and two hours for each of the 50 reporting cycles, the total cost of compliance would be $8,000. We seek comment on this analysis. We recognize that there are costs associated with implementing any new reporting system. What are the incremental costs of implementing the proposed NORS reporting system, recognizing a reporting system may already be in place for filing UCIS reports? To what extent are we proposing to require information that is not readily available as part of the normal course of business in the event of an outage? Are there costs associated with initiating the Responsible Licensee system, such as inter-licensee negotiations, that would add to the burdens associated with our proposal? Does the Responsible Licensee system alleviate the need for many licensees to establish an internal reporting system if they previously lacked one? We seek comment on all aspects of our analysis.

    D. Improving Submarine Cable Deployment Processes and Interagency Coordination

    The installation of submarine cable systems involves authorizations or permits from a number of federal and state agencies. We seek comment on the submarine cable deployment processes generally, and request any information concerning, for example, burdensome regulations or other issues that may impede rapid deployment and maintenance of undersea cables. We also seek comment on whether there are any actions we can take or steps we can encourage other agencies to take.

    With respect to interagency coordination, the International Bureau, which is responsible for administering submarine cable licenses, in coordination with the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, will reach out to relevant government agencies, under its existing delegated authority, to develop and improve interagency coordination processes and best practices vis-à-vis submarine cable deployment activities and related permits and authorizations to increase transparency and information sharing among the government agencies, cable licensees, and other stakeholders. The Bureaus will report their progress to the Commissioners. Are there additional means in which we may take actions to facilitate investments in and the rapid construction of reliable submarine cable network infrastructure?

    E. Legal Authority

    The Cable Landing License Act and Executive Order 10530 provide the Commission with authority to grant, withhold, condition and revoke submarine cable landing licenses. We tentatively conclude that that the Cable Landing License Act and Executive Order 10530 provide the Commission authority to adopt the outage reporting rules proposed in this NPRM and to impose compliance obligations with the proposed outage reporting requirements. We seek comment on the Commission's authority under the Cable Landing License Act and Executive Order 10530 to adopt the Part 1 and Part 4 rules on outage reporting obligations proposed in the NPRM.

    IV. Procedural Matters A. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of the proposals addressed in the NPRM. The IRFA is set forth in Section VII of this NPRM. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this NPRM. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, will send a copy of this NPRM, including the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    The NPRM contains proposed new information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and Budget to comment on the information collection requirements contained in the NPRM, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment on how we might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    C. Ex Parte Rules

    The proceeding is a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made; and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

    D. Comment Filing Procedures

    Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of the NPRM. Comments should be filed in GN Docket No. 15-206. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing.

    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    • All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

    • Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.

    • U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.

    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

    Confidential Materials: Parties wishing to file materials with a claim of confidentiality should follow the procedures set forth in section 0.459 of the Commission's rules. Confidential submissions may not be filed via ECFS but rather should be filed with the Secretary's Office following the procedures set forth in 47 CFR 0.459. Redacted versions of confidential submissions may be filed via ECFS.

    V. Ordering Clauses

    Accordingly, it is ordered pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 4(o), of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i)-(j) & (o), and pursuant to the Cable Landing License Act of 1921, 47 U.S.C. 34-39 and 3 U.S.C. 301 that this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in GN Docket No. 15-206 is adopted.

    It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

    VII. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the recommendations in this NPRM. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided in “Comment Period and Procedures” of this NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of this NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

    A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    We propose measures to improve the utility and effectiveness of the current scheme for receiving information on submarine cable outages, with the ultimate goal of enhancing both our overall understanding of submarine cable system status and our knowledge regarding specific outages disruptions and restoration efforts.

    B. Legal Basis

    The NPRM is adopted pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), and 4(o) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i)-(j) & (o) and pursuant to the Cable Landing License Act of 1921, 47 U.S.C. 34-39 and 3 U.S.C. 301.

    C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposals, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

    The proposals in the NPRM apply only to entities licensed to construct and operate submarine cables under the Cable Landing License Act. The NPRM proposes to have submarine cable licensees affected by a service outage file outage reports with the Commission describing the outage and restoration.

    The entities that the NPRM proposes to require to file reports are a mixture of both large and small entities. The Commission has not developed a small business size standard directed specifically toward these entities. However, as described below, these entities fit into larger categories for which the SBA has developed size standards that provide these facilities or services.

    Facilities-based Carriers. Facilities-based providers of international telecommunications services would fall into the larger category of interexchange carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of interexchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2007, which now supersede data from the 2002 Census, show that there were 3,188 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 had employment of 999 or fewer and 44 firms had had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these Interexchange carriers can be considered small entities. According to Commission data, 359 companies reported that their primary telecommunications service activity was the provision of interexchange services. Of these 359 companies, an estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 42 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of interexchange service providers are small entities that may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the NPRM.

    In the 2009 annual traffic and revenue report, 38 facilities-based and facilities-resale carriers reported approximately $5.8 billion in revenues from international message telephone service (IMTS). Of these, three reported IMTS revenues of more than $1 billion, eight reported IMTS revenues of more than $100 million, 10 reported IMTS revenues of more than $50 million, 20 reported IMTS revenues of more than $10 million, 25 reported IMTS revenues of more than $5 million, and 30 reported IMTS revenues of more than $1 million. Based solely on their IMTS revenues the majority of these carriers would be considered non-small entities under the SBA definition.

    The 2009 traffic and revenue report also shows that 45 facilities-based and facilities-resale carriers (including 14 who also reported IMTS revenues) reported $683 million for international private line services; of which four reported private line revenues of more than $50 million, 12 reported private line revenues of more than $10 million, 30 reported revenues of more than $1 million, 34 reported private line revenues of more than $500,000; 41 reported revenues of more than $100,000, while 2 reported revenues of less than $10,000.

    The 2009 traffic and revenue report also shows that seven carriers (including one that reported both IMTS and private line revenues, one that reported IMTS revenues and three that reported private line revenues) reported $50 million for international miscellaneous services, of which two reported miscellaneous services revenues of more than $1 million, one reported revenues of more than $500,000, two reported revenues of more than $200,000, one reported revenues of more than $50,000, while one reported revenues of less than $20,000. Based on its miscellaneous services revenue, this one carrier with revenues of less than $20,000 would be considered a small business under the SBA definition. Based on their private line revenues, most of these entities would be considered non-small entities under the SBA definition.

    Providers of International Telecommunications Transmission Facilities. According to the 2012 Circuit-Status Report, 61 U.S. international facility-based carriers filed information pursuant to section 43.82. Some of these providers would fall within the category of Inter-exchange Carriers, some would fall within the category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers, while others may not. The Commission has not developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of interexchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2007, which now supersede data from the 2002 Census, show that there were 3,188 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 had employment of 999 or fewer and 44 firms had had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these Interexchange carriers can be considered small entities. According to Commission data, 359 companies reported that their primary telecommunications service activity was the provision of interexchange services. Of these 359 companies, an estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 42 have more than 1,500 employees. The circuit-status report does not include employee or revenue statistics, so we are unable to determine how many carriers could be considered small entities under the SBA standard. Although it is quite possible that a carrier could report a small amount of capacity and have significant revenues, we will consider those 61 carriers to be small entities at this time. In addition, of the 79 carriers that filed an annual circuit-status report for 2009, there were at least four carriers that reported no circuits owned or in use at the end of 2009.

    Operators of Undersea Cable Systems. The NPRM seeks comment on whether submarine cable facilities should be subject to reporting requirements in the event of an outage. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a size standard specifically for operators of undersea cables. Such entities would fall within the large category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The size standard under SBA rules for that category is that such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2007, which now supersede data from the 2002 Census, show that there were 3,188 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 had employment of 999 or fewer, and 44 firms had had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these carriers can be considered small entities. We do not have data on the number of employees or revenues of operators of undersea cables. Because we do not have information on the number of employees or their annual revenues, we shall consider all such providers to be small entities for purposes of this IRFA.

    Operators of Non-Common Carrier International Transmission Facilities. At present, carriers that provide common carrier international transmission facilities over submarine cables are not required to report on outages, though the NPRM seeks comment on whether such carriers should be required to provide outage reports. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of non-common carrier terrestrial facilities. The operators of such terrestrial facilities would fall within the larger category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules for the Wired Telecommunications Carriers category is that such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2007, which now supersede data from the 2002 Census, show that there were 3,188 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 had employment of 999 or fewer and 44 firms had had employment of 1000 or more.

    Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers. Because some of the international terrestrial facilities that are used to provide international telecommunications services may be owned by incumbent local exchange carriers, we have included small incumbent local exchange carriers in this present RFA analysis, to the extent that such local exchange carriers may operate such international facilities. (Local exchange carriers along the U.S.-border with Mexico or Canada may have local facilities that cross the border.) Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for incumbent local exchange carriers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data for 2007, which now supersede data from the 2002 Census, show that there were 3,188 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 had employment of 999 or fewer and 44 firms had had employment of 1000 or more. According to Commission data, 1,307 carriers reported that they were incumbent local exchange service providers. Of these 1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 301 have more than 1,500 employees. As noted above, a “small business” under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and “is not dominant in its field of operation.” The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small incumbent local exchange carriers are not dominant in their field of operation because any such dominance is not “national” in scope. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of local exchange service are small entities that may be affected by the rules and policies proposed in the NPRM. We have therefore included small incumbent local exchange carriers in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analysis and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts. Thus under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these incumbent local exchange service providers can be considered small providers.

    D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

    The NPRM seeks comment on a proposal to mandate outage reporting requirements to all submarine cable licensees. An outage occurs when a licensee experiences an event in which (1) connectivity in either the transmit mode or receive mode is lost for at least 30 minutes; or (2) 50 percent or more of the capacity of the submarine cable, in either transmit or receive mode, is lost for at least 30 minutes. After a triggering event, the reporting requirement consists of three filings, the Notification, an Interim Report for unplanned outages, and the Final Report, which provide the Commission important data to improve the Commission's situational awareness on the operational status of submarine cables. We expect the filed reports will be based on information already within the reporting entity's possession, therefore these should be considered routine reports, though we seek comment on this assumption.

    E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

    The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): “(1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage or the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.”

    The NPRM seeks comment on its cost-benefit analysis of imposing this new reporting requirement, including information on the extent to which submarine cable licensees already possess the outage information that we propose to require. The Commission takes the position that the national security and economic benefits of providing the Commission with situational awareness of the operating status submarine cables outweighs the minimal cost of reporting proposed. We seek comment on that view. The Commission proposes these rules only after its existing ad hoc and voluntary system of reporting submarine cable outages has failed to provide the Commission with the information it requires. In addition, the Commission proposes that where there are multiple licensees of a single submarine cable that experiences an outage, the licensees of that cable can designate a Responsible Licensee to report on the outage on behalf of all affected licensees. While each licensee maintains the responsibility of ensuring that the proper reports are filed, this process can cut down on the individual reporting requirements for many licensees, possibly including small businesses. The Commission seeks comment on how it can create the most efficient and least burdensome process possible while still meeting its goals.

    F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules

    None.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR parts 1 and 4

    Disruptions to Communications, Telecommunications, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR parts 1 and 4 as follows:

    PART 1—PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE 1. The authority citation for part 1 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 155, 157, 225, 303(r), 309, 1403, 1404, 1451, and 1452.

    2. Section 1.767 is amended by adding paragraph (g)(15), revising paragraph (n) and adding paragraph (o) to read as follows:
    § 1.767 Cable landing licenses.

    (g) * * *

    (15) Licensees shall file submarine cable outage reports as required in part 4 of this chapter.

    (n)(1) With the exception of submarine cable outage reports, and subject to the availability of electronic forms, all applications and notifications described in this section must be filed electronically through the International Bureau Filing System (IBFS). A list of forms that are available for electronic filing can be found on the IBFS homepage. For information on electronic filing requirements, see part 1, subpart Y, and the IBFS homepage at http://www.fcc.gov/ibfs. See also §§ 63.20 and 63.53 of this chapter.

    (2) Submarine cable outage reports must be filed as set forth in part 4 of this chapter.

    (o) Outage Reporting Licensees of a cable landing license granted prior to March 15, 2002 shall file submarine cable outage reports as required in part 4 of this chapter.

    PART 4—DISRUPTIONS TO COMMUNICATIONS 3. The authority citation for part 4 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 34-39, 154, 155, 157, 201, 251, 307, 316, 615a-1, 1302(a), and 1302(b); 5 U.S.C. 301, and Executive Order no. 10530.

    4. Section 4.1 is revised to read as follows:
    § 4.1 Scope, basis, and purpose.

    (a) In this part, the Federal Communications Commission is setting forth requirements pertinent to the reporting of disruptions to communications and to the reliability and security of communications infrastructures.

    (b) The definitions, criteria, and reporting requirements set forth in §§ 4.2 through 4.13 of this part are applicable to the communications providers defined in § 4.3 of this part.

    (c) The definitions, criteria, and reporting requirements set forth in § 4.15 of this part are applicable to providers of submarine cable licensees who have been licensed pursuant to 47 U.S.C. 34-39.

    5. Add § 4.15, to read as follows:
    § 4.15 Submarine Cable Outage Reporting

    (a) Definitions

    (1) For purposes of this section, “outage” is defined as a failure or degradation in the performance of that communications provider's cable regardless of whether the traffic can be rerouted to an alternate cable.

    (2) An “outage” requires reporting under this section when:

    (i) An event occurs in which connectivity in either the transmit mode or the receive mode is lost for at least 30 minutes; or

    (ii) Fifty percent or more of the capacity of the submarine cable, in either the transmit mode or the receive mode, is lost for at least 30 minutes.

    (b) Outage Reporting

    (1) For each outage that requires reporting under this section, the licensee (or Responsible Licensee as noted herein) shall provide the Commission with a Notification, and Interim Report (subject to the limitations on planned outages in paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section), and a Final Outage Report.

    (i) For a submarine cable that is jointly owned and operated by multiple licensees, the licensees of that cable may designate a Responsible Licensee that files outage reports under this rule on behalf of all licensees on the affected cable.

    (ii) Licensees opting to designate a Responsible Licensee must jointly notify the Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau's Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability Division of this decision in writing. Such notification shall include the name of the submarine cable at issue; contact information for all licensees on the submarine cable at issue, including the Responsible Licensee;

    (2) Notification, Interim, and Final Outage Reports shall be submitted by a person authorized by the licensee to submit such reports to the Commission.

    (i) The person submitting the Final Outage Report to the Commission shall also be authorized by the licensee to legally bind the provider to the truth, completeness, and accuracy of the information contained in the report. Each Final report shall be attested by the person submitting the report that he/she has read the report prior to submitting it and on oath deposes and states that the information contained therein is true, correct, and accurate to the best of his/her knowledge and belief and that the licensee on oath deposes and states that this information is true, complete, and accurate.

    (ii) The Notification is due within 120 minutes of the time of determining that an event is reportable. The Notification shall be submitted in good faith. Licensees shall provide: The name of the reporting licensee; the name of the cable and a list of all licensees for that cable; the date and time of onset of the outage (for planned events, this is the estimated start time/date of the repair); a brief description of the event, including root cause; nearest cable landing station; approximate location of the event (either in nautical miles from the nearest cable landing station or in latitude and longitude); best estimate of the duration of the event (total amount of time connectivity is lost or 50 percent or more of the capacity is lost); whether the event is planned or unplanned; and a contact name, contact email address, and contact telephone number by which the Commission's technical staff may contact the reporting entity.

    (iii) The Interim Report is due within 120 minutes of scheduling a repair to a submarine cable. The Interim Report shall be submitted in good faith. Licensees shall provide: The name of the reporting licensee; the name of the cable; a brief description of the event, including root cause; the date and time of onset of the outage; nearest cable landing station; approximate location of the event (either in nautical miles from the nearest cable landing station or in latitude and longitude); best estimate of when the cable is scheduled to be repaired, including approximate arrival time and date of the repair ship, if applicable; a contact name, contact email address, and contact telephone number by which the Commission's technical staff may contact the reporting entity. The Interim report is not required where the licensee has reported in the Notification that the outage at issue is a planned outage.

    (iv) The Final Outage Report is due seven days after the repair is completed. The Final Outage Report shall contain: The name of the reporting licensee; the name of the cable, the date and time of onset of the outage (for planned events, this is the start date and time of the repair); a brief description of the event; nearest cable landing station; approximate location of the event (either in nautical miles from the nearest cable landing station or in latitude and longitude); duration of the event (total amount of time connectivity is lost or 50 percent or more of the capacity is lost); whether the event was planned or unplanned; the restoration method; and a contact name, contact email address, and contact telephone number by which the Commission's technical staff may contact the reporting entity. The Final Report must also contain an attestation as described in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section.

    (v) The Notification, Interim Report, and Final Outage Reports are to be submitted electronically to the Commission. “Submitted electronically” refers to submission of the information using Commission-approved Web-based outage report templates. If there are technical impediments to using the Web-based system during the Notification stage, then a written Notification to the Commission by email to the Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is permitted; such Notification shall contain the information required. Electronic filing shall be effectuated in accordance with procedures that are specified by the Commission by public notice.

    (c) Confidentiality reports filed under this part will be presumed to be confidential. Public access to reports filed under this part may be sought only pursuant to the procedures set forth in 47 CFR 0.461. Notice of any requests for inspection of outage reports will be provided pursuant to 47 CFR 0.461(d)(3).

    [FR Doc. 2015-27926 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    80 212 Tuesday, November 3, 2015 Notices AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Notice of Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid Meeting AGENCY:

    United States Agency for International Development.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, notice is hereby given of a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA).

    Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015. Time: 2:00-4:00 p.m. Location: Pavilion Room, The Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20004. Purpose

    The Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA) brings together USAID and private voluntary organization officials, representatives from universities, international nongovernment organizations, U.S. businesses, and government, multilateral, and private organizations to foster understanding, communication, and cooperation in the area of foreign aid.

    Agenda

    USAID Acting Administrator Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt will make opening remarks, followed by panel discussions among ACVFA members and USAID leadership on the U.S. Global Development Lab. The full meeting agenda will be forthcoming on the ACVFA Web site at http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/organization/advisory-committee.

    Stakeholders

    The meeting is free and open to the public. Registration information will be forthcoming on the ACVFA Web site at http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/organization/advisory-committee.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jayne Thomisee, [email protected]

    Dated: October 22, 2015. Jayne Thomisee, Executive Director & Policy Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27932 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2015-0064] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Phytosanitary Export Certification AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the issuance of phytosanitary certificates for plants or plant products being exported to foreign countries.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before January 4, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0064.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2015-0064, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0064 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the regulations for phytosanitary export certification for plants and plant products being exported to foreign countries, contact Mr. Terrance Wells, Export Specialist North America and U.S. Territories, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 131, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2315. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2727.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Phytosanitary Export Certification.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0052.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: The Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to certify as to the freedom of plants, plant products, or biological control organisms from plant pests or noxious weeds, or the exposure of plants, plant products, or biological control organisms to plant pests or noxious weeds, according to the phytosanitary or other requirements of the countries to which the plants, plant products, or biological control organisms may be exported.

    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), among other things, provides export certification services to assure other countries that the plants and plant products they are receiving from the United States are free of plant pests specified by the receiving country. Our regulations do not require that we engage in export certification activities. However, we perform this work as a service to exporters who are shipping plants or plant products to countries that require phytosanitary certification as a condition of entry.

    The export certification regulations in 7 CFR part 353 describe the procedures for obtaining certification for plants and plant products offered for export or re-export. To request that we perform a phytosanitary inspection, an exporter must complete and submit an Application for Inspection and Certification of Plants and Plant Products for Export (PPQ Form 572).

    After assessing the condition of the plants or plant products intended for export (i.e., after conducting a phytosanitary inspection), an inspector (who may be an APHIS employee or a State or county plant regulatory official) will issue an internationally recognized phytosanitary certificate (PPQ Form 577), a phytosanitary certificate for re-export (PPQ Form 579), or an export certificate for processed plant products (PPQ Form 578). These forms are critical to our ability to certify plants and plant products for export. Without them, we would be unable to conduct an export certification program.

    Since the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) last approval of this collection, we have revised the estimates of burden associated with this information collection. We have added activities that were previously not accounted for, such as the recordkeeping burden for PPQ Form 572 or its equivalent, a memorandum of understanding for State inspectors, request for APHIS to negotiate with national plant protection organizations for industry-issued certificates or documentation, memorandum of understanding with industry for inspection and use of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (ISPM 15), and the application of an ISPM 15 mark. In addition, we have removed burden that reflected activities that were conducted by APHIS personnel.

    We are asking OMB to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.0066 hours per response.

    Respondents: State, local, and county plant regulatory officials, U.S. growers, shippers, and exporters.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 9,101.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 6,155.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 56,015,610.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 369,977 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 28th day of October 2015. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27960 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2014-0100] Notice of Determination; Changes to the National Poultry Improvement Plan Program Standards AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    We are updating the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Program Standards document. In a previous notice, we made available to the public for review and comment revisions to the NPIP Program Standards document describing changes to blood testing procedures for mycoplasma, bacteriological examination procedure changes for Salmonella, and the addition of new approved diagnostic test kits.

    DATES:

    Effective January 4, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Denise Brinson, DVM, Director, National Poultry Improvement Plan, VS, APHIS, USDA, 1506 Klondike Road, Suite 101, Conyers, GA 30094-5104; (770) 922-3496.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The regulations in 9 CFR parts 145, 146, and 147 (referred to below as the regulations) contain the provisions of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP, also referred to below as “the Plan”), a cooperative Federal-State-Industry mechanism for controlling certain poultry diseases. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS, also referred to as “the Service”) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA, also referred to as “the Department”) amends these provisions from time to time to incorporate new scientific information and technologies within the Plan.

    In § 147.53, paragraph (b) states that approved tests and sanitation procedures used to qualify flocks for NPIP classifications are set out in the NPIP Program Standards.1 In that section, paragraphs (d) and (e) set out the process for adding or revising tests or sanitation procedures. Paragraph (e)(1) states that APHIS will publish a notice in the Federal Register making the test or sanitation procedure available for public comment. Paragraph (e)(2)(i) states that, at the end of the comment period, the test or sanitation procedure will be added to the NPIP Program Standards, or the NPIP Program Standards will be updated to reflect changes to an existing test or sanitation procedure, if:

    1 The Program Standards may be viewed on the NPIP Web site at http://www.poultryimprovement.org/documents/ProgramStandardsAugust2014.pdf, or by writing to the Service at National Poultry Improvement Plan, APHIS, USDA, 1506 Klondike Road, Suite 101, Conyers, GA 30094.

    (a) No comments were received on the notice;

    (b) The comments on the notice supported the action described in the notice; or

    (c) The comments on the notice were evaluated but did not change the Administrator's determination that approval of the test or sanitation procedure is appropriate based on the standards in paragraph (a) of § 147.53.

    On February 6, 2015, we published a notice 2 in the Federal Register (80 FR 6681, Docket No. APHIS-2014-0100) advising the public that we had prepared updates to the NPIP Program Standards document. The proposed updates included changes to blood testing procedures for mycoplasma, bacteriological examination procedure changes for Salmonella, and the addition of new approved diagnostic test kits.

    2 To view the notice and comment we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2014-0100.

    We solicited comments on the notice for 30 days ending on March 9, 2015. We received one comment by that date, from a private citizen. However, the commenter did not address the changes mentioned in the notice.

    Therefore, in accordance with our regulations in § 147.53(e)(2)(i)(C), we are revising the NPIP Program Standards as described in our previous notice.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 8301-8317; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.4.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 28th day of October 2015. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27959 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2015-0082] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Papaya From Colombia and Ecuador AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of papaya from Colombia and Ecuador into the continental United States.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before January 4, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0082.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2015-0082, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0082 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the importation of papaya from Colombia and Ecuador, contact Mr. Juan (Tony) Román, Senior Regulatory Policy Specialist, RCC, IRM, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 156, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2242. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2727.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Importation of Papaya From Colombia and Ecuador.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0358.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: The Plant Protection Act (PPA, 7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or their dissemination within the United States. As authorized by the PPA, APHIS regulates the importation of fruits and vegetables into the United States from certain parts of the world as provided in “Subpart—Fruits and Vegetables” (7 CFR 319.56-1 through 319.56-73).

    Section 319.56-25 of the regulations provides for the importation of papayas from Central America and South America into the continental United States under specified conditions intended to prevent the introduction of certain quarantine pests. Within this section, there are specific requirements for the importation of papaya from Colombia and Ecuador. Some of these requirements include the use of information collection activities, such as trapping records, grower registration, and a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of the exporting country with an additional declaration confirming that the papaya have been grown, packed, and shipped in accordance with the regulations.

    When comparing the regulations to the information collection activities that were previously approved, we found that we did not account for importers requesting phytosanitary certificates from the NPPO of the exporting country, activities associated with recordkeeping, and grower registrations and the associated reinstatements. By adding these activities to this information collection, the overall estimates of burden have increased.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.3602 hours per response.

    Respondents: Importers and growers of papaya and the NPPOs of Colombia and Ecuador.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 158.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 5.88.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 930.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 335 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 28th day of October 2015. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27967 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2015-0081] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Tomatoes From Certain Central American Countries AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of tomatoes from certain Central American countries.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before January 4, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0081.

    • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2015-0081, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2015-0081 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the importation of tomatoes from certain Central American countries, contact Mr. Juan (Tony) Román, Senior Regulatory Policy Specialist, RCC, IRM, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 156, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2242. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2727.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Importation of Tomatoes From Certain Central American Countries.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0286.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: The Plant Protection Act (PPA, 7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or their dissemination within the United States. Regulations authorized by the PPA concerning the importation of fruits and vegetables into the United States from certain parts of the world are contained in “Subpart-Fruits and Vegetables” (7 CFR 319.56-1 through 319.56-73).

    Under these regulations, pink or red tomatoes from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama are subject to certain conditions before entering the United States to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States. The regulations require information collection activities, including phytosanitary certificates with an additional declaration statement, production site and packinghouse inspection records, monitoring and auditing of the trapping program, trapping records, and labeling of boxes.

    When comparing the regulations to the information collection activities that were previously approved, we found that we did not account for pre-harvest inspections, production site registration and recertification, and export certifications. Additionally, the number of respondents has decreased by 10, but the number of responses from each respondent has increased. By adding these activities and responses to this information collection, the overall estimates of burden have increased.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.19 hours per response.

    Respondents: Importers and growers of tomatoes and the national plant protection organizations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 54.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 112.4.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 6,072.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 1,160 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 28th day of October 2015. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27965 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE National Agricultural Statistics Service Notice of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics Meeting AGENCY:

    National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announces a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Hubert Hamer, Executive Director, Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics, telephone: 202-720-3896, eFax: 855-593-5473, or email: [email protected]

    Correction.

    In the Federal Register of October 14, 2015 in FR Doc. 2015-26089, on page 61791, in the address section, read as follows:

    The Committee meeting will take place at the Brown Hotel, 335 West Broadway, Louisville, Kentucky, 40202. Written comments may be filed before or up to two weeks after the meeting with the contact person identified herein at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 5029, South Building, Washington, DC 20250-2000.

    Yvette Anderson, Federal Register Liaison Officer for ARS, ERS, and NASS.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27972 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-20-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the South Carolina Advisory Committee for a Meeting To Welcome New Members of the Committee and Discuss Potential Project Topics AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the South Carolina (State) Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, for the purpose of welcoming new members to the committee and discussing potential projects.

    Members of the public can listen to the discussion. This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 1-888-510-1785, conference ID: 764821. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. The conference call operator will ask callers to identify themselves, the organization they are affiliated with (if any), and an email address prior to placing callers into the conference room. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are also invited and welcomed to make statements at the end of the conference call. In addition, members of the public may submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by January 2, 2016. Written comments may be mailed to the Southern Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 61 Forsyth Street, Suite 16T126, Atlanta, GA 30303. They may also be faxed to the Commission at (404) 562-7005, or emailed to Regional Director, Jeffrey Hinton at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Southern Regional Office at (404) 562-7000.

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Southern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available at the South Carolina Advisory Committee link at http://facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=273 and clicking on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Southern Regional Office at the above email or street address.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 12:00 p.m. EST.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be by teleconference. Toll-free call-in number: 1-888-510-1785, conference ID: 764821.

    Agenda Welcome and Introductions of new advisory committee members Walter Caudle, Chairman South Carolina Advisory Committee discussion of potential project topics Walter Caudle, Chairman Open Comment Advisory Committee Public Participation Adjournment Dated: October 28, 2015. David Mussatt, Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27867 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Kansas Advisory Committee to plan for a public hearing regarding civil rights and voting requirements in the State. The discussion will include approving an agenda of speakers, and logistical setup for the event. AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Kansas Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2015, at 12:00 p.m. CST for the purpose of discussing preparations for an upcoming hearing on voting rights in the State.

    This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 888-427-9376, conference ID: 1744905. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. The conference call operator will ask callers to identify themselves, the organization they are affiliated with (if any), and an email address prior to placing callers into the conference room. Callers can expect to incur regular charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, according to their wireless plan. The Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are invited and welcomed to make statements at the end of the conference call. In addition, members of the public may submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office within 30 days after the meeting. Written comments may be mailed to the Regional Programs Unit, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 55 W. Monroe St., Suite 410, Chicago, IL 60615. They may also be faxed to the Commission at (312) 353-8324, or emailed to Administrative Assistant, Corrine Sanders at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit at (312) 353-8311.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing prior to and after the meeting at https://database.faca.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=249 and clicking on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Regional Programs Unit, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Regional Programs Unit at the above email or street address.

    AGENDA:

    Welcome and Introductions Elizabeth Kronk Warner, Chair Preparatory Discussion for Public Hearing on Voting Rights in Kansas Kansas Advisory Committee Open Comment Public Participation Adjournment DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2015, at 12:00 p.m. CST.

    PUBLIC CALL INFORMATION:

    Dial: 888-427-9376 Conference ID: 1744905 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Melissa Wojnaroski, DFO, at 312-353-8311 or [email protected]

    Dated: October 29, 2015. David Mussatt, Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27991 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35).

    Agency: U.S. Census Bureau.

    Title: Business R&D and Innovation Survey.

    OMB Control Number: 0607-0912.

    Form Number(s): BRDI-1, BRDI-1(S).

    Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    Number of Respondents: BRDI-1 = 7,000; BRDI-1(S) = 38,000.

    Average Hours per Response: BRDI-1 = 15 hours; BRDI-1(S) = 38 minutes.

    Burden Hours: 126,500.

    Needs and Uses: The Census Bureau is requesting clearance to conduct the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) for the 2015-2017 survey years with the revisions outlined in this document. Companies are the major performers of research and development (R&D) in the United States, accounting for over 70 percent of total U.S. R&D outlays each year. A consistent business R&D information base is essential to government officials formulating public policy, industry personnel involved in corporate planning, and members of the academic community conducting research. To develop policies designed to promote and enhance science and technology, past trends and the present status of R&D must be known and analyzed. Without comprehensive business R&D statistics, it would be impossible to evaluate the health of science and technology in the United States or to make comparisons between the technological progress of our country and that of other nations.

    The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 as amended authorizes and directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) “. . . to provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal government.” One of the methods used by NSF to fulfill this mandate is The Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS)—the primary federal source of information on R&D in the business sector. NSF together with the Census Bureau, the collecting and compiling agent, analyze the data and publish the resulting statistics.

    NSF has published annual R&D statistics collected from the Survey of Industrial Research and Development (1953-2007) and BRDIS (2008-2014) for 61 years. The results of the surveys are used to assess trends in R&D expenditures by industry sector, investigate productivity determinants, formulate science and tax policy, and compare individual company performance with industry averages. This survey is the Nation's primary source for international comparative statistics on business R&D spending.

    BRDIS will continue to collect the following types of information:

    • R&D expense based on accounting standards.

    • Worldwide R&D of domestic companies.

    • Business segment detail.

    • R&D related capital expenditures.

    • Detailed data about the R&D workforce.

    • R&D strategy and data on the potential impact of R&D on the market.

    • R&D directed to application areas of particular national interest.

    • Data measuring innovation and intellectual property protection activities.

    The following changes will be made to the 2015-2017 BRDIS compared to the 2014 BRDIS:

    • Section 3: Adding question on domestic R&D performed by others and paid for by the Federal Government.

    • Section 4: Deleting four questions on R&D with technology focus of photonics/optics.

    • Section 4: Adding four questions on the Research/Development split for foreign R&D.

    Information from BRDIS will continue to support the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 as well as other R&D-related initiatives introduced during the clearance period. Other initiatives that have used BRDIS statistics include: The Innovation Measurement—Tracking the State of Innovation in the American Economy (U.S. Department of Commerce); Science of Science and Innovation Policy (NSF); and Rising Above the Gathering Storm (National Research Council).

    Policy officials from many Federal agencies rely on these statistics for essential information. Businesses and trade organizations rely on BRDIS data to benchmark their industry's performance against others. For example, total U.S. R&D expenditures statistics have been used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to update the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) and, in fact, the BEA recently has recognized and incorporated R&D as fixed investment in the NIPA. Accurate R&D data are needed to continue the development and effect subsequent updates to this detailed satellite account. Also, NSF, BEA and the Census Bureau periodically update a data linking project that utilizes BRDIS data to augment global R&D investment information that is obtained from BEA's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and U.S. Direct Investment Abroad (USDIA) surveys. Further, the Census Bureau links data collected by BRDIS with other statistical files. At the Census Bureau, historical company-level R&D data are linked to a file that contains information on the outputs and inputs of companies' manufacturing plants. Researchers are able to analyze the relationships between R&D funding and other economic variables by using micro-level data.

    Individuals and organizations access the survey statistics via the Internet in annual InfoBriefs published by NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) that announce the availability of statistics from each cycle of BRDIS and detailed statistical table reports that contain all of the statistics NSF produces from BRDIS. Information about the kinds of projects that rely on statistics from BRDIS is available from internal records of NSF's NCSES. In addition, survey statistics are regularly cited in trade publications and many researchers use the survey statistics from these secondary sources without directly contacting NSF or the Census Bureau.

    Affected Public: Business or other for profit.

    Frequency: Annually.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    Legal Authority: Title 13, United States Code, Sections 8(b), 131, and 182, and Title 42, United States Code, Sections 1861-76 (National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended).

    This information collection request may be viewed at www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to OIRA_[email protected] or fax to (202)395-5806.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Glenna Mickelson, Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27962 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-119-2015] Approval of Subzone Status Swisscosmet Corporation New Port Richey, Florida

    On August 12, 2015, the Executive Secretary of the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board docketed an application submitted by the City of Tampa, grantee of FTZ 79, requesting subzone status subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 79, on behalf of Swisscosmet Corporation in New Port Richey, Florida.

    The application was processed in accordance with the FTZ Act and Regulations, including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (80 FR 49985-49986, 8/18/2015). The FTZ staff examiner reviewed the application and determined that it meets the criteria for approval.

    Pursuant to the authority delegated to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary (15 CFR Sec. 400.36(f)), the application to establish Subzone 79D is approved, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.13, and further subject to FTZ 79's 2,000-acre activation limit.

    Dated: October 28, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28030 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-69-2015] Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Zale Delaware, Inc.; Subzone 39F; (Assembly of Jewelry) Irving, Texas

    Zale Delaware, Inc. (Zale), operator of Subzone 39F, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facility in Irving, Texas. The notification conforming to the requirements of the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR 400.22) was received on October 26, 2015.

    The Zale facility is used for the distribution and assembly of jewelry and accessories. Pursuant to 15 CFR 400.14(b), FTZ activity would be limited to the specific foreign-status materials and components and specific finished products described in the submitted notification (as described below) and subsequently authorized by the FTZ Board.

    Production under FTZ procedures could exempt Zale from customs duty payments on the foreign status components used in export production. On its domestic sales, Zale would be able to choose the duty rate during customs entry procedures that applies to finished diamond rings, diamond ear rings, necklaces and pendants (duty rate 5.5%) for the foreign status inputs noted below. Customs duties also could possibly be deferred or reduced on foreign status production equipment.

    The components and materials sourced from abroad include: Cut diamonds, ring mounts, ear ring mounts, necklaces (rope and mixed link) and pendant mounts (duty rate ranges from duty-free to 5.8%).

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is December 14, 2015.

    A copy of the notification will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the FTZ Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Kathleen Boyce at [email protected] or (202) 482-1346.

    Dated: October 28, 2015. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28029 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Advance Notification of Sunset Reviews AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Commerce.

    Background

    Every five years, pursuant to section 751(c) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“the Act”), the Department of Commerce (“the Department”) and the International Trade Commission automatically initiate and conduct a review to determine whether revocation of a countervailing or antidumping duty order or termination of an investigation suspended under section 704 or 734 of the Act would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping or a countervailable subsidy (as the case may be) and of material injury.

    Upcoming Sunset Reviews for December 2015

    The following Sunset Reviews are scheduled for initiation in December 2015 and will appear in that month's Notice of Initiation of Five-Year Sunset Review (“Sunset Review”).

    Department contact Antidumping Duty Proceedings Petroleum Wax Candles from China (A-570-504) (4th Review) Matthew Renkey, (202) 482-2312. Countervailing Duty Proceedings

    No Sunset Review of countervailing duty orders is scheduled for initiation in December 2015.

    Suspended Investigations

    No Sunset Review of suspended investigations is scheduled for initiation in December 2015.

    The Department's procedures for the conduct of Sunset Reviews are set forth in 19 CFR 351.218. The Notice of Initiation of Five-Year (“Sunset”) Reviews provides further information regarding what is required of all parties to participate in Sunset Reviews.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.103(c), the Department will maintain and make available a service list for these proceedings. To facilitate the timely preparation of the service list(s), it is requested that those seeking recognition as interested parties to a proceeding contact the Department in writing within 10 days of the publication of the Notice of Initiation.

    Please note that if the Department receives a Notice of Intent to Participate from a member of the domestic industry within 15 days of the date of initiation, the review will continue. Thereafter, any interested party wishing to participate in the Sunset Review must provide substantive comments in response to the notice of initiation no later than 30 days after the date of initiation.

    This notice is not required by statute but is published as a service to the international trading community.

    Dated: October 27, 2015. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28017 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Initiation of Five-Year (“Sunset”) Review AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with section 751(c) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“the Act”), the Department of Commerce (“the Department”) is automatically initiating the five-year review (“Sunset Review”) of the antidumping and countervailing duty (“AD/CVD”) orders listed below. The International Trade Commission (“the Commission”) is publishing concurrently with this notice its notice of Institution of Five-Year Review which covers the same orders.

    DATES:

    Effective: November 1, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The Department official identified in the Initiation of Review section below at AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230. For information from the Commission contact Mary Messer, Office of Investigations, U.S. International Trade Commission at (202) 205-3193.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Department's procedures for the conduct of Sunset Reviews are set forth in its Procedures for Conducting Five-Year (“Sunset”) Reviews of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders, 63 FR 13516 (March 20, 1998) and 70 FR 62061 (October 28, 2005). Guidance on methodological or analytical issues relevant to the Department's conduct of Sunset Reviews is set forth in Antidumping Proceedings: Calculation of the Weighted-Average Dumping Margin and Assessment Rate in Certain Antidumping Duty Proceedings; Final Modification, 77 FR 8101 (February 14, 2012).

    Initiation of Review

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.218(c), we are initiating Sunset Reviews of the following antidumping and countervailing duty orders:

    DOC Case No. ITC Case No. Country Product Department contact A-570-890 731-TA-1058 PRC Wooden Bedroom Furniture, (2nd Review) Matthew Renkey, (202) 482-2312. Filing Information

    As a courtesy, we are making information related to sunset proceedings, including copies of the pertinent statute and Department's regulations, the Department's schedule for Sunset Reviews, a listing of past revocations and continuations, and current service lists, available to the public on the Department's Web site at the following address: “http://enforcement.trade.gov/sunset/.” All submissions in these Sunset Reviews must be filed in accordance with the Department's regulations regarding format, translation, and service of documents. These rules, including electronic filing requirements via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (“ACCESS”), can be found at 19 CFR 351.303.1

    1See also Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Electronic Filing Procedures; Administrative Protective Order Procedures, 76 FR 39263 (July 6, 2011).

    This notice serves as a reminder that any party submitting factual information in an AD/CVD proceeding must certify to the accuracy and completeness of that information.2 Parties are hereby reminded that revised certification requirements are in effect for company/government officials as well as their representatives in these segments.3 The formats for the revised certifications are provided at the end of the Final Rule. The Department intends to reject factual submissions if the submitting party does not comply with the revised certification requirements.

    2See section 782(b) of the Act.

    3See Certification of Factual Information To Import Administration During Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 42678 (July 17, 2013) (“Final Rule”) (amending 19 CFR 351.303(g)).

    On April 10, 2013, the Department modified two regulations related to AD/CVD proceedings: The definition of factual information (19 CFR 351.102(b)(21)), and the time limits for the submission of factual information (19 CFR 351.301).4 Parties are advised to review the final rule, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/2013/1304frn/2013-08227.txt, prior to submitting factual information in these segments. To the extent that other regulations govern the submission of factual information in a segment (such as 19 CFR 351.218), these time limits will continue to be applied. Parties are also advised to review the final rule concerning the extension of time limits for submissions in AD/CVD proceedings, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/2013/1309frn/2013-22853.txt, prior to submitting factual information in these segments.5

    4See Definition of Factual Information and Time Limits for Submission of Factual Information: Final Rule, 78 FR 21246 (April 10, 2013).

    5See Extension of Time Limits, 78 FR 57790 (September 20, 2013).

    Letters of Appearance and Administrative Protective Orders

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.103(d), the Department will maintain and make available a public service list for these proceedings. Parties wishing to participate in any of these five-year reviews must file letters of appearance as discussed at 19 CFR 351.103(d)). To facilitate the timely preparation of the public service list, it is requested that those seeking recognition as interested parties to a proceeding submit an entry of appearance within 10 days of the publication of the Notice of Initiation.

    Because deadlines in Sunset Reviews can be very short, we urge interested parties who want access to proprietary information under administrative protective order (“APO”) to file an APO application immediately following publication in the Federal Register of this notice of initiation. The Department's regulations on submission of proprietary information and eligibility to receive access to business proprietary information under APO can be found at 19 CFR 351.304-306.

    Information Required From Interested Parties

    Domestic interested parties, as defined in section 771(9)(C), (D), (E), (F), and (G) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.102(b), wishing to participate in a Sunset Review must respond not later than 15 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register of this notice of initiation by filing a notice of intent to participate. The required contents of the notice of intent to participate are set forth at 19 CFR 351.218(d)(1)(ii). In accordance with the Department's regulations, if we do not receive a notice of intent to participate from at least one domestic interested party by the 15-day deadline, the Department will automatically revoke the order without further review.6

    6See 19 CFR 351.218(d)(1)(iii).

    If we receive an order-specific notice of intent to participate from a domestic interested party, the Department's regulations provide that all parties wishing to participate in a Sunset Review must file complete substantive responses not later than 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register of this notice of initiation. The required contents of a substantive response, on an order-specific basis, are set forth at 19 CFR 351.218(d)(3). Note that certain information requirements differ for respondent and domestic parties. Also, note that the Department's information requirements are distinct from the Commission's information requirements. Consult the Department's regulations for information regarding the Department's conduct of Sunset Reviews. Consult the Department's regulations at 19 CFR part 351 for definitions of terms and for other general information concerning antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings at the Department.

    This notice of initiation is being published in accordance with section 751(c) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.218(c).

    Dated: October 27, 2015. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28003 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Opportunity To Request Administrative Review AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brenda E. Waters, Office of AD/CVD Operations, Customs Liaison Unit, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, telephone: (202) 482-4735.

    Background

    Each year during the anniversary month of the publication of an antidumping or countervailing duty order, finding, or suspended investigation, an interested party, as defined in section 771(9) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“the Act”), may request, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.213, that the Department of Commerce (“the Department”) conduct an administrative review of that antidumping or countervailing duty order, finding, or suspended investigation.

    All deadlines for the submission of comments or actions by the Department discussed below refer to the number of calendar days from the applicable starting date.

    Respondent Selection

    In the event the Department limits the number of respondents for individual examination for administrative reviews initiated pursuant to requests made for the orders identified below, the Department intends to select respondents based on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) data for U.S. imports during the period of review. We intend to release the CBP data under Administrative Protective Order (“APO”) to all parties having an APO within five days of publication of the initiation notice and to make our decision regarding respondent selection within 21 days of publication of the initiation Federal Register notice. Therefore, we encourage all parties interested in commenting on respondent selection to submit their APO applications on the date of publication of the initiation notice, or as soon thereafter as possible. The Department invites comments regarding the CBP data and respondent selection within five days of placement of the CBP data on the record of the review.

    In the event the Department decides it is necessary to limit individual examination of respondents and conduct respondent selection under section 777A(c)(2) of the Act:

    In general, the Department finds that determinations concerning whether particular companies should be “collapsed” (i.e., treated as a single entity for purposes of calculating antidumping duty rates) require a substantial amount of detailed information and analysis, which often require follow-up questions and analysis. Accordingly, the Department will not conduct collapsing analyses at the respondent selection phase of this review and will not collapse companies at the respondent selection phase unless there has been a determination to collapse certain companies in a previous segment of this antidumping proceeding (i.e., investigation, administrative review, new shipper review or changed circumstances review). For any company subject to this review, if the Department determined, or continued to treat, that company as collapsed with others, the Department will assume that such companies continue to operate in the same manner and will collapse them for respondent selection purposes. Otherwise, the Department will not collapse companies for purposes of respondent selection. Parties are requested to (a) identify which companies subject to review previously were collapsed, and (b) provide a citation to the proceeding in which they were collapsed. Further, if companies are requested to complete the Quantity and Value Questionnaire for purposes of respondent selection, in general each company must report volume and value data separately for itself. Parties should not include data for any other party, even if they believe they should be treated as a single entity with that other party. If a company was collapsed with another company or companies in the most recently completed segment of this proceeding where the Department considered collapsing that entity, complete quantity and value data for that collapsed entity must be submitted.

    Deadline for Withdrawal of Request for Administrative Review

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1), a party that requests a review may withdraw that request within 90 days of the date of publication of the notice of initiation of the requested review. The regulation provides that the Department may extend this time if it is reasonable to do so. In order to provide parties additional certainty with respect to when the Department will exercise its discretion to extend this 90-day deadline, interested parties are advised that, with regard to reviews requested on the basis of anniversary months on or after November 2015, the Department does not intend to extend the 90-day deadline unless the requestor demonstrates that an extraordinary circumstance prevented it from submitting a timely withdrawal request. Determinations by the Department to extend the 90-day deadline will be made on a case-by-case basis.

    The Department is providing this notice on its Web site, as well as in its “Opportunity to Request Administrative Review” notices, so that interested parties will be aware of the manner in which the Department intends to exercise its discretion in the future.

    Opportunity to Request a Review: Not later than the last day of November 2015,1 interested parties may request administrative review of the following orders, findings, or suspended investigations, with anniversary dates in November for the following periods:

    1 Or the next business day, if the deadline falls on a weekend, federal holiday or any other day when the Department is closed.

    2 On August 3, 2015 (80 FR 45952), this order was inadvertently omitted from the opportunity notice for August cases. This order has been revoked effective 8/3/2014.

    Period of review Antidumping Duty Proceedings BRAZIL: Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe, A-351-809 11/1/14-10/31/15 INDONESIA: Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses, A-560-823 11/1/14-10/31/15 Monosodium Glutamate, A-560-826 5/8/14-10/31/15 MEXICO: Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe, A-201-805 11/1/14-10/31/15 Seamless Refined Copper Pipe and Tube, A-201-838 11/1/14-10/31/15 Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar, A-201-844 4/24/14-10/31/15 REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe, A-580-809 11/1/14-10/31/15 TAIWAN: Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products, A-583-835 11/1/14-10/31/15 Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe, A-583-814 11/1/14-10/31/15 THAILAND: Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products, A-549-817 11/1/14-10/31/15 THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Certain Cut-to-Length Carbon Steel Plate, A-570-849 11/1/14-10/31/15 Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products, A-570-865 11/1/14-10/31/15 Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses, A-570-958 11/1/14-10/31/15 Diamond Sawblades and Parts Thereof, A-570-900 11/1/14-10/31/15 Fresh Garlic, A-570-831 11/1/14-10/31/15 Lightweight Thermal Paper, A-570-920 11/1/14-10/31/15 Monosodium Glutamate, A-570-992 5/8/14-10/31/15 Paper Clips, A-570-826 11/1/14-10/31/15 Polyethylene Terephthalate Film, Sheet and Strip, A-570-924 11/1/14-10/31/15 Pure Magnesium in Granular Form, A-570-864 11/1/14-10/31/15 Refined Brown Aluminum Oxide, A-570-882 11/1/14-10/31/15 Seamless Carbon and Alloy Steel Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe, A-570-956 11/1/14-10/31/15 Seamless Refined Copper Pipe and Tube, A-570-964 11/1/14-10/31/15 UKRAINE: Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products, A-823-811 11/1/14-10/31/15 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Polyethylene Terephthalate Film, Sheet and Strip, A-520-803 11/1/14-10/31/15 Countervailing Duty Proceedings INDONESIA: Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses, C-560-824 1/1/14-12/31/14 THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: Chlorinated Isocyanurates, C-570-991 2/4/14-12/31/14 Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses, C-570-959 1/1/14-12/31/14 Lightweight Thermal Paper, C-570-921 1/1/14-12/31/14 Seamless Carbon and Alloy Steel Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe, C-570-957 1/1/14-12/31/14 Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Certain Parts Thereof,2 C-570-940 1/1/14-8/2/14 TURKEY: Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar, C-489-819 9/15/14-12/31/14 Suspension Agreements UKRAINE: Certain Cut-to-Length Carbon Steel Plate, A-823-808 11/1/14-10/31/15

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.213(b), an interested party as defined by section 771(9) of the Act may request in writing that the Secretary conduct an administrative review. For both antidumping and countervailing duty reviews, the interested party must specify the individual producers or exporters covered by an antidumping finding or an antidumping or countervailing duty order or suspension agreement for which it is requesting a review. In addition, a domestic interested party or an interested party described in section 771(9)(B) of the Act must state why it desires the Secretary to review those particular producers or exporters. If the interested party intends for the Secretary to review sales of merchandise by an exporter (or a producer if that producer also exports merchandise from other suppliers) which was produced in more than one country of origin and each country of origin is subject to a separate order, then the interested party must state specifically, on an order-by-order basis, which exporter(s) the request is intended to cover.

    Note that, for any party the Department was unable to locate in prior segments, the Department will not accept a request for an administrative review of that party absent new information as to the party's location. Moreover, if the interested party who files a request for review is unable to locate the producer or exporter for which it requested the review, the interested party must provide an explanation of the attempts it made to locate the producer or exporter at the same time it files its request for review, in order for the Secretary to determine if the interested party's attempts were reasonable, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.303(f)(3)(ii).

    As explained in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 68 FR 23954 (May 6, 2003), and Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694 (October 24, 2011) the Department clarified its practice with respect to the collection of final antidumping duties on imports of merchandise where intermediate firms are involved. The public should be aware of this clarification in determining whether to request an administrative review of merchandise subject to antidumping findings and orders.3

    3See also the Enforcement and Compliance Web site at http://trade.gov/enforcement/.

    Further, as explained in Antidumping Proceedings: Announcement of Change in Department Practice for Respondent Selection in Antidumping Duty Proceedings and Conditional Review of the Nonmarket Economy Entity in NME Antidumping Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 65963 (November 4, 2013), the Department clarified its practice with regard to the conditional review of the non-market economy (NME) entity in administrative reviews of antidumping duty orders. The Department will no longer consider the NME entity as an exporter conditionally subject to administrative reviews. Accordingly, the NME entity will not be under review unless the Department specifically receives a request for, or self-initiates, a review of the NME entity.4 In administrative reviews of antidumping duty orders on merchandise from NME countries where a review of the NME entity has not been initiated, but where an individual exporter for which a review was initiated does not qualify for a separate rate, the Department will issue a final decision indicating that the company in question is part of the NME entity. However, in that situation, because no review of the NME entity was conducted, the NME entity's entries were not subject to the review and the rate for the NME entity is not subject to change as a result of that review (although the rate for the individual exporter may change as a function of the finding that the exporter is part of the NME entity).

    4 In accordance with 19 CFR 351.213(b)(1), parties should specify that they are requesting a review of entries from exporters comprising the entity, and to the extent possible, include the names of such exporters in their request.

    Following initiation of an antidumping administrative review when there is no review requested of the NME entity, the Department will instruct CBP to liquidate entries for all exporters not named in the initiation notice, including those that were suspended at the NME entity rate.

    All requests must be filed electronically in Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (“ACCESS”) on Enforcement and Compliance's ACCESS Web site at http://access.trade.gov. 5 Further, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.303(f)(l)(i), a copy of each request must be served on the petitioner and each exporter or producer specified in the request.

    5See Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Electronic Filing Procedures; Administrative Protective Order Procedures, 76 FR 39263 (July 6, 2011).

    The Department will publish in the Federal Register a notice of “Initiation of Administrative Review of Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation” for requests received by the last day of November 2015. If the Department does not receive, by the last day of November 2015, a request for review of entries covered by an order, finding, or suspended investigation listed in this notice and for the period identified above, the Department will instruct CBP to assess antidumping or countervailing duties on those entries at a rate equal to the cash deposit of (or bond for) estimated antidumping or countervailing duties required on those entries at the time of entry, or withdrawal from warehouse, for consumption and to continue to collect the cash deposit previously ordered.

    For the first administrative review of any order, there will be no assessment of antidumping or countervailing duties on entries of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption during the relevant provisional-measures “gap” period of the order, if such a gap period is applicable to the period of review.

    This notice is not required by statute but is published as a service to the international trading community.

    Dated: October 28, 2015. Edward Yang, Senior Director, Office VII for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28028 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE125 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Marine Geophysical Survey in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Mid-November to December 2015 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) implementing regulations, we hereby give notice that we have issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (Authorization) to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Lamont-Doherty), a component of Columbia University, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), to take marine mammals, by harassment, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, mid-November through December 2015.

    DATES:

    Effective November 19, 2015, through December 31, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    A copy of the final Authorization and application and other supporting documents are available by writing to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, by telephoning the contacts listed here, or by visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm.

    The NSF prepared a draft Environmental Analysis in accordance with Executive Order 12114, “Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions” for their proposed federal action. The environmental analysis titled “Environmental Analysis of a Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, November-December 2015,” prepared by LGL, Ltd. environmental research associates, on behalf of NSF and Lamont-Doherty is available at the same internet address.

    NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) titled, “Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to a Marine Geophysical Survey in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, November-December 2015,” in accordance with NEPA and NOAA Administrative Order 216-6. To obtain an electronic copy of these documents, write to the previously mentioned address, telephone the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or download the files at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm.

    NMFS also issued a Biological Opinion under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to evaluate the effects of the survey and Authorization on marine species listed as threatened and endangered. The Biological Opinion is available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/consultations/opinions.htm.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeannine Cody, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if, after NMFS provides a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review and comment: (1) NMFS makes certain findings; and (2) the taking is limited to harassment.

    An Authorization shall be granted for the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). The Authorization must also set forth the permissible methods of taking; other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its habitat (i.e., mitigation); and requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. 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.”

    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 20, 2015, NMFS received an application from Lamont-Doherty requesting that NMFS issue an Authorization for the take of marine mammals, incidental to the University of Oregon conducting a seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean Sea October through November 2015. Following the initial application submission, Lamont-Doherty submitted a revised application with new dates for the proposed survey (approximately mid-November through December, 2015). NMFS considered the revised application adequate and complete on August 25, 2015.

    The proposed survey would take place partially within Greece's territorial seas (less than 6 nautical miles (nmi) [11 km; 7 mi] from the shore) and partially in the high seas. However, NMFS cannot authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign nations, as the MMPA does not apply in those waters. However, NMFS estimated the level of incidental take in the entire activity area (territorial seas and high seas) as part of the analysis supporting the agency's determination under the MMPA that the activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species.

    Lamont-Doherty proposes to conduct a high-energy, seismic survey on the R/V Marcus G. Langseth (Langseth), a vessel owned by NSF and operated on its behalf by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for approximately 16 days from approximately mid-November 2015, through mid-December 2015. The following specific aspect of the proposed activity has the potential to take marine mammals: Increased underwater sound generated during the operation of the seismic airgun arrays. We anticipate that take, by Level B harassment, of 22 species of marine mammals could result from the specified activity. Although the unlikely, NMFS also anticipates that a small level of take by Level A harassment of four species of marine mammals could occur during the proposed survey.

    Description of the Specified Activity Overview

    Lamont-Doherty plans to use one source vessel, the Langseth, an array of 36 airguns as the energy source, a receiving system of 93 ocean bottom seismometers (OBSs) for the northern portion of the proposed survey and a single 8-kilometer (km) hydrophone streamer for the southern portion of the proposed survey. In addition to the operations of the airguns, Lamont-Doherty intends to operate a multibeam echosounder and a sub-bottom profiler on the Langseth continuously throughout the proposed survey. However, Lamont-Doherty will not operate the multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler during transits to and from the survey areas (i.e., when the airguns are not operating).

    The purpose of the survey is to collect and analyze seismic refraction data on and around the island of Santorini (Thira) to examine the crustal magma plumbing of the Santorini volcanic system. NMFS refers the public to Lamont-Doherty's application for more detailed information on the proposed research objectives which are purely scientific in nature and not related to oil and natural gas exploration. The proposed survey's principal investigators are Drs. E. Hooft and D. Toomey (University of Oregon). The Santorini portion of the study also involves international collaboration with Dr. P. Nomikou (University of Athens) who would be onboard the Langseth during the entire seismic survey.

    Dates and Duration

    Lamont-Doherty proposes to conduct the seismic survey for approximately 30 days which includes approximately 16 days of seismic surveying, 11 days for OBS deployment/retrieval, and 1 day of hydrophone streamer deployment. The proposed study (e.g., equipment testing, startup, line changes, repeat coverage of any areas, and equipment recovery) would include approximately 384 hours of airgun operations (i.e., 16 days over 24 hours). Some minor deviation from Lamont-Doherty's requested dates of mid-November through December 2015 is possible, depending on logistics, weather conditions, and the need to repeat some lines if data quality is substandard. Thus, the proposed Authorization, if issued, would be effective from November 19 through December 31, 2015.

    Specified Geographic Region

    Lamont-Doherty proposes to conduct one portion of the proposed seismic survey in the Aegean Sea, located approximately between 36.1-36.8° N. and 24.7-26.1° .E in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Water depths in the Aegean Sea survey area are approximately 20 to 500 meters (m) (66 to 1,640 feet (ft)). Lamont-Doherty would conduct the second portion of the proposed seismic survey over the Hellenic subduction zone which starts in the Aegean Sea at approximately 36.4° N., 23.9° E. and runs to the southwest, ending at approximately 34.9° N., 22.6° E. Water depths in that area range from 1,000 to 3,000 m (3,280 to 9,843 ft). Lamont-Doherty would conduct the proposed seismic survey within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and territorial waters of Greece. Greece's territorial seas extend out to six nautical miles (nmi) (7 miles [mi]; 11 kilometers [km]).

    Detailed Description of the Specified Activities Transit Activities

    The Langseth would depart from Piraieus, Greece in November 2015 and spend one day in transit to the proposed survey areas. At the conclusion of the survey, the Langseth would arrive at Iraklio, Crete. Some minor deviation from these dates is possible, depending on logistics and weather.

    Vessel Specifications

    NMFS outlined the vessel's specifications in the notice of proposed Authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015). NMFS does not repeat the information here as the vessel's specifications have not changed between the notice of proposed Authorization and this notice of an issued Authorization.

    Data Acquisition Activities

    NMFS outlined the details regarding Lamont-Doherty's data acquisition activities using the airguns, multibeam echosounder, and the sub-bottom profiler in the notice of proposed Authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015). NMFS does not repeat the information here as the data acquisition activities have not changed between the notice of proposed Authorization and this notice of an issued Authorization.

    For a more detailed description of the authorized action, including vessel and acoustic source specifications, metrics, characteristics of airgun pulses, predicted sound levels of airguns, etc., please see the notice of proposed Authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015) and associated documents referenced above this section.

    Comments and Responses

    NMFS published a notice of receipt of Lamont-Doherty's application and proposed Authorization in the Federal Register on September 4, 2015 (80 FR 53623). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comments from the following: Prof. Efthimios Lekkas, Department of Geology and Geo Environment, University of Athens; the Geological Society of Greece; the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization (EPPO); Anastasios N. Zorzos, Mayor of the Island of Santorini (Thira); the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee (MLSOC); the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission); OceanCare; Oceanomare Delphis Onlus (ODO); the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). OceanCare, ODO, NRDC, and WDC referenced several journal articles and documents within their comment letters. NMFS considered these articles and documents within the final analyses but does not intend to address each one specifically in this Response to Comments section. NMFS has posted the comments online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm.

    NMFS addresses any comments specific to Lamont-Doherty's application related to the statutory and regulatory requirements or findings that NMFS must make under the MMPA in order to issue an Authorization. Following is a summary of the public comments and NMFS' responses.

    Compliance With International Guidelines

    Comment 1: NMFS received letters from two Greek organizations, one Greek citizen, and the mayor of Santorini requesting that NMFS issue the Authorization to Lamont-Doherty. The Geological Society of Greece stated that both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic and the Greek Committee for Granting Sea Research Licenses (ΕΧΑΕO) had approved Lamont-Doherty's conduct of the survey within Greece's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and surrounding international waters. The commenters state that Lamont-Doherty's project, approved by the Greek government, would minimize impacts on marine life by following all standard monitoring and mitigation measures for seismic surveys as listed in the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs vessel clearance document and any additional requirements established by NMFS' Authorization.

    Response: NMFS acknowledges the comments from Prof. Lekkas, the Geological Society of Greece, the EPPO, and Mayor Zorzos and thanks them for their comments. NMFS confirmed through the U.S. State Department that Lamont-Doherty sought approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic to conduct the proposed seismic survey. Greece's foreign vessel clearance process required Lamont-Doherty to submit an environmental analysis which evaluated the potential effects of the proposed activity on marine species and described the monitoring and mitigation measures for lessening impacts on marine mammals. On June 2, 2015, Greece granted permission to Lamont-Doherty to conduct the proposed seismic survey in areas of Greek jurisdiction provided that Lamont-Doherty complies with the specific terms and conditions of the issued vessel clearance including “compliance with Greek national legislation (in particular Greek Law Nos. 2971/2001 and 3028/2002) and all international regulations, including the ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area) international guidelines on the protection of marine mammals”.

    Lamont-Doherty is not only following mitigation and monitoring measures for marine mammals required under international regulations but must also implement mitigation measures as required by NMFS' issued Authorization in the waters outside the Greek territorial sea per the MMPA. NMFS analyzed the proposed seismic survey in accordance with the MMPA, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under those statutes, NMFS analyzed the impacts to marine mammals (including those listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA), their habitat, and to the availability of marine mammals for taking for subsistence uses. The MMPA analyses concluded that the activities would have a negligible impact on affected marine mammal species or stocks and would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of marine mammals for taking for subsistence uses (which is not applicable in this case). The ESA analysis concluded that the activities likely would not jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed species or destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. The NEPA analysis concluded that there would not be a significant impact on the human environment. Moreover, NMFS does not expect this activity to result in the death of any marine mammal species and has not authorized take by serious injury or mortality.

    Comment 2: The MSLOC requested that NMFS issue the Authorization to Lamont-Doherty in a timely manner; described Lamont-Doherty's monitoring and mitigation measures for marine mammals; and stated that those measures were reasonable and consistent with, or more conservative than, internationally-accepted standards and guidelines implemented by the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Norway.

    Response: NMFS acknowledges the MSLOC's comments and agrees that many of the mitigation measures proposed by Lamont-Doherty are consistent with many international standards and guidelines. NMFS issued this Authorization in accordance with the MMPA and the ESA. After careful evaluation of all comments and the data and information available regarding potential impacts to marine mammals and their habitat and to the availability of marine mammals for subsistence uses, NMFS has issued the final authorization to Lamont-Doherty to take marine mammals incidental to conducting a seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for the period November 19 through December 31, 2015. As required by the MMPA, the Authorization sets forth the permissible methods of taking; other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its habitat (i.e., mitigation); and requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.

    Comment 3: The NRDC, WDC, OceanCare, and Oceanomare Delphis Onlus submitted statements of concern that NMFS' proposed Authorization and NSF's draft environmental analysis did not consider the ACCOBAMS Resolutions 4.17, Guidelines to Address the Impact of Anthropogenic Noise on Cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS Area and 5.15, Addressing the impact of Anthropogenic Noise. Specifically, NRDC stated that the proposed Authorization and draft environmental analysis did not follow the guidelines for extra mitigation for beaked whales in deep water areas.

    Response: See NMFS' response to Comment 1. Under the MMPA, NMFS does not have the jurisdiction to require an applicant to comply with ACCOBAMS resolutions because the U.S. is not party to that particular convention. However, NMFS notes that ACCOBAMS Resolution 4.17 based their guidelines for seismic surveys and airgun uses on “. . . guidelines for mitigating the effects of seismic surveys . . . in the context of academic seismic surveys conducted under NMFS' permits.”

    NMFS described Lamont-Doherty's proposed mitigation and monitoring measures in the notice of proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015) as well as additional mitigation measure required by NMFS to effect the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals. Despite some minor differences between implementation of NMFS' requirements under the MMPA and ESA for seismic surveys and those listed under ACCOBAMS Resolution 4.17, the overall guidelines required for seismic surveys are nearly identical. For example, Resolution 4.17 lists 19 guidelines (a-s) for seismic surveys and airgun uses. One guideline (r) is not applicable to this action as it covers multiple seismic survey operations and NMFS' requirements under the MMPA and ESA closely track to the additional 16 guidelines (a, b, c, d, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, and s) for marine mammals.

    As stated previously in Comment 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic granted Lamont-Doherty permission to conduct the proposed seismic survey in areas of Greek jurisdiction provided that they comply with all international regulations, including ACCOBAMS Resolution 4.17 (m), Guidelines for Seismic Surveys and Airgun Uses which requires vessels to monitor for beaked whales for a duration of 120 minutes and initiate a ramp up of the airgun array 120 minutes after a beaked whale sighting within Greek jurisdictional waters. NSF plans to abide by this requirement within Greek territorial seas. NMFS' mitigation measure of initiating a ramp-up of the airgun array 30 minutes after a large odontocete sighting would apply in the high seas. NMFS expects that our normal requirement of waiting 30 minutes to initiate a ramp-up is sufficient to effect the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals. The Langseth's observers are continually monitoring the exclusion zone. On average, observers can observe to the horizon (10 km; 6.2 mi) from the height of the Langseth's observation deck and should be able to say with a reasonable degree of confidence whether a marine mammal would be encountered within this distance before resuming airgun operations at full power. Last, as standard practice, the MMPA Authorization and the ESA Biological Opinion require Lamont-Doherty to cooperate with the Greek authorities in monitoring the impacts of the proposed activity on marine mammals.

    Comment 4: NRDC/WDC state that the proposed survey occurs within two proposed Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and state that the proposed Authorization contradicts the CBD's conservation priorities. OceanCare and ODO also submitted background information on EBSAs in their comments, stated that the Central Aegean Sea and Hellenic Trench were critical habitat for Mediterranean monk seals, and indicated that the proposed activities were unacceptable.

    Response: NMFS acknowledges the commenters' concerns and refers them to NSF's draft environmental analysis (see pages 17-19) which presents information on marine protected areas within the proposed action area. However, the submitted comments did not provide any specific recommendations or criticisms regarding the sufficiency of NSF's analysis.

    The CBD aims to address conservation of open-ocean and deep-sea ecosystems using the concept of EBSAs (Clark et al., 2014). The Parties to the CBD approved the adoption of seven criteria: Uniqueness or rarity, special importance for life history stages of species; importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats; vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery; biological productivity; biological diversity; and naturalness for identifying EBSAs (CBD, 2008). Although EBSAs do not necessarily imply that a management response is required (Clark et al., 2014), the CBD intended them to provide an initial basis for a network of protected areas (CBD, 2008) that would undergo review by the United Nations General Assembly for future stewardship recommendations (WWF, 2012).

    The U.S. is not a party to the Convention, and NMFS does not have the authority to require an applicant for an MMPA Authorization to comply with the CBD. Again, NMFS' mitigation measures are sufficient to effect the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals in the two EBSAs. Further, as a condition of vessel clearance from the Greek government, Lamont-Doherty would also comply with Greek legislation, in particular Greek Law Nos. 2971/2001 and 3028/2002, which regulate the protection of coastal ecosystems.

    Modeling Exclusion and Buffer Zones

    Comment 5: The Commission expressed concerns regarding Lamont-Doherty's method to estimate exclusion and buffer zones using a ray trace-based model. They stated that the model is not conservative because it assumes spherical spreading, a constant sound speed, and no bottom interactions instead of collecting empirical sound source and sound propagation measurements and incorporating site-specific environmental characteristics (e.g., sound speed profiles, refraction, bathymetry/water depth, sediment properties/bottom loss, or absorption coefficients) into their model. In light of their concerns, the Commission recommended that NMFS require Lamont-Doherty to re-estimate the proposed exclusion and buffer zones using site-specific environmental and operational parameters.

    Response: NMFS acknowledges the Commission's concerns about Lamont-Doherty's current modeling approach for estimating exclusion and buffer zones and also acknowledge that Lamont-Doherty did not incorporate site-specific sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and sediment characteristics of the research area in the current approach to estimate those zones for this proposed seismic survey.

    Lamont-Doherty's application (LGL, 2015) and the NSF's draft environmental analyses (NSF, 2015) describe the approach to establishing mitigation exclusion and buffer zones. In summary, Lamont-Doherty acquired field measurements for several array configurations at shallow- and deep-water depths during acoustic verification studies conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2003 (Tolstoy et al., 2004) and in 2007 and 2008 (Tolstoy et al., 2009). Based on the empirical data from those studies, Lamont-Doherty developed a sound propagation modeling approach that conservatively predicts received sound levels as a function of distance from a particular airgun array configuration in deep water. For this proposed survey, Lamont-Doherty developed the exclusion and buffer zones for the airgun array based on the empirically-derived measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey (Fig. 5a in Appendix H of the NSF's 2011 PEIS). Based upon the best available information (i.e., the three data points, two of which are peer-reviewed, discussed in this response), NMFS finds that the exclusion and buffer zone calculations are appropriate for use in this particular survey.

    In 2015, Lamont-Doherty explored solutions to this issue by conducting a retrospective sound power analysis of one of the lines acquired during Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey offshore New Jersey in 2014 (Crone, 2015). NMFS presented a comparison of the predicted radii (i.e., modeled exclusion zones) with radii based on in situ measurements (i.e., the upper bound [95th percentile] of the cross-line prediction) in a previous notice of issued Authorization (see Table 1, 80 FR 27635, May 14, 2015) for Lamont-Doherty.

    Briefly, Crone's (2015) preliminary analysis, specific to the proposed survey site offshore New Jersey, confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of the 160- and 180-decibel (dB) isopleths collected by the Langseth's hydrophone streamer in shallow water were smaller than the modeled (i.e., predicted) exclusion and buffer zones proposed for use in two seismic surveys conducted offshore New Jersey in shallow water in 2014 and 2015. In that particular case, Crone's (2015) results show that Lamont-Doherty's modeled exclusion (180-dB) and buffer (160-dB) zones were approximately 28 and 33 percent smaller than the in situ, site-specific measurements confirming that Lamont-Doherty's model was conservative, as emphasized by Lamont-Doherty in its application and in supporting environmental documentation. Following is a summary of two additional analyses of in-situ data that support Lamont-Doherty's use of the modeled exclusion and buffer zones in this particular case.

    In 2010, Lamont-Doherty assessed the accuracy of their modeling approach by comparing the sound levels of the field measurements acquired in the Gulf of Mexico study to their model predictions (Diebold et al., 2010). They reported that the observed sound levels from the field measurements fell almost entirely below the predicted mitigation radii curve for deep water (greater than 1,000 meters [m]; 3280.8 feet [ft]) (Diebold et al., 2010).

    In 2012, Lamont-Doherty used a similar process to model exclusion and buffer zones for a shallow-water seismic survey in the northeast Pacific Ocean offshore Washington in 2012. Lamont-Doherty conducted the shallow-water survey using the same airgun configuration proposed for this seismic survey (i.e., 6,600 cubic inches [in3]) and recorded the received sound levels on the shelf and slope off Washington State using the Langseth's 8-kilometer (km) hydrophone streamer. Crone et al. (2014) analyzed those received sound levels from the 2012 survey and confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of the 160- and 180-dB isopleths collected by the Langseth's hydrophone streamer in shallow water were two to three times smaller than what Lamont-Doherty's modeling approach predicted. While the results confirm bathymetry's role in sound propagation, Crone et al. (2014) were able to confirm that the empirical measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey (the same measurements used to inform Lamont-Doherty's modeling approach for this seismic survey in the Mediterranean Sea) overestimated the size of the exclusion and buffer zones for the shallow-water 2012 survey off Washington and were thus precautionary, in that particular case.

    At present, Lamont-Doherty cannot adjust their modeling methodology to add the environmental and site-specific parameters as requested by the Commission. NMFS continues to work with Lamont-Doherty and the NSF to address the issue of incorporating site-specific information to further inform the analysis and development of mitigation measures in oceanic and coastal areas for future seismic surveys with Lamont-Doherty. Also, NMFS will continue to work with Lamont-Doherty, the NSF, and the Commission on continuing to verify the accuracy of their modeling approach. However, Lamont-Doherty's current modeling approach (supported by the three data points discussed previously) represents the best available information for NMFS to reach determinations for the Authorization. As described earlier, the comparisons of Lamont-Doherty's model results and the field data collected in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Washington, and offshore New Jersey illustrate a degree of conservativeness built into Lamont-Doherty's model for deep water, which NMFS expects to offset some of the limitations of the model to capture the variability resulting from site-specific factors.

    Lamont-Doherty has conveyed to NMFS that additional modeling efforts to refine the process and conduct comparative analysis may be possible with the availability of research funds and other resources. Obtaining research funds is typically through a competitive process, including those submitted to U.S. Federal agencies. The use of models for calculating buffer and exclusion zone radii and for developing take estimates is not a requirement of the MMPA incidental take authorization process. Furthermore, NMFS does not provide specific guidance on model parameters nor prescribes a specific model for applicants as part of the MMPA incidental take authorization process at this time. There is a level of variability not only with parameters in the models, but also the uncertainty associated with data used in models, and therefore, the quality of the model results submitted by applicants. NMFS considers this variability when evaluating applications. Applicants use models as a tool to evaluate potential impacts, estimate the number of, and type of takes of marine mammals, and for designing mitigation. NMFS takes into consideration the model used and its results in determining the potential impacts to marine mammals; however, it is just one component of the analysis during the MMPA consultation process as NMFS also takes into consideration other factors associated with the proposed action, (e.g., geographic location, duration of activities, context, intensity, etc.).

    Comment 6: NRDC/WDC commented that Lamont-Doherty should have considered local propagation features to predict sound propagation characteristics and used that information to estimate the proposed exclusion zones. The commenters noted that a recent reviews presented information on behavioral disruption of marine mammals occurring below the 160-dB Level B threshold (Nowacek et al., 2015; DeRuiter et al., 2013; and Kastelein et al., 2012) and stated that the exclusion zone and take estimates were not accurate and not conservative. NRDC/WDC also stated that NMFS should modify the current thresholds and base them on the best available science (i.e., centering the behavioral risk function at 140 dB (RMS) instead of 160 dB).

    Response: Please see NMFS' response to Comment 4 with respect to Lamont-Doherty modeling proposed exclusion zones.

    NMFS considered Nowacek et al.'s (2015) review in making our final determinations. Their review presents several recommendations including the establishment of a uniform set of international standards to manage ocean noise; the recognition of ocean noise as a pollutant; and the management of ocean noise through a revision to the existing International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. NMFS notes that Nowacek et al.'s (2015) review primarily focused on simultaneous seismic surveys for oil and gas exploration conducted over large spatial and temporal scales and did not particularly focus on the conduct of smaller, one-time, academic research seismic surveys such as the one proposed by Lamont-Doherty in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Nowacek et al. (2015) also discussed the use of appropriate impact thresholds and the need for regulatory agencies to accept a new paradigm for assessing acoustic impacts and move beyond the use of acute impact thresholds.

    NMFS is constantly evaluating new science and how to best incorporate it into our decisions. This process involves careful consideration of new data and how it is best interpreted within the context of a given management framework. These papers and the studies discussed in our notice of proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015) emphasize the importance of context (e.g., behavioral state of the animals, distance from the sound source, etc.) in evaluating behavioral responses of marine mammals to acoustic sources and note that there is variability in the behavioral responses of marine mammals to noise exposure. However, it is important to consider the context in predicting and observing the level and type of behavioral response to anthropogenic signals (Ellison et al., 2012). There is potential for responses to occur below 140 dB and NMFS considered papers and studies in the notice of proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015) that note that there is variability in the behavioral responses of marine mammals to sound exposure. On the other hand, there are many studies showing that marine mammals do not show behavioral responses when exposed to multiple pulses at received levels at or above 160 dB re: 1 μPa (e.g., Malme et al., 1983; Malme et al., 1984; Richardson et al., 1986; Akamatsu et al., 1993; Madsen and Mohl, 2000; Harris et al., 2001; Miller et al., 2005; and Wier, 2008). And other studies show that whales continue important behaviors in the presence of seismic pulses (e.g., Richardson et al., 1986; McDonald et al., 1995; Greene et al., 1999a, 1999b; Nieukirk et al., 2004; Smultea et al., 2004; Holst et al., 2005, 2006; Dunn and Hernandez, 2009).

    With respect to the use of current thresholds, NMFS' practice has been to apply the 160 dB re: 1 µPa received level threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to determine whether take by Level B harassment occurs. Specifically, NMFS derived the 160 dB threshold data from mother-calf pairs of migrating gray whales (Malme et al., 1983, 1984) and bowhead whales (Richardson et al., 1985, 1986) responding to seismic airguns.

    NMFS discusses the science on this issue qualitatively in our analysis of potential effects to marine mammals (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015). Accordingly, it is not a matter of merely replacing the existing threshold with a new one. NMFS is currently developing revised acoustic guidelines for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals. Until NMFS finalizes these guidelines (a process that includes public notice and comment and peer review), NMFS will continue to rely on the existing criteria for Level A and Level B harassment shown in Table 4 of the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015).

    As mentioned in the Federal Register notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015), we expect that the onset for behavioral harassment is largely context dependent (e.g., behavioral state of the animals, distance from the sound source, etc.) when evaluating behavioral responses of marine mammals to acoustic sources. Although using a single sound pressure level of 160-dB re: 1 μPa for the onset of behavioral harassment for impulse noises may not capture all of the nuances of different marine mammal reactions to sound, it is an appropriate way to manage and regulate anthropogenic noise impacts on marine mammals until NMFS implements its acoustic guidelines.

    With regards to the information presented in DeRuiter et al. (2013) for beaked whales and in Kastelein et al. (2012) for harbor porpoises. NMFS considered the significance of these articles within the environmental assessment for this proposed survey (NMFS, 2015) and in previous notices of issued authorizations for Lamont-Doherty (79 FR 38496 and 80 FR 27635, May 14, 2015).

    DeRuiter et al. (2013) observed that beaked whales (considered a particularly sensitive species) exposed to playbacks (i.e., simulated) of U.S. Navy tactical mid-frequency active sonar from 89 to 127 dB re: 1 μPa at close distances responded notably by altering their dive patterns. In contrast, individuals showed no behavioral responses when exposed to similar received levels from actual U.S. Navy tactical mid-frequency active sonar operated at much further distances (DeRuiter, et al., 2013). As noted earlier, one must consider the importance of context (e.g., the distance of a sound source from the animal) in predicting behavioral responses.

    With regards to Kasetlein et al. (2012), NMFS recognizes that behavioral responses for a harbor porpoise occurs at lower levels than for other cetacean species empirically tested (Finneran & Schlundt, 2010; Finneran et al., 2002; Kastelein & Jennings, 2012, Kastelein et al., 2012; Kastelein et al., 2013). However, Kastelein et al., (2014) stated that for the harbor porpoise, after small reductions in hearing sensitivity (threshold shifts less than 15 dB), recovery was relatively quick (within 60 minutes) and in most cases, reduced hearing for such a short time period (if it does not occur many times per day) may have little effect on the ecology of a harbor porpoise (Kastelein et al., 2014).

    Limited available data suggest that harbor porpoises show avoidance of seismic operations. Based on data collected by observers on seismic vessels off the United Kingdom from 1994 to 2010, detection rates of harbor porpoises were significantly higher when airguns were silent versus when large or small arrays were operating; in addition, observers noted that harbor porpoises were farther away from an active array versus when it was silent and were most often seen traveling away from the airgun array when it was in operation (Stone, 2015). Thompson et al. (2013) reported decreased densities and reduced acoustic detections of harbor porpoise in response to a seismic survey in Moray Firth, Scotland at ranges of 5 to 10 km (165-172 dB (SPL); 145-151 dB (SEL). For the same survey, Pirotta et al. (2014) reported that the probability of recording harbor porpoise buzzes decreased by 15 percent in the ensonified area. Taking this into consideration, NMFS expects that harbor porpoises would avoid the area around the proposed survey operations effectively reducing the likelihood of auditory injury and the potential of Level A harassment to the airgun array (Hermannsen et al., 2015; Touggard et al., 2012). Thus, NMFS would expect all of the effects to harbor porpoises to result in short-term changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of “Level B harassment.”

    NMFS acknowledges that there is more recent information available bearing on the relevant exposure levels for assessing temporary and permanent hearing impacts. (See Federal Register notice 80 FR 45642, July 31, 2015: Draft Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing-Acoustic Threshold Levels for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts). Again, NOAA will be issuing new acoustic guidelines, but that process is not complete (i.e., NOAA expects the guidance to be finalized until late 2015), so NMFS did not use it to assign new thresholds for calculating take estimates for hearing impacts. Moreover, the required mitigation measures ensure there are no exposures at levels thought to cause permanent hearing impairment, and, for several of the marine mammal species in the project area, mitigation measures would reduce exposure to current Level B harassment thresholds.

    Effects Analysis

    Comment 7: NRDC/WDC commented that NSF's draft environmental analysis did not adequately evaluate the cumulative actions and effects from past and present sources with respect to ACCOBAMS Resolution 4.17 which “encourages Parties to address fully the issue of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment, including cumulative effects, in the light of the best scientific information available and taking into consideration the applicable legislation of the Parties, particularly as regards the need for thorough environmental impact assessments being undertaken before granting approval to proposed noise-producing activities.”

    Response: Lamont-Doherty and the NSF submitted an environmental analysis (NSF, 2015) on the proposed survey to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic through the U.S. State Department in May, 2015. The draft environmental analysis evaluated the potential effects of the proposed activity on marine species and included information about potential cumulative effects (see Chapter IV, pages 63 through 67) including past and future academic seismic research, vessel traffic, fisheries, military activities, and oil and gas activities in the action area. The Hellenic Republic (Greece), a party to ACCOBAMS, granted approval to Lamont-Doherty to conduct the proposed seismic survey in areas of Greek jurisdiction on June 2, 2015. Again, Greece granted this authority to Lamont-Doherty provided that they comply with the specific terms and conditions of the issued vessel clearance including compliance with Greek national legislation (in particular Greek Law Nos. 2971/2001 and 3028/2002) and all international regulations, including the ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area) international guidelines on the protection of marine mammals.

    Comment 8: NRDC/WDC stated that NMFS did not consider the cumulative effects of the use of the multibeam echosounder, sub-bottom profiler, and the ocean-bottom seismometer acoustic release system and did not consider take estimates for these sources. Commenters also provided statements on mass stranding events associated or potentially linked with use of a multi-beam echosounder during seismic exploration activities off the coast of Madagascar in 2008 and in the Gulf of California in 2002.

    Response: NMFS disagrees with the commenters' statements. NMFS assessed the potential for the operation of the multi-beam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler to impact marine mammals in notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015). NMFS assumes that during simultaneous operations of the airgun array and the other sources, the airguns would be the primary source of acoustic harassment given the characteristics of the multi-beam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler (e.g., narrow, downward-directed beam) and the proximity of marine mammals to those sources. NMFS does not expect the sound levels produced by the echosounder and sub-bottom profiler to exceed the sound levels produced by the airguns. However, whether or not the airguns are operating simultaneously with the other sources, marine mammals are expected to exhibit no more than short-term and inconsequential responses to the multi-beam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler given their characteristics. Therefore, NMFS has not authorized take from the multi-beam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler. NMFS' notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015) states that the multi-beam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler will not operate during transits at the beginning and end of the planned seismic survey.

    As for ocean bottom seismometers, NMFS considered the brief (8 milliseconds) acoustic signals emanating from the devices at the time of retrieval to be so brief as to not risk masking other acoustic information relevant to marine mammals. Therefore, NMFS has not authorized take from the acoustic release signals from ocean bottom seismometers.

    NMFS considered the potential for behavioral responses such as the Madagascar stranding and indirect injury or mortality from Lamont-Doherty's use of the multibeam echosounder in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015, see Potential Effects of Other Acoustic Devices, pages 53636-53637). NMFS does not repeat that information here, but notes that the International Scientific Review Panel tasked to investigate the stranding stated that the risk of using multi-beam echosounders may be very low given the extensive use of these systems worldwide on a daily basis and the lack of direct evidence of such responses previously reported (Southall, et al., 2013; Lurton, 2015, 2016).

    NMFS notes that the multi-beam in use on this seismic survey is not operating in the same way as it was in Madagascar. The Authorization requires Lamont-Doherty to plan to conduct the seismic surveys (especially when near land) from the coast (inshore) and proceed towards the sea (offshore) in order to avoid the potential herding “herding of sensitive species” into canyons and other similar areas.

    Regarding the 2002 stranding event in the Gulf of California, the multi-beam echosounder system was on a different vessel, the R/V Maurice Ewing (Ewing), which is a vessel no longer operated by Lamont-Doherty. Although NRDC/WDC suggest that the multi-beam echosounder system or other acoustic sources on the Ewing may have been associated with the 2002 stranding of two beaked whales, as noted in Cox et al. (2006), “whether or not this survey caused the beaked whales to strand has been a matter of debate because of the small number of animals involved and a lack of knowledge regarding the temporal and spatial correlation between the animals and the sound source.” As noted by Yoder (2002), there was no scientific linkage to the event with the Ewing's activities and the acoustic sources used.

    Comment 9: OceanCare and ODO state that NMFS did not consider the “impacts of reduced prey availability forcing animals to cease feeding or harassment forcing the abandonment of pups.”

    Response: NMFS considered the effects of the survey on marine mammal prey (i.e., fish and invertebrates), as a component of marine mammal habitat in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015, see Anticipated Impacts on Marine Mammal Habitat, pages 53639-53641). The comment does not provide any specific recommendations or criticisms regarding the sufficiency of those analyses. Moreover, the NSF also addressed the potential effects of this action in the draft environmental analysis (NSF, 2015) which NMFS incorporates by reference in this notice.

    In addition to the information presented in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015), NMFS also considered recent studies that assessed foraging energetics (Melcon et al., 2012; Goldbogen et al., 2013; New et al., 2013, 2014) in marine mammals. The most relevant New et al. (2014) study used a simulation model to assess how behavioral disruptions (e.g., significant disruption of foraging behavior) and the exclusion of maternal southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonine) foraging habitat could affect health, offspring survival, individual fitness, and population growth rate. The authors suggested their model can determine the population consequences of disturbance from short-term changes in individual animals. Their model assumed that disturbance affected behavior by reducing the number of drift dives in which the animals were feeding and increasing the time they spent in transit. For example, they suggested a disturbance lasting 50 percent of an average annual foraging trip would reduce pup survival by 0.4 percent. If this level of disturbance continued over 30 years and the population did not adapt, the authors found that the population size would decrease by approximately 10 percent.

    The findings of New et al. (2014) are not applicable to the temporary behavioral disruptions that could potentially result from a proposed 16-day seismic survey versus the study's assessments of effects over one year and a persistent disruption of a 30-year period. First, the model assumed that individuals would be unable to compensate for lost foraging opportunities. Available empirical data does not confirm this would be the case. For example, elephant seals are unlikely to be affected by short-term variations in prey availability because they take long foraging trips, allowing for some margin of error in prey availability ((Costa, 1993), as cited in New et al., 2014). Similarly, female Mediterranean monk seals also have the ability to take foraging trips up to 70 km (43 miles) (Adamantopoulou et al., 2011) which NMFS expects would buffer foraging mothers from short-term variations in prey availability within the action area ((Costa, 1993), as cited in New et al., 2014). NMFS has no information to suggest that an animal eliciting a behavioral response (e.g., temporary disruption of feeding) to the proposed seismic survey would be unable to compensate for this temporary disruption in feeding activity by either immediately feeding at another location, by feeding shortly after cessation of acoustic exposure, or by feeding at a later time. Additionally, the behavioral disruption marine mammals reasonably expected to occur due to Lamont-Doherty's proposed activities would not have as long of a duration as the two scenarios considered in the New et al., (2014) study.

    Comment 10: The Commission states that NMFS based the number of Mediterranean monk seal instances of exposure (shown in Tables 5 and Table 6 in the notice of proposed authorization) on the maximum estimated number of individual monk seals that could be present within the action area rather than accounting for the extent of the ensonified area and the number of days of activities—an approach the Commission supports for NMFS' negligible impact determination for Mediterranean monk seals. OceanCare and ODO also state that the assumptions of impacts to Mediterranean monk seals could be higher.

    Response: NMFS agrees with the Commission's comments. Tables 5 and 6 in this notice will show the theoretical maximum number of exposures that could occur over 16 days (13 days in the Aegean Sea plus 25 percent contingency) which is 560 instances of exposures in the absence of mitigation. NMFS bases this estimate on 25 individuals from the Anafi, two individuals from the Santorini, and eight individuals from the Kimolos-Polyaigos subpopulations.

    NMFS acknowledges uncertainties in estimating take in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015). Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound and to use that information to predict instances of take of individuals. In practice, depending on the amount of information available to characterize daily and seasonal movement and distribution of affected marine mammals, distinguishing between the numbers of individuals harassed and the instances of harassment can be difficult to parse. Moreover, when one considers the duration of the activity, in the absence of information to predict the degree to which individual animals could be re-exposed subsequent days, the simple assumption that up to 560 instances of exposure could occur is an overestimate because it does not account for a percentage of animals remaining with caves during active operations or individuals avoiding the ensonified area all together which would lower the estimates of instances of exposure.

    Use of Alternate Technologies

    Comment 11: NRDC/WDC state that NMFS should require use of an alternative multi-beam echosounder to the one presently proposed and associated with a mass stranding of melon-headed whales offshore Madagascar in 2008.

    Response: NMFS disagrees with the commenters' recommendation as NMFS does not have the authority to require an applicant or action proponent to choose a different multi-beam echosounder system for the proposed seismic survey. The multi-beam echosounder system currently installed on the Langseth is capable of mapping the seafloor in deep water and the characteristics of the system are well suited for meeting the scientists' research goals. It would not be practicable for Lamont-Doherty or the NSF to install a different multi-beam echosounder (such as the Konegsburg EM 302 or EM 710 MKII suggested by the commenters) for the proposed survey. Lamont-Doherty has used the currently-installed multi-beam echosounder on the Langseth (evaluated in the 2011 NSF/USGS PEIS and in the 2015 draft environmental analysis) on over 25 research seismic surveys since 2008 without association to any marine mammal strandings.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    Comment 12: The Commission has indicated that monitoring and reporting requirements should provide a reasonably accurate assessment of the types of taking and the numbers of animals taken by the proposed activity. They recommend that NMFS and Lamont-Doherty incorporate an accounting for animals at the surface but not detected [i.e., g(0) values] and for animals present but underwater and not available for sighting [i.e., f(0) values] into monitoring efforts. In light of the Commission previous comments, they recommend that NMFS consult with the funding agency (i.e., the NSF) and individual applicants (e.g., Lamont-Doherty and other related entities) to develop, validate, and implement a monitoring program that provides a scientifically sound, reasonably accurate assessment of the types of marine mammal takes and the actual numbers of marine mammals taken, accounting for applicable g(0) and f(0) values. They also recommend that Lamont-Doherty and other relevant entities to continue to collect appropriate sightings data in the field which NMFS can then pool to determine g(0) and f(0) values relevant to the various geophysical survey types.

    Response: NMFS' implementing regulations require that applicants include monitoring that will result in “an increased knowledge of the species, the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present while conducting activities.” This increased knowledge of the level of taking could be qualitative or relative in nature, or it could be more directly quantitative. Scientists use g(0) and f(0) values in systematic marine mammal surveys to account for the undetected animals indicated above; however, these values are not simply established and the g(0) value varies across every observer based on their sighting acumen. While we want to be clear that we do not generally believe that post-activity take estimates using f(0) and g(0) are required to meet the monitoring requirement of the MMPA, in the context of the NSF and Lamont-Doherty's monitoring plan, we agree that developing and incorporating a way to better interpret the results of their monitoring (perhaps a simplified or generalized version of g(0) and f(0)) is desirable. We are continuing to examine this issue with the NSF to develop ways to improve their post-survey take estimates. We will continue to consult with the Commission and NMFS scientists prior to finalizing any future recommendations.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Table 1 in this notice provides the following: All marine mammal species with possible or confirmed occurrence in the proposed activity area; information on those species' regulatory status under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); abundance; occurrence and seasonality in the proposed activity area.

    Lamont-Doherty presented species information in Table 2 of their application but excluded information for certain pinniped and cetacean species because they anticipated that these species would have a low likelihood of occurring in the survey area. Based on the best available information, NMFS expects that there may be a potential for certain cetacean and pinniped species to occur within the survey area (i.e., potentially be taken) and have included additional information for these species in Table 1 of this notice. NMFS will carry forward analyses on the species listed in Table 1 later in this document.

    Table 1—General Information on Marine Mammals That Could Potentially Occur in the Proposed Survey Areas Within the Eastern Mediterranean Sea [November through December, 2015] Species Stock name Regulatory
  • status 1 2
  • Stock/
  • species
  • abundance 3
  • Local occurrence and range 4 Season 5
    Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) Eastern North Pacific MMPA—NC
  • ESA—EN
  • 6 19,126 Visitor Extralimital Spring. 7
    Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) North Atlantic MMPA—D
  • ESA—EN
  • 8 11,570 Visitor Extralimital NA.
    Common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) Canadian East Coast MMPA—D
  • ESA—NL
  • 20,741 Visitor Extralimital NA.
    Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) Nova Scotia MMPA—D
  • ESA—EN
  • 357 Vagrant Pelagic NA.
    Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) Mediterranean MMPA—D
  • ESA—EN
  • 9 5,000 Present Pelagic Summer.
    Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) Mediterranean MMPA—D
  • ESA—EN
  • 10 2,500 Regular Pelagic/Slope Year-round.
    Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 3,785 Vagrant Shelf NA.
    Pygmy sperm whale (K. breviceps) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 3,785 Vagrant Shelf NA.
    Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 6,532 Regular/Present Slope Year-round.
    Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 11 7,092 Vagrant Slope NA.
    Gervais' beaked whale (M. europaeus) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 11 7,092 Vagrant Extralimital NA.
    Sowerby's beaked whale (M. bidens) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 11 7,092 Vagrant Extralimital NA.
    Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 77,532 Regular/Present Coastal Year-Round.
    Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 271 Visitor Pelagic NA.
    Striped dolphin (S. coeruleoalba) Mediterranean MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 12 233,584 Regular Pelagic Year-round.
    Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 173,486 Present Coastal/Pelagic Spring Summer.
    Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 18,250 Present Pelagic/Slope NA.
    False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 442 Visitor Pelagic NA.
    Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) Western Mediterranean MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 13 240-270 Rare or Absent Pelagic NA.
    Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) Gulf of Maine/ Bay of Fundy MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • 79,883 Vagrant Coastal NA.
    Hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) Western North Atlantic MMPA—NC
  • ESA—NL
  • Unknown Vagrant Pelagic/Pack Ice NA.
    Monk seal (Monachus Monachus) Mediterranean MMPA—D
  • ESA—EN
  • 14 341 Present Coastal Year-round.
    1 MMPA: D = Depleted, S = Strategic, NC = Not Classified. 2 ESA: EN = Endangered, T = Threatened, DL = Delisted, NL = Not listed. 3 Except where noted abundance information obtained from NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-228, U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stock Assessments—2013 (Waring et al., 2014) and the Draft 2014 U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stock Assessments (in review, 2015). 4 For most species, occurrence and range information based on The Status and Distribution of Cetaceans in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea (Reeves and Notarbartolo di Sciara, 2006). Gray whale and hooded seal presence based on sighting reports. 5 NA = Not available. Seasonality is not available due to limited information on that species' rare or unlikely occurrence in proposed survey area. 6 NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SWFSC-532, U.S. Pacific Marine Mammal Stock Assessments—2013 (Carretta et al., 2014). 7 Scheinin et. al., 2011. 8 Stevick et al., 2003. 9 Panigada et al. (2012). IUCN—Balaenoptera physalus (Mediterranean subpopulation). 10 Notarbartolo di Sciara, et al. (2012). IUCN—Physeter macrocephalus (Mediterranean subpopulation). 11 Undifferentiated beaked whales abundance estimate for the Atlantic Ocean (Waring et al., 2014). 12 Forcada and Hammond (1998) for the western Mediterranean plus Gómez de Segura et al. (2006) for the central Spanish Mediterranean. 13 Estimate for the western Mediterranean Sea (Reeves and Notarbartolo di Sciara, 2006). 14 Rapid Assessment Survey of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus population in Anafi island, Cyclades (MOm, 2014) and UNEP. (2013) Draft Regional Strategy for the Conservation of Monk Seals in the Mediterranean (2014-2019) for Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus breeding areas.

    NMFS refers the public to Lamont-Doherty's application, NSF's draft environmental analysis (see ADDRESSES), NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-228, U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stock Assessments—2013 (Waring et al., 2014); and the Draft 2014 U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stock Assessments (in review, 2015) available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/species.htm for further information on the biology and local distribution of these species.

    Potential Effects of the Specified Activities on Marine Mammals

    NMFS provided a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of stressors associated with the specified activity (e.g., seismic airgun operations, vessel movement, and entanglement) impact marine mammals (via observations or scientific studies) in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015).

    The “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section later in this document will include a quantitative discussion of the number of marine mammals anticipated to be taken by this activity. The “Negligible Impact Analysis” section will include a discussion of how this specific activity will impact marine mammals. The Negligible Impact analysis considers the anticipated level of take and the effectiveness of mitigation measures to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks.

    Operating active acoustic sources, such as airgun arrays, has the potential for adverse effects on marine mammals. The majority of anticipated impacts would be from the use of acoustic sources. The effects of sounds from airgun pulses might include one or more of the following: Tolerance, masking of natural sounds, behavioral disturbance, and temporary or permanent hearing impairment or non-auditory effects (Richardson et al., 1995). However, for reasons discussed in the proposed Authorization, it is very unlikely that there would be any cases of temporary or permanent hearing impairment resulting from Lamont-Doherty's activities. As outlined in previous NMFS documents, the effects of noise on marine mammals are highly variable, often depending on species and contextual factors (based on Richardson et al., 1995).

    In the “Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals” section in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015), NMFS included a qualitative discussion of the different ways that Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey may potentially affect marine mammals. Marine mammals may behaviorally react to sound when exposed to anthropogenic noise. These behavioral reactions are often shown as: Changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where noise sources are located; and/or flight responses (e.g., pinnipeds flushing into water from haulouts or rookeries).

    Masking is the obscuring of sounds of interest by other sounds, often at similar frequencies. Marine mammals use acoustic signals for a variety of purposes, which differ among species, but include communication between individuals, navigation, foraging, reproduction, avoiding predators, and learning about their environment (Erbe and Farmer, 2000; Tyack, 2000). Masking, or auditory interference, generally occurs when sounds in the environment are louder than, and of a similar frequency as, auditory signals an animal is trying to receive. Masking is a phenomenon that affects animals that are trying to receive acoustic information about their environment, including sounds from other members of their species, predators, prey, and sounds that allow them to orient in their environment. Masking these acoustic signals can disturb the behavior of individual animals, groups of animals, or entire populations. For the airgun sound generated from Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey, sound will consist of low frequency (under 500 Hz) pulses with extremely short durations (less than one second). Masking from airguns is more likely in low-frequency marine mammals like mysticetes. There is little concern that masking would occur near the sound source due to the brief duration of these pulses and relative silence between air gun shots (approximately 22 to 170 seconds). Masking is less likely for mid- to high-frequency cetaceans and pinnipeds.

    Hearing impairment (either temporary or permanent) is also unlikely. Given the higher level of sound necessary to cause permanent threshold shift as compared with temporary threshold shift, it is considerably less likely that permanent threshold shift would occur during the seismic survey. Cetaceans generally avoid the immediate area around operating seismic vessels, as do some other marine mammals. Some pinnipeds show avoidance reactions to airguns.

    The Langseth will operate at a relatively slow speed (typically 4.6 knots [8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph]) when conducting the survey. Protected species observers would monitor for marine mammals, which would trigger mitigation measures, including vessel avoidance where safe. Therefore, NMFS does not anticipate nor do we authorize takes of marine mammals from vessel strike.

    NMFS refers the reader to Lamont-Doherty's application, the NSF's environmental analysis for additional information on the behavioral reactions (or lack thereof) by all types of marine mammals to seismic vessels. NMFS has reviewed these data along with new information submitted during the public comment period and based our decision on the relevant information.

    Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    NMFS included a detailed discussion of the potential effects of this action on marine mammal habitat, including physiological and behavioral effects on marine mammal prey items (e.g., fish and invertebrates) in the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015). While NMFS anticipates that the specified activity may result in marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification, the impact to habitat is temporary and reversible. Further, NMFS also considered these impacts to marine mammals in detail in the notice of proposed Authorization as behavioral modification. The main impact associated with the activity would be temporarily elevated noise levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals.

    Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant).

    Lamont-Doherty has reviewed the following source documents and has incorporated a suite of proposed mitigation measures into their project description.

    (1) Protocols used during previous Lamont-Doherty and Foundation-funded seismic research cruises as approved by us and detailed in the Foundation's 2011 PEIS and 2015 draft environmental analysis;

    (2) Previous incidental harassment authorizations applications and authorizations that NMFS has approved and authorized; and

    (3) Recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995), Pierson et al. (1998), and Weir and Dolman, (2007).

    To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic stimuli associated with the activities, Lamont-Doherty, and/or its designees have proposed to implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals:

    (1) Vessel-based visual mitigation monitoring;

    (2) Proposed exclusion zones;

    (3) Power down procedures;

    (4) Shutdown procedures;

    (5) Ramp-up procedures; and

    (6) Speed and course alterations.

    NMFS reviewed Lamont-Doherty's proposed mitigation measures and has proposed additional measures to effect the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals. They are:

    (1) Expanded shutdown procedures for all pinnipeds, including Mediterranean monk seals;

    (2) Expanded power down procedures for concentrations of six or more whales that do not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, socializing, etc.);

    (3) Delayed conduct of the three tracklines nearest to Anafi Island as late as possible (i.e., late November to early December) during the proposed survey;

    (4) Expanded exclusion zone of 100 m (328 ft) for the mitigation airgun in shallow water depths for pinnipeds and cetaceans; and

    (5) Modified transit patterns to conduct acquisition activities from the coast in a seaward direction to the maximum extent practicable.

    Vessel-Based Visual Mitigation Monitoring

    Lamont-Doherty would position observers aboard the seismic source vessel to watch for marine mammals near the vessel during daytime airgun operations and during any start-ups at night. Observers would also watch for marine mammals near the seismic vessel for at least 30 minutes prior to the start of airgun operations after an extended shutdown (i.e., greater than approximately eight minutes for this proposed cruise). When feasible, the observers would conduct observations during daytime periods when the seismic system is not operating for comparison of sighting rates and behavior with and without airgun operations and between acquisition periods. Based on the observations, the Langseth would power down or shutdown the airguns when marine mammals are observed within or about to enter a designated exclusion zone for cetaceans or pinnipeds.

    During seismic operations, at least four protected species observers would be aboard the Langseth. Lamont-Doherty would appoint the observers with NMFS concurrence and they would conduct observations during ongoing daytime operations and nighttime ramp-ups of the airgun array. During the majority of seismic operations, two observers would be on duty from the observation tower to monitor marine mammals near the seismic vessel. Using two observers would increase the effectiveness of detecting animals near the source vessel. However, during mealtimes and bathroom breaks, it is sometimes difficult to have two observers on effort, but at least one observer would be on watch during bathroom breaks and mealtimes. Observers would be on duty in shifts of no longer than four hours in duration.

    Two observers on the Langseth would also be on visual watch during all nighttime ramp-ups of the seismic airguns. A third observer would monitor the passive acoustic monitoring equipment 24 hours a day to detect vocalizing marine mammals present in the action area. In summary, a typical daytime cruise would have scheduled two observers (visual) on duty from the observation tower, and an observer (acoustic) on the passive acoustic monitoring system. Before the start of the seismic survey, Lamont-Doherty would instruct the vessel's crew to assist in detecting marine mammals and implementing mitigation requirements.

    The Langseth is a suitable platform for marine mammal observations. When stationed on the observation platform, the eye level would be approximately 21.5 m (70.5 ft) above sea level, and the observer would have a good view around the entire vessel. During daytime, the observers would scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7 × 50 Fujinon), Big-eye binoculars (25 × 150), and with the naked eye. During darkness, night vision devices would be available (ITT F500 Series Generation 3 binocular-image intensifier or equivalent), when required. Laser range-finding binoculars (Leica LRF 1200 laser rangefinder or equivalent) would be available to assist with distance estimation. They are useful in training observers to estimate distances visually, but are generally not useful in measuring distances to animals directly. The user measures distances to animals with the reticles in the binoculars.

    Lamont-Doherty would immediately power down or shutdown the airguns when observers see marine mammals within or about to enter the designated exclusion zone. The observer(s) would continue to maintain watch to determine when the animal(s) are outside the exclusion zone by visual confirmation. Airgun operations would not resume until the observer has confirmed that the animal has left the zone, or if not observed after 15 minutes for species with shorter dive durations (small odontocetes and pinnipeds) or 30 minutes for species with longer dive durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, killer, and beaked whales).

    Mitigation Exclusion Zones

    Lamont-Doherty would use safety radii to designate exclusion zones and to estimate take for marine mammals. Table 3 shows the distances at which one would expect to receive sound levels (160-, 180-, and 190-dB,) from the airgun array and a single airgun. If the protected species visual observer detects marine mammal(s) within or about to enter the appropriate exclusion zone, the Langseth crew would immediately power down the airgun array, or perform a shutdown if necessary (see Shut-down Procedures).

    Table 3—Predicted Distances to Which Sound Levels Greater Than or Equal to 160 re: 1 µPa Could Be Received During the Proposed Survey Areas Within the Eastern Mediterranean Sea [November through December, 2015] Source and volume
  • (in3)
  • Tow depth
  • (m)
  • Water depth
  • (m)
  • Predicted RMS Distances1
  • (m)
  • 190 dB 180 dB 160 dB
    Single Bolt airgun (40 in3) 9 or 12 <100
  • 100 to 1,000
  • >1,000
  • 100 2
  • 100
  • 100
  • 100 2
  • 100
  • 100
  • 1,041
  • 647
  • 431
  • 36-Airgun Array (6,600 in3) 9 <100
  • 100 to 1,000
  • >1,000
  • 591
  • 429
  • 286
  • 2,060
  • 1,391
  • 927
  • 22,580
  • 8,670
  • 5,780
  • 36-Airgun Array (6,600 in3) 12 <100
  • 100 to 1,000
  • >1,000
  • 710
  • 522
  • 348
  • 2,480
  • 1,674
  • 1,116
  • 27,130
  • 10,362
  • 6,908
  • 1 Predicted distances based on information presented in Lamont-Doherty's application. 2 NMFS required NSF to expand the exclusion zone for the mitigation airgun to 100 m (328 ft) in shallow water.

    The 180- or 190-dB level shutdown criteria are applicable to cetaceans as specified by NMFS (2000). Lamont-Doherty used these levels to establish the exclusion zones as presented in their application.

    Power Down Procedures

    A power down involves decreasing the number of airguns in use such that the radius of the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone is smaller to the extent that marine mammals are no longer within or about to enter the exclusion zone. A power down of the airgun array can also occur when the vessel is moving from one seismic line to another. During a power down for mitigation, the Langseth would operate one airgun (40 in3). The continued operation of one airgun would alert marine mammals to the presence of the seismic vessel in the area. A shutdown occurs when the Langseth suspends all airgun activity.

    If the observer detects a marine mammal outside the exclusion zone and the animal is likely to enter the zone, the crew would power down the airguns to reduce the size of the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone before the animal enters that zone. Likewise, if a mammal is already within the zone after detection, the crew would power-down the airguns immediately. During a power down of the airgun array, the crew would operate a single 40-in3 airgun which has a smaller exclusion zone. If the observer detects a marine mammal within or near the smaller exclusion zone around the airgun (Table 3), the crew would shut down the single airgun (see next section).

    Resuming Airgun Operations after a Power Down: Following a power-down, the Langseth crew would not resume full airgun activity until the marine mammal has cleared the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone. The observers would consider the animal to have cleared the exclusion zone if:

    • The observer has visually observed the animal leave the exclusion zone; or

    • An observer has not sighted the animal within the exclusion zone for 15 minutes for species with shorter dive durations (i.e., small odontocetes or pinnipeds), or 30 minutes for species with longer dive durations (i.e., mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked whales); or

    The Langseth crew would resume operating the airguns at full power after 15 minutes of sighting any species with short dive durations (i.e., small odontocetes or pinnipeds). Likewise, the crew would resume airgun operations at full power after 30 minutes of sighting any species with longer dive durations (i.e., mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, and dwarf sperm whales).

    NMFS estimates that the Langseth would transit outside the original 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone after an 8-minute wait period. Lamont-Doherty bases this period on the average speed of the Langseth while operating the airguns (8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph). Because the vessel has transited away from the vicinity of the original sighting during the 8-minute period, implementing ramp-up procedures for the full array after an extended power down (i.e., transiting for an additional 35 minutes from the location of initial sighting) would not meaningfully increase the effectiveness of observing marine mammals approaching or entering the exclusion zone for the full source level and would not further minimize the potential for take. The Langseth's observers are continually monitoring the exclusion zone for the full source level while the mitigation airgun is firing. On average, observers can observe to the horizon (10 km; 6.2 mi) from the height of the Langseth's observation deck and should be able to say with a reasonable degree of confidence whether a marine mammal would be encountered within this distance before resuming airgun operations at full power.

    Shutdown Procedures

    The Langseth crew would shut down the operating airgun(s) if they see a marine mammal within or approaching the exclusion zone for the single airgun. The crew would implement a shutdown:

    (1) If an animal enters the exclusion zone of the single airgun after the crew has initiated a power down; or

    (2) If an observer sees the animal is initially within the exclusion zone of the single airgun when more than one airgun (typically the full airgun array) is operating.

    Resuming Airgun Operations after a Shutdown: Following a shutdown in excess of eight minutes, the Langseth crew would initiate a ramp-up with the smallest airgun in the array (40-in3). The crew would turn on additional airguns in a sequence such that the source level of the array would increase in steps not exceeding 6 dB per five-minute period over a total duration of approximately 30 minutes. During ramp-up, the observers would monitor the exclusion zone, and if he/she sees a marine mammal, the Langseth crew would implement a power down or shutdown as though the full airgun array were operational.

    During periods of active seismic operations, there are occasions when the Langseth crew would need to temporarily shut down the airguns due to equipment failure or for maintenance. In this case, if the airguns are inactive longer than eight minutes, the crew would follow ramp-up procedures for a shutdown described earlier and the observers would monitor the full exclusion zone and would implement a power down or shutdown if necessary.

    If the full exclusion zone is not visible to the observer for at least 30 minutes prior to the start of operations in either daylight or nighttime, the Langseth crew would not commence ramp-up unless at least one airgun (40-in3 or similar) has been operating during the interruption of seismic survey operations. Given these provisions, it is likely that the vessel's crew would not ramp up the airgun array from a complete shutdown at night or in thick fog, because the outer part of the zone for that array would not be visible during those conditions.

    If one airgun has operated during a power down period, ramp-up to full power would be permissible at night or in poor visibility, on the assumption that marine mammals would be alerted to the approaching seismic vessel by the sounds from the single airgun and could move away. The vessel's crew would not initiate a ramp-up of the airguns if an observer sees the marine mammal within or near the applicable exclusion zones during the day or close to the vessel at night.

    Ramp-up Procedures

    Ramp-up of an airgun array provides a gradual increase in sound levels, and involves a step-wise increase in the number and total volume of airguns firing until the full volume of the airgun array is achieved. The purpose of a ramp-up is to “warn” marine mammals in the vicinity of the airguns, and to provide the time for them to leave the area and thus avoid any potential injury or impairment of their hearing abilities. Lamont-Doherty would follow a ramp-up procedure when the airgun array begins operating after an 8 minute period without airgun operations or when shut down has exceeded that period. Lamont-Doherty has used similar waiting periods (approximately eight to 10 minutes) during previous seismic surveys.

    Ramp-up would begin with the smallest airgun in the array (40 in3). The crew would add airguns in a sequence such that the source level of the array would increase in steps not exceeding six dB per five minute period over a total duration of approximately 30 to 35 minutes. During ramp-up, the observers would monitor the exclusion zone, and if marine mammals are sighted, Lamont-Doherty would implement a power-down or shut-down as though the full airgun array were operational.

    If the complete exclusion zone has not been visible for at least 30 minutes prior to the start of operations in either daylight or nighttime, Lamont-Doherty would not commence the ramp-up unless at least one airgun (40 in3 or similar) has been operating during the interruption of seismic survey operations. Given these provisions, it is likely that the crew would not ramp up the airgun array from a complete shut-down at night or in thick fog, because the outer part of the exclusion zone for that array would not be visible during those conditions. If one airgun has operated during a power-down period, ramp-up to full power would be permissible at night or in poor visibility, on the assumption that marine mammals would be alerted to the approaching seismic vessel by the sounds from the single airgun and could move away. Lamont-Doherty would not initiate a ramp-up of the airguns if an observer sights a marine mammal within or near the applicable exclusion zones.

    Special Procedures for Situations or Species of Concern

    Considering the highly endangered status of Mediterranean monk seals, the Langseth crew would shut down the airgun(s) immediately in the unlikely event that observers detect any pinniped species within any visible distance of the vessel. The Langseth would only begin ramp-up if observers have not seen the Mediterranean monk seal for 30 minutes.

    To further reduce impacts to Mediterranean monk seals during the peak of the pupping season (September through November), NMFS is requiring Lamont-Doherty to conduct the three proposed tracklines nearest to Anafi Island as late as possible (i.e., late November to early December) during the proposed survey.

    Last, the Langseth would avoid exposing concentrations of large whales to sounds greater than 160 dB and would power down the array, if necessary. For purposes of this proposed survey, a concentration or group of whales would consist of six or more individuals visually sighted that do not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, socializing, etc.).

    Speed and Course Alterations

    If during seismic data collection, Lamont-Doherty detects marine mammals outside the exclusion zone and, based on the animal's position and direction of travel, is likely to enter the exclusion zone, the Langseth would change speed and/or direction if this does not compromise operational safety. Due to the limited maneuverability of the primary survey vessel, altering speed, and/or course can result in an extended period of time to realign the Langseth to the transect line. However, if the animal(s) appear likely to enter the exclusion zone, the Langseth would undertake further mitigation actions, including a power down or shut down of the airguns.

    To the maximum extent practicable, the Langseth would conduct the seismic survey (especially when near land) from the coast (inshore) and proceed towards the sea (offshore) in order to avoid trapping marine mammals in shallow water.

    Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated Lamont-Doherty's proposed mitigation measures in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable 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 measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals;

    • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and

    • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation.

    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 the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed here:

    1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).

    2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to airgun operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to airgun operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to airgun operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

    5. Avoidance or minimization of 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.

    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation.

    Based on the evaluation of Lamont-Doherty's proposed measures, as well as other measures proposed by NMFS, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

    Monitoring

    In order to issue an Incidental Take Authorization for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that 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 Authorizations 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 we expect to be present in the proposed action area.

    Lamont-Doherty submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan in section XIII of the Authorization application. NMFS, NSF, or Lamont-Doherty may modify or supplement the plan based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period.

    Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals:

    1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both within the mitigation zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and during other times and locations, in order to generate more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned later;

    2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals would be affected by seismic airguns and other active acoustic sources and the likelihood of associating those exposures with specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment, temporary or permanent threshold shift;

    3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond to stimuli that we expect to result in take and how those anticipated adverse effects on individuals (in different ways and to varying degrees) may impact the population, species, or stock (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival) through any of the following methods:

    a. Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information);

    b. Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information);

    c. Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas with concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli;

    4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; and

    5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures.

    Monitoring Measures

    Lamont-Doherty proposes to sponsor marine mammal monitoring during the present project to supplement the mitigation measures that require real-time monitoring, and to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the Authorization. Lamont-Doherty understands that NMFS would review the monitoring plan and may require refinements to the plan. Lamont-Doherty planned the monitoring work as a self-contained project independent of any other related monitoring projects that may occur in the same regions at the same time. Further, Lamont-Doherty is prepared to discuss coordination of its monitoring program with any other related work that might be conducted by other groups working insofar as it is practical for Lamont-Doherty.

    Vessel-Based Passive Acoustic Monitoring

    Passive acoustic monitoring would complement the visual mitigation monitoring program, when practicable. Visual monitoring typically is not effective during periods of poor visibility or at night, and even with good visibility, is unable to detect marine mammals when they are below the surface or beyond visual range. Passive acoustical monitoring can improve detection, identification, and localization of cetaceans when used in conjunction with visual observations. The passive acoustic monitoring would serve to alert visual observers (if on duty) when vocalizing cetaceans are detected. It is only useful when marine mammals call, but it can be effective either by day or by night, and does not depend on good visibility. The acoustic observer would monitor the system in real time so that he/she can advise the visual observers if they acoustically detect cetaceans.

    The passive acoustic monitoring system consists of hardware (i.e., hydrophones) and software. The “wet end” of the system consists of a towed hydrophone array connected to the vessel by a tow cable. The tow cable is 250 m (820.2 ft) long and the hydrophones are fitted in the last 10 m (32.8 ft) of cable. A depth gauge, attached to the free end of the cable, typically towed at depths less than 20 m (65.6 ft). The Langseth crew would deploy the array from a winch located on the back deck. A deck cable would connect the tow cable to the electronics unit in the main computer lab where the acoustic station, signal conditioning, and processing system would be located. The Pamguard software amplifies, digitizes, and then processes the acoustic signals received by the hydrophones. The system can detect marine mammal vocalizations at frequencies up to 250 kHz.

    One acoustic observer, an expert bioacoustician with primary responsibility for the passive acoustic monitoring system would be aboard the Langseth in addition to the four visual observers. The acoustic observer would monitor the towed hydrophones 24 hours per day during airgun operations and during most periods when the Langseth is underway while the airguns are not operating. However, passive acoustic monitoring may not be possible if damage occurs to both the primary and back-up hydrophone arrays during operations. The primary passive acoustic monitoring streamer on the Langseth is a digital hydrophone streamer. Should the digital streamer fail, back-up systems should include an analog spare streamer and a hull-mounted hydrophone.

    One acoustic observer would monitor the acoustic detection system by listening to the signals from two channels via headphones and/or speakers and watching the real-time spectrographic display for frequency ranges produced by cetaceans. The observer monitoring the acoustical data would be on shift for one to six hours at a time. The other observers would rotate as an acoustic observer, although the expert acoustician would be on passive acoustic monitoring duty more frequently.

    When the acoustic observer detects a vocalization while visual observations are in progress, the acoustic observer on duty would contact the visual observer immediately, to alert him/her to the presence of cetaceans (if they have not already been seen), so that the vessel's crew can initiate a power down or shutdown, if required. The observer would enter the information regarding the call into a database. Data entry would include an acoustic encounter identification number, whether it was linked with a visual sighting, date, time when first and last heard and whenever any additional information was recorded, position and water depth when first detected, bearing if determinable, species or species group (e.g., unidentified dolphin, sperm whale), types and nature of sounds heard (e.g., clicks, continuous, sporadic, whistles, creaks, burst pulses, strength of signal, etc.), and any other notable information. Acousticians record the acoustic detection for further analysis.

    Observer Data and Documentation

    Observers would record data to estimate the numbers of marine mammals exposed to various received sound levels and to document apparent disturbance reactions or lack thereof. They would use the data to help better understand the impacts of the activity on marine mammals and to estimate numbers of animals potentially `taken' by harassment (as defined in the MMPA). They will also provide information needed to order a power down or shut down of the airguns when a marine mammal is within or near the exclusion zone.

    When an observer makes a sighting, they will record the following information:

    1. Species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), behavior when first sighted and after initial sighting, heading (if consistent), bearing and distance from seismic vessel, sighting cue, apparent reaction to the airguns or vessel (e.g., none, avoidance, approach, paralleling, etc.), and behavioral pace.

    2. Time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea state, visibility, and sun glare.

    The observer will record the data listed under (2) at the start and end of each observation watch, and during a watch whenever there is a change in one or more of the variables.

    Observers will record all observations and power downs or shutdowns in a standardized format and will enter data into an electronic database. The observers will verify the accuracy of the data entry by computerized data validity checks during data entry and by subsequent manual checking of the database. These procedures will allow the preparation of initial summaries of data during and shortly after the field program, and will facilitate transfer of the data to statistical, graphical, and other programs for further processing and archiving.

    Results from the vessel-based observations will provide:

    1. The basis for real-time mitigation (airgun power down or shutdown).

    2. Information needed to estimate the number of marine mammals potentially taken by harassment, which Lamont-Doherty must report to the Office of Protected Resources.

    3. Data on the occurrence, distribution, and activities of marine mammals and turtles in the area where Lamont-Doherty would conduct the seismic study.

    4. Information to compare the distance and distribution of marine mammals and turtles relative to the source vessel at times with and without seismic activity.

    5. Data on the behavior and movement patterns of marine mammals detected during non-active and active seismic operations.

    Reporting

    Lamont-Doherty would submit a report to us and to NSF within 90 days after the end of the cruise. The report would describe the operations conducted and sightings of marine mammals near the operations. The report would provide full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring. The 90-day report would summarize the dates and locations of seismic operations, and all marine mammal sightings (dates, times, locations, activities, associated seismic survey activities). The report would also include estimates of the number and nature of exposures that occurred above the harassment threshold based on the observations.

    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not permitted by the authorization (if issued), such as serious injury or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), Lamont-Doherty shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the take to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. Lamont-Doherty must also contact the ARION Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Greece at +030-6945-531850.

    The report must include the following information:

    • Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    • Name and type of vessel involved;

    • Vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;

    • Description of the incident;

    • Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Water depth;

    • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    • Fate of the animal(s); and

    • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

    Lamont-Doherty shall not resume its activities until we are able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with Lamont-Doherty to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Lamont-Doherty may not resume their activities until notified by us via letter, email, or telephone.

    In the event that Lamont-Doherty discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as we describe in the next paragraph), Lamont-Doherty will immediately report the incident to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. Lamont-Doherty must also contact the ARION Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Greece at +030-6945-531850.

    The report must include the same information identified in the paragraph above this section. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with Lamont-Doherty to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    In the event that Lamont-Doherty discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the authorized activities (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Lamont-Doherty would report the incident to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. Lamont-Doherty would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. Lamont-Doherty must also contact the ARION Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Greece at +030-6945-531850.

    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) 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].

    Acoustic stimuli (i.e., increased underwater sound) generated during the operation of the airgun array may have the potential to result in the behavioral disturbance of some marine mammals and may have an even smaller potential to result in permanent threshold shift (non-lethal injury) of some marine mammals. NMFS expects that the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures would minimize the possibility of injurious or lethal takes. However, NMFS cannot discount the possibility (albeit small) that exposure to energy from the proposed survey could result in non-lethal injury (Level A harassment). Thus, NMFS proposes to authorize take by Level B harassment and Level A harassment resulting from the operation of the sound sources for the proposed seismic survey based upon the current acoustic exposure criteria shown in Table 4.

    Table 4—NMFS' Current Acoustic Exposure Criteria Criterion Criterion
  • Definition
  • Threshold
    Level A Harassment (Injury) Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) (Any level above that which is known to cause TTS) 180 dB re 1 microPa-m (cetaceans)/190 dB re 1 microPa-m (pinnipeds) root mean square (rms). Level B Harassment Behavioral Disruption (for impulse noises) 160 dB re 1 microPa-m (rms).

    NMFS' practice is to apply the 160 dB re: 1 µPa received level threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to predict whether behavioral disturbance that rises to the level of Level B harassment is likely to occur. NMFS' practice is to apply the 180 dB re: 1 µPa received level threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to predict whether permanent threshold shift (auditory injury), which is considered Level A harassment, is likely to occur.

    Acknowledging Uncertainties in Estimating Take

    Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound and use that information to predict how many animals are taken. In practice, depending on the amount of information available to characterize daily and seasonal movement and distribution of affected marine mammals, distinguishing between the numbers of individuals harassed and the instances of harassment can be difficult to parse. Moreover, when one considers the duration of the activity, in the absence of information to predict the degree to which individual animals are likely exposed repeatedly on subsequent days, the simple assumption is that entirely new animals are exposed in every day, which results in a take estimate that in some circumstances overestimates the number of individuals harassed.

    The following sections describe NMFS' methods to estimate take by incidental harassment. We base these estimates on the number of marine mammals that could be harassed by seismic operations with the airgun array during approximately 2,140 km (1,330 mi) of transect lines in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

    Modeled Number of Instances of Exposures in Territorial Waters and High Seas: Lamont-Doherty would conduct the proposed seismic survey within the EEZ and territorial waters of Greece. Greece's territorial seas to extend out to 6 nmi (7 mi; 11 km). The proposed survey would take place partially within Greece's territorial seas (less than 6 nmi [11 km; 7 mi] from the shore) and partially in the high seas. However, NMFS has no authority to authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign nations, because the MMPA does not apply in those waters. However, NMFS still needs to calculate the level of incidental take in the entire activity area (territorial seas and high seas) as part of the analysis supporting our preliminary determination under the MMPA that the activity will have a negligible impact on the affected species (Table 5). Therefore, NMFS presents estimates of the anticipated numbers of instances that marine mammals would be exposed to sound levels greater than or equal to 160, 180, and 190 dB re: 1 μPa during the proposed seismic survey, both for within the entire action area (i.e., within Greece's territorial seas [less than 6 nmi] and outside of Greece's territorial seas [greater than 6 nmi]—Table 5. Table 6 represents the numbers of instances of take that NMFS proposes to authorize for this survey within the high seas portion of the survey (i.e., the area beyond Greek territorial seas which is outside 6 nmi; 7 mi; 11 km).

    NMFS' Take Estimate Method for Species with Density Information: For the proposed Authorization, NMFS reviewed Lamont-Doherty's take estimates presented in Table 3 of their application and propose a more appropriate methodology to estimate take. Lamont-Doherty's approach is to multiply the ensonified area by marine mammal densities (if available) to estimate take. This “snapshot approach” (i.e., area times density) proposed by Lamont-Doherty, assumes a uniform distribution of marine mammals present within the proposed survey area and does not account for the survey occurring over a 16-day period and the overlap of areas across days in that 16-day period.

    NMFS has developed an alternate approach that appropriately includes a time component to calculate the take estimates for the proposed survey. In order to estimate the potential number of instances that marine mammals could be exposed to airgun sounds above the 160-dB Level B harassment threshold and the 180-dB Level A harassment thresholds, NMFS used the following approach for species with density estimates:

    (1) Calculate the total area that the Langseth would ensonify above the 160-dB Level B harassment threshold and above the 180-dB Level A harassment threshold for cetaceans within a 24-hour period. This calculation includes a daily ensonified area of approximately 1,211 square kilometers (km2) [468 square miles (mi2)] based on the Langseth traveling approximately 200 km [124 mi] in one day). Generally, the Langseth travels approximately 137 km in one day while conducting a seismic survey, thus, NMFS' estimate of a daily ensonified area based on 200 km is an estimation of the theoretical maximum that the Langseth could travel within 24 hours.

    (2) Multiply the daily ensonified area above the 160-dB Level B harassment threshold by the species' density to derive the predicted number of instances of exposures to received levels greater than or equal to 160-dB re: 1 μPa on a given day;

    (3) Multiply that product (i.e., the expected number of instances of exposures within a day) by the number of survey days that includes a 25 percent contingency (i.e., a total of 20 days) to derive the predicted number of instances of exposures over the duration of the survey;

    (4) Multiply the daily ensonified area by each species-specific density to derive the predicted number of instances of exposures to received levels greater than or equal to 180-dB re: 1 μPa for cetaceans on a given day; and (i.e., Level A takes).

    (5) Multiply that product by the number of survey days that includes a 25 percent contingency (i.e., a total of 20 days). Subtract that product from the predicted number of instances of exposures to received levels greater than or equal to 160-dB re: 1 μPa on a given day to derive the number of instances of exposures estimated to occur between 160 and 180-dB threshold (i.e., Level B takes).

    In many cases, this estimate of instances of exposures is likely an overestimate of the number of individuals that are taken, because it assumes 100 percent turnover in the area every day, (i.e., that each new day results in takes of entirely new individuals with no repeat takes of the same individuals over the 20-day period). However, it is difficult to quantify to what degree NMFS has overestimated the number of individuals potentially affected. Except as described later for a few specific species, NMFS uses this number of instances as the estimate of individuals (and authorized take) even though NMFS is aware that the number is high. This method is a way to help understand the instances of exposure above the Level B and Level A thresholds, however, NMFS notes that method would overestimate the number of individual marine mammals exposed above the 160- or 180-dB threshold.

    Take Estimates for Species with No Density Information: Density information for many species of marine mammals in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is data poor or non-existent. When density estimates were not available, NMFS used data based on dedicated survey sighting information from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) surveys in 2010, 2011, and 2013 (AMAPPS, 2010, 2011, 2013) and Boisseau et al. (2010) to estimate take for certain species with no density information. NMFS assumed that Lamont-Doherty could potentially encounter one group of each species during the seismic survey. NMFS believes it is reasonable to use the average (mean) group size (weighted by effort and rounded up) from the AMMAPS surveys to estimate the take from these potential encounters. Those species include the following: Dwarf sperm and pygmy sperm whale (2 each), Gervais', Sowerby's, and Blainville's beaked whales (3 each).

    For humpback whale and minke whale, the applicant requested 116 and 1,052 Level B takes for those species, respectively to account for uncertainty in the likelihood of encountering those species during the proposed survey. For these two species which are considered as visitor and vagrant respectively, NMFS believes that it is reasonable to use the average (mean) group size (weighted by effort and rounded up) from the AMMAPS surveys for humpback whale (3) and minke whale (2) and multiply those estimates by 20 days to derive a more reasonable estimate of take. Thus, NMFS proposes a take estimate of 60 humpback whales and 40 minke whales to account for the unlikely possibility of an eruptive occurrence of these species within the proposed action area.

    NMFS based the take estimates for rough-toothed dolphins (8), false killer whales (3), long-finned pilot whales (33) and harbor porpoise (1) on mean group size reported from encounter rates observed during visual and acoustic surveys in the Mediterranean Sea, 2003-2007 (Boisseau et al., 2010).

    For rarely sighted species such as the gray and Sei whale, NMFS used the mean group size reported in (Boisseau et al., 2010) for Sei whales (1) as a proxy for a take estimate for gray whales (1).

    NMFS based the take estimates for hooded seals (1) on stranding and sighting records for the western Mediterranean Sea (Bellido et al., 2008). Based on the best available information, there are no reports of strandings or sightings of hooded seals east of the Gata Cape, Almeria, Spain. Researchers suggest the Alboran Sea is the present limit of the sporadic incursion of this species in the Mediterranean Sea (Bellido et al., 2008).

    Take Estimates for Mediterranean Monk Seals: Density information for Mediterranean monk seals in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is also data poor or non-existent. NMFS used data based on sighting information from the Rapid Assessment Survey of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus population in Anafi Island, Cyclades Greece (MOm, 2014). Based on the spatial extent of the survey (three tracklines are approximately 4 km west of Anafi Island). NMFS estimates that the proposed survey could affect approximately 100 percent (25 out of approximately 25 individuals) of the monk seal subpopulation from Anafi Island (Mom, 2014) location within the proposed survey area.

    Because adult female Mediterranean monk seals can travel up to 70 km (43 mi) (Adamantopoulou et al., 2011) and based on the spatial extent of the survey in relation to the islands, NMFS conservatively estimates that the proposed survey could affect up to 8 adult females of the monk seal subpopulation from the Kimolos—Polyaigos Island complex in the Cyclades Islands (Politikos et al., 2009) located approximately 60 km (37 mi) northwest of the outer perimeter of the 160-dB ensonified area. NMFS bases the estimate of 8 females on the estimated mean annual pup production count (7.9) for the island complex (UNEP, 2013).

    To date, data is unavailable from any systematic survey on the presence of monk seal caves on Santorini Island (Pers. Comm. MOm, 2015). However, based on recent stranding information for one pup on Santorini Island, NMFS estimates that up to two individuals could be present on Santorini Island.

    Table 5—Densities, Group Size, and Estimates of the Possible Number of Instances of Exposures of Marine Mammals Exposed to Sound Levels Greater Than or Equal to 160 dB re: 1 μPa Over 20 Days During the Proposed Seismic Survey for the Entire Action Area (Within Territorial Waters and the High Seas) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (November Through December, 2015) Species Density estimate1 Modeled number of
  • instances of
  • exposures to sound levels ≥ 160, 180,
  • and 190 dB2
  • Total number of instances of exposures3 Percent of regional population4 Population
  • trend5
  • Gray whale NA 1, 0, - 1 0.01 Unknown. Humpback whale NA 60, 0, - 60 0.52 Increasing. Minke whale NA 40, 0, - 40 0.19 Unknown. Sei whale NA 1, 0, - 1 0.28 Unknown. Fin whale 0.001686 100, 20, - 120 2.40 Unknown. Sperm whale 0.000527 40, 0, - 40 1.60 Unknown. Dwarf sperm whale NA 2, 0, - 2 0.05 Unknown. Pygmy sperm whale NA 2, 0, - 2 0.05 Unknown. Cuvier's beaked whale 0.001568 100, 20, - 120 1.84 Unknown. Blainville's beaked whale NA 27, 0, - 3 0.04 Unknown. Gervais' beaked whale NA 27, 0, - 3 0.04 Unknown. Sowerby's beaked whale NA 27, 0, - 3 0.04 Unknown. Bottlenose dolphin 0.0439 2,940, 340, - 3,280 4.23 Unknown. Rough-toothed dolphin NA 8, 0, - 8 2.95 Unknown. Striped dolphin 0.2210 15,060, 1,700, - 16,760 7.18 Unknown. Short-beaked common dolphin 0.0311 2,060, 240, - 2,300 11.84 Decreasing. Risso's dolphin 0.01512 1,020, 120, - 1,140 6.25 Unknown. False killer whale NA 3, 0, - 3 0.68 Unknown. Long-finned pilot whale NA 33, 0 - 33 13.75 Unknown. Harbor porpoise NA 1, 0, - 1 0.001 Unknown. Hooded seal NA 1, -, 0 1 Unknown Unknown. Monk seal NA 560, -, 0 35 10.26 In Review. 1 Densities (where available) are expressed as number of individuals per km2. NA = Not available. 2 See preceding text for information on NMFS' take estimate calculations. NA = Not applicable. 3 Modeled instances of exposures includes adjustments for species with no density information. 4 Table 2 in this notice lists the stock species abundance estimates used in calculating the percentage of species/stock. 5 Population trend information from Waring et al., 2014. Population trend information for Mediterranean monk seals from MOm (Pers. Comm., 2015). Unknown = Insufficient data to determine population trend. 6 Panigada et al., 2011. 7 Laran et al., 2010. 8 Density based on density for sperm whales (Laran et al., 2010) and adjusted for proportional difference in sighting rates and mean group sizes between sperm and Cuvier's beaked whales in the Mediterranean Sea (Boisseau et al., 2010). 9 Fortuna et al., 2011. 10 Panigada et al., 2011. 11 Density based Laran et al. (2010) striped dolphin winter density adjusted for the proportional difference in striped dolphin to common dolphin sightings as indicated by surveys of the Ionian Sea (Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 1993). 12 Gomez de Segura et al., 2006. Fortuna et al., 2011 reported 0.007 in the Adriatic, but noted that the estimate was not suitable for management purposes.
    Table 6—Densities, Mean Group Size, and Estimates of the Possible Numbers of Marine Mammals and Population Percentages Exposed to Sound Levels Greater Than or Equal to 160 dB re: 1 μPa Over 20 Days During the Proposed Seismic Survey Outside of Territorial Waters and the High Seas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (November Through December, 2015) Species Density
  • estimate 1
  • Modeled number of instances of exposures to sound levels ≥ 160, 180, and 190 dB 2 (Outside territorial sea) Authorized level A take 3 Authorized level B take 3 Percent of
  • regional
  • population  4
  • Population trend 5
    Gray whale NA 1, 0, - 0 1 0.01 Unknown. Humpback whale NA 60, 0, - 0 60 0.52 Increasing. Minke whale NA 40, 0, - 0 40 0.193 Unknown. Sei whale NA 1, 0, - 0 1 0.28 Unknown. Fin whale 0.00168 40, 0, - 0 40 0.80 Unknown. Sperm whale 0.00052 20, 0, - 0 20 0.80 Unknown. Dwarf sperm whale NA 2, 0, - 0 2 0.05 Unknown. Pygmy sperm whale NA 2, 0, - 0 2 0.05 Unknown. Cuvier's beaked whale 0.00156 40, 0, - 0 40 0.61 Unknown. Blainville's beaked whale NA 27, 0, - 0 3 0.04 Unknown. Gervais' beaked whale NA 27, 0, - 0 3 0.04 Unknown. Sowerby's beaked whale NA 27, 0, - 0 3 0.04 Unknown. Bottlenose dolphin 0.043 900, 160, - 160 900 1.37 Unknown. Rough-toothed dolphin NA 8, 0, - 0 8 2.95 Unknown. Striped dolphin 0.22 4,560, 780, - 780 4,560 2.29 Unknown. Short-beaked common dolphin 0.03 620, 100, - 100 620 3.71 Decreasing. Risso's dolphin 0.015 320, 60, - 60 320 2.08 Unknown. False killer whale NA 3, 0, - 0 3 0.68 Unknown. Long-finned pilot whale NA 33, 0, - 0 33 13.75 Unknown. Harbor porpoise NA 1, 0, - 0 1 0.001 Unknown. Hooded seal NA 1, -, 0 0 1 Unknown Unknown. Monk seal NA 560, -, 0 0 35 10.26 In Review. 1 Densities (where available) are expressed as number of individuals per km2. NA = Not available. 2 See preceding text for information on NMFS' take estimate calculations. NA = Not applicable. 3 Modeled instances of exposures includes adjustments for species with no density information. The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely to enter the 180 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active. 4 Table 2 in this notice lists the stock species abundance estimates used in calculating the percentage of species/stock or regional population. 5 Population trend information from Waring et al., 2014. Population trend information for Mediterranean monk seals from MOm (Pers. Comm., 2015). Unknown = Insufficient data to determine population trend.

    Lamont-Doherty did not estimate any additional take from sound sources other than airguns. NMFS does not expect the sound levels produced by the echosounder or sub-bottom profiler to exceed the sound levels produced by the airguns. Lamont-Doherty will not operate the multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler during transits to and from the survey area, (i.e., when the airguns are not operating), and, therefore, NMFS does not anticipate additional takes from these sources or acoustic release signals from the ocean bottom seismometers in this particular case.

    NMFS considers the probability for entanglement of marine mammals as low because of the vessel speed and the monitoring efforts onboard the survey vessel. Therefore, NMFS does not believe it is necessary to authorize additional takes for entanglement at this time.

    The Langseth will operate at a relatively slow speed (typically 4.6 knots [8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph]) when conducting the survey. Protected species observers would monitor for marine mammals, which would trigger mitigation measures, including vessel avoidance where safe. Therefore, NMFS does not anticipate nor do we authorize takes of marine mammals from vessel strike.

    There is no evidence that planned activities could result in serious injury or mortality within the specified geographic area for the requested proposed Authorization. The required mitigation and monitoring measures would minimize any potential risk for serious injury or mortality.

    Analysis and Determinations Negligible Impact

    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). The lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population level effects) forms the basis of a negligible impact finding. Thus, an estimate of the number of takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through behavioral harassment, 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 of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species.

    In making a negligible impact determination, NMFS considers:

    • The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities;

    • The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of harassment; and

    • The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative impacts when taking into account successive/contemporaneous actions when added to baseline data);

    • The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative to the size of the population);

    • Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/survival; and

    • The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the number or severity of incidental take.

    To avoid repetition, our analysis applies to all the species listed in Table 6, given that NMFS expects the anticipated effects of the seismic airguns to be similar in nature. Where there are meaningful differences between species or stocks, or groups of species, in anticipated individual responses to activities, impact of expected take on the population due to differences in population status, or impacts on habitat (e.g. Mediterranean monk seals), NMFS has identified species-specific factors to inform the analysis.

    Given the required mitigation and related monitoring, NMFS does not anticipate that serious injury or mortality would occur as a result of Lamont-Doherty's proposed seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Thus the Authorization does not authorize any mortality.

    NMFS' predicted estimates for Level A harassment take for bottlenose, striped, short-beaked common, and Risso's dolphins are overestimates of likely injury because NMFS has not quantitatively adjusted the estimate to account for either avoidance or effective mitigation. NMFS expects that the required visual and acoustic mitigation measures would minimize Level A take in those instances. Also, NMFS expects that some individuals would avoid the source at levels expected to result in injury. NMFS expects that Level A harassment is unlikely but includes the modeled information in this notice. Taking into account that interactions at the modeled level of take for Level A harassment are unlikely or minimal due to Lamont-Doherty implementing required mitigation and monitoring measures, the likely avoidance of animals to the sound source, and Lamont-Doherty's previous history of successfully implementing required mitigation measures, the quantified potential injuries in Table 6, if incurred, would be in the form of some lesser degree of permanent threshold shift and not total deafness or mortality.

    Given that the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change conducted a larger scale seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean Sea from mid-November 2012 to end of January 2013, the addition of the increased sound due to the Langseth's operations associated with the proposed seismic survey during a shorter time-frame (approximately 20 days from mid-November to mid-December) is not outside the present experience of marine mammals in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, although levels may increase locally. NMFS does not expect that Lamont-Doherty's 20-day proposed survey would have effects that could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

    Of the marine mammal species under our jurisdiction that are known to occur or likely to occur in the study area, five of these species are listed as endangered under the ESA including: The fin, humpback, sei, and sperm whales and the Mediterranean monk seal. Population trends for the Mediterranean monk seal globally are variable with some sub populations decreasing and others remaining stable or even indicating slight increases. The western north Atlantic population of humpback whales is known to be increasing. The other marine mammal species that may be taken by harassment during Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey program are not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

    Cetaceans. Odontocete reactions to seismic energy pulses are usually thought to be limited to shorter distances from the airgun(s) than are those of mysticetes, in part because odontocete low-frequency hearing is assumed to be less sensitive than that of mysticetes. Given sufficient notice through relatively slow ship speed, NMFS expects marine mammals to move away from a noise source that is annoying prior to becoming potentially injurious.

    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed previously in this document (see the “Anticipated Effects on Habitat” and Responses to Comments sections). Although some disturbance is possible to food sources of marine mammals, the impacts are anticipated to be minor enough as to not affect annual rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals in the area. Based on the size of the eastern Mediterranean Sea where feeding by marine mammals occurs versus the localized area of the marine survey activities, any missed feeding opportunities in the direct project area will be minor based on the fact that other feeding areas exist elsewhere (Costa, 1993; New et al., 2014). Taking into account the planned mitigation measures, effects on cetaceans are generally expected to be restricted to avoidance of a limited area around the survey operation and short-term changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of “Level B harassment.” Animals are not expected to permanently abandon any area that is surveyed, and any behaviors that are interrupted during the activity are expected to resume once the activity ceases. Only a small portion of marine mammal habitat will be affected at any time, and other areas within the Mediterranean Sea will be available for necessary biological functions.

    Mediterranean Monk Seal. The Mediterranean monk seal is non-migratory and has a very limited home range (Gucu et al., 2004; Dendrinos et al., 2007a; Adamantopoulou et al., 2011). It historically occupied open beaches, rocky shorelines, and spacious arching caves, but now almost exclusively uses secluded coastal caves for hauling out and breeding. Available data from Greece indicate that Mediterranean monk seals appear to have fairly restricted ranges (from about 100 to 1,000 km2) (Adamantopoulou et al., 2011). Although primary habitat seems to be nearshore shallow waters, movement over deep oceanic waters does occur (Adamantopoulou et al., 2011; Dendrinos et al., 2007a; Sergeant et al., 1978). Unlike most other seal species, Mediterranean monk seals are known to haul-out in grottos or caves frequently accessible only by underwater entrances, (Bareham and Furreddu, 1975; Bayed et al. 2005; CMS, 2005; Dendrinos et al., 2007b) and movement into and out of these locations is not clearly tied to sea or tide state, day or night, or sea/air temperature in some cases (Bareham and Furreddu, 1975; Dendrinos et al., 2001; Marchessaux and Duguy, 1977; Sergeant et al., 1978).

    Monk seals are more particular when selecting caves for breeding versus caves for resting (Gücü et al., 2004; Karamanlidis et al., 2004; Dendrinos et al. 2007b). In Greece, the pupping season lasts from August to December with a peak in births during September through November (MOm, 2009). Suitable pupping sites tend to have multiple entrances with soft substrate beaches in their interior which lowers the risk of pup washout (Dendrinos et al., 2007). There are several caves suitable for pupping and/or resting occur near the action area (Dendrinos et al., 2008) including caves for resting and reproduction on Anafi Island located within the eastern perimeter of the proposed action area and on the Kimolos-Polyaigos Island complex located approximately 60 km (37 mi) northwest of the outer perimeter of the proposed action area (Mom, 2014). NMFS does not expect that the proposed survey would ensonify the caves with pups because the cave's long entrance corridors which act as wave breakers (Dendrinos et al., 2007) could also offer additional protection for lactating pups from sound generated during the proposed survey.

    During parturition, lactating females leave the maternity caves as soon as possible after birth in search of food. Based upon a few tagged individuals, lactating female Mediterranean monk seals generally dive in waters 40-60 m deep and have a maximum known dive depth of 180 m (CMS, 2005). Monk seals may focus on areas shallower (2-25 m deep) while foraging (CMS, 2005). Pups tend to remain in shallow, nearshore waters and gradually distribute further from natal caves into waters up to 40 m deep (CMS, 2005; Gazo, 1997; Gazo et al., 2006). In Greek waters, seals may generally stay even closer to their haul-out locations (within a few miles) (Marchessaux and Duguy, 1977). Female Mediterranean monk seals also have the ability to take foraging trips up to 70 km (43 miles) (Adamantopoulou et al., 2011) which NMFS expects would buffer foraging mothers from short-term variations in prey availability within the action area ((Costa, 1993), as cited in New et al., 2014). NMFS has no information to suggest that an animal eliciting a behavioral response (e.g., temporary disruption of feeding) to the proposed seismic survey would be unable to compensate for this temporary disruption in feeding activity by either immediately feeding at another location, by feeding shortly after cessation of acoustic exposure, or by feeding at a later time.

    NMFS expects that it is unlikely that mothers would remain within the cave because of their need to forage and feed their pups. The closest approach of the Langseth to Anafi Island is approximately four km (2.5 mi) away from the northwest portion of the Island. During foraging, Mediterranean monk seal mothers may not react at all to the sound from the proposed survey or may alert, ignore the stimulus, change their behavior, or avoid the immediate area by swimming away or diving. Behavioral responses can range from a mild orienting response, or a shifting of attention, to flight and panic. Research and observations show that pinnipeds in the water are generally tolerant of anthropogenic noise and activity. 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 exposure.

    Taking into account the required mitigation measures to delay the conduct of survey lines acquired around Anafi Island to avoid the densest part of the pupping season and the required mitigation measure to shut down the airguns any time a pinniped is detected by observers around the vessel, effects on Mediterranean monk seals are generally expected to be restricted to avoidance of a limited area around the survey operation and short-term changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of “Level B harassment.” NMFS does not expect the animals to permanently abandon their caves, and any behaviors interrupted during the activity are expected to resume once the short-term activity ceases or moves away.

    For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the following factors, Lamont-Doherty's specified activities are not likely to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, permanent threshold shift, or other non-auditory injury, serious injury, or death. They include:

    • The anticipated impacts of Lamont-Doherty's survey activities on marine mammals are temporary behavioral changes due to avoidance of the area;

    • The likelihood that, given sufficient notice through relatively slow ship speed, NMFS expects marine mammals to move away from a noise source that is annoying prior to its becoming potentially injurious;

    • The availability of alternate areas of similar habitat value for marine mammals to temporarily vacate the survey area during the operation of the airgun(s) to avoid acoustic harassment;

    • NMFS also expects that the seismic survey would have no more than a temporary and minimal adverse effect on any fish or invertebrate species that serve as prey species for marine mammals, and therefore consider the potential impacts to marine mammal habitat minimal;

    • The high likelihood that trained visual protected species observers would detect marine mammals at close proximity to the vessel.

    Table 6 in this document outlines the number of requested Level A and Level B harassment takes that we anticipate as a result of these activities. NMFS anticipates that 22 marine mammal species could occur in the proposed action area.

    Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (i.e., 24 hour cycle). Behavioral reactions to noise exposure (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). While NMFS anticipates that the seismic operations would occur on consecutive days, the estimated duration of the survey would last no more than 20 days but would increase sound levels in the marine environment in a relatively small area surrounding the vessel (compared to the range of most of the marine mammals within the proposed survey area), which is constantly travelling over distances, and some animals may only be exposed to and harassed by sound for less than a day.

    Required mitigation measures, such as shutdowns for pinnipeds, vessel speed, course alteration, and visual monitoring would be implemented to help reduce impacts to marine mammals. Therefore, the exposure of pinnipeds to sounds produced by this phase of Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey is not anticipated to have an adverse effect on annual rates of recruitment or survival on the Mediterranean monk seal population (see New et al., 2014), and therefore would have a negligible impact.

    Based on the analysis herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that Lamont-Doherty's proposed seismic survey would have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    As mentioned previously, NMFS estimates that Lamont-Doherty's activities could potentially affect, by Level B harassment, 22 species of marine mammals under our jurisdiction. NMFS estimates that Lamont-Doherty's activities could potentially affect, by Level A harassment, up to four species of marine mammals under our jurisdiction.

    For each species, the numbers of take being proposed for authorization are small numbers relative to the population sizes: less than 14 percent for long-finned pilot whales, less than 11 percent of the regional population estimates of Mediterranean monk seals, and less than four percent or less for all other species. NMFS has provided the regional population and take estimates for the marine mammal species that may be taken by Level A and Level B harassment in Table 2 and Table 6 in this notice.

    NMFS finds that the incidental take authorized in Table 6 for the activity would be small relative to the affected species or stocks. In addition, NMFS also considered the seasonal distribution and habitat use patterns of Mediterranean monk seals, which suggest that for much of the time only a small portion of the population will be accessible to impacts from Lamont-Doherty's activity. Therefore, NMFS determined that the numbers of animals likely to be taken are small.

    For two species, when considering take that would occur in the entire action area (including the part within the territorial seas, in which the MMPA does not apply) the number of instances is 11.84 for short-beaked common dolphins and 13.75 percent for short-beaked common dolphins, respectively (Table 5). While these additional takes were not evaluated under the “small number” standard because we are not authorizing them, these total takes (which are overestimates because NMFS' take estimate methodology assumes new exposures every day), were still considered in in our negligible impact determination, which considered all of the effects of the action, even those that occur outside of the jurisdiction of the MMPA.

    Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    There are six marine mammal species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act that may occur in the proposed survey area. Under section 7 of the ESA, NSF initiated formal consultation with NMFS on the proposed seismic survey. NMFS (i.e., National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division) also consulted internally with NMFS on the proposed issuance of an Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA.

    In October, 2015, the Endangered Species Act Interagency Cooperation Division issued a Biological Opinion with an Incidental Take Statement to us and to the NSF which concluded that the issuance of the Authorization and the conduct of the seismic survey were not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of fin, humpback, sei, and sperm whales and the Mediterranean monk seal. The Biological Opinion also concluded that the issuance of the Authorization and the conduct of the seismic survey would not affect designated critical habitat for these species.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NSF has prepared an environmental analysis titled “Environmental Analysis of a Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, November- December, 2015.” NMFS has also prepared an environmental assessment (EA) titled, “Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to a Marine Geophysical Survey in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, November—December 2015,” which tiers off of NSF's environmental analysis. NMFS and NSF provided relevant environmental information to the public through the notice for the proposed authorization (80 FR 53623, September 4, 2015) and considered public comments received prior to finalizing our EA and deciding whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Lamont-Doherty would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment and prepared and issued FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NOAA Administrative Order 216-6. NMFS' EA and FONSI for this activity are available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

    Authorization

    NMFS has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Lamont-Doherty for the take of marine mammals, incidental to conducting a marine seismic survey in the Mediterranean Sea November 19 through December 31, 2015.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Perry F. Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27990 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 a.m.] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Availability of Seats for National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils AGENCY:

    Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for applications.

    SUMMARY:

    ONMS is seeking applications for vacant seats for five of its 13 national marine sanctuary advisory councils (advisory councils). Vacant seats, including positions (i.e., primary member and alternate), for each of the advisory councils are listed in this notice under Supplementary Information. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; views regarding the protection and management of marine or Great Lake resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as members or alternates should expect to serve two- or three year terms, pursuant to the charter of the specific national marine sanctuary advisory council.

    DATES:

    Applications are due by November 30, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Application kits are specific to each advisory council. As such, application kits must be obtained from and returned to the council-specific addresses noted below.

    • Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Carolyn Gibson, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Drive, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129; (415) 561-6622 extension 306; email [email protected]; or download application from http://farallones.noaa.gov/manage/sac.html.

    • Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Inouye Regional Center, ATTN: NOS/ONMS/Shannon Lyday, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818; (808) 725-5905; email [email protected]; or download application from http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/council/council_app_accepting.html.

    • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Nichole Rodriguez, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 99 Pacific St. Building 455A, Monterey, CA; (831) 647-4206; email [email protected]; or download application from http://montereybay.noaa.gov/sac/2015/recruit15v2/151102covlet.html.

    • National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Advisory Council: Joseph Paulin, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center, P.O. Box 4318, Pago Pago, AS 96799 (Utulei, American Samoa); (684) 633-6500; email [email protected]; or download application from http://americansamoa.noaa.gov/about/samoa.html.

    • Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Karlyn Langjahr, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, 115 East Railroad Ave., Suite 101, Port Angeles, WA 98362; (360) 457-6622 extension 31; email [email protected]; or download application from http://olympiccoast.noaa.gov/involved/sac/sac_welcome.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information on a particular national marine sanctuary advisory council, please contact the individual identified in the Addresses section of this notice.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    ONMS serves as the trustee for 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters from the Hawaiian Islands to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. National marine sanctuaries protect our Nation's most vital coastal and marine natural and cultural resources, and through active research, management, and public engagement, sustains healthy environments that are the foundation for thriving communities and stable economies. One of the many ways ONMS ensures public participation in the designation and management of national marine sanctuaries is through the formation of advisory councils. National marine sanctuary advisory councils are community-based advisory groups established to provide advice and recommendations to the superintendents of the national marine sanctuaries on issues including management, science, service, and stewardship; and to serve as liaisons between their constituents in the community and the sanctuary. Additional information on ONMS and its advisory councils can be found at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov. Information related to the purpose, policies and operational requirements for advisory councils can be found in the charter for a particular advisory council (http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/ac/council_charters.html) and the National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Implementation Handbook (http://www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/ac/acref.html).

    The following is a list of the vacant seats, including positions (i.e., primary member or alternate), for each of the advisory councils currently seeking applications for members and alternates:

    Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Public Youth (alternate).

    Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Citizen-at-large (alternate); Education (alternate); Fishing (primary); Fishing (alternate); Hawai‘i County (primary); Hawai‘i County (alternate); Honolulu County (primary); Kaua‘i County (primary); Kaua‘i County (alternate); Lāna‘i Island (alternate); Research (primary); Maui County (primary); Maui County (alternate); Moloka‘i Island (alternate); Tourism (alternate); Whale Watching (primary); and Whale Watching (alternate).

    Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: At-Large (alternate).

    National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Advisory Council: Business/Industry (primary).

    Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Education (primary); Education (alternate); Fishing (primary); Fishing (alternate); Marine Resources Committee (primary); Marine Resources Committee (alternate); and Tourism/Economic Development (alternate).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. Sections 1431, et seq.

    (Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary Program) Dated: September 30, 2015. John Armor, Acting Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27987 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XD131 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Construction of the Block Island Transmission System AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of a revised incidental harassment authorization.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that we have revised an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) issued to The Narragansett Electric Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC), to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to construction of the Block Island Transmission System (BITS). The project has been delayed and the effective dates revised accordingly.

    DATES:

    This authorization is now effective from October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    A copy of this revised IHA is available by writing to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    An electronic copy of this revised IHA may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Fiorentino, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8477.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On November 1, 2014, NMFS issued an IHA to Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission, LLC (DWBIT) to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to construction of the BITS, effective from November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015 (79 FR 51314). On January 30, 2015, DWBIT sold the BITS, in its entirety, to The Narragansett Electric Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC). We issued a revised IHA reflecting this change in the name of the holder on June 3, 2015, with the dates of effectiveness of the IHA, and all mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements, remaining unchanged. The BITS, a bi-directional submarine transmission cable, will interconnect Block Island to TNEC's existing distribution system in Narragansett, Rhode Island. In-water work associated with the project was expected to be completed within the one-year timeframe of the IHA (effective dates originally November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015). The following specific aspects of the planned activities are likely to result in the take of marine mammals: Vibratory pile driving and the use of dynamically positioned (DP) vessel thrusters. Take, by Level B Harassment only, of individuals of nine species (Atlantic white-sided dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, harbor porpoise, minke whale, fin whale, humpback whale, North Atlantic right whale, gray seal, and harbor seal) is anticipated to result from the specified activity.

    Summary of the Activity

    TNEC plans to construct a bi-directional submarine transmission cable that will run from Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland. Construction of the marine portion of the BITS will involve three activities: Cable landfall construction on Block Island using a short-distance horizontal directional drill (HDD) from a temporary excavated trench box on Crescent Beach; cable landfall construction on Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island using a long-distance HDD from a temporary offshore cofferdam; and installation of the submarine BITS cable. The BITS will interconnect Block Island to the existing Narragansett Electric Company National Grid distribution system on the Rhode Island mainland. Cable landfall construction may require the installation and removal of a temporary offshore cofferdam, which will involve vibratory pile driving. The generation of underwater noise from vibratory pile driving and the DP vessel thruster may result in the incidental take of small numbers of marine mammals.

    Summary of the Revision

    Construction activities have been delayed for the project due to a construction schedule dependent upon receipt of all environmental permits and licenses, procurement and completion of final engineering design. The final permit approval and contractor award were issued in late Winter 2015 and final engineering design was not completed until Fall 2015. Therefore, construction activities have not commenced to date. No in-water work has occurred, including all aspects of the specified activity considered in our issuance of the IHA. The IHA, as issued, is a one-year IHA with no consideration of seasonality in timing any component of the specified activity.

    Findings

    Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)—As required by the MMPA in order to issue an IHA, we determined that (1) the required mitigation measures are sufficient to reduce the effects of the specified activities to the level of least practicable impact; (2) the authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers relative to the affected stock abundances; and (4) TNEC's activities will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action. Shifting the effective dates of the IHA to accommodate TNEC's delayed schedule for this project has no effect on our analysis of project impacts and does not affect our findings. There are no changes to any construction methodologies.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as implemented by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and NOAA Administrative Order 216-6, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the potential impacts of the issuance of an IHA for the BITS construction. The final EA was prepared in July 2014 and NMFS made a Finding of No Significant Impact for this action on August 19, 2014. These documents are available on our Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/energy_other.htm.

    The potential environmental impacts of the revision to the BITS IHA are within the scope of the environmental impacts analyzed in the EA. NMFS has determined that there are no substantial changes to the action and that there are no new direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to the human environment resulting from the revision to the IHA. Therefore, NMFS has determined that new or supplemental EAs or Environmental Impact Statements are unnecessary, and reaffirms the existing FONSI for this action.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)—There are three marine mammal species that are listed as endangered under the ESA: Fin whale, humpback whale, and North Atlantic right whale. Under section 7 of the ESA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the federal permitting agency for the actual BITS construction) consulted with NMFS on the proposed BITS project. NMFS also consulted internally on the issuance of an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. NMFS Northeast Region (now known as the Greater Atlantic Regional Office (GARFO)) issued a Biological Opinion on January 30, 2014, concluding that the Block Island Wind Farm project (which includes the BITS) and NMFS' issuance of an IHA may adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of fin whale, humpback whale, or North Atlantic right whale. The Biological Opinion further concluded that critical habitat would not be affected by the proposed action since it did not occur in the action area. NMFS determined the revision to the IHA to change the authorization period of effectiveness to October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016 falls within the scope of what was analyzed in the Biological Opinion and does not change the basis for NMFS' original determinations. In a memo dated October 21, 2015, NMFS made the determination that a re-initiation of a section 7 formal consultation was not necessary.

    In summary, no new information is available that would substantively affect our analyses under the MMPA, NEPA, or ESA. All mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures described in our notice of issuance of the IHA remain in effect. The species for which take was authorized and the numbers of incidences of take authorized are unchanged.

    As a result of the foregoing, we have revised the IHA issued to TNEC for construction of the BITS. The IHA is now effective from October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016. With these revised dates, TNEC can perform the installation of the cofferdam and submarine cable intended to meet the Block Island Wind Farm operational deadline of December 2016.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Perry F. Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27974 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE288 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scallop Committee Meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2015 to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    This meeting will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Radisson Airport Hotel, 2081 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone: (401) 739-3000; fax: (401) 732-9309.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda

    The Committee will review Amendment 19 alternatives, analyses, and public comments received to date and make final recommendations. Amendment 19 was developed to consider measures to better align fishery allocations with the start of the scallop fishing year. They will also review Framework 27 alternatives and analyses and make final recommendations. Framework 27 was developed to consider fishery allocations for fishing year 2016 and default measures for fishing year 2017. The Committee will review progress to date and potentially provide input on a future Council sponsored workshop related to concerns raised about inshore scallop fishing patterns. Finally, the Committee will review and potentially provide input on draft guidance prepared by NMFS related to the Magnuson Act requirement to evaluate limited access privilege programs within five years after adoption. Other business may be discussed if time permits.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Jeffrey N. Lonergan, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27951 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE278 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Groundfish Committee to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    This meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, at 9 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Radisson Hotel Providence Airport, 2081 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; phone: (401) 739-3000; fax: (401) 732-9309.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda

    The committee will receive an overview from the Groundfish Plan Development Team (PDT) on draft alternatives in Framework Adjustment 55 (FW 55) specifications, changes to the groundfish monitoring program, and other management measures and draft impacts analysis. They will also review a presentation on the results from Northeast Fisheries Science Center's bioeconomic model for recreational fisheries in the Gulf of Maine. The committee also plans to consider recommendations from the Groundfish Advisory Panel, regarding FW 55 and 2016 Council priorities. They will also consider recommendations from the Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP), regarding FW 55, FY 2016 Gulf of Maine cod and Gulf of Maine haddock recreational measures, and 2016 Council priorities. The committee also plans to develop recommendations to the Council regarding preferred alternatives in FW 55, FY 2016 recreational measures, and 2016 Council priorities. Also on the agenda is to discuss GARFO's Recreational Implementation Plan, review RAP recommendations to the Committee, and develop recommendations to the Council. They will also discuss other business as necessary.

    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Jeffrey N. Lonergan, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27949 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE287 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scallop Advisory Panel on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, at 9 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Radisson Airport Hotel, 2081 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone: (401) 739-3000; fax: (401) 732-9309.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda

    The Advisory Panel will review Amendment 19 alternatives, analyses, and public comments received to date and make final recommendations. Amendment 19 was developed to consider measures to better align fishery allocations with the start of the scallop fishing year. The Advisory Panel will also review Framework 27 alternatives and analyses and make final recommendations. Framework 27 was developed to consider fishery allocations for fishing year 2016 and default measures for fishing year 2017. They will also review progress to date and potentially provide input on a future Council sponsored workshop related to concerns raised about inshore scallop fishing patterns. Finally, the Advisory Panel will review and potentially provide input on draft guidance prepared by NMFS related to the Magnuson Act requirement to evaluate limited access privilege programs within five years after adoption. Other business may be discussed, if time permits.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Jeffrey N. Lonergan, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27950 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE United States Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No.: PTO-P-2015-0055] Proposed Pilot Program Exploring an Alternative Approach to Institution Decisions in Post Grant Administrative Reviews; Reopening of Period for Comments AGENCY:

    United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Request for comments; reopening of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is requesting comments on a proposed pilot program pertaining to the institution and conduct of the post grant administrative trials provided for in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), Public Law 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011). The AIA provides for the following post grant administrative trials: Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post-Grant Review (PGR), and Covered Business Method Patent Review (CBM). The USPTO currently has a panel of three Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) decide whether to institute a trial, and then normally has the same three-APJ panel conduct the trial, if instituted. The USPTO is considering a pilot program under which the determination of whether to institute an IPR will be made by a single APJ, with two additional APJs being assigned to the IPR if a trial is instituted. Under this pilot program, any IPR trial will be conducted by a panel of three APJs, two of whom were not involved in the determination to institute the IPR. The USPTO published a request for comments in the Federal Register on August 25, 2015, seeking public comment on a proposed pilot program pertaining to the institution and conduct of these post grant administrative trial proceedings. See Request for Comments on a Proposed Pilot Program Exploring an Alternative Approach to Institution Decisions in Post Grant Administrative Reviews, 80 FR 51540 (Aug. 25, 2015). The USPTO is now extending the period for public comment until November 18, 2015.

    DATES:

    Comment Deadline Date: Written comments on the notice published August 15, 2015 (80 FR 51540) must be received on or before November 18, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments must be sent by electronic mail message over the Internet addressed to: [email protected]

    Electronic comments submitted in plain text are preferred, but also may be submitted in ADOBE® portable document format or MICROSOFT WORD® format. The comments will be available for viewing via the USPTO's Internet Web site (http://www.uspto.gov). Because comments will be made available for public inspection, information that the submitter does not desire to make public, such as an address or phone number, should not be included in the comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Scott R. Boalick, Vice Chief Administrative Patent Judge by telephone at (571) 272-9797.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The first petitions for AIA post grant administrative trials were filed on September 16, 2012. Since then, over 3,600 petitions have been filed, and over 1,500 trials have been instituted. The USPTO has thus far been able to meet the demands placed on its resources created by the unexpectedly heavy workload. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has issued over 2,200 decisions on institution and over 450 final written decisions. In three-plus years, the PTAB has not missed one statutory or regulatory deadline. At the same time, the PTAB has reduced the backlog of ex parte appeals.

    Notwithstanding the success-to-date, the USPTO is proactively looking for ways to enhance its operations for the benefit of its stakeholders and therefore is interested in exploring alternative approaches that might improve its efficiency in handling AIA post grant proceedings while being fair to both sides and continuing to provide high quality decisions. Based upon comments received from the public through public fora and formal requests, the agency is considering a pilot program to test changing how the institution phase of a post grant proceeding is handled.

    Once trial is instituted, the AIA mandates that the resulting trial be conducted before a three-member panel of the PTAB. Generally, under current practice, the same panel of three APJs decides whether to institute and, if instituted, handles the remainder of the proceeding, much like how federal district court judges handle cases through motions to dismiss, summary judgment, and trial. But a three-judge panel of the PTAB is not required under the statute prior to institution, and the USPTO believes it is prudent to explore other potentially more efficient options, especially given that the number of petitions filed may continue to increase.

    To date and currently, the agency has intended to meet the resource demands on the PTAB due to both AIA post grant proceedings and ex parte appeals by hiring additional judges. Even with continued hiring, however, increases in filings and the growing number of cases may strain the PTAB's continuing ability to make timely decisions and meet statutory deadlines. Therefore, the agency wishes to explore and gain data on a potentially more efficient alternative to the current three-judge institution model. Having a single judge decide whether to institute trial in a post grant proceeding, instead of a panel of three judges, would allow more judges to be available to attend to other matters, such as reducing the ex parte appeal backlog and handling more post grant proceedings. The request for comments on the proposed pilot indicated that written comments must be received on or before October 26, 2015. See id. at 51540. In view of stakeholder requests for additional time to submit comments on the new administrative trial proceedings, the USPTO is now extending the period for public comment until November 18, 2015.

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28107 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Notice Inviting Postsecondary Educational Institutions To Participate in Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative; Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs Under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as Amended AGENCY:

    Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Secretary invites postsecondary institutions (institutions) that participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), to apply to participate in a new institution-based experiment under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI). Under the ESI, the Secretary has authority to grant waivers from certain title IV, HEA statutory or regulatory requirements to allow a limited number of institutions to participate in experiments to test alternative methods for administering the title IV, HEA programs. ESI experiments are designed to facilitate efforts by institutions to explore particular innovative practices aimed at improving student outcomes, the delivery of services, or both.

    Under this experiment, participating institutions will be provided a waiver of the specific statutory and regulatory provisions that prevent students who are enrolled in secondary school from receiving Federal Pell Grants for enrollment in title IV-eligible postsecondary programs. Details of the experiment are provided in the Background section of this notice.

    DATES:

    Letters of interest to participate in the experiment described in this notice must be received by the Department no later than February 1, 2016 in order for the institution to ensure that it is considered for participation in the experiment. Institutions submitting letters that are received after February 1, 2016 may still be considered for participation, at the discretion of the Secretary.

    ADDRESSES:

    Letters of interest must be submitted by electronic mail to the following email address: [email protected] For formats and other required information, see “Instructions for Submitting Letters of Interest” under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Warren Farr, U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, 830 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002. Telephone: (202) 377-4380 or by email at: [email protected]

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf or a text telephone, call the Federal Relay Service, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Instructions for Submitting Letters of Interest

    Interested institutions must submit a letter of interest. Letters of interest must be submitted as a PDF attachment to an email message sent to the email address provided in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. The subject line of the email should read “ESI 2015-Dual Enrollment.” The text of the email should include the name and address of the institution. The letter of interest should be on institutional letterhead and be signed by the institution's financial aid administrator.

    The letter of interest must include the institution's official name and Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Identification (OPEID) number, as well as a mailing address, email address, FAX number, and telephone number of a contact person at the institution.

    We are interested in information such as (1) a brief description of the proposed dual enrollment arrangement(s) between the institution and one or more public secondary schools or local educational agencies (LEAs) that the institution is considering for participation in the experiment; (2) how the arrangement would meet the requirements described in this notice; (3) if the institution has identified one or more public secondary schools that it will partner with under this experiment, identifying information for each public secondary school, and the school's LEA ; and (4) an estimate of the number of students who will be served under each proposed arrangement with one or a group of public secondary schools or LEAs.

    Background

    Expanding opportunities for students to enroll and succeed in postsecondary education is vital to building a strong economy and middle class. However, there are numerous barriers preventing some students, particularly those from low-income families, from accessing and completing postsecondary education, such as cost and the lack of access to rigorous coursework and support services.

    Dual enrollment, in which students concurrently enroll in postsecondary coursework while in secondary school, has emerged as a promising approach to expand access to postsecondary education. A growing body of research suggests that participation in dual enrollment can lead to improved academic outcomes, especially for students from low-income families and first-generation college students, or those who are otherwise underrepresented in postsecondary education.1 Research suggests that participation in dual enrollment can lead to increased postsecondary education enrollment following secondary school, higher rates of persistence in postsecondary education, greater credit accumulation, higher grade point averages (GPAs), and increased rates of credential attainment.2 3 In addition, studies have found that taking postsecondary-level courses while in secondary school is associated with increased levels of academic preparedness for postsecondary-level coursework and higher rates of secondary school graduation.4 5

    1 Karp, M, and Hughes, K. (2008). Study: Dual Enrollment Can Benefit a Broad Range of Students. Techniques: Connecting Education and Careers (J1) 83.7, 14-17.

    2 An, B. P. (2012). “The Impact of Dual Enrollment on College Degree Attainment: Do Low-SES Students Benefit? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 35, 57-75.

    3 Karp, M. M., Calcagno, J. C., Hughes, K. L., Jeong, D. W., & Bailey, T. R. (2007). The Achievement of Participants in Dual Enrollment: An Analysis of Student Outcomes in Two States. Saint Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, National Research Center for Career and Technical Education.

    4 Speroni, C. (2011). High School Dual Enrollment Programs: Are We Fast-Tracking Students Too Fast? NCPR Working Paper. National Center for Postsecondary Research.

    5 American Institutes for Research & SRI. (2013). Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

    Dual enrollment can also facilitate stronger connections between the secondary and postsecondary education sectors by leveraging existing tools that enable closer alignment between secondary schools and postsecondary institutions. For example, some postsecondary institutions have begun using college- and career-ready standards and assessments at the secondary school level as an indicator of academic preparedness for college-level coursework. Despite evidence that dual enrollment programs show promising results for increasing students' college participation and outcomes, cost can be a barrier: at nearly half of institutions with dual enrollment programs, most students pay out of pocket for tuition.6 States, schools, and organizations can all play a role in investing in dual enrollment programs and ensuring that costs do not pose a barrier to underserved populations.

    6 Marken, Stephanie et al. (2013). Dual Enrollment Programs and Courses for High School Students at Postsecondary Institutions: 2010-11. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013002.pdf.

    The objectives of this experiment are to learn about how Federal Pell Grant funding can expand opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds to participate in dual enrollment, explore how Pell Grant funding can expand access to rigorous coursework for high school students, and provide the Department with information regarding the number and characteristics of Pell-eligible students who would likely participate in dual enrollment programs.

    For this experiment, the Department is particularly interested in dual enrollment arrangements that are aligned with postsecondary degrees and credentials in high-demand fields, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science, and those aligned with career pathways and other career preparation programs. These types of dual enrollment arrangements have been shown to produce strong positive outcomes for students.7 8

    7 Hughes, K., et al. (2012). Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment: Reaching Underachieving and Underrepresented Students with Career-Focused Programs. Insight. James Irvine Foundation.

    8 Rodríguez, O., Hughes, K. L., & Belfield, C. (2012). Bridging College and Careers: Using Dual Enrollment to Enhance Career and Technical Education Pathways. Available at: http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/publications/bridging-college-careers-dual-enrollment.html.

    Reporting and Evaluation

    To evaluate the experiment, participating institutions will be required to collect, maintain, and report information about students receiving Federal Pell Grants under the experiment. This information may include: The number and characteristics of students enrolled in dual enrollment, the number of postsecondary credits the students have attempted and earned, the amount of Federal Pell Grant funding provided to each student, and indicators of academic progression and completion. In addition, participating institutions may be required to report information about the number and characteristics of low-income students who participated in dual enrollment prior to the experiment.

    Participating institutions will be required to participate in annual surveys that collect information about the institution's dual enrollment arrangement(s) and any unforeseen challenges. This information may include the characteristics of the institution's dual enrollment arrangement (e.g., tuition and fees, caps on credits earned, support services provided, instructional delivery methods, and faculty characteristics). The Department will finalize the specific evaluation and reporting requirements prior to the start of the experiment.

    The Department's evaluation will also include information reported by postsecondary institutions through the Department's systems regarding the enrollment, completion, and withdrawal of students who receive Pell Grant funds under the experiment.

    Application and Selection

    From the institutions that submit letters of interest, the Secretary will select a limited number of institutions to participate in this experiment. When selecting institutions for participation in this experiment, the Secretary will consider evidence that demonstrates a strong record on student outcomes and in the administration of the title IV, HEA programs. The Secretary will also consider all information available about an institution including, but not limited to, information provided in an institution's letters of interest, evidence of programmatic compliance, completion rates, repayment rates, cohort default rates, financial responsibility ratios, evidence of credit transferability, and with regard to for-profit institutions, “90/10” ratios. The Department encourages applications from institutions of various types and controls, geographic locations, enrollment sizes, and title IV, HEA program participation levels, among other characteristics.

    Participating institutions will have their Program Participation Agreement with the Secretary amended to reflect the specific statutory and regulatory provisions that the Secretary has waived for the experiment. Administration of the experiment is the responsibility of the entire institution. The institution will be required to acknowledge its commitment to properly administer the experiment.

    The Experiment Description

    Section 484(a)(1) of the HEA and 34 CFR 668.32(b) specifically prohibit a student from receiving title IV assistance, including Federal Pell Grants, if the student is, in addition to being enrolled in an eligible postsecondary educational program, also enrolled in secondary school. Under this experiment, the Secretary will waive the statutory and regulatory provisions that prevent a student who is enrolled in secondary school from receiving Federal Pell Grants for enrollment in a postsecondary educational program. The Secretary will also waive, for the students included in the dual enrollment experiment, the requirement that a student must have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent in order to receive title IV aid.

    The Secretary does not waive any dual enrollment participation requirements that participating institutions, public secondary schools, State Educational Agencies, or LEAs may already have.

    Consistent with the waiver authority granted to the Secretary under section 487A(b) of the HEA, this experiment will examine the extent to which waiving the restrictions on providing Federal Pell Grants to secondary school students increases low-income student participation in dual enrollment. Under the experiment, the student and the postsecondary program in which the student enrolls must meet all other title IV eligibility requirements in order for the student to receive a Federal Pell Grant.

    Institutional Eligibility

    To participate in the experiment, the institution must have an arrangement with one or more LEAs or public secondary schools, as defined by the State in which the public secondary school is located, to permit public secondary school students to enroll in a title IV-eligible postsecondary program.

    Under this experiment, the arrangement between the postsecondary educational institution and an LEA or public secondary school must:

    • Require dually enrolled students to enroll in a title IV eligible postsecondary program as regular students, as defined by 34 CFR 600.2.

    • Provide that students will receive Federal Pell Grants only for coursework that applies towards completion of a postsecondary credential at the participating institution. Such coursework may, but is not required to, apply towards a secondary school diploma. Participating institutions should ensure that dual enrollment arrangements do not impede participating students' academic progress and persistence in secondary school.

    • Offer students the opportunity to earn the equivalent of at least 12 postsecondary credit hours while also enrolled in a public secondary school.

    • Ensure that students are adequately prepared academically for postsecondary-level coursework. This may include ensuring that students meet any relevant requirements that may apply for enrollment, such as grade point average, placement tests, and course prerequisite requirements.

    • Prohibit the use of Federal Pell Grant funds for remedial coursework taken by students who are enrolled in a public secondary school.

    • Provide appropriate student support services, such as academic tutoring, high school to college transition support, guidance counseling, or other comparable services designed to increase student preparation for and success in postsecondary education. These services may be provided by the public secondary school, the institution, the LEA, or by another entity.

    • Provide assistance completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This assistance may be provided by the public secondary school, the institution, the LEA, or by another entity.

    To the extent that the institution has information about potential restrictions on the transferability of the credits that secondary students may receive under the institution's dual enrollment arrangement, the institution must disclose this information to students and their families prior to the student's participation in the dual enrollment experiment.

    Participating institutions must ensure that after all Federal Pell Grants, State, local, institutional aid, or other resources have been applied to student charges, students are not responsible for any remaining institutional charges as a result of enrolling in the postsecondary program as part of the institution's dual enrollment arrangement under the experiment.

    Use of Funds

    Federal Pell Grants made available to students to enroll in participating institutions through this experiment must not supplant public and institutional sources of funding for an institution's dual enrollment arrangement(s). To verify and monitor this requirement, participating institutions will be required to annually submit to the Department information about the total cost of operating the dual enrollment arrangement and the sources of funding for the arrangement. The Secretary may remove an institution from the experiment if the Secretary determines that Federal Pell Grant funds have been used to supplant existing funding sources.

    Waivers

    Institutions selected for this experiment will be exempt from the following statutory and regulatory provisions:

    • Section 484(a)(1) of the HEA and 34 CFR 668.32(b), to the extent that the statute and regulations prohibit a student who is enrolled in a public secondary school from receiving funds under the Federal Pell Grant program;

    • Section 484(d) of the HEA and 34 CFR 668.32(e), to the extent that the statute and regulations require that a student have a high school diploma, or its recognized equivalent, to be eligible for Federal Pell Grant funds.

    All other provisions and regulations of the title IV, HEA programs will apply to institutions participating in this experiment.

    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.

    Delegation of Authority: The Secretary of Education has delegated authority to Jamienne S. Studley, Deputy Under Secretary, to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.

    Program Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1094a(b).

    Dated: October 29, 2015. Jamienne S. Studley, Deputy Under Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-28010 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-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: EC16-19-000.

    Applicants: Calpine Granite Holdings, LLC, Granite Ridge Energy, LLC.

    Description: Joint Application of Calpine Granite Holdings, LLC and Granite Ridge Energy, LLC for Approval under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act and Request for Shortened Comment Period.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5317.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: EC16-20-000.

    Applicants: Latigo Wind Park, LLC.

    Description: Application for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act, Request for Expedited Consideration and Confidential Treatment of Latigo Wind Park, LLC.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5135.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1875-002.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Compliance filing: 2015-10-27 Limited Tariff Waiver Petition to Modify CCE2 Effective Date to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5280.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-1919-003.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Compliance filing: 2015-10-27 Limited Tariff Waiver Petition to Modify EIM Year 1 Effective Date to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5278.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-2059-001.

    Applicants: New York Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: Deficiency response and refiling of OATT PPTPP tariff revisions to be effective 12/26/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5261.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER15-2204-002.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Compliance filing: 2015-10-27 Limited Tariff Waiver Petition to Modify ETC-TOR Effective Date to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5281.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-150-000.

    Applicants: Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation, Northern States Power Company, a Wisconsin corporation.

    Description: Notice of Cancellation of Rate Schedules 434, 398, 451, and 84 of Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota corporation, et al.

    Filed Date: 10/27/15.

    Accession Number: 20151027-5315.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/17/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-151-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2236R6 Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, Inc. NITSA/NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5113.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-152-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Section 39.3 Revisions to allow Western-RMR's Continued Market Participation to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5121.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-153-000.

    Applicants: Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: NCMPA1 RS 318 Amendment (2016) to be effective 12/31/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5218.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    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 28, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27975 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #2

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER16-154-000.

    Applicants: PacifiCorp.

    Description: Tariff Cancellation: Termination of Lehi Highland Sub Trans Line Upgrade Construction Agreement to be effective 1/17/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5244.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-155-000.

    Applicants: Wabash Valley Power Association, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: Amendments to Formulary Rate Tariff for Service to Members—Clone to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5292.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-156-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 607R25 Westar Energy, Inc. NITSA NOA to be effective 10/1/2015.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5321.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-157-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Section 205(d) Rate Filing: 2015-10-28_SA 2813 Notice of Termination J293 GIA to be effective 1/17/2016.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5325.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following land acquisition reports:

    Docket Numbers: LA15-3-000.

    Applicants: Duquesne Light Company, Duquesne Power, LLC.

    Description: Quarterly Land Acquisition Report of the Duquesne MBR Sellers.

    Filed Date: 10/28/15.

    Accession Number: 20151028-5227.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/18/15.

    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 28, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27976 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [3060-0819] Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and Budget AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Written comments should be submitted on or before December 3, 2015. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this notice, you should advise the contacts below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Nicholas A. Fraser, OMB, via email [email protected]; and to Nicole Ongele, FCC, via email [email protected] and to [email protected] Include in the comments the OMB control number as shown in the Supplementary Information section below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information or copies of the information collection, contact Nicole Ongele at (202) 418-2991.

    To view a copy of this information collection request (ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) Go to the Web page <http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain>, (2) look for the section of the Web page called “Currently Under Review,” (3) click on the downward-pointing arrow in the “Select Agency” box below the “Currently Under Review” heading, (4) select “Federal Communications Commission” from the list of agencies presented in the “Select Agency” box, (5) click the “Submit” button to the right of the “Select Agency” box, (6) when the list of FCC ICRs currently under review appears, look for the OMB control number of this ICR and then click on the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC submission to OMB will be displayed.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    OMB Control Number: 3060-0819.

    Title: Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support, Connect America Fund.

    Form Number: FCC Forms 497, 481 & 555.

    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Individuals or households and business or other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents: 28,009,115 respondents; 30,541,922 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 0.0167 hours to 250 hours.

    Frequency of Response: Daily or monthly, every 60 days, annual, biennial, on occasion reporting requirements, third party disclosure requirement and record keeping requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. Statutory authority is contained in Sections 1, 4(i), 201-205, 214, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 1, 4(i), 201-205, 214, 254 and 403.

    Total Annual Burden: 22,064,798 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: None.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: Yes. The Commission completed a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for some of the information collection requirements contain in this collection. The PIA was published in the Federal Register at 78 FR 73535 on December 6, 2013. The PIA may be reviewed at: http://www.fcc.gov/omd/privacyact/Privacy_Impact_Assessment.html.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: Some of the requirements contained in this information collection does affect individuals or households, and thus, there are impacts under the Privacy Act. The FCC's system of records notice (SORN), FCC/WCB-1, “Lifeline Program.” The Commission will use the information contained in FCC/WCB-1 to cover the personally identifiable information (PII) that is required as part of the Lifeline Program (“Lifeline”).

    As required by the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, 5 U.S.C. 552a, the Commission also published a SORN, FCC/WCB-1 “Lifeline Program” in the Federal Register on December 6, 2013 (78 FR 73535).

    Also, respondents may request materials or information submitted to the Commission or to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC or Administrator) be withheld from public inspection under 47 CFR 0.459 of the FCC's rules. We note that USAC must preserve the confidentiality of all data obtained from respondents; must not use the data except for purposes of administering the universal service programs; and must not disclose data in company-specific form unless directed to do so by the Commission. Needs and Uses: The Commission will submit this information collection after this comment period to obtain the full, three year clearance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Commission also proposes several revisions to this information collection. In June 2015, the Commission adopted an order reforming its low-income universal service support mechanisms. Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization; Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support; Connect America Fund, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 09-197, 10-90, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order, (Lifeline Second Reform Order). This revised information collection addresses requirements to carry out the programs to which the Commission committed itself in the Lifeline Second Reform Order. Under this information collection, the Commission seeks to revise the information collection to comply with the Commission's new rules, adopted in the 2015 Lifeline Second Reform Order, regarding the retention of subscriber eligibility documentation, eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) designation, and ETC reimbursement under the Lifeline program; update the number of respondents for all the existing information collection requirements, thus increasing the total burden hours for some requirements and decreasing the total burden hours for other requirements; eliminate some requirements as part of this information collection, because they are no longer applicable; revise the FCC Form 555 and the accompanying instructions to require ETCs to provide a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN); and make non-substantive changes to this information collection, pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 3507, to update the FCC Form 497 Instructions and require the electronic filing of the FCC Forms 497 and 555. These updates do not modify the burdens or costs contained in this information collection.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27927 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Notice of Proposals To Engage in or To Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities

    The companies listed in this notice have given notice under section 4 of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 U.S.C. 1843) (BHC Act) and Regulation Y, (12 CFR part 225) to engage de novo, or to acquire or control voting securities or assets of a company, including the companies listed below, that engages either directly or through a subsidiary or other company, in a nonbanking activity that is listed in § 225.28 of Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.28) or that the Board has determined by Order to be closely related to banking and permissible for bank holding companies. Unless otherwise noted, these activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Each notice is available for inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notice also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the question whether the proposal complies with the standards of section 4 of the BHC Act.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding the applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than November 18, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Chapelle Davis, Assistant Vice President) 1000 Peachtree Street NE., Atlanta, Georgia 30309:

    1. Banco de Credito e Inversiones, Santiago, Chile; to acquire voting shares of BCI Securities, Inc., Miami, Florida, and thereby engage in certain institutional broker-dealer activities.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 29, 2015. Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27981 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-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 se.) (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 27, 2015.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Nadine Wallman, Vice President) 1455 East Sixth Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44101-2566:

    1. Citizens National Corporation, Winchester, Kentucky; to acquire 100 percent of the voting shares of Alliance Banking Company, Winchester, Kentucky.

    B. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Adam M. Drimer, Assistant Vice President) 701 East Byrd Street, Richmond, Virginia 23261-4528:

    1. Park Sterling Corporation, Charlotte, North Carolina; to acquire 100 percent of the voting shares of First Capital Bancorp, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire First Capital Bank, both in Glen Allen, Virginia.

    C. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Colette A. Fried, Assistant Vice President) 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-1414:

    1. Community Financial Corp., Edgewood, Iowa; to acquire 100 percent of Linn County State Bank, Coggon, Iowa.

    D. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (Yvonne Sparks, Community Development Officer) P.O. Box 442, St. Louis, Missouri 63166-2034:

    1. Citizens Bancshares of Batesville, Inc., Batesville, Arkansas; to acquire 100 percent of Parkway Bank, Rogers, Arkansas.

    E. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Robert L. Triplett III, Senior Vice President) 2200 North Pearl Street, Dallas, Texas 75201-2272:

    1. Normangee Bancshares, Inc., Normangee, Texas; to become a bank holding company by acquiring 100 percent of Normangee State Bank, Normangee, Texas.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 29, 2015. Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27982 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION [File No. 151 0181] Step N Grip, LLC; Analysis To Aid Public Comment AGENCY:

    Federal Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed consent agreement.

    SUMMARY:

    The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 27, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested parties may file a comment at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/stepngripconsent online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Step N Grip, LLC—Consent Agreement; File No. 151 0181” on your comment and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/stepngripconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write “Step N Grip, LLC—Consent Agreement; File No. 151 0181” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Turner (202-326-3649). Bureau of Competition, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 2.34, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for October 27, 2015), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/actions.shtm.

    You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before November 27, 2015. Write “Step N Grip, LLC—Consent Agreement; File No. 151 0181” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

    Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential,” as discussed in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, do not include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

    If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).1 Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.

    1 In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

    Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/stepngripconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

    If you file your comment on paper, write “Step N Grip, LLC—Consent Agreement; File No. 151 0181” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex D), Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

    Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before November 27, 2015. You can find more information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, in the Commission's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/privacy.htm.

    Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

    The Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing consent order (“Consent Agreement”) from Step N Grip, LLC (“Step N Grip”). The Commission's Complaint alleges that Step N Grip violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 45, by inviting a competitor in the sale of certain rug devices to set and raise prices.

    Under the terms of the proposed Consent Agreement, Step N Grip is required to cease and desist from communicating with its competitors about prices. It is also barred from entering into, participating in, inviting, or soliciting an agreement with any competitor to divide markets, to allocate customers, or to fix prices.

    The Consent Agreement has been placed on the public record for 30 days for receipt of comments from interested members of the public. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After 30 days, the Commission will review the Consent Agreement again and the comments received, and will decide whether it should withdraw from the Consent Agreement or make final the accompanying Decision and Order (“Proposed Order”).

    The purpose of this Analysis to Aid Public Comment is to invite and facilitate public comment. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the proposed Consent Agreement and the accompanying Proposed Order or in any way to modify their terms.

    I. The Complaints

    The allegations of the Complaint are summarized below:

    Step N Grip markets and sells a device called NeverCurl that is intended to keep the corners of a rug from curling. Step N Grip sells NeverCurl primarily through Amazon.com; Step N Grip also sells NeverCurl through its own Web site.

    Step N Grip's closest competitor in the sale of such rug devices is Competitor A, a company that also sells its product on Amazon.com. For several months prior to June 1, 2015, Step N Grip generally priced NeverCurl at $13.95 per package, while Competitor A priced its product at $16.99 per package.

    On June 1, 2015, Competitor A lowered its price on Amazon.com to $13.49 in an effort to compete more aggressively with Step N Grip. In response, Step N Grip lowered its price on Amazon.com to $12.95.

    On June 7, 2015, Competitor A lowered its price on Amazon.com to $11.95 in response to Step N Grip. That same day, Step N Grip lowered its price to $11.95 on Amazon.com and sent an email message to Competitor A. The communication, in its entirety, read: “We both sell at $12.95? Or, $11.95?”

    Competitor A reported the communication to the FTC.

    II. Analysis

    Step N Grip's June 7 message to Competitor A is plainly an attempt to arrange an agreement between the two companies setting and increasing the price of their competing products. It is an invitation to collude. The Commission has long held that invitations to collude violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, and this is unaltered by the Commission's recent Statement on Section 5.

    In a recent statement, the Commission explained that unfair methods of competition under Section 5 “must cause, or be likely to cause, harm to competition or the competitive process, taking into account any associated cognizable efficiencies and business justifications.” 2 Potential violations are evaluated under a “framework similar to the rule of reason.” 3 Competitive effects analysis under the rule of reason depends upon the nature of the conduct that is under review.4

    2 Fed. Trade Comm'n, Statement of Enforcement Principles Regarding “Unfair Methods of Competition” Under Section 5 of the FTC Act (Aug. 13, 2015) (Section 5 Unfair Methods of Competition Policy Statement), available at https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/735201/150813section5enforcement.pdf. Commissioner Ohlhausen dissented from the issuance of the Section 5 Unfair Methods of Competition Policy Statement. See https://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/2015/08/dissenting-statement-commissioner-ohlhausen-ftc-act-section-5-policy.

    3 Section 5 Unfair Methods of Competition Policy Statement.

    4See, e.g., California Dental Ass'n v. FTC, 526 U.S. 756, 781 (1999) (“What is required . . . is an inquiry meet for the case, looking to the circumstances, details, and logic of a restraint.”).

    An invitation to collude is “potentially harmful and . . . serves no legitimate business purpose.”5 For this reason, the Commission treats such conduct as “inherently suspect” (that is, presumptively anticompetitive).6 This means that an invitation to collude can be condemned under Section 5 without a showing that the respondent possesses market power.7

    5In re Valassis Commc'ns., Inc., 141 F.T.C. 247, 283 (2006) (Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment); see also Address by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Section 5 Enforcement Principles, George Washington University Law School at 5 (Aug. 13, 2015), available at https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/735411/150813section5speech.pdf.

    6See, e.g., In re North Carolina Bd. of Dental Examiners, 152 F.T.C. 640, 668 (2011) (noting that inherently suspect conduct is such that be “reasonably characterized as `giv[ing] rise to an intuitively obviously inference of anticompetitive effect.'” (citation omitted)).

    7See, e.g., In re Realcomp II, Ltd., 148 F.T.C. ___, No. 9320, 2009 FTC LEXIS 250 at *51 (Oct. 30, 2009) (Comm'n Op.) (explaining that if conduct is “inherently suspect” in nature, and there are no cognizable procompetitive justifications, the Commission can condemn it “without proof of market power or actual effects”).

    The Commission has long held that an invitation to collude violates Section 5 of the FTC Act even where there is no proof that the competitor accepted the invitation.8 There are various reasons for this. First, unaccepted solicitations may facilitate coordination between competitors because they reveal information about the solicitor's intentions or preferences. Second, it can be difficult to discern whether a competitor has accepted a solicitation. Third, finding a violation may deter similar conduct—conduct that has no legitimate business purpose.9

    8See, e.g., In re Valassis Commc'ns, Inc., 141 F.T.C. 247 (2006); In re Stone Container, 125 F.T.C. 853 (1998); In re Precision Moulding, 122 F.T.C. 104 (1996). See also In re McWane, Inc., Docket No. 9351, Opinion of the Commission on Motions for Summary Decision at 20-21 (F.T.C. Aug. 9, 2012) (“an invitation to collude is `the quintessential example of the kind of conduct that should be . . . challenged as a violation of Section 5' ”) (citing the Statement of Chairman Leibowitz and Commissioners Kovacic and Rosch, In re U-Haul Int'l, Inc., 150 F.T.C. 1, 53 (2010)). This conclusion has been endorsed by leading antitrust scholars. See P. Areeda & H. Hovenkamp, VI ANTITRUST LAW ¶ 1419 (2003); Stephen Calkins, Counterpoint: The Legal Foundation of the Commission's Use of Section 5 to Challenge Invitations to Collude is Secure, ANTITRUST Spring 2000, at 69. In a case brought under a state's version of Section 5, the First Circuit expressed support for the Commission's application of Section 5 to invitations to collude. Liu v. Amerco, 677 F.3d 489 (1st Cir. 2012).

    9In re Valassis Comm'c, Inc., 141 F.T.C. 247, 283 (2006) (Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment).

    III. The Proposed Consent Order

    The Proposed Order contains the following substantive provisions:

    Section II, Paragraph A of the Proposed Order enjoins Step N Grip from communicating with its competitors about rates or prices, with a proviso permitting public posting of rates.

    Section II, Paragraph B prohibits Step N Grip from entering into, participating in, maintaining, organizing, implementing, enforcing, inviting, offering, or soliciting an agreement with any competitor to divide markets, to allocate customers, or to fix prices.

    Section II, Paragraph C bars Step N Grip from urging any competitor to raise, fix or maintain its price or rate levels or to limit or reduce service terms or levels.

    Section II, Paragraph D forbids Step N Grip from instructing or encouraging a distributor or seller to engage in the conduct proscribed in Section II, Paragraphs A through C.

    Sections III-VI of the Proposed Order impose certain standard reporting and compliance requirements on Step N Grip.

    The Proposed Order will expire in 20 years.

    By direction of the Commission.

    Donald S. Clark, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-27934 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6750-01-P
    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION Granting of Request for Early Termination of the Waiting Period Under the Premerger Notification Rules

    Section 7A of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18a, as added by Title II of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, requires persons contemplating certain mergers or acquisitions to give the Federal Trade Commission and the Assistant Attorney General advance notice and to wait designated periods before consummation of such plans. Section 7A(b)(2) of the Act permits the agencies, in individual cases, to terminate this waiting period prior to its expiration and requires that notice of this action be published in the Federal Register.

    The following transactions were granted early termination—on the dates indicated—of the waiting period provided by law and the premerger notification rules. The listing for each transaction includes the transaction number and the parties to the transaction. The grants were made by the Federal Trade Commission and the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. Neither agency intends to take any action with respect to these proposed acquisitions during the applicable waiting period.

    Early Terminations Granted March 1, 2015 thru September 30, 2015 03/03/2015 20150580 G FMR LLC; The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America; FMR LLC. 03/06/2015 20150597 G Accenture plc; Robert E LaRose Revocable Trust; Accenture plc. 20150614 G Hitachi Ltd.; Pentaho Corporation; Hitachi Ltd. 20150628 G Healthstream, Inc.; Dan Littrell; Healthstream, Inc. 20150637 G Elliott International Limited; Informatica Corporation; Elliott International Limited. 20150638 G 3M Company; Ivera Medical Corporation; 3M Company. 20150639 G Elliott Associates, L.P.; Informatica Corporation; Elliott Associates, L.P. 20150648 G Fir Tree Value Master Fund, L.P.; CDK Global, Inc.; Fir Tree Value Master Fund, L.P. 20150651 G Harbour Group Investments VI, L.P.; Audax Private Equity Fund III, L.P.; Harbour Group Investments VI, L.P. 20150655 G Berwind Corporation; Windjammer Senior Equity Fund III, L.P.; Berwind Corporation. 03/09/2015 20150117 G Ingredion Incorporated; Penford Corporation; Ingredion Incorporated. 20150664 G Rite Aid Corporation; TPG VI DE AIV II, L.P.; Rite Aid Corporation. 20150671 G WPP plc; comScore, Inc.; WPP plc. 20150675 G WPP plc; comScore, Inc.; WPP plc. 20150685 G Heinz Hermann Thiele; Vossloh AG; Heinz Hermann Thiele. 03/11/2015 20150656 G LLR Equity Partners IV, L.P.; Generation Capital Partners II LP; LLR Equity Partners IV, L.P. 20150676 G TPG Magnate Holdings, L.P.; Mossi & Ghisolfi S.p.A.; TPG Magnate Holdings, L.P. 03/12/2015 20150594 G Providence Equity Partners VI L.P.; Schoolwires, Inc.; Providence Equity Partners VI L.P. 20150608 G Kevin A. Plank; MyFitnessPal, Inc.; Kevin A. Plank. 20150649 G TA XI L.P.; Michael Miola; TA XI L.P. 20150654 G The Pennsylvania State University; Catholic Health Initiatives; The Pennsylvania State University. 20150682 G Arrow Electronics, Inc.; immixGroup, Inc.; Arrow Electronics, Inc. 03/13/2015 20150684 G Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.; Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd.; Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. 20150697 G BDT Capital Partners Fund I AIV, L.P.; Marquette Transportation Company Holding; BDT Capital Partners Fund I AIV, L.P. 20150702 G Michael J. Cantanucci; Wiesenthal Holding GmbH; Michael J. Cantanucci. 20150704 G JLL Patheon Co-Investment Fund, L.P. (Cayman); IRIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; JLL Patheon Co-Investment Fund, L.P. (Cayman). 20150707 G Todd L. Boehly; Eldridge Investors, LLC; Todd L. Boehly. 03/16/2015 20150647 G New Media Investment Group Inc.; SF Holding Corp.; New Media Investment Group Inc. 20150712 G Berkshire Hathaway Inc.; The Procter & Gamble Company; Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 20150714 G Stifel Financial Corp.; Sterne Agee Group, Inc.; Stifel Financial Corp. 03/17/2015 20150674 G Hanesbrands Inc.; Merit Mezzanine Fund V, L.P.; Hanesbrands Inc. 20150680 G Merck & Co., Inc.; NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.; Merck & Co., Inc. 20150708 G Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, Inc.; Metalmark Capital Partners, L.P.; Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, Inc. 03/18/2015 20150657 G JANA Offshore Partners, Ltd.; Computer Sciences Corporation; JANA Offshore Partners, Ltd. 20150658 G JANA Nirvana Offshore Fund, Ltd.; Computer Sciences Corporation; JANA Nirvana Offshore Fund, Ltd. 20150699 G Deutsche Telekom AG; Verizon Communications Inc.; Deutsche Telekom AG. 20150700 G Verizon Communications Inc.; Deutsche Telekom AG; Verizon Communications Inc. 20150710 G Philip and Jocelyn Hagerman; BioRx, LLC; Philip and Jocelyn Hagerman. 20150715 G Catamaran Corporation; Brazos Equity Fund II, L.P.; Catamaran Corporation. 20150716 G Warburg Pincus Private Equity X O&G, L.P.; Laredo Petroleum, Inc.; Warburg Pincus Private Equity X O&G, L.P. 03/19/2015 20150006 G Waste Management Inc.; Deffenbaugh Disposal, Inc.; Waste Management Inc. 20150636 G Hospira, Inc.; Pfenex Inc.; Hospira, Inc. 20150662 G Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; Starz; Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. 20150663 G John C. Malone; Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; John C. Malone. 20150709 G Irving Place Capital Partners III, L.P.; Wicks Capital Partners IV, L.P.; Irving Place Capital Partners III, L.P. 03/20/2015 20150701 G Group 1 Automotive, Inc.; Irvin David Irrevocable Trust; Group 1 Automotive, Inc. 20150718 G Visa Inc.; TrialPay, Inc.; Visa Inc. 20150719 G Genstar Capital Partners VI, L.P.; Snow Phipps II, L.P.; Genstar Capital Partners VI, L.P. 20150720 G Hebei Iron & Steel Group, Co. Ltd.; Bruno Bolfo; Hebei Iron & Steel Group, Co. Ltd. 20150723 G Sudesh Arora; Affinity Acquisition Holdings Corp.; Sudesh Arora. 20150725 G Sola Ltd, Charitable Trust; TerreStar Corporation; Sola Ltd, Charitable Trust. 20150744 G Pershing Square Holdings, Ltd.; Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.; Pershing Square Holdings, Ltd. 20150745 G Pershing Square, L.P.; Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.; Pershing Square, L.P. 20150746 G Pershing Square International, Ltd.; Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.; Pershing Square International, Ltd. 03/23/2015 20150694 G AXIS Capital Holdings Limited; PartnerRe Ltd.; AXIS Capital Holdings Limited. 20150695 G PartnerRe Ltd.; AXIS Capital Holdings Limited; PartnerRe Ltd. 20150703 G Science Applications International Corporation; Green Equity Investors V, L.P.; Science Applications International Corporation. 20150729 G Rakuten, Inc.; Lyft, Inc.; Rakuten, Inc. 03/24/2015 20150660 G Greenhill & Co., Inc.; Cogent Partners, LP; Greenhill & Co., Inc. 20150693 G Castlerigg International Limited; Brookdale Senior Living Inc.; Castlerigg International Limited. 20150735 G Mitel Networks Corporation; Mavenir Systems, Inc.; Mitel Networks Corporation. 03/25/2015 20150705 G Senator Global Opportunity Offshore Fund Ltd.; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Senator Global Opportunity Offshore Fund Ltd. 20150711 G Trident VI, L.P.; Black Mountain Systems, LLC; Trident VI, L.P. 20150722 G Concordia Healthcare Corp.; Cerberus Institutional Partners, L.P.; Concordia Healthcare Corp. 20150733 G Ginsoma Family C.V.; Michael P. Maraist; Ginsoma Family C.V. 20150740 G Recro Pharma, Inc.; Alkermes Public Limited Company; Recro Pharma, Inc. 20150751 G Chier North Cliff Voting, LLC; Northern Frac Proppants II, LLC; Chier North Cliff Voting, LLC. 20150756 G Hess North Cliff Voting, LLC; Northern Frac Proppants II, LLC; Hess North Cliff Voting, LLC. 03/26/2015 20150678 G GTT Communications, Inc.; Platinum Equity Capital Partners II, L.P.; GTT Communications, Inc. 03/27/2015 20150667 G Third Point Reinsurance Ltd.; FANUC Corporation; Third Point Reinsurance Ltd. 20150749 G Redgate Partners, LLC; Danny R. Cuzick and Donna J. Cuzick; Redgate Partners, LLC. 20150755 G Standard General Offshore Fund Ltd.; RadioShack Corporation; Standard General Offshore Fund Ltd. 20150763 G Newco, a to be formed AIV; Bain Capital AM Holding, LLC; Newco, a to be formed AIV. 20150764 G Howard Midstream Energy Partners, LLC; Southwestern Energy Company; Howard Midstream Energy Partners, LLC. 20150765 G NextEra Energy, Inc.; Carlyle Power Opportunities Capital Partners, L.P.; NextEra Energy, Inc. 20150773 Y Bain Capital Fund XI, L.P.; Project Barbour Holdings Corporation; Bain Capital Fund XI, L.P. 03/30/2015 20150727 G MAXIMUS, Inc.; Snow Phipps Group AIV, L.P.; MAXIMUS, Inc. 20150769 G American Securities Partners VI, L.P.; Green Equity Investors V, L.P.; American Securities Partners VI, L.P. 20150770 G A. Schulman, Inc.; HGGC Citadel, LLC; A. Schulman, Inc. 03/31/2015 20150780 G Capitol Acquisition Corp. II; Sven-Olof Lindblad; Capitol Acquisition Corp. II. 20150783 G IFM Global Infrastructure Fund; Statewide Mobility Partners LLC; IFM Global Infrastructure Fund. 04/02/2015 20150737 G Verisk Analytics, Inc.; Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners VII, L.P.; Verisk Analytics, Inc. 20150779 G Investor AB; The ROHO Group, Inc.; Investor AB. 20150786 G Highland Funds II; TerreStar Corporation; Highland Funds II. 04/06/2015 20150785 G Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited; Brit plc; Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. 20150788 G PCCW Limited; Vuclip, Inc.; PCCW Limited. 20150794 G LTF Holdings, Inc.; Life Time Fitness, Inc.; LTF Holdings, Inc. 20150801 G Levy Acquisition Corp.; Del Taco Holdings, Inc.; Levy Acquisition Corp. 04/07/2015 20150790 G Iberdrola, S.A.; UIL Holdings Corporation; Iberdrola, S.A. 20150793 G LLR Equity Partners IV, L.P.; Michele Logan; LLR Equity Partners IV, L.P. 20150806 G Harvest Partners VI, L.P.; Cressey & Company Fund IV, LP; Harvest Partners VI, L.P. 04/08/2015 20150761 G Pernix Therapeutics Holdings, Inc.; Zogenix, Inc.; Pernix Therapeutics Holdings, Inc. 20150784 G Alcoa Inc.; RTI International Metals, Inc.; Alcoa Inc. 20150791 G Mylan N.V.; Jai Pharma Ltd.; Mylan N.V. 04/09/2015 20150797 G ICG Europe Fund V Investor Feeder LP; Private Equity Holdings Fund LP; ICG Europe Fund V Investor Feeder LP. 04/10/2015 20150565 G Clean Harbors, Inc.; Nuverra Environmental Solutions, Inc.; Clean Harbors, Inc. 20150758 G Sentinel Capital Partners V, L.P.; TZP Capital Partners I, L.P.; Sentinel Capital Partners V, L.P. 20150808 G Boulder Valley Credit Union; Premier Members Federal Credit Union; Boulder Valley Credit Union. 20150819 G Roark Capital Partners III, LP; Harvest Partners VI, L.P.; Roark Capital Partners III, LP. 20150822 G Industrial Growth Partners IV, L.P.; Hang Up Moon, Trustee, Moon Family Trust; Industrial Growth Partners IV, L.P. 20150826 G FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation; Cellular Dynamics International, Inc.; FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation. 04/13/2015 20150613 G CommScope Holding Company, Inc.; TE Connectivity Ltd.; CommScope Holding Company, Inc. 20150772 G Rakuten, Inc.; Insight Venture Partners VI, L.P.; Rakuten, Inc. 20150781 G Orange Capital Offshore I, Ltd.; American Capital, Ltd.; Orange Capital Offshore I, Ltd. 20150824 G Marlin Equity IV, L.P.; General Dynamics Corporation; Marlin Equity IV, L.P. 20150829 G CCP III AIV I, L.P.; Apollo Investment Fund VII, L.P.; CCP III AIV I, L.P. 04/14/2015 20150807 G Roark Capital Partners III LP; Charles E. West, Jr.; Roark Capital Partners III LP. 20150823 G AIA Energy North America LLC; BAIF CSC AIV L.P.; AIA Energy North America LLC. 20150825 G SunEdison, Inc.; Atlantic Power Corporation; SunEdison, Inc. 20150827 G Rockland Power Partners II, LP; LS Power Equity Partners, L.P.; Rockland Power Partners II, LP. 04/15/2015 20150609 G Genstar Capital Partners VI, L.P.; PHT Corporation; Genstar Capital Partners VI, L.P. 20150838 G IHS Inc.; Root Wireless, Inc. dba RootMetrics; IHS Inc. 04/16/2015 20150739 G Cardinal Health, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Cardinal Health, Inc. 20150759 G Simon Bergson; Rodney Brayman; Simon Bergson. 20150760 G Jeffrey A. Honickman; Rodney Brayman; Jeffrey A. Honickman. 20150816 G Eli Lilly and Company; Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.; Eli Lilly and Company. 04/20/2015 20150814 G TowerBrook Investors IV (Onshore), L.P.; JJ Holding Company Limited; TowerBrook Investors IV (Onshore), L.P. 20150839 G Platinum Equity Capital Partners III, L.P.; ITOCHU Corporation; Platinum Equity Capital Partners III, L.P. 20150841 G Raymond F Schinazi; Cocrystal Pharma, Inc.; Raymond F Schinazi. 20150842 G ChemicaInvest Holding B.V.; Royal DSM N.V.; ChemicaInvest Holding B.V. 20150853 G UnitedHealth Group Incorporated; UCH Holdco LLC; UnitedHealth Group Incorporated. 20150856 G Pattern Energy Group, Inc.; NTR plc; Pattern Energy Group, Inc. 20150857 G Berkshire Fund VIII, L.P.; Trilantic Capital Partners IV, LP; Berkshire Fund VIII, L.P. 04/21/2015 20150353 G Janet M. Pasha; Horizon Lines, Inc.; Janet M. Pasha. 20150809 G Hitachi, Ltd.; Finmeccanica S.p.A.; Hitachi, Ltd. 20150849 G Genstar Capital Partners VI, L.P.; Lovell Minnick Equity Partners II LP; Genstar Capital Partners VI, L.P. 04/22/2015 20150111 G NetScout Systems, Inc.; Danaher Corporation; NetScout Systems, Inc. 20150811 G RBC Bearings Incorporated; Dover Corporation; RBC Bearings Incorporated. 04/23/2015 20150677 G MABEG Verein zur Forderung und Beratung der MAHLE Gruppe eV; Delphi Automotive PLC; MABEG. Verein zur Forderung und Beratung der MAHLE Gruppe eV. 20150691 G ICCN Holdings, LLC; Marlin Equity II, L.P.; ICCN Holdings, LLC. 04/24/2015 20150855 G Reid Garrett Hoffman; Lynda Weinman; Reid Garrett Hoffman. 20150861 G ARRIS Group, Inc.; Mr. Leonard Lauder; ARRIS Group, Inc. 20150865 G Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc.; Norcraft Companies, Inc.; Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. 20150868 G International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.; Henry H. Ottens Manufacturing Co., Inc.; International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. 20150873 G SCP TPZ Holding, Inc.; VantagePoint CDP Partners, L.P.; SCP TPZ Holding, Inc. 20150879 G Comcast Corporation; Lorne Michaels; Comcast Corporation. 20150884 G Brother Industries, Ltd.; Domino Printing Sciences plc; Brother Industries, Ltd. 20150885 G New Mountain Partners IV, L.P.; Zep Inc.; New Mountain Partners IV, L.P. 20150891 G Precision Castparts Corp.; Jeffrey M. Carlton Trust; Precision Castparts Corp. 20150892 G Prophet Equity II LP; Mobile Mini, Inc.; Prophet Equity II LP. 20150895 G Shamrock Capital Growth Fund III, L.P.; FanDuel Limited; Shamrock Capital Growth Fund III, L.P. 04/27/2015 20150837 G DH Corporation; GTCR Fund X/A LP; DH Corporation. 20150846 G The Walt Disney Company; Shane Smith; The Walt Disney Company. 20150847 G The Hearst Family Trust; Shane Smith; The Hearst Family Trust. 20150850 G KKR North America Fund XI, L.P.; KKR Magellan Aggregator L.P.; KKR North America Fund XI, L.P. 20150851 G Elliott International Limited; KKR Magellan Aggregator L.P.; Elliott International Limited. 20150875 G OEP Secondary Fund Feeder (Cayman), L.P.; The Wendy's Company; OEP Secondary Fund Feeder (Cayman), L.P. 04/28/2015 20150860 G Comcast Corporation; InterMedia Partners VII, L.P.; Comcast Corporation. 20150882 G Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd.; Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd.; Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. 20150890 G EQT Infrastructure II Limited Partnership; CHS Private Equity V LP; EQT Infrastructure II Limited Partnership. 04/29/2015 20150866 G ABRY Partners VIII, L.P.; Spark Acquisition Holdings, Inc.; ABRY Partners VIII, L.P. 20150906 G Precision Castparts Corp.; Eric Albert; Precision Castparts Corp. 05/04/2015 20141235 G Holcim Ltd.; Lafarge S.A.; Holcim Ltd. 20150898 G KKR & Co., L.P.; FanDuel Limited; KKR & Co., L.P. 20150899 G ABRY Partners VIII, L.P.; Sentry Data Systems, Inc.; ABRY Partners VIII, L.P. 20150903 G Delek US Holdings, Inc.; Alon USA Energy, Inc.; Delek US Holdings, Inc. 20150904 G Shraga Biran; Delek US Holdings, Inc.; Shraga Biran. 20150910 G WME Entertainment Parent, LLC; Spire Capital Partners II, LP; WME Entertainment Parent, LLC. 20150911 G NetSuite Inc.; Joseph Colopy; NetSuite Inc. 20150915 G Summit Partners Growth Equity Fund VIII-A, L.P.; Lightyear Fund III, L.P.; Summit Partners Growth Equity Fund VIII-A, L.P. 20150926 G Kagome Co., Ltd.; ASG-Omni LLC; Kagome Co., Ltd. 05/05/2015 20150028 Y ZF Friedrichshafen AG; TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.; ZF Friedrichshafen AG. 20150880 G Elliott Associates, L.P.; DMG MORI SEIKI AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT; Elliott Associates, L.P. 20150881 G Elliott International Limited; DMG MORI SEIKI AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT; Elliott International Limited. 20150914 G MasterCard Incorporated; APT Software Holdings, Inc.; MasterCard Incorporated. 20150916 G Francisco Partners IV, L.P.; Procera Networks, Inc.; Francisco Partners IV, L.P. 05/06/2015 20150871 G Ahmet H. Okumus; LifeLock, Inc.; Ahmet H. Okumus. 20150912 G Canada Pension Plan Investment Board; Informatica Corporation; Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. 05/08/2015 20150886 G The Williams Companies, Inc; Utica East Ohio Midstream LLC; The Williams Companies, Inc. 20150921 G Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited; Trustwave Holdings, Inc.; Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited. 20150927 G Audax Private Equity Fund IV, L.P.; Pfingsten Partners Fund IV, L.P.; Audax Private Equity Fund IV, L.P. 20150928 G The Baring Asia Private Equity Fund IV, L.P.; Sterling International Schools C Corporation; The Baring Asia Private Equity Fund IV, L.P. 20150930 G The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation; Great Hill Equity Partners IV, L.P.; The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation. 20150931 G Colonial Pipeline Company; Royal Dutch Shell plc; Colonial Pipeline Company. 20150935 G HRG Group, Inc.; Avista Capital Partners II, L.P.; HRG Group, Inc. 20150937 G Frontier Communications Corporation; Verizon Communications Inc.; Frontier Communications Corporation. 20150938 G Antony Ressler; LPF Atlanta LLC; Antony Ressler. 20150939 G Arlon Food and Agriculture Partners LP; MSouth Equity Partners, L.P.; Arlon Food and Agriculture Partners LP. 20150941 G Lindsay Goldberg III L.P.; Bruce Kovner; Lindsay Goldberg III L.P. 20150948 G Sterling Investment Partners III, L.P.; Arvin Scott; Sterling Investment Partners III, L.P. 20150951 G Francisco Partners IV, L.P.; Insight Venture Partners VI, L.P.; Francisco Partners IV, L.P. 20150953 G Andreessen Horowitz Parallel Fund III, L.P.; YourPeople, Inc. d/b/a Zenefits; Andreessen Horowitz Parallel Fund III, L.P. 20150954 G TransDigm Group Incorporated; Odyssey Investment Partners Fund IV, LP; TransDigm Group Incorporated. 20150959 G Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH; Go Acquisition B.V.; Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH. 20150960 G TPG VII CDS Holdings, LP; Guy Laliberte; TPG VII CDS Holdings, LP. 05/11/2015 20150901 G Builders FirstSource, Inc.; FMR LLC; Builders FirstSource, Inc. 20150942 G XPO Logistics, Inc.; Norbert Dentressangle; XPO Logistics, Inc. 20150952 G American Securities Partners VI, L.P.; ACP Materials LLC; American Securities Partners VI, L.P. 20150965 G Vestar Capital Partners VI, L.P.; Woodstream Group, Inc.; Vestar Capital Partners VI, L.P. 20150966 G The Resolute Fund III, L.P.; Charles Lipman; The Resolute Fund III, L.P. 05/13/2015 20150934 G Eli Lilly and Company; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Eli Lilly and Company. 20150950 G South Dakota Wheat Growers Association; North Central Farmers Elevator; South Dakota Wheat Growers Association. 20150964 G Riverside Capital Appreciation Fund VI, L.P.; DW Healthcare Partners III, L.P.; Riverside Capital Appreciation Fund VI, L.P. 05/14/2015 20150956 G Neil D. Cohen; Hewlett-Packard Company; Neil D. Cohen. 05/18/2015 20150940 G Robert H. Chapman; Kirk J. Eberl; Robert H. Chapman. 20150963 G GSC Target SPV, L.P.; Koninklijke Philips N.V.; GSC Target SPV, L.P. 20150967 G Echo Global Logistics, Inc.; Jodi Sue Loeb Family Trust u/a/d October 28, 1999; Echo Global Logistics, Inc. 20150968 G Penn National Gaming, Inc.; Onex Partners III Gaming Holdings I LP; Penn National Gaming, Inc. 20150970 G Platte River Equity III, L.P.; Mid Oaks Investments LLC; Platte River Equity III, L.P. 20150975 G Henry A. Fernandez; MSCI Inc.; Henry A. Fernandez. 20150976 G JLL Partners Fund VII, L.P.; Sun Capital Partners V, L.P.; JLL Partners Fund VII, L.P. 20150977 G Infosys Limited; Arish Ali and Sudha K. Varadarajan; Infosys Limited. 20150979 G XPO Logistics, Inc.; Platinum Equity Capital Partners II; XPO Logistics, Inc. 20150990 G Pitney Bowes Inc.; Borderfree, Inc.; Pitney Bowes Inc. 05/19/2015 20150798 G Select Medical Corporation; Humana Inc.; Select Medical Corporation. 20150913 G Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company; Scholastic Corporation; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company. 20150978 G ABRY Partners VIII, L.P.; The Hilb Group, LLC; ABRY Partners VIII, L.P. 20150985 G KKR North America Fund XI, L.P.; Robert A. Roberts; KKR North America Fund XI, L.P. 20150988 G The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc,.; Sterling Holdings Ultimate Parent, Inc.; The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc,. 05/20/2015 20150917 G Raytheon Company; Vista Equity Partners Fund IV, L.P.; Raytheon Company. 20150961 G Robert Kraft; Forest Resources LLC; Robert Kraft. 20150962 G Schwarz Partners, L.P.; Forest Resources LLC; Schwarz Partners, L.P. 20150971 G Josh McFarland; Twitter, Inc.; Josh McFarland. 20150972 G Twitter, Inc.; TellApart, Inc.; Twitter, Inc. 05/21/2015 20150659 G Harris Corporation; Exelis Inc.; Harris Corporation. 20150973 G Dr. Thomas P. Lyons; Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited; Dr. Thomas P. 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